February 28, 2006

winter weather is not my soul

George Grosz, Remember Uncle August, the Unhappy Inventor, 1919

* From an interview of Ed Sanders of the Fugs, originally published May 12, 1967 in the Berkeley Barb [via an Arthur Magazine email] excerpt:

"Interviewer: I take it you're not as optimistic as Tuli [Kupferberg] seems to be about the possibility of radical socio-political change in America?

"Ed Sanders: My motto is 'Fuck God in the ass.' I don't have any faith at all in the efficacy of politics. I don't know what's going to happen. I'm political — I vote and hustle and hike, fight and scream. Non-violently. I don't know what to do. We just try. I assume that what people want is a transformation of the society, right? They want to set up a new type of government, a new type of methods for doing almost everything, from handling the A&P to handling the problems of war and peace — so how is it done? I read everything I can read, and I go to all the demonstrations, and nobody's even set up a cabinet - they ought to set up some sort of rebel cabinet and issue big decrees all the time about where it is they're pissed off. I don't know. The way to do it is really be militant, man,and get after them … the bastards.

"Ogar: What about loving your enemy to death?

"Sanders: Love is a strong force if used by a whole bunch of people. Love vibrations have to be simple. Love energy is like -- it melts rather than discriminates, and that's all right. But ..I don't see how you could disrupt the war machinery with love, because human beings are, like, abstracted from the war machine. That's the way they've developed it through electronics and computers. The further away an idea or an institution is from the human mind, the harder it is to dissolve it with love. It's like trying to make love to an electricity cable, because that's what it is, … it's all electricity on cards and memory units. If you don't have any love targets, you know, your love vectors can't grope in on somebody and try to transform them."

* Arundhati Roy on Bush's upcoming, 'bloodstained' visit to Ghandi's memorial concludes:

"Oh, and on March 2, Bush will be taken to visit Gandhi's memorial in Rajghat. He's by no means the only war criminal who has been invited by the Indian government to lay flowers at Rajghat. (Only recently we had the Burmese dictator General Than Shwe, no shrinking violet himself.) But when Bush places flowers on that famous slab of highly polished stone, millions of Indians will wince. It will be as though he has poured a pint of blood on the memory of Gandhi.

"We really would prefer that he didn't.

"It is not in our power to stop Bush's visit. It is in our power to protest it, and we will. The government, the police and the corporate press will do everything they can to minimize the extent of our outrage. Nothing the happy newspapers say can change the fact that all over India, from the biggest cities to the smallest villages, in public places and private homes, George W. Bush, the President of the United States of America, world nightmare incarnate, is just not welcome."

* Sudan man forced to marry a goat after being caught having sex with the animal. excerpt:

"'We have given him the goat, and as far as we know they are still together' Mr Alifi said.

"Mr Alifi, Hai Malakal in Upper Nile State, told the Juba Post newspaper that he heard a loud noise around midnight on 13 February and immediately rushed outside to find Mr. Tombe with his goat."

"'When I asked him: 'What are you doing there?', he fell off the back of the goat, so I captured and tied him up.'

"Mr Alifi then called elders to decide how to deal with the case.

"'They said I should not take him to the police, but rather let him pay a dowry for my goat because he used it as his wife,' Mr Alifi told the newspaper."

* If writers were good businessmen, they'd have too much sense to be writers." -- Irvin S. Cobb

February 27, 2006

I don't know how the metal gets rusty
when it never rains here

american pride, by dronepop.

* Top Ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"3. The Bush Administration

"The most bizarre excuse to come from Bush & Co. over the past week was that - hey, they didn't even know about the ports deal until it was done! As if that should make everyone feel better.

"Not only was Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff unaware of the deal, he wasn't even aware 'that his agency was leading the review until after the deal's approval,' according to the Washington Times.

"Treasury Secretary John Snow said he didn't know about the deal either, despite the fact that he was supposedly head of the panel that cleared it.

"Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said 'I wasn't aware of this until this weekend.'

"And the White House claimed that Bush didn't know about the deal until he read about it in the newspapers. Unfortunately that claim was debunked by Scott McClellan, who announced last week that Bush has known about the deal since February 16. (Video courtesy of CanOFun.com.)

