September 30, 2005

crotch mavens and one night plays

not so great camera phone shot I took of david berman and will oldham performing berman's Publicity Stunt last night in empty retail space in nyc (you can see will's leg in the lower corner of the picture)

many thanks to jeff for providing the invite. about 75 people, including the often hilarious propriator of number one hit song, were in attendance. steve keene constructed the set, which he made available after the show, along with keene mock-ups of the Tanglewood Numbers cover, for dirt cheap. the short play had oldham playing berman's psychologist as the two discussed playing live.

still unknown: whether the Joos will tour on Tanglewood Numbers (out October 18!!!)?

known: if they do, crowds will be large and excited.

Tanglewood Numbers is a fantastic record. Get yours the day it comes out.

A Dust Congress Premiere

earlier this week, the dust congress comissioned (well, asked, no cash will exchange hands) the san francisco poet, klipschutz, whose poetry frequents this site, to write a poem about Jack Abramoff. he accepted his first commission and went to work. here is his piece:

-- by klipschutz

Without DeLay
Jack Abramoff
pled guilty
to persuasion
to lobbying
his way into
the earshot of
politicos for
sale inside
the Beltway
on the Hill.

counts of wire
fraud one
county of
these he did
deny with-
out DeLay
by his side.
-a chain of sandwich shops
-a “gang style hit”
-a Dial-a-Mattress franchise
all were
in the mix
hundreds of
millions of

Tom DeLay
(R - Sugar Land)
a k a
The Hammer
The Exterminator
The ReDistrictinator
Hot Tub Tom
(who asked “Is-
n’t this kind of fun?”
of Katrina’s refugees)
soon had a felony
indictment of his
own to deny.

Abramoff Abramoff
DeLay vaudeville
or a law firm
or a debt we
all will pay
the interest on
for years and
years to come?

September 29, 2005

I never meant to be the needle that broke your back

joseph kosuth, untitled, 1997

* Michael Brown is a little bitch. excerpt:

"On Sunday, August 28, Michael Brown, then the Chief of FEMA, told CNN about the impending landfall of Hurricane Katrina, '[W]e actually started preparing for this about two years ago. We had decided to start doing catastrophic disaster planning and the first place we picked to do that kind of planning was New Orleans because we knew from experience, based back in the '40s and even in the late 1800s, if a category five or five hurricane were to strike New Orleans just right, the flooding would be devastating. It could be catastrophic. So we did this planning two years ago. And actually there's a tabletop exercise with the Louisiana officials about a year ago. So the planning's been in place now. We're ready for the storm...'
"Michael Brown is a little bitch because he said that the two things he wished he had done better were to hold more press conferences and to 'persuade Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin to sit down, get over their differences and work together.' It's the government equivalent of 'I just care too much.' Michael Brown is a little bitch because he refused almost all blame - indeed, except for a brief mention of the raping of FEMA in folding it into the Department of Homeland Security, he believes that he 'did a darn good job.' And yet Brown bragged about FEMA being ready on CNN despite the fact that he knew, as he said in the hearing, 'we did the catastrophic planning a year ago and had no money, since then, to do anything.'

"Michael Brown is a little bitch because he expressed no sorrow about the deaths of hundreds of people, whose corpses are still being found or have been eaten or swept into the lake or river, even when he was reminded of them during the hearing. He's a little bitch because he did such a good job covering for his masters in the Bush administration, especially after Karl Rove probably put a dozen Arabian horse heads in his bed after Brown allegedly went to the National Enquirer with the story that the President's been suckin' back whiskey like the chief chowder eater at a blow job convention. Except for one moment, when Brown said, '[P]erhaps I'm not as brave as some people say I am because I probably should have just resigned my post earlier and gone public with some of these things,' or, in other words, 'I am a little bitch.'"
"In the end, Michael Brown is a little bitch because he's behaved like the President, Donald Rumsfeld, and all the other little bitches that populate the White House: he decided it was all about him and saving his ass at the expense of whatever asses got in his way."

-- related New York Times. excerpt:

"Win or lose in court, Mr. DeLay should be permanently stripped of his leadership powers. The imperious Texan is an increasing embarrassment to his party, turning its majority into an undisguised fountain of patronage and an ideological cudgel while skirting the bounds of campaign law. The underlying deed that prompted the Texas indictment is reason enough for him to relinquish leadership. Mr. DeLay was open in his stratagem of using his federal clout to game state elections in Texas and force an unusual and legally dubious gerrymander to cushion the Republican Congressional majority."

* Bush pardons 14 people.

* Trailer created for the shining, assuming it was recently made and released for this fall season.

* Mini golf for ladies, a short film by annie lou bayley

* Fill in the blank spaces on the silver Jews Wikipedia entry

September 28, 2005

welcome to the house of the bats

angel of security, jeff lipschutz

To My Brother, Jeff
--by klipschutz

On the phone you sighed when I said
then don’t answer it, and replied
I have to, or your letter will stand.
I wrote it because what I said had to be said,
I had to say it. I. Me, Me, Me.
I’m tuning up for my big solo! Increasingly,
no two people cities countries religions
agree on anything. Raindrops (of
empty words) keep falling on my (fat) head—
One Love, God Rocks, our DNA is all the same.
Even godlessness has a spokesmodel,
guerilla ads and people. It loves
that kooky spotlight,
and Judge Judy has no shortage
of the hapless to berate. Our shattered family
for a warning track keeps us in the Green Zone
not at each other’s throats.
Lately, I’ve been dropping quotes
into my poems. Some stolen pith right here
would slam this puppy home, congeal the register,
reset my rusted inner scale between
reconciliation and defiance.
That mechanical dog won’t hunt, big bro,
batteries wet, analogy obscure.
You received my four-page single-spaced letter
and were "not remotely convinced."
Don’t sugarcoat it. Liar’s poker set me free
and I’ve been setting you straight ever since.

The Juke-Box Spoke and the Juke-Box Said
-- by Kenneth Fearing

A few of them, sometimes, choose record number 9,
Or sometimes number 12,
And once in a while someone likes selection 5,
But the voice they really crave, all of them, everywhere and al-
ways, from the hour the doors open until the hour they
Repeated and repeated like a beating human heart,
Echoing in the walls, the ceiling, shaking the tables, the chairs,
the floor—


Whispered and chuckling, as though it arose from the bottom of
the earth,
Or sometimes exploding like thunder in the room,
Not quite a curse and not exactly a prayer,
Eternally the same, but different, different, different every time—


Saying the simple thing they cannot say themselves,
Again and again, voicing the secret that they must reveal, and can
never tell enough,
Yet it never quite gets told—

Sometimes number 9, or 12,
Or 5—


I’ve Been Known
-- by Denise Duhamel

to spread it on thick to shoot off my mouth to get it off my chest
to tell him where
to get off

to stay put to face the music to cut a shine to go under to sell
myself short to play
myself down

to paint the town to fork over to shell out to shoot up to pull a
fast one to go haywire
to take a shine to

to be stuck on to glam it up to vamp it up to get her one better to
eat a little higher
on the hog
to win out to get away with to go to the spot to make a stake to
make a stand to
stand for something to stand up for

to snow under to slip up to go for it to take a stab at it to try out
to go places to play
up to get back at

to size up to stand off to slop over to be solid with to lose my
shirt to get myself off
to get myself off the hook

September 27, 2005

come senators, congressmen please heed the call

andy diaz hope, double down, photographs inside gel caps, 2005

from the uni-quarterly state of the jews address:

The Uni-Quarterly State of the Jews Address
Mon Sep 26, 2005 11:26

actually just wanted to clear up some confusion. About
the initials of the title of the new album. Our recommmended
acronym is TW#S. Not TN. Also while we're on the subject of standards. i'd like
to let out the fact that I flinch at being called Dave.
David is good. Do you find that fascinating?
Also after 13 years someone correctly guessed the meaning
of silver jews. a stringer for a belgian website was the correct guesser. have you heard the news: they never found
john denvers skull. i like to imagine the eyesocket threaded
with rocky mountain ferns on a verdant outcrop. also i like to imagine bigfoot using it as a drinking cup filled with ice cold bear urine.