"But hey, it's nothing to worry about. After terrorizing us for years with color-coded threat levels, dire tales of WMDs, and suggestions that people stock up on duct tape and plastic sheeting, George W. Bush now says that 'people don't need to worry about security.'

"See? All we have to do is trust him, and everything will be fine. After all, the Bush administration has shown itself to be really trustworthy in the past, right?"

* From Harper's:

-- Minimum number of times that Frederick Douglas was beaten in what is now Donald Rumsfeld's vacation home: 25

-- Miles from Berlin's World Cup stadium that a four-story brothel has recently opened: 2

-- Chances that a Japanese person will make eye contact during conversation with another Japanese person: 2 in 5

-- Chance that he or she will make eye contact during conversation with a robot: 3 in 5

-- Amount paid in January for one of William Shatner's kidney stones: $25,000

-- Number of U.S. states whose constitutions require that public officials believe in a supreme being: 4

* Essay on (the book) A Clockwork Orange concludes:

"A Clockwork Orange is not completely coherent. If youth is violent because the young are like “malenky machines” who cannot help themselves, what becomes of the free will that Burgess otherwise saw as the precondition of morality? Do people grow into free will from a state of automatism, and, if so, how and when? And if violence is only a passing phase, why should the youth of one age be much more violent than the youth of another? How do we achieve goodness, both on an individual and social level, without resort to the crude behaviorism of the Ludovico Method or any other form of cruelty? Can we bypass consciousness and reflection in our struggle to behave well?

"There are no schematic answers in the book. One cannot condemn a novel of 150 pages for failing to answer some of the most difficult and puzzling questions of human existence, but one can praise it for raising them in a peculiarly profound manner and forcing us to think about them. To have combined this with acute social prophecy (to say nothing of entertainment) is genius."

* "It is a Dick Cheney world out there - a world where politicians and lobbyists hunt together, dine together, drink together, play together, pray together and prey together, all the while carving up the world according to their own interests." -- Bill Moyers (from this recent speech)

February 24, 2006

Lovely jewels in joy designed La la la la...

flyer by stereogab

Next Saturday March 4, 2006 Dust Congress Presents Four Bands No Bucks


-- the fake accents

-- the caribbean

-- the foreign press

-- The Plums

DCAC (Adams Morgan wdc). doors @ 8:45, music @ 9:15

* Three Poems by Adrienne Rich

for the dead

I dreamed I called you on the telephone
to say: Be kinder to yourself
but you were sick and would not answer

The waste of my love goes on this way
trying to save you from yourself

I have always wondered about the left-over
energy, the way water goes rushing down a hill
long after the rains have stopped

or the fire you want to go to bed from
but cannot leave, burning-down but not burnt-down
the red coals more extreme, more curious
in their flashing and dying
than you wish they were
sitting long after midnight

November 1968

you're beginning to float free
up through the smoke of brushfires
and incinerators
the unleafed branches won't hold you
nor the radar aerials

You're what the autumn knew would happen
after the last collapse
of primary color
once the last absolutes were torn to pieces
you could begin

How you broke open, what sheathed you
until this moment
I know nothing about it
my ignorance of you amazes me
now that I watch you
starting to give yourself away
to the wind

In Those Years

In those years, people will say, we lost track
of the meaning of we, of you
we found ourselves
reduced to I
and the whole thing became
silly, ironic, terrible:
we were trying to live a personal life
and yes, that was the only life
we could bear witness to

But the great dark birds of history screamed and plunged
into our personal weather
They were headed somewhere else but their beaks and pinions drove
along the shore, through the rags of fog
where we stood, saying I

February 23, 2006

they say tomorrow will never arrive
though I've seen it end a million times

Stephen Shore 5th St and Broadway Eureka, California 1974

* Coversation with William T. Vollmann. [via] excerpt:

KB: Why do you live in this particular city?

William Vollmann: I'm here because this is where my wife got a job. She's a doctor, a radiation oncologist. I would have preferred to move back to San Francisco. We have a daughter. Lisa, six years old. We've been here 15 years. I'm from Los Angeles originally. I lived there until I was five. I went to high school in Indiana. I spent some time in New Hampshire, Indiana, was in New York for a while, now I'm back here. I'm really from the sidewalk. I'm from everywhere. I'm just a typical rootless American. My father was a business professor.

KB: Why do you deal with whores and pimps, the denizens of the Tenderloin? What is the philosophical basis for this?

WV: The fundamental intellectual level of humanity has and will always be low. New technological possibilities mean more experimental things can be forgotten in new ways. There are amazing filmmakers, like the Soviet Dziga Vertov. Who knows who this guy is and who cares? Who knows or cares who Joyce was? That means people who want to write at that level, and I include myself, are only doing so because we love it. In the end, what else is there? There is no prize, including the Nobel Prize, which can compensate you for the work you put in. If it's not a joy, you shouldn't do it. If you don't get published, that's unfortunate insofar as whatever else you must do to stay alive consumes and prevents you from doing what you really must do. When I wrote Rising Up and Rising Down, it took me 23 years, and my publishers all said if you want it to see the light of day, you have to cut it. And I said no. I fully expected that it would never appear. I was fortunate that McSweeney's agreed to publish it. Now it's out of print.
KB: Your characters are compulsive womanizers. Is this autobiographical?

WV: If I answered yes to that question, you might think I was a bad person. If I answered no, you might be disappointed.

KB: I'm asking this because the conventional reader might think you degrade women in your writing.

WV: I have many female readers. They can see that I love women. In America, so many are ashamed of the body and sexuality. What passes for feminism and a defense of gender is Puritanism in a new disguise. I get annoyed when society tells me how I must behave. I feel the need to rebel. It's an immature and justified rage against authority. The hypocrisy, the idiocy and ignorance I hear offends me. But that element will always be there. I'm beyond being outraged or even engaged with such people. I'm involved with a certain kind of life. Be offended or not. But it's real; it's more real than any sort of life that denies the existence of promiscuity or drug use or poverty. I'm trying to say, this is how it is. These people are as good or as bad as everyone else. We should know one another. If you don't want to know the other, you don't want to know me.

* Soon to be an Olympic sport? Nude ice dancing.

* Dorothy Parker's FBI file.

* From a May 1961 speech by Guy Debord. excerpt:

"The present artistic calling in question of language — appearing at the same time as that metalanguage of machines which is nothing other than the bureaucratized language of the bureaucracy in power — will then be superseded by higher forms of communication. The present notion of a decipherable social text will lead to new methods of writing this social text, in the direction my situationist comrades are presently seeking with unitary urbanism and some preliminary ventures in experimental behaviour. The central aim of an entirely reconverted and redirected industrial production will be the organization of new configurations of everyday life, the free creation of events.

"The critique and perpetual re-creation of the totality of everyday life, before being carried out naturally by everyone, must be undertaken within the present conditions of oppression, in order to destroy those conditions.

"An avant-garde cultural movement, even one with revolutionary sympathies, cannot accomplish this. Neither can a revolutionary party on the traditional model, even if it accords a large place to criticism of culture (understanding by that term the entirety of artistic and conceptual means through which a society explains itself to itself and shows itself goals of life). This culture and this politics are both worn out and it is not without reason that most people take no interest in them. The revolutionary transformation of everyday life — which is not reserved for some vague future but is placed immediately before us by the development of capitalism and its unbearable demands (the only alternative being the reinforcement of the modern slavery) — this transformation will mark the end of all unilateral artistic expression stocked in the form of commodities, at the same time as the end of all specialized politics.

"This is going to be the task of a new type of revolutionary organization, from its inception."

February 22, 2006

We're gonna kill the California girls

helmut federle, cornerfield painting

-- by MTC Cronin

Everything fails.
So why bother calling it that.
It doesn¹t distinguish anything.
Why bother when everyone bothers.
Except for a few.
They succeed in failing before the rest.
(They know what to call it.
(And don¹t bother doing so.))
Success is inevitable.

When We Are Lost
-- by Carson McCullers

When we are lost what image tells?
Nothing resembles nothing. Yet nothing
Is not blank. It is configured Hell:
Of noticed clocks on winter afternoons, malignant stars,
Demanding furniture. All unrelated
And with air between.

The terror. Is it of Space, of Time?
Or the joined trickery of both conceptions?
To the lost, transfixed among the self-inflicted ruins,
All that is non-air (if this indeed is not deception)
Is agony immobilized. While Time,
The endless idiot, runs screaming round the world

Torn Shades
-- by Thomas Lux

How, in the first place, did
they get torn-pulled down hard
too many times: to hide a blow,
or sex, or a man
in stained pajamas? The tear blade-shaped,
serrated, in tatters. And once,
in a house flatside to a gas station,
as snow fell at a speed and angle you could lean on,
two small hands (a patch of throat, a whip
of hair across her face)-
two small hands
parting a torn shade
to welcome a wedge of gray sunlight into that room.