-- more here, including an interview by a german music magazine.

from Harper's October 2005:

* rank of 2004 among the most fiscally reckless years in U.S. history, according to the comptroller general -- 1

* months of vacation that president bush has taken in five years -- 11

* number of U.S. states where beastiality is legal -- 20

* number of toilet seats at the EU Parliament building in Brussels tv station had tested for cocaine -- 46

* number that tested positive -- 41

* "Printing, having found in the book a refuge in which to lead an autonomous existence, is pitilessly dragged out onto the street by advertisements and subjected to the brutal heteronomies of economic chaos. This is the hard schooling of its new form. If centuries ago it began gradually to lie down, passing from the upright inscription to the manuscript resting on sloping desks before finally taking to bed in the printed book, it now begins just as slowly to rise again from the ground. The newspaper is read more in the vertical than in the horizontal plane, while film and advertisement force the printed word entirely into the dictatorial perpendicular. And before a child of our time finds his way clear to opening a book, his eyes have been exposed to such a blizzard of changing, colourful, conflicting letters that the chances of his penetrating the archaic stillness of the book are slight. - Walter Benjamin [via]

* Also, check out trigger cut.

September 26, 2005

there's room at the top for private detection

man at war, daniel johnson

* top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"6. Alberto Gonzalez

"Wonderful news - the war on terrorism is over! Sure, nobody's actually made a formal announcement yet, but it has to be over if the FBI is now diverting its resources towards the war against... porn.

"'Early last month, the bureau's Washington Field Office began recruiting for a new anti-obscenity squad. Attached to the job posting was a July 29 Electronic Communication from FBI headquarters to all 56 field offices, describing the initiative as 'one of the top priorities' of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales,' reported the Washington Post last week.

"It seems that the new Porn Squad will comprise of eight agents, a supervisor, and 'assorted support staff,' and will focus on porn manufacturers - 'not the kind exploiting children, but the kind that depicts, and is marketed to, consenting adults.' And the crazy bastards at the Family Research Council have announced that the new Porn Squad gives them "a growing sense of confidence in our new attorney general.'

"Hmm... so the previously-unpopular-among-conservatives Alberto Gonzalez has managed to throw a bone to the radical right (literally and metaphorically), just in time for Bush to make another appointment to the Supreme Court. How convenient!"

* 1981 Raymond Carver piece on why he prefers the story to the novel. excerpt:

"It's possible, in a poem or a short story, to write about commonplace things and objects using commonplace but precise language, and to endow those things—a chair, a window curtain, a fork, a stone, a woman's earring—with immense, even startling power. It is possible to write a line of seemingly innocuous dialogue and have it send a chill along the reader's spine—the source of artistic delight, as Nabokov would have it. That's the kind of writing that most interests me. I hate sloppy or haphazard writing whether it flies under the banner of experimentation or else is just clumsily rendered realism. In Isaac Babel's wonderful short story, 'Guy de Maupassant,' the narrator has this to say about the writing of fiction: 'No iron can pierce the heart with such force as a period put just at the right place.' This too ought to go on a three-by-five.

"Evan Connell said once that he knew he was finished with a short story when he found himself going through it and taking out commas and then going through the story again and putting commas back in the same places. I like that way of working on something. I respect that kind of care for what is being done. That's all we have, finally, the words, and they had better be the right ones, with the punctuation in the right places so that they can best say what they are meant to say. If the words are heavy with the writer's own unbridled emotions, or if they are imprecise and inaccurate for some other reason—if the words are in any way blurred—the reader's eyes will slide right over them and nothing will be achieved. The reader's own artistic sense will simply not be engaged. Henry James called this sort of hapless writing 'weak specification.'
"VS Pritchett's definition of a short story is 'something glimpsed from the corner of the eye, in passing.' Notice the 'glimpse' part of this. First the glimpse. Then the glimpse given life, turned into something that illuminates the moment and may, if we're lucky—that word again—have even further-ranging consequences and meaning. The short story writer's task is to invest the glimpse with all that is in his power. He'll bring his intelligence and literary skill to bear (his talent), his sense of proportion and sense of the fitness of things: of how things out there really are and how he sees those things—like no one else sees them. And this is done through the use of clear and specific language, language used so as to bring to life the details that will light up the story for the reader. For the details to be concrete and convey meaning, the language must be accurate and precisely given. The words can be so precise they may even sound flat, but they can still carry; if used right, they can hit all the notes."

* the thirteen most corrupt in congress.

September 23, 2005

remember jesus and tequila

taken and held by patriotic americans

The Sound
-- by kim addonizio

Marc says the suffering that we don't see
still makes a sort of sound -- a subtle, soft
noise, nothing like the cries of screams that we
might think of -- more the slight scrape of a hat doffed
by a quiet man, ignored as he stands back
to let a lovely woman pass, her dress
just brushing his coat. Or else it's like a crack
in an old foundation, slowly widening, the stress
and slippage going on unnoticed by
the family upstairs, the daughter leaving
for a date, her mother's resigned sigh
when she sees her. It's like the heaving
of a stone into a lake, before it drops.
It's shy, it's barely there. It never stops.

phantom anniversary
-- by kim addonizio

Imagine the marriage lasting,
the lilies blooming in the black vase
for years, the water still fresh.
The man and woman are looking at each other
as they fuck, blooming and looking,
and the angels are looking, too,
opening their beautiful abstract mouths
as though they are about to say something
neither difficult nor true.
The man and woman are oblivious.
They grow fainter and fainter without caring.
And the angels fold their wings flat
and plummet toward them like stones.

the end
-- by sharon olds

We decided to have the abortion, became
killers together. The period that came
changed nothing. They were dead, that young couple
who had been for life.
As we talked of it in bed, the crash
was not a surprise. We went to the window,
looked at the crushed cars and the gleaming
curved shears of glass as if we had
done it. Cops pulled the bodies out
Bloody as births from the small, smoking
aperture of the door, laid them
on the hill, covered them with blankets that soaked
through. Blood
began to pour
down my legs into my slippers. I stood
where I was until they shot the bound
form into the black hole
of the ambulance and stood the other one
up, a bandage covering its head,
stained where the eyes had been.
The next morning I had to kneel
an hour on that floor, to clean up my blood,
rubbing with wet cloths at those glittering
translucent spots, as one has to soak
a long time to deglaze the pan
when the feast is over.

-- apparently, laura bush was unaware of this poem

-- kim addonizio is scheduled to appear at the national book festival

-- also on the mall this weekend: operation cease fire. The concert is part of the three days of massive anti-war activities being planned in Washington, DC by United for Peace and Justice. It will cap a full day that starts with a late morning rally, a march through downtown Washington and an anti-war fair on the grounds of the Washington Monument.

September 22, 2005

I love soda can pipes, and life

poem/painting by norman bluhm and frank o'hara

* from a letter written by poet sharon olds to laura bush declining an invitation to this weekend's National Book Festival in Washington D.C., published in the the nation. excerpt:

"In one way, it's a very appealing invitation. The idea of speaking at a festival attended by 85,000 people is inspiring! The possibility of finding new readers is exciting for a poet in personal terms, and in terms of the desire that poetry serve its constituents--all of us who need the pleasure, and the inner and outer news, it delivers.

"And the concept of a community of readers and writers has long been dear to my heart. As a professor of creative writing in the graduate school of a major university, I have had the chance to be a part of some magnificent outreach writing workshops in which our students have become teachers. Over the years, they have taught in a variety of settings: a women's prison, several New York City public high schools, an oncology ward for children. Our initial program, at a 900-bed state hospital for the severely physically challenged, has been running now for twenty years, creating along the way lasting friendships between young MFA candidates and their students--long-term residents at the hospital who, in their humor, courage and wisdom, become our teachers.
"I tried to see my way clear to attend the festival in order to bear witness--as an American who loves her country and its principles and its writing--against this undeclared and devastating war.