Homage to My Hips
-- by Lucille Clifton

these hips are big hips.
they need space to
move around in.
they don't fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don't like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top

* The Onion asks David Berman to "to set [his] MP3 player to 'shuffle' and comment on the first few tracks that come up. No faking us out with cool playlists or skipping embarrassing tracks is allowed, so you, the reader, will be given access into the uncensored, private world of someone else's music library." Check it out.

February 21, 2006

I hope we come up with a failsafe plot
to piss off the dumb few that forgave us

pablo piccaso, by yousuf karsh

* Top Ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"2. Dick Cheney

"But let's dig a little deeper into this near-fatal face-shooting 'mishap.' In an interview with Fox News (more on that in a moment) the vice president said that this was the 'worst day of my life.' Thanks to DUer Stephanie, we can take a closer look at how the worst day of Dick Cheney's life panned out.

"First, Dick enjoyed at least one beer with his barbecue lunch at around 1PM. Then he went out and shot Harry Whittington at about 5:30PM. But rather than going to the hospital to see how his friend was doing, he went back to the house and, according to Katherine Armstrong, 'fixed himself a cocktail.' Then Armstrong, her brother-in-law, and a friend went to the hospital to check on Whittington while Dick Cheney had dinner. Armstrong said Cheney was 'very worried,' but apparently not worried enough to prevent him from going to bed at around 10PM.

"The next morning, the vice president decided that it might not be a bad idea if Katherine Armstrong were to tell the media that, you know, the vice president of the United States had shot a man in the face. He then sat down for a nice quail lunch. Finally, on Sunday afternoon, he went to the hospital to visit Whittington.

"So let's just recap the worst day of the vice president's life:

"SATURDAY MID-DAY: Barbecue, beer
SATURDAY AFTERNOON: Shoot man in face
SATURDAY EVENING: Cocktails, dinner
SUNDAY MORNING: Grudgingly inform media
SUNDAY MID-DAY: Quail lunch
SUNDAY AFTERNOON: Visit man in hospital

"Questions, questions. Did Dick Cheney have more than one beer before going out hunting? Why did he continue to consume alcohol after the accident? Why did he wait until Sunday morning to tell the media and meet with local police? America might not look too favorably on the vice president if it turned out that he had been boozing just before he shot a man in the face.

"But hey, it's not like Dick Cheney has a history of getting into trouble while drinking, right?"

* stereogab has collected all the flyers she made for the now defunct POTLUCK, and assembled them here.

She is also behind the flyers for the dcac shows -- mark your calanders for March 4, 2006 when The Fake Accents, The Caribbean, The Foreign Press and the Plums each play a set. More details to follow, see flyer to the right.

* Nashville's Dave Cloud signs with UK label Fire Records:

Legendary Nashville underground rock musician Dave Cloud has signed a multi-year recording contract with Fire Records in the UK. A European concert tour will coincide with the release of the first Dave Cloud album on the Fire label, Napoleon of Temperance.

The new album is scheduled for release in Europe on 17 April 2006 and will include selections from Cloud's first two U.S. albums, with a few new original songs. To support the new disc Cloud will embark on his first tour of Europe, with tentative dates in London, England and Bergen, Norway. Playing with Cloud will be members of his band The Gospel of Power, including musicians from Lambchop and Clem Snide.

After signing the contract Cloud remarked, "Sky humping and singing in my boxer shorts apparently were not in vain, as now I stand on the precipice of a real career."

* Jeff Stimpson on Richard Yates. excerpt:

"Yates was apparently his own worst enemy. He smoked incessantly, in and out of TB wards almost until the hour he hit that VA floor. He drank. He railed against the Ivy League elite. He pissed on a friend's house. He was carted from Bread Loaf Writers Colony in a straightjacket; the nervous breakdowns in Disturbing the Peace are pure autobiography (as was much of his fiction); and Blake Bailey, his lucky biographer, recounts how more than one girlfriend endured tirades from the man who once screamed he was the 'greatest fucking writer in America.' Weber knew him at the Yaddo writers' conference, where Yates was in a funk because some poet just published in The New Yorker read the manuscript of Easter Parade and thought it stunk.
"In 1983, something about an under-appreciated great writer appealed to me, and I called Yates. Couldn't believe I simply found him in the Boston phone book.

"'I'm trying to reach Richard Yates.'

"'This is Richard Yates.'

"'I'm trying to reach Richard Yates the writer.'

"This is Richard Yates the writer.'

"Jesus, it really was. First thing he did was ask me about my writing. Seven years I'd been at it, then. 'Oh,' he said, 'you're just a beginner.'

"He sounded gentle and quiet. He could be that way on first impressions. 'Nicest thing about me is my stories,' he once admitted to a therapist. My call also came about the time that Yates gave a reading at the University of Massachusetts, and not one person showed up. Indeed, Yates often shambled with no beaded vests to endear him to passersby. Once in the mid-1970s, groggy on anti-depressants and probably whiskey, he actually wandered around [my wife's] neighborhood in Manhattan until a doorman drove him off and called him a bum."

Again, if you haven't discovered the joy of Yates' fiction, grab the short stories, or Easter Parade or Revolutionary Road today.

February 17, 2006

There was a fanfare blowing to the sun
that was floating on the breeze

Kerel Appel, untitled

The Hand
--by Michael Burkard

No one knows the honest
end or beginning -- no one
knows the important details
-- living like this causes
one like her to fold her
hand early, no bluffing
left, and only distracted
ideas as to what's out there.

-- by Patty Seyburn

It's not mine
but I should have seen it coming —
the gradual pulverizing — you know,
eventually it will all disappear,
as will you.
I did not mean for everything
to get smaller.
I did not mean for the rich, richer
and the poor, poorer,
nor for everything to be fair
though my translators
bandy about "justice" and "righteousness"
with abandon
as though words were meant to correlate to thoughts.
As though ideas matter.
And things matter.
Do dunes compensate?
I did not invent intent.
You did.
And the way indented footprints disappear
on the ocean's arrival?
That was yours, too.
How eloquent.

About the Money
-- by Liam Rector

When they say it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.
— Anon.

By the turn of the century
Talking about the money
Replaced talking about the sex,

Talking about one’s so-called
Religious life, and all that
Earlier yak about the psyche.

Talking about the money
Got down to it and captured
The hunger, the hope

The love, and the fear:
Let me hear your money talk,
Many sang.

Money was a good time
(What people want most is
Good times and insurance?)

And money picked up
The garbage the following
Morning. (Someone’s

Got to do it and someone gets
Money to do it.) There was
Really nothing like talking

About the money if you wanted
To really get to know someone,
To get to know what animated,

What moved the American.
Do me. Do it to me, honey.
Do my money. Let’s get cynical:

Let me hear your money talk.

Writing in Water
-- by Rad Smith

Here lies one whose name was writ in water
— Keats' epitaph for himself

It is not like writing in blood:
no vein to open, oath to break.

Just look how it shudders
when I touch my pen to it,
its infatuation with circles,
their escape to the shore
smuggling my text out.

And the illustrations full
of landlessness: fluvial
blues, a rippling
banner of imperial Chinese yellow,

those clouds that float face down
searching for a bottom,
someplace to plant their feet.

February 16, 2006

I've got a net to catch the wind

Don Van Vliet, untitled, 1976

* Greil Marcus on Dylan's Master's of War. [via]. excerpt:

"In 1963, in the small world of folk music, protest songs were the currency. They said that the world should be changed, even implied that songs could change it, and no one wrote better protest songs—or as many—as Bob Dylan. It was a way of getting on the train of his own career, he'd say years later—but to the tens of thousands of high school and college students who had begun to listen to Bob Dylan because, they said, he could draw on their own unshaped anger and rage, terror and fear, and make it all real, even make it poetry, that was not how the songs felt.