"But I could not face the idea of breaking bread with you. I knew that if I sat down to eat with you, it would feel to me as if I were condoning what I see to be the wild, highhanded actions of the Bush Administration.

"What kept coming to the fore of my mind was that I would be taking food from the hand of the First Lady who represents the Administration that unleashed this war and that wills its continuation, even to the extent of permitting 'extraordinary rendition': flying people to other countries where they will be tortured for us.

"So many Americans who had felt pride in our country now feel anguish and shame, for the current regime of blood, wounds and fire. I thought of the clean linens at your table, the shining knives and the flames of the candles, and I could not stomach it."

* Part two of soi disantra's Tanglewood Numbers review. excerpt:

"Anyway, the second half of the album kicks off with 'How Can I Love You? (If You Won’t Lie Down),' which is indeed the best Magnetic Fields song so far this millennium. One gets the impression this song wouldn’t work quite as well if Malkmus was the vocal foil on the record and not Cassie. Or, one would get the impression that the Berman/Malkmus relationship was a lot different than we had suspected. But we’re getting off subject, and that’s obviously frowned upon here at SD. Back to the song, who else besides Berman or Merritt could get away with a line like 'Fast cars/fine ass/these things will pass?' Exactly. Which leads me to another point – as great a lyricist as DCB has always been, he really has some doozies for opening lines on this album."
"Next up is 'The Poor, The Fair and The Good,' which gets my vote for the 'secret' best song on the album. What does that mean? Well, I’m not really sure. I guess it means that it’s not really better than 'Punks in the Beerlight,' but after I listen to 'PITB' 14 times in a row, then play that little riff for 45 minutes or so and need to listen to another song, this is one that gets the nod. It’s got the best staying power since it’s not really gimmicky, it’s just a really great well-rounded song. To me, it’s this album’s 'Blue Arrangements,' because it’s got Berman taking a backseat vocally and it’s got nimble fretwork from SM. Or maybe just the first minute of this song reminds me of the last minute of 'Blue Arrangements.' Plus the vocal thing. There’s really a lot to listen to here; you can focus in on Cassie, on DCB, on the guitar, the Scarlet Rivera-esque fiddle."
[Talking about 'there is a place']"Halfway through the song, it abruptly changes course, leading to a completely unrelated second movement. This is a tactic that I’m a complete sucker for almost all of the time – 'Cary Grant’s Wedding,' 'Fight This Generation,' 'The Bad Arts,' just to name a few. Anyway, the song turns into a primal chant complete with a very Velvets drumbeat – 'I saw God’s shadow on this world!' It’s the Tanglewood Growl, and he saves the best for last. They need to tour because this song needs to be performed live. I can see DCB – sporting a full beard, of course (this song cannot be sung unless there is a full beard) – holding the microphone in one hand while smashing the mic stand down with the other each time it gets to the first syllable of 'shadow.' 'I saw God’s SHAD-ow on this world … I saw God’s SHAD-ow on this world!' The drums let up a bit as the song – which by this point has taken on an energy force of its own – gathers itself for one final push. 'I took a hammer to it all,' DCB sings before the frenzied finale. All hell breaks loose – not in a 'Country Diary' sort of way, but in a flat-out fucking rocking sort of way. You can hear the shaking in DCB’s voice, delivering the repeated 'I saw God’s shadow on this world!' with remarkable gusto. I have an interpretive dance ready for when they play this song. Well, it’s not so much a dance as it is a sort of combination twirling/hopping, perhaps a violent variation on what some hippie might do during 'Wharf Rat.' Basically something that will get me very dizzy, because that’s what the last two minutes is, dizzying. It’s the greatest two minutes in Silver Jews history, I’m thinking. But it’s still just the third best song on the album. But what a way to go out.

"And there it is. Let’s just all hope that they fuckin’ get on the road behind this thing. Go to your local Wishing Well and Such and throw a few dollars down the well while asking for a Joos tour."

* Letter to the editor in the Globe and Mail by Robert Melamede, associate professor and chair, Biology Department, University of Colorado:

"I hope Canadians have the intelligence and courage not to be mindless slaves to the oppressive stupidity of America's drug war. This war has its roots in racism, ignorance and greed. Sadly, the U.S. is run by religious zealots who deny science and are incapable of understanding that marijuana is a miracle medicine for many because it is the only plant that mimics the way our bodies try to maintain balance.

"We all produce marijuana-like compounds known as endocannabinoids. And cannabinoids, among their many functions, regulate open-mindedness. I trust the Canadian government and judicial system are not as biologically defective as found in the United States. Protect Marc Emery; he is a Canadian asset." [stolen from]

September 21, 2005

we're gonna die until it doesn't hurt

-- jenny holzer

Three poems by Robert Sward:

All For a Day
All day I have written words.
My subject has been that: Words.
And I am wrong. And the words.
I burn
three pages of them. Words.
And the moon, moonlight, that too
I burn. A poem remains.
But in the words, in the words,
in the fire that is now words.
I eat the words that remain,
and am eaten. By nothing,
by all that I have not made.

People Coming out of People

Rings coming out of rings,
four and then eight --
you reach for one, the man says,
and you have two. That is the way
rings give birth to rings. Once speaking of cups
he cried, Each is within the other,
each is linked to each. All that he did
bore witness to this. "You are pop art,"
said his woman. Marriage is like that.
What is virtue? Reach for one
and you have two. Weariness,
that is also a truth. All conditions
are truths. Claim only those
you've a mind to. All things, all truths are gifts.
The man who dreamt of playing magician
reaching for goblets, chalices, cups
one and then within it its mate,
or linked by the handles, by rims,
like women within women
the metaphysics of sex.
That too is a question --
the man reaching,
all that he wants, doubles.
That is the way rings give birth to rings
and that is what if not a truth? (again)
cups within cups, people within people
out of love, out of need, out of want.

Basketball's the American Game Because It's Hysterical

"Basketball's the American game because it's hysterical,"
says Lorrie Goldensohn as the players and coaches come
off the bench and the crowd is on its feet yelling and
the Knicks are ahead 97-95 with just over three minutes
to go in the fourth quarter and Perry hits from the side
and Lorrie's husband, Barry, comes downstairs with a
bottle of scotch and a guide to English verse.

"Unless there is
a new mind, there cannot be a new line," he reads
refilling our glasses.
"Without invention the line
will never again take on its ancient

All evening we have been watching the New York Knicks
battling the Boston Celtics and having a running
argument about free verse, traditional rhyming poetry,
syllabic verse ("what's the point in counting for
counting's sake?"), the critic Hugh Kenner, John
Hollander's Rhyme's Reason, the variable foot and
the American idiom.

"In and out by Williams," says the announcer, "he's got
a nose for the basket." The crowd is on its feet
again, roaring.

"We know nothing and can know nothing
but the dance, to dance to a measure
Satyrically, the tragic foot," Barry continues.

The Celtics race down the court. "Talk about the
green wave coming at you." Bird hits and the Celtics
even the score.

"Basketball's the American game because it's like the
variable foot," says Lorrie, "it's up in the air
all the time. It's quick and the floor is continually
moving and there's this short back and forth factor."

"What I like best about the game," I say, "is shutting
my eyes and tuning out the announcer and hearing
Barry read and arguing about poetry and drinking
and listening all the while to the music of
seven-foot black herons in gym shoes, ten giant
gazelles, the stirring squeak of twenty over-size
sneakers on the varnished floor, a floor which
has been carefully and ingeniously miked in advance
for sound."

September 20, 2005

Idiot wind blowing like a circle around my skull

Helen Frankenthaler, Broome Street at Night, 1987

* Clusterfuck Nation. excerpt:

"Take a good look at America around you now, because when we emerge from the winter of 2005 - 6, we're going to be another country. The reality-oblivious nation of mall hounds, bargain shoppers, happy motorists, Nascar fans, Red State war hawks, and born-again Krispy Kremers is headed into a werewolf-like transformation that will reveal to all the tragic monster we have become.

"What we will leave behind is the certainty that we have made the right choices. Was it a good thing to buy a 3,600 square foot house 32 miles outside Minneapolis with an interest-only adjustable rate mortgage -- with natural gas for home heating running at $12 a unit and gasoline over $3 a gallon? Was it the right choice to run three credit cards up to their $5000 limit? Was I chump to think my pension from Acme Airlines would really be there for me? Do I really owe the Middletown Hospital $17,678 for a gall bladder operation that took forty-five minutes? And why did they charge me $238 for a plastic catheter?

"All kinds of assumptions about the okay-ness of our recent collective behavior are headed out the window. This naturally beats a straight path to politics, since that is the theater in which our collective choices are dramatized. It really won't take another jolting event like a major hurricane or a terror incident or an H4N5 flu outbreak to take things over the edge -- though it is very likely that something else will happen. George W. Bush, and the party he represents, are headed into full Hooverization mode. After Katrina, nobody will take claims of governmental competence seriously. The new assumption will be that when shit happens you are on your own."

* Interviews of Allen Ginsberg. excerpt:

from a 1976 interview

Interviewer: Was Dylan moved during that experience [visiting Kerouac's grave]?

Ginsberg: He was very open and very tender, he gave a lot of himself there. We stood at Kerouac's grave and read a little section on the nature of self-selflessness, from Mexico City Blues. Then we sat down on the grave and Dylan took up my harmonium and made up a little tune. Then he picked up his guitar and started a slow blues, so I improvised into a sort of exalted style, images about Kerouac's empty skull looking down at us over the trees and clouds while we sat there, empty-mouthed, chanting the blues. Suddenly, Dylan interrupted the guitar while I continued singing the verses (making them up as I went along so it was like the triumph of the Milarepa style) and he picked up a Kerouac-ian October-brown autumn leaf from the grass above his grave and stuck it in his breast pocket and then picked up the guitar again and came down at the beat just as I did, too, and we continued for another couple of verses before ending. So it was very detached and surrendered; it didn't even make a difference if he played the guitar or not. It was like the old blues guitarists who sing a cappella for a couple of bars.

Interviewer: Has Dylan ever acknowledged to you that Kerouac was an influence on him or that he's familiar with his work?

Ginsberg: Yes, oddly! I asked him if he had ever read any Kerouac. He answered, 'Yeah, when I was young in Minneapolis.' Someone had given him Kerouac's Mexico City Blues. He said, 'I didn't understand the words then, I understand it better now, but it blew my mind.' So apparently Kerouac was more of an influence on him than I had realized. I think it was a nice influence on him.
from a mid 90s interview

Interviewer:I gather you don't care for the "just say no" campaign which Republicans are now trying to revive?

Ginsberg: I'll say it very straightforwardly: yes, absolutely, I think the war on drugs is a fake, it's a hype, I think it's intended to increase the number of druggies, I think it's intended to increase police presence in America, and I think its purpose is a cynical political manipulation. It's not intended to solve any problems with drugs particularly, it's only intended to increase control over the lower classes who are becoming increasingly restive with inflation, housing problems, and the decline of American industrial jobs and power.

If they wanted to solve the drug problem, they would have to use a solution which 'will not fly politically'--to LEGALIZE. You assign marijuana as a small cash crop to save family farms from omnipotent agribusiness farming. Addicts would be sent to doctors, as they are in most countries.

Interviewer:You mean that drug addiction should be treated as a disease, like alcoholism?

Ginsberg: Yes, like an illness, rather than hounding and accusing addicts of being fiends--which is already a trespass on human dignity, the notion of the dope fiend. By definition, the addict is viewed as psychopathic. I think that is a vicious semiotic trick to reduce people to things. Junkies in America are treated like Jews in Nazi Germany, chased with guns and dogs. Put into camps and made to suffer withdrawal without medical help. If they can be cured, let's cure them. Other drugs, such as LSD, have already been legalized elsewhere--in Switzerland, for example, so doctors can experiment with it. Scientific research shouldn't be suppressed.

Interviewer:Which younger poets do you believe are doing the most promising work? Are there any with whom you feel a strong literary kinship?

Ginsberg: ... Beck--a young blues singer, just 23 years old--has a great command of blues rhyme, the best I've heard since Dylan. Sapphire, a young student of mine at Brooklyn college, just received half a million dollars for a novel in progress. She's a black lesbian. Paul Beatty is another former student of mine: he is a rapper with a literary, be-bop sound. He was a winner of the Nuyorican Poetry slam and got a book out of it. And, finally, Anne Waldman, Ed Sanders, Eileen Myles are more established poets with whom I feel an affinity.


my favorite eileen myles poem:

my cheap lifestyle

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

* Agreed.

September 19, 2005

I might sleep through the technology preview

-- by Heather Levy, who is currently showing her work at the Warehouse Gallery's Where's the Peace show.

* Top ten conservative idiots.

"9. Bill O'Reilly and Condoleezza Rice

"If you are a regular reader of the Top Ten Conservative Idiots — or if you are a reader, for that matter — then surely you are already aware of the numerous problems plaguing Iraq. But leave it to Bill O'Reilly and Condoleezza Rice to draw attention to the issues that really matter. On the deadliest day of violence in Iraq since the end of combat operations, O'Reilly and Rice were talking about — wait for it — the scarcity of a good cup of joe in Baghdad. Our friends over at Think Progress have the video.

"O'Reilly: 'The truth of the matter is that our correspondents here at Fox News can't go out for a cup of coffee in Baghdad. ... That's tough. That's tough.'

"Rice: 'No, it's tough. But would they want to go out for a cup of coffee when Saddam Hussein was in power?'

"Who says that Fox News doesn't ask the tough questions? While it's true that this Rice-O'Reilly discussion is utterly ridiculous, I suppose we should take some comfort from the fact that Fox News is broadcasting any bad news at all from Iraq. Now that they have gone so far as to admit on the air that you can't get a good cup of coffee in Baghdad, maybe next they might go a but further and admit, oh, I don't know, that weapons of mass destruction have not actually been found. Or that we actually weren't greeted as liberators, and most regular Iraqis want us to get out of their country. Just a thought."

* The Rude Pundit on Bush taking responsibility:

"There's a fuck of a lot of difference between claiming responsibility and acting responsibly. Bush's solution seems to be tax cuts for businesses, paying workers shit wages to rebuild places they probably won't be able to afford, getting churches involved, and more failed ideas that won't do anything more than provide the magical illusion that Bush is doing something. Because, as we've noted, the speech was about him, not about Louisiana or Mississippi.

"Essentially, the speech last night was an exercise in self-fellation. Bush may as well have placed his lectern on top of a pile of bloated black corpses and said, 'Ya'll watch me while I suck my own dick,' and then, balancing himself delicately on the graying skin of a drowned body, bent over to start blowing himself, looking up every now and then to say things like, 'See how I don't neglect my balls? Ball-suckin' is good stuff.' Yeah, it would have been disturbing to watch a nearly sixty-year old man bob on his own knob and seem to get immense enjoyment out of it. And when he started fingering his own prostate to make sure he had maximum ejaculatory intensity, some might have tuned out, but when he stood up, his teeth and lips glistening with a semen shine, spitting his own spooge on the heap of dead people, saying, 'Goddamn, no one can suck my dick like me,' we'd've had the same reaction as much of America had to the speech itself: 'Well, isn't that nice for you.'