"They felt like warnings the world couldn't turn away from, crimes that had to be paid, promises that had to be kept. Bob Dylan wrote songs about the nuclear war that in 1963 almost everyone was sure would take place sometime, somewhere—and in 1962, with the Cuban Missile Crisis, almost had: the war that, as Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense in 1962, said in the recent film The Fog of War, came closer than even the most paranoid protest singer dared imagine. Dylan wrote and sang long, detailed songs about racial injustice, he wrote funny protest songs like 'Talking World War III Blues,' visionary protest songs like 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall'—but mostly he wrote and sang songs that told stories about the wrong inside a nation that believed it was always right: 'With God on Our Side,' 'The Times They Are A-Changin',' 'Blowin' in the Wind.' These were the songs that brought Bob Dylan into the common imagination of the nation, and those were the songs that fixed him there.
"Dylan had stopped singing 'Masters of War' by 1964. Songs like that were 'lies that life is black and white,' he sang that year. He brought it back into his repertoire in the 1980s; he was playing more than a hundred shows a year, and to fill the nights he brought back everything. It was a crowd-pleaser, the number one protest song. But nothing in the song hinted at what it would turn into on February 21, 1991, at the Grammy Awards telecast, where Dylan was to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award.

"The show came square in the middle of the first Iraqi-American War—a break from round-the-clock footage of the bombing of Baghdad. 'Uncle Bobby,' Jack Nicholson said, introducing Dylan, as Dylan and his four-piece band came onstage to play one song. In dark suits, with fedoras pulled down over their faces, the musicians looked like small-time hipster gangsters who'd spent the previous ten years in the same bar waiting for the right deal to break and finally said the hell with it; Dylan held himself with authority, like the bartender.

"It was an instantly infamous performance, and one of the greatest of Dylan's career. He sang the song in disguise; at first, you couldn't tell what it was. He slurred the words as if their narrative was irrelevant and the performance had to communicate as a symbol or not at all. He broke the words down and smashed them up until they worked as pure excitement, until the appearance of a single, whole signifier—'Jesus,' 'Guns,' 'Die'—lit up the night like tracer bullets. The performance was faster, the beat snapping back on itself, then fragmenting as guitar lines shot out of the music as if without human agency—and it might have been a minute, it might have been two, it might have been as long as the performance lasted for the melody to creep out of the noise and the song to reveal itself for what it was.

"Dylan was asked why, on this night of all nights, he chose to sing 'Masters of War.'

"'The war going on,' he said.

"Why did he slur the words, he was asked.

"'I had a cold,' he said.

* Hilarious, must see, old B&W video of British troops taking LSD. (1:37)

* The Rude Pundit on Dick Cheney's blue dress. excerpt:

"The handling of Dick Cheney shooting his own wad all over the face and chest of Whittington is almost bewildering to watch. Last night, in the post-blizzard Northeast, the Rude Pundit stood behind a hunched-over old woman on a street corner who used her cane to beat at the gathered slush, as if she could somehow will the properties of icy water to not make it simply puddle back. But she kept slashin' away. The Rude Pundit wanted to scream, 'Fuck, if you can't walk through it, go around it, or just don't come out all,' but out of respect for the muttering woman, he stood there until the light changed and he could cross the other way. In other words, you can beat that shit for as long as you like, but it ain't goin' away.

"Confusing metaphors aside, what the fuck? Huh? What the fuck would it have taken for Cheney to simply say on Saturday night, 'I shot a man just for snorin' or some such shit. And why the fuck has he said nothing yet? Even some on the right, like Linda Chavez, are wondering, too (so, oh, goody, the story's valid because one of their own thinks it's fucked-up). That's why this is the blue dress, man. At the end of the day, it reveals the arrogance of the men (and the worshipful woman or two they let hang out with 'em) in the White House."
"...But the cover-up is the story, because it says so much about the Bush administration: about its savage hatred of the press, about its secretiveness, about its manipulation of facts, about its ability to blithely lie and call it truth, about its inability to be accountable for any error, about its obvious disdain of the American public.

"If you are an arrogant prick who fucks around on your girlfriend, wrecks her car, kicks her cat, and denies all of it, even if there's a foot print on her cat's ass, what do you think is gonna happen when she sees you drinking milk out of the carton? What do you think she's gonna say when you quickly pull it away and try to say that you weren't doing it? You deserve what you get, motherfucker, you reap what you have sown. For if you're willing to lie about something so mundane, goddamn, what huge, gut-wrenching lies you must also be hiding."