"(And, no, the actual content of the speech doesn't bear any real discussion because, as we've learned time and again, what Bush says and what Bush does are two entirely different animals. As far as what he said about poverty, the failure of the government to prepare for disasters, and racism, as if these are miraculous discoveries, all the Rude Pundit can say is, 'Dude, haven't we all been partying at your place for the last four and a half years?')"

* Tomorrow's tunes today: Check out the pop gem the truth hurts jamie green from the caribbean's Plastic Explosives, which is out Tuesday on Home-Tapes. They are playing at NY's Knitting Factory this Saturday. More details later this week.

September 16, 2005

you better you better you bet

paul weller and pete townsend, soho 1980, by Janette Beckman

Three poems by Elizabeth Skurnick:

Medusa in Oregon

There are two things a man loves -- taking
And not taking care of a women.
It seems that I remember waking
Alongside stones that once were men.

Sip the sullen nectar at the bar,
Greet the thief beyond the Dairy Queen.
I still save my urine in a jar.
When I toss it through the shunted screen.

Branches wither from the explosion.
Then I stalk to sleep in my borrowed bed.
Where gravel severs East and West I-90,

Someone explains how the doing is undone.
Perseus, strike off my head.
I only want someone to touch me.

Inside, Out

I often have the thought
a man is coming around the corner
where I'm on the with
a book or sheets pulled to my chin --
Hello, this stranger grins.

My mother dreams the house
laid bare, the doors flung wide --
to whom? From where? Who
ever's come is gone. Not you.
You're only out of view.

Chastity in Gomorrah

Whenever I say I'm on layover
Everyone bursts out laughing.
Suffice it to say my descent has been grim.
I thought dildoes ornamented lawns
And you scrubbed your grout with S&M.
Here they wear white, but their edges are tattering.
The lamb falls off its skewer, black
And I clutch my hands at the glass that keep s shattering.

These poems from the just-published Check-In, which was the winning manuscript in the 2004 Caketrain Chapbook Competition. You can purchase a copy here.

Additional photos by Janette Beckman can be found here.

September 15, 2005

the type of memories that turn your bones to glass

red print, howard hodgkin

* No Direction Home. excerpt:

"Let's be clear about one thing. Nothing that has happened in the past week -- the mass destruction in the Mississippi Delta, the obliteration of the city of New Orleans, the murderous abandonment of thousands of people to death, chaos and disease ­ will change the Bush Administration or American politics at all. Not one whit. The Bush Administration will not reverse its brutal policies; its Congressional rubber-stamps will not revolt against the White House; the national Democrats will not suddenly grow a spine. There will be no real change, and the bitter corrosion of injustice, indifference and inhumanity that is consuming American society will go on as before."
"This painful split between obvious reality and popular perception is nothing new, of course. Today we look at old footage of Adolf Hitler and wonder how on earth such a pathetic and ludicrous creature could ever have commanded the adoration and obedience of tens of millions of people. Yet he did. As Eliot said, 'Human kind cannot bear very much reality.'

"The fact that a few conservative commentators and politicians are making mild criticisms of Bush means nothing. There has been much trumpeting of the remarks by David Brooks of the New York Times that Bush's manifest failures in the Delta ­ coming after the debacle of the Iraq occupation, the torture revelations, etc. ­ could be a 'watershed' moment when the nation loses faith in its institutions, a situation Brooks likened to the 1970s. But even in making these comments on one hand, Brooks was taking them back with the other, saying clearly that he might 'get over' his disappointment with Bush soon enough. Think of it: Brooks has watched people literally dying before his very eyes after being abandoned to their fate for days by Bush's criminal negligence ­ and he thinks he can 'get over' that at some point, and give his full-throated approval to the Leader once again.
"This is what you must understand: Bush and his faction do not care if they have 'the consent of the governed' or not. They are not interested in governing at all, in responding to the needs and desires and will of the people. They are only interested in ruling, in using the power of the state to force their radical agenda of elitist aggrandizement and ideological crankery on the nation, and on the world.
"None of this will change because of what happened in New Orleans. If these people could be touched by suffering and injustice, by death and destruction, by corruption and incompetence, then they would not be where they are today. If there was a viable opposition in the American Establishment to Bush's policies, it would have stood up long ago. Like the people left behind in New Orleans, we're all on our own ­ 'with no direction home.'

"How does it feel?"

* Get Your War On: Hurricane edition.

* in oak, in elm recounts his Labor Day weekend war protest: three days of biking and playing music in Alaska.

* WFMU has posted some rare videos, including one of Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd playing Jugband Blues, sort of his farewell song from their album Saucerful of Secrets. additional information on the video is available here.

September 14, 2005

International secrets international objects of desire

american dream, by robert indiana

The American Dream
-- by Robert Creeley

Edges and disjuncts, shattered, bitter planes,
a wedge of disconsolate memories to echo fame,
fear of the past, a future still to blame--
Multiple heavens, hells, nothing is straight.
You earn your money, then you wait
for so-called life to see that you get paid.

Tilt! Again it's all gone wrong.
This is a heartless, hopeless song.
This is an empty, useless song.

The Face of Love
-- by Frank Stanford

he has one of them
like a very famous
her mother was good looking
and drove a convertible
her father a drunk
they invited me to their home
several times
they went over my shoes
looked at my pistols
they had lovely affairs there
the grandmother
was hard of hearing
and wore a disfigured cameo
she told of days gone
when she rode an Arabian to the Landing
to meet the boat
there would he books and cologne from Paris
material and perhaps a piano
and no counts from New Orleans
as the story goes she married one
it turned out this way
and the legend continues
blood and starlight in the river
African violets and capes
Chopin and back roads
and her granddaughter was just like him
silent and cruel
always taking her beauty rest
and her best friend's

* Soi disantra analyzes the first half of Tanglewood Numbers. excerpt:

"This is the best record of the year. This is the best record of the Silver Jews career. All you Natural Bridge devotees will scoff at that, but it’s the truth. This is the record that cements DCB as one of the great songwriters of our time. Let’s see, what more ridiculous hype can I throw out there … best record of the decade so far? Um … yeah, I think so! Not even close, actually! It can be the latest to take the 'best since In the Aeroplane' title, but I think this is the album that might hold on to it for a while. Like the best work of you know who, it has all the ingredients of a perfect album: it makes you think, it makes you laugh, it makes you want to jump up and down sometimes, it makes you just want to sit there and listen, man sometimes. It’s a Silver Jews record, so it obviously has incomparable lyrics, but it’s also a fleshed out rock ‘n’ roll record. You could argue that past Joos records were one-dimensional. That’s not the case here."

* The Caribbean play the Black Cat (it's a cd release party as well, for their new album on Hometapes Plastic Explosives -- for those outside DC the record is available Tuesday) September 15th (tomorrow night). Opener Nick Butcher starts at 9:30.

September 13, 2005

everybody's trying to make us another century of fakers

you spin me right round, by dronepop

* From an interview of Hunter S. Thompson in The Paris Review, Issue 156, spring 2000:

Q: the san francisco scene brought together many unlikely pairs -- you and allen ginsberg, for instance. how did you come to know Allen during this period.

HST: I met allen in san francisco when I went to a marijuana dealer who sold by the lid. I remember it was ten dollars when I first started going to that apartment and then it was up to fifteen. I ended up going there pretty often, and Ginsberg -- this was in haight-ashbury -- was always there looking for weed too. I went over and introduced myself and we ended up talking a lot. I told him about the book I was writing and asked if he would help with it. He helped me with it for several months; that's how he got to know the Hell's Angels. We would also go down to Kesey's in la honda.