* "Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending." --Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

February 15, 2006

waking you up to close the bar

Ernst Kirchner, the drinker, 1914-15

one thirty-six a.m.
-- by charles bukowski

I laugh sometimes when I think about
Céline at a typewriter
or Dostoevsky...
or Hamsun...
ordinary men with feet, ears, eyes,
ordinary men with hair on their heads
sitting there typing words
while having difficulties with life
while being puzzled almost to madness.

Dostoevsky gets up
he leaves the machine to piss,
comes back
drinks a glass of milk and thinks about
the casino and
the roulette wheel.

Céline stops, gets up, walks to the
window, looks out, thinks, my last patient
died today, I won't have to make any more
visits there.
when I saw him last
he paid his doctor bill;
it's those who don't pay their bills,
they live on and on.
Céline walks back, sits down at the
is still for a good two minutes
then begins to type.

Hamsun stands over his machine thinking,
I wonder if they are going to believe
all these things I write?
he sits down, begins to type.
he doesn't know what a writer's block
he's a prolific son-of-a-bitch
damn near as magnificent as
the sun.
he types away.

and I laugh
not out loud
but all up and down these walls, these
dirty yellow and blue walls
my white cat asleep on the
hiding his eyes from the

he's not alone tonight
and neither am

-- by charles bukowski

I don't know how many bottles of beer
I have consumed while waiting for things
to get better
I dont know how much wine and whisky
and beer
mostly beer
I have consumed after
splits with women-
waiting for the phone to ring
waiting for the sound of footsteps,
and the phone to ring
waiting for the sounds of footsteps,
and the phone never rings
until much later
and the footsteps never arrive
until much later
when my stomach is coming up
out of my mouth
they arrive as fresh as spring flowers:
"what the hell have you done to yourself?
it will be 3 days before you can fuck me!"

the female is durable
she lives seven and one half years longer
than the male, and she drinks very little beer
because she knows its bad for the figure.

while we are going mad
they are out
dancing and laughing
with horney cowboys.

well, there's beer
sacks and sacks of empty beer bottles
and when you pick one up
the bottle fall through the wet bottom
of the paper sack
spilling gray wet ash
and stale beer,
or the sacks fall over at 4 a.m.
in the morning
making the only sound in your life.

rivers and seas of beer
the radio singing love songs
as the phone remains silent
and the walls stand
straight up and down
and beer is all there is.

The Drinker
By Robert Lowell

The man is killing time – there’s nothing else
No help from now from the fifth of bourbon
Chucked helter-skelter into the river,
Even its cork sucked under.

Stubbed before breakfast cigarettes
Burn bull’s-eyes on the bedside table;
A plastic tumbler of alka seltzer
Champagnes in the bathroom.

No help from his body, the whale’s
Warm-hearted blubber, foundering down
Leagues of ocean, gasping whiteness.
The barbed hooks fester. The lines snap tight.

When he looks for neighbors, their names blur in the window,
His distracted eye sees only glass sky.
His despair has the galvanized color
Of the mop and water in the galvanized bucket.

Once she was close to him
As water to the dead metal.

He looks at her engagements inked on her calendar.
A list of indictments.
At the numbers in her thumbed black telephone book.
A quiver full of arrows.

Her absence hisses like steam,
The pipes sing…
Even corroded metal somehow functions.
He snores in his iron lung,

And hears the voice of Eve,
Beseeching freedom from the Garden’s
Perfect and ponderous bubble. No voice
Outsings the serpent’s flawed, euphoric hiss

The cheese wilts in the rat-trap,
The milk turns to junket in the cornflake bowl,
Car keys and razor blades
Shine in an ashtray.

Is he killing time? Out on the street,
Two cops on horseback clop through the April rain
To check the parking meter violations –
Their oilskins yellow as forsythia.

February 14, 2006

Each drop of rain is a glass of champagne

Gerhard Richter, Abendstimmung, 1969

* clusterfuck nation. excerpt:

"The major news media's failure is near total, especially at the highest level of the New York Times, which gives more ink to narcissistic blather about gender identity than to the issue of how industrial civilization is going to carry on without its primary resources. The cable news networks have sunk into such mires of craven whorishness that they don't even pretend to broadcast news between eight o'clock and midnight anymore, just tabloid crime spectacles and celebutante melodramas. The Wall Street Journal has resigned from reality in order to DJ the financial sector's dangerous game of musical chairs.