One saturday, I drove down the coast highway from san francisco to la honda and I took Juan, my two year old son, with me. there was a magnificant cross-breeding of people there. Allen was there, the hell's angels -- and the cops were there too, to prevent a hell's angels riot. seven or eight cop cars. Kesey's house was across the creek from the road, sort of a two-lane blacktop country compound, which was really a weird place. for one thing, huge amplifiers were mounted everywhere in all the trees, and some were mounted across the road on wires, so to be on the road was to be in this horrible vortex of sound, this pounding, you could barely hear yourself think -- rock n roll at the highest amps.

That day, even before the angels got there, the cops began arresting anyone who left the compound. I was by the house; Juan was sleeping peacefully in the backseat of the car. it got to be outrageous -- the cops were popping people. You could see them about a hundred yards away, but then they would bust somebody very flagrantly, so Allen said "you know, we've got to do something about this." I agreed, so with Allen in the passenger's seat, Juan in the back sleeping, and me driving, we took off after the cops that had just busted another person we knew, who was leaving just to go to a restaurant on the corner. Then the cops got after us.

Allen at the very sight of the cops went into his om, trying to hum them off. I was talking to them like a journalist would: "what's going on here, Officer." Allen's humming was supposed to be a buddhist barrier against the bad vibes the cops were producing and he was doing it very loudly, refusing to speak to them, just om!, om!, om!. I had to explain to the cops who he was and why he was doing this. the cops looked into the backseat and said, "what is that back there? A child?" and I said, "oh yeah, that's my son." With Allen still going, om, we were let go. He was a reasonable cop, I guess -- checking out a poet, a journalist and a child. never did figure Ginsberg out, though. It was like the humming of a bee. It was one of the weirdest scenes I've ever been through, but almost every scene with Allen was weird in one way or another.

* a tale of two cities: In New Orleans, some lost everything, others were properly prepared.

"With police officers and federal law enforcement agents ratcheting up the pressure on residents to leave, the holdouts worry that it is just a matter of time before they are forced out.

"Ms. Harris said she did not want to leave. 'I haven't even run out of weed yet' she said.

[Additionally, according to the caption to the picture at the link, the well-prepared Emily Harris who lives on Desire Street, has food and water for a year, gasoline, a canoe and a dog for protection.]

"But she knows that fighting with police officers is futile."

* Jonathan Ames on the U.S. Open. [via].

September 12, 2005

a hustle here and a hustle there

Investigation of Poverty at the Russell Sage Foundation, 1933, alice neel

* Newsweek: How Bush Blew It. long, but a must read. excerpt:

"It's a standing joke among the president's top aides: who gets to deliver the bad news? Warm and hearty in public, Bush can be cold and snappish in private, and aides sometimes cringe before the displeasure of the president of the United States, or, as he is known in West Wing jargon, POTUS. The bad news on this early morning, Tuesday, Aug. 30, some 24 hours after Hurricane Katrina had ripped through New Orleans, was that the president would have to cut short his five-week vacation by a couple of days and return to Washington.
"The reality, say several aides who did not wish to be quoted because it might displease the president, did not really sink in until Thursday night. Some White House staffers were watching the evening news and thought the president needed to see the horrific reports coming out of New Orleans. Counselor Bartlett made up a DVD of the newscasts so Bush could see them in their entirety as he flew down to the Gulf Coast the next morning on Air Force One."
"But it is not clear what President Bush does read or watch, aside from the occasional biography and an hour or two of ESPN here and there. Bush can be petulant about dissent; he equates disagreement with disloyalty. After five years in office, he is surrounded largely by people who agree with him. Bush can ask tough questions, but it's mostly a one-way street. Most presidents keep a devil's advocate around. Lyndon Johnson had George Ball on Vietnam; President Ronald Reagan and Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, grudgingly listened to the arguments of Budget Director Richard Darman, who told them what they didn't wish to hear: that they would have to raise taxes. When Hurricane Katrina struck, it appears there was no one to tell President Bush the plain truth: that the state and local governments had been overwhelmed, that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was not up to the job and that the military, the only institution with the resources to cope, couldn't act without a declaration from the president overriding all other authority."
"Late last week, Bush was, by some accounts, down and angry. But another Bush aide described the atmosphere inside the White House as "strangely surreal and almost detached." At one meeting described by this insider, officials were oddly self-congratulatory, perhaps in an effort to buck each other up. Life inside a bunker can be strange, especially in defeat."

* Harp on Tanglewood Numbers:

"The Silver Jews sound bigger. Not just because Tanglewood Numbers incorporates some Nashvillian arrangements, or because Dave Berman actually attempts a vocal range, but rather because this latest album is something fuller and more consistent than even the Jews’ 1998 near-masterpiece American Water. Throwing some ’80s synth into the mix and bringing back Stephen Malkmus, Tanglewood kicks off on a superb note with 'Punks in the Beerlight' and the classic Berman line, 'Where’s the paper bag that holds the liquor/just in case I feel the need to puke'—only to be followed by another: 'Where does an animal sleep/when the ground is wet?' on 'Sometimes a Pony Gets Depressed.' It also seems Berman found his singing partner and married her. Cassie Marrett, who laid her velvet voice over 2002’s Bright Flight, now appears as Cassie Berman and delivers a more confident counter to Berman’s ultra-droll delivery on 'Animal Shapes' and 'How Can I Love You (If You Won’t Lie Down)' among others. The country popper 'Sleeping Is the Only Love' sounds near radio friendly and is on par with Berman’s finest past strummers like 'Random Rules,' 'Slow Education' and 'How to Rent a Room.' And I’m taking bets that nobody will write a better line this year than “You might as well say ‘fuck me’/cause I’m gonna keep on lovin’ you.'"

* Top ten conservative idiots.

September 9, 2005

how many times can a man turn his head
pretending he just doesn't see

screenshot from sky news Ireland

going there
-- by jack gilbert

of course it was a disaster
that unbearable, dearest secret
has always been a disaster.
the danger when we try to leave.
going over and over afterward
what we should have done
instead of what we did.
but for those short times
we seemed to be alive. mislead,
misused, lied to and cheated,
certainly. still, for that
little while, we visited
our possible life.

Young In New Orleans
-- by Charles Bukowski

starving there, sitting around the bars,
and at night walking the streets for hours,
the moonlight always seemed fake
to me, mabye it was,
and in the French Quarter I watched
the horses and buggies going by,
everybody sitting high in the open
carriages, the black driver, and in
back the man and the woman,
usually young and always white.
and I was always white.
and hardly charmed by the

New Orleans was a place to
I could piss away my life,
except for the rats.
the rats in my small dark room
very much resented sharing it
with me.
they were large and fearless
and stared at me with eyes
that spoke
an unblinking

women were beyond me.
they saw something
there was one waitress
a little older than
I, she rather smiled,
lingered when she
brought my
that was plenty for
me, that was

there was something about
that city, though:
it didn't let me feel guilty
that I had no feeling for the
things so many others
it let me alone.
sitting up in my bed
the lights out,
hearing the outside
lifting my cheap
bottle of wine,
letting the warmth of
the grape

as I heard the rats
moving about the
I preferred them
being lost,
being crazy mabye
is not so bad
if you can be
that way:
New Orleans gave me

nobody ever called
my name.
no telephone,
no car,
no job,
no anything.
me and the
and my youth,
one time,
that time
I knew
even through the
it was a
of something not to
but only

September 8, 2005

it was the worst of the lord some of the worst of the lord

Steven Roebuck, Overdose, Oil on Masonite

* Sidney Blumenthal in Salon:

"The Bush administration's mishandling of Hurricane Katrina stands as the pluperfect case study of the Republican Party's theory and practice of government. For decades conservatives have funded think tanks, filled libraries and conducted political campaigns to promote the idea of limited government. Now, in New Orleans, the theory has been tested. The floodwaters have rolled over the rhetoric.

"Under Bush, government has been 'limited' only in certain weak spots, like levees, while in other spots it has vastly expanded into a behemoth subsisting on the greatest deficit spending in our history. State and local governments have not been empowered, but rendered impotent, in the face of circumstances beyond their means in which they have desperately requested federal intervention. Experienced professionals in government have been forced out, tried-and-true policies discarded, expert research ignored, and cronies elevated to senior management."
The White House released a waterfall of themes. No matter how contradictory, administration officials maintained message discipline. The first imperative was to disclaim and deflect responsibility. White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan admonished the press corps, 'This is not a time to get into any finger-pointing or politics or anything of that nature.' [ed. note: as john stewart said, anyone who doesn't want to play the blame game is to blame.] The president down to the lowliest talk show hosts echoed the line that criticism during the crisis and reporting its causes were unseemly and vaguely unpatriotic.
"On Sept. 1, the Pentagon announced the award of a major contract for repair of damaged naval facilities on the Gulf Coast to Halliburton, the firm whose former CEO is Vice President Dick Cheney and whose chief lobbyist is Joe Allbaugh.

"Hurricane Katrina is the anti-9/11 in its divisive political effect, its unearthing of underlying domestic problems, and its disorienting impact on the president and his administration. Yet, in other ways, the failure of government before the hurricane struck is reminiscent of the failures leading into 9/11. The demotion of FEMA resembles the demotion of counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke. In both cases, the administration ignored clear warnings.

"In a conversation with a former diplomat with decades of experience, I raised these parallels. But the Bush administration response evoked something else for him. 'It reminds me of Africa,' he said. 'Governments that prey on their people.'"

related: Ray Davies on New Orleans [via]:

"I have been astonished by the reactions and apparent shame of some of the U.S. television reporters who seemed overwhelmed to discover that there actually is poverty in America. They made me want to grab my television and shout 'Hello, dear reporter, yes, America actually does have poor and underprivileged people as well. Hello, yes, the president might well be slow to react but at times like this, that's all that an over-burdened, out-of-touch president can be."

* clusterfuck nation. excerpt:

"The actual tendency in practice, is to build back pretty much what was there before, because the insurance companies demand it. If a strip mall was washed away, then the insurer will only finance the rebuilding of a strip mall. This is most unfortunate, particularly for those places further east of New Orleans along the Gulf Coast, and a hundred miles inland, because they were composed primarily of suburban sprawl. If they rebuild along that template, they will do so in the face of strong signals from reality that the age of Easy Motoring is over. The romance of the car may be too great to overcome in Dixie.
"The biggest shock to the public lies a couple of months ahead when the cost of natural gas for home heating (50 percent of the dwellings in America) combines with stubbornly higher pump prices to whap them upside the head. Natural gas at around $12.00 is now many times what it cost as recently as 2003 ($3.00). A lot of Americans will be shivering this winter and some of the weak, old, and poor will die as a result.

"President Bush has already taken a hit on his appointees' Chinese Fire Drill response to disaster management. But the toll from the energy problems the whole nation faces will be more insidious. Strapped for cash from filling their gas tanks, unable to buy Christmas presents at WalMart, and huddled around space heaters, the public will be wondering why they were so poorly prepared."

* Interesting Roy Kesey interview of George Saunders over at Maud Newton's site.

* "The man who by swindling or wrongdoing acquires great wealth for himself at the expense of his fellow, stands as low morally as any predatory medieval nobleman." -- Theodore Roosevelt

September 7, 2005

everyone is an actor, everybody lies

icons at big easy, william a. smith

-- by chuck d, September 2 2005

New Orleans in the morning, afternoon, and night
Hell NO, we Aint Allright

Now all these press conferences
breakin news alerts
this just in
while your government looks
for a war to win
flames from the blame game, names?
where do i begin?
walls closin in
get some help to my kin
Who cares?
while the rest of the bushnation stares
as the drama unfolds
as we the people under the stares
50% of this son of a bush nation
is like hatin on haiti
an settin up assasinations
ask Pat Robertson- quiz him…..
…smells like terrorism.
racism in the news
still one sided news
saying whites find food
prey for the national guard ready to shoot
cause them blacks loot

New Orleans in the morning, afternoon, and night
Hell NO, we Aint Allright

Fires, earthquakes, tsunamis
i dont mean to scare
wasnt this written somewhere?
disgraces all i see is black faces
moved out to all these places
emergency state
corpses, alligators and snakes
big difference
between this haze
and them diamonds on the VMAs
we better look
whats really important
under this sun
especially if you over 21
this aint no tv show
this aint no video
this is really real
beyond them same ol ‘keep it real’
quotes from them Tv stars drivin big rim cars
’streets be floodin, ‘b’
no matter where you at, no gas
driving is a luxury
state of emergency
shows somebodys government
is far from reality….

New Orleans in the morning, afternoon, and night
Hell NO, we Aint Allright

I see here we be the new faces of refugees
who aint even overseas but here on our knees
forget the plasma TV-aint no electricity
new worlds upside down-and out of order
shelter? food? wsssup, wheres the water?
no answers from disaster them masses hurtin
so who the fk we call?–Halliburton?
son of a bush, how you gonna trust that cat?
to fix sht
when help is stuck in Iraq?
makin war plans takin more stands
in Afganistan
2000 soldiers dyin in the sand
but thats over there, right?
now what’s over here
is a noise so loud
that some cant hear
but on TV i can see
bunches of people
lookin just like me.

-- by Gregory Corso

is Life
It flows thru
the death of me
like a river
of becoming
the sea

-- by Tina Brown Celona

She is hiding the poem under the bed. It is dark under the bed and it smells like cat. It is raining out. Fortunately for poetry it is raining.

My heart is a box lined with tears. They sparkle like diamonds. They sparkle for you.

He is in Nice attending a conference. The astronomers are acting like monkeys. They hotly debate the Anthropic Principle while holding on by their tails. They are learned and fearful and they joke as they twist their tails and beam.

There is a string of bees in the box.

She reads about Paul Klee in the hope that it will interest him but she herself is not interested and so she desists after 1902. In 1902 Paul Klee became more interested in God than in his wife.

I write words on the forehead and around the corners of the mouth. My human faces are truer than real ones.

There is a glow-in-the-dark owl in the box.

You are sleeping. Dreams glide through your brain: stars collapsing, universes expanding, numbers assembling. I dream of losing a pair of red shoes.

* nameless voices crying for kindness, by the fugs

September 6, 2005

under the radar people are falling down

Phoebe Antrim, Mingus Hot and Cool

from Simone de Beauvoir's facinating chronicle of her first visit to the United States in 1947, America Day by Day:

On New Orleans:

"the old colonial city was built in a checkerboard pattern, like modern cities, but its narrow streets are lined with one-or two story houses that are reminiscent of both Spain and France. They have the serentiy of Anjou and Touraine, but the lovely, lacy wrought iron balconies make me think of the balconies in Cordoba and the wrought iron grilles on the windows of Arab palaces. An Andalusian warmth infuses the provincial silence. Exoticism here is no longer Mexican or Indial; it's French....

"there are several streets where every second door is a bar or nightclub. in this area they only sell books: new, used, bargains. the shops are tiny and spill out onto the sidewalk, offering the passerby boxes of old, damaged volumes...

"the french quarter in the heart of New Orleans is like a hard white almond, but the generous, bruised pulp that expands around this pit has a headier the streets of the old quarter where we're strolling toward evening, we see announcements for bands, nude dancers and showgirls but what we want to hear is real jazz played by black musicians...

"we enter Napoleon's House, where we like the dark wood decor, but there's no jazz. the owner is friendly because we are French, and we explain to him that we want to hear some good black jazz. His face darkens for a moment. the situation has been very tense between blacks and whites for some time and the blacks no longer want to perform for whaites. However, he suggests we try Absinthe House...

"suddenly, we're transported. the music is nothing like the music at Cafe Society or even the music in Harlem -- the three blacks are playing passionately, for themselves.... [in another bar] a young black women, half-drunk, is at the piano, and she plays some old jazz very movingly. there's a swarm of people who all seem drenched in alcohol, but drunkeness and vice are worn lightly here....

"Through its storms, its sun, its humid nights, its pearly gray spring smelling of autumn, New Orleans seems worthy of its fabulous legends. I know its one of the poorest cities in America, where life is extremely harsh; its stagnant luxury already seems ambiguous to us, and we would have liked to penetrate further into its heart, to live here in the reality of daily life. On leaving, I resolve: 'I will return.'"

* Olbermann. excerpt:

"No one is suggesting that mayors or governors in the afflicted areas, nor the federal government, should be able to stop hurricanes. Lord knows, no one is suggesting that we should ever prioritize levee improvement for a below-sea-level city, ahead of $454 million worth of trophy bridges for the politicians of Alaska.

"But, nationally, these are leaders who won re-election last year largely by portraying their opponents as incapable of keeping the country safe. These are leaders who regularly pressure the news media in this country to report the reopening of a school or a power station in Iraq, and defies its citizens not to stand up and cheer. Yet they couldn't even keep one school or power station from being devastated by infrastructure collapse in New Orleans — even though the government had heard all the 'chatter' from the scientists and city planners and hurricane centers and some group whose purposes the government couldn't quite discern... a group called The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"And most chillingly of all, this is the Law and Order and Terror government. It promised protection — or at least amelioration — against all threats: conventional, radiological, or biological.

"It has just proved that it cannot save its citizens from a biological weapon called standing water."
"For many of this country's citizens, the mantra has been — as we were taught in Social Studies it should always be — whether or not I voted for this President — he is still my President. I suspect anybody who had to give him that benefit of the doubt stopped doing so last week. I suspect a lot of his supporters, looking ahead to '08, are wondering how they can distance themselves from the two words which will define his government — our government — 'New Orleans.'"

* Opening today in DC -- Busboys and Poets located at 14th and V (in the Langston Lofts: Lanston Hughes was a busboy and a poet), is "Washington's newest gathering place, with a full service bar, restaurant, Free WiFi coffee house, bookstore and a fully equipped performance stage. Busboys & Poets serves American cuisine with an eclectic twist, including many vegetarian and vegan options.

"Busboys & Poets Books is operated in association with Teaching for Change, an activist organization committed to building social justice. The bookstore stocks the largest selection of progressive poetry in the city, progressive political books and media, and independent retail items." for more information click here. I took a look in the window over the weekend and saw Howard Zinn books and graphic novels, certainly a good sign.

* Soi Disantra power ranks top moments from Jarmusch's Dead Man.

September 2, 2005

reflect what you are, in case you don't know

Jonathan Weston, Absinthe

The Drink
-- by ron padgett

I am always interested in the people in films who have just had a drink thrown in their faces. Sometimes they react with uncontrollable rage, but sometimes-my favorites-they do not change their expressions at all. Instead they raise a handkerchief or napkin and calmly dab at the offending liquid, as the hurler jumps to her feet and storms away. The other people at the table are understandably uncomfortable. A woman leans over and places her hand on the sleeve of the man's jacket and says, "David, you know she didn't mean it." David answers, "Yes," but in an ambiguous tone-the perfect adult response. But now the orchestra has resumed its amiable and lively dance music, and the room is set in motion as before. Out in the parking lot, however, Elizabeth is setting fire to David's car. Yes, this is a contemporary film.

Bud Powell, Paris, 1959
-- by William Matthews

I’d never seen pain so bland.
Smack, though I didn’t call it smack
in 1959, had eaten his technique.
His white-water right hand clattered
missing runs nobody else would think
to try, nor think to be outsmarted
by. Nobody played as well
as Powell, and neither did he,
stalled on his bench between sets,
stolid and vague, my hero,
his mocha skin souring gray.
Two bucks for a Scotch in this dump,
I thought, and I bought me
another. I was young and pain
rose to my ceiling, like warmth,
like a story that makes us come true
in the present. Each day’s
melodrama in Powell’s cells
bored and lulled him. Pain loves pain
and calls it company, and it is.

Aspects of Robinson
-- by Weldon Kees

Robinson at cards at the Algonquin: a thin
Blue light comes down once more outside the blinds.
Gray men in overcoats are ghosts blown past the door.
The taxis streak the avenues with yellow, orange, and red.
This is Grand Central, Mr. Robinson.

Robinson on a roof above the Heights; the boats
Mourn like the lost. Water is slate, far down.
Through sounds of ice cubes dropped in glass, an osteopath,
Dressed for the links, describes an old Intourist tour.
—Here’s where old Gibbons jumped from, Robinson.

Robinson walking in the Park, admiring the elephant.
Robinson buying the Tribune, Robinson buying the Times.
Saying, "Hello. Yes, this is Robinson. Sunday
At five? I’d love to. Pretty well. And you?"
Robinson alone at Longchamps, staring at the wall.

Robinson afraid, drunk, sobbing Robinson
In bed with a Mrs. Morse. Robinson at home;
Decisions: Toynbee or luminol? Where the sun
Shines, Robinson in flowered trunks, eyes toward
The breakers. Where the night ends, Robinson in East Side bars.

Robinson in Glen plaid jacket, Scotch-grain shoes,
Black four-in-hand and oxford button-down,
The jeweled and silent watch that winds itself, the brief-
Case, covert topcoat, clothes for spring, all covering
His sad and usual heart, dry as a winter leaf.

* Must Listen: Excellent interview of the Mayor of New Orleans broadcast on CNN thursday night.

September 1, 2005

water doesn't give a damn

irregular grid, sol lewitt

* Yesterday (and today and for the forseeable future), in New Orleans, America's 35th largest city, not one light was turned on, not one toilet was flushed and not even one dollar worth of items was sold.

New York Times:

"George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast. He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end."
"Sacrifices may be necessary to make sure that all these things happen in an orderly, efficient way. But this administration has never been one to counsel sacrifice. And nothing about the president's demeanor yesterday - which seemed casual to the point of carelessness - suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis.

"While our attention must now be on the Gulf Coast's most immediate needs, the nation will soon ask why New Orleans's levees remained so inadequate. Publications from the local newspaper to National Geographic have fulminated about the bad state of flood protection in this beloved city, which is below sea level. Why were developers permitted to destroy wetlands and barrier islands that could have held back the hurricane's surge? Why was Congress, before it wandered off to vacation, engaged in slashing the budget for correcting some of the gaping holes in the area's flood protection?

"It would be some comfort to think that, as Mr. Bush cheerily announced, America 'will be a stronger place' for enduring this crisis. Complacency will no longer suffice, especially if experts are right in warning that global warming may increase the intensity of future hurricanes. But since this administration won't acknowledge that global warming exists, the chances of leadership seem minimal."

* the rude pundit:

"At some point here, some wise, ambitious, and none-too-cynical member of Congress, perhaps Chuck Hagel, perhaps Russ Feingold, needs to say the obvious: Hurricane Katrina offers the ultimate exit strategy from Iraq. What other excuse need there be to pull vast numbers of troops and billions of dollars out of our overseas failure?

"The patently absurd waste of billions of dollars will be brought to light by the suffering along the Gulf Coast. A couple of months from now, whenever some worthless, stupid right-wing fuck puppet declares that the U.S. has built schools in Basra, it'll simply be a reminder of how much faster things could have been done in Biloxi if all those funds and all that personnel were readily available."
"The exit strategy works on so many levels: it's actually a graceful way to pull out of Iraq. We're not cuttin' and runnin'. We need the troops back home. And even bloated hogfuckers in Congress and the Administration, who wanna keep the government largesse in the pockets of Halliburton and other companies, can get on board. Fuck, get private contractors to take care of various and sundry shit along the way. Move the whole goddamn 'rebuilding' operation to the southeast U.S. They need bridges, infrastructure, water, food, shelter."

* "In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot." -- Czeslaw Milosz