"I haven't heard one college president address the question of how we are going to reform education when it ceases to be a mass consumer activity and the giant campuses of the land-grant diploma mills enter their own waiting crisis of scale.

"Where are the doctors speaking out about the nightmarish swindle that corporate medicine has become? The most conspicuous public doctor, Senate majority leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, is under investigation precisely for working one angle of that swindle -- insider trading of medical services stock. Isn't it bad enough that hardworking people have to face cancer and mutilating injuries from auto accidents without also shoving them into personal bankruptcy?
"When the public finally discovers how they have been let down or played by these leaders, there will be a convulsion more severe than the one that tore this country apart in 1861."

* 1997 Interview of A.M. Holmes. excerpt:

BR: You've said elsewhere that you're interested in examining American or even contemporary morality. Have you come to any conclusions, preliminary or concrete?

AMH: I am interested in morality, but wouldn't presume to come to any conclusions--let's call it an ongoing investigation.
BR: Do you have to separate yourself from the work at times? Do you have any kind of release from it, or is it something you suffer through to go where you need to go with the novel?

AMH: I don't feel the need to separate myself from the work, but often things happen that pull me away from it for a period of time--other teaching, writing commitments, etc. A work of fiction develops best when the writer is able to spend a lot of time with the characters, the ideas,uninterrupted. It is the creation of a world, of people that never existed before being pulled out of the ether--that's something that takes a lot of time.
BR: What are you reading now? What are some works that have affected you remarkably?

AMH: I am reading non-fiction on the subject of marriage. I am readingthe novels of Richard Yates, of John Cheever and others and studying up on the progress of suburban life. I am also very interested in Russian Literature and read a lot of non-fiction. I love biographies.
BR: Do you approach each story or novel hoping to understand a particular issue or issues? Is each story a commentary of sorts, or do you write whatever comes to mind?

AMH: My ideas tend to come from "non-fiction" concepts, meaning that they occur in response to things going on in the culture. They are often explorations of specific ideas or themes that interest me--although the theme or idea is not necessarily overt in the story.
BR: Art played an especially important part in Appendix A. Do you see a connection between the physical/tangible arts and writing?

AMH: I wouldn't say that there's a connection between making art and writing. But I have found that there are times when one can't find words and the act of painting, the use of gesture, color, abstraction, can be quite liberating. The unfortunate thing is that I often don't allow myself the time to paint--its become a luxury. I've known many artists, writers, and musicians who also work or play in other forms. Creativity seems best served when it isn't limited to a single expression.

* "Walter Benjamin, Primo Levi, Paul Celan committed suicide; De Man and Heidegger went on to prosper. What did the former know that the latter never absorbed? To acknowledge the Second War means to risk suicide and in the process to politicize philosophy; and if we desire to avoid death and evade politics, repression is inevitable." - The Second War And Postmodern Memory, Charles Bernstein

February 13, 2006

if you wait till you're ready you'll never make a move

brendan murphy, one true feeling

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"1. Dick Cheney

"It was revealed last week that Dick Cheney's former chief-of-staff Scooter Libby has dropped a dime on the vice president. Libby testified under oath that he was authorized to disclose classified information 'by his superiors,' according to a letter written by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.

"That loud whirring you hear emanating from the direction of Washington D.C. is the sound of Cheney's pacemaker going into overdrive: if this information is true, then his next undisclosed location could well be a federal prison. Or perhaps Guantanamo Bay - I believe that's where they're supposed to keep enemies of the state these days. Hey, if he's really unlucky, Cheney could end up being "extraordinarily renditioned" to some black hole in Uzbekistan. (Don't worry Dick. After all, it's not really torture, right?)

"This news comes hot on the heels of fresh information revealing that - despite the radical right's assertions to the contrary - Valerie Plame was an undercover agent. According to Newsweek, 'Plame had indeed done 'covert work overseas' on counterproliferation matters in the past five years, and the CIA 'was making specific efforts to conceal' her identity, according to newly released portions of a judge's opinion.'

"Gentlemen, start your waterboards.'

-- related: Cheney shoots lawyer in hunting accident.

* Silver Jews article (in Hebrew) in the Time Out Irael (have to click on magazine and follow the pictures).

* Once In a Lifetime: A documentary tribute to the 1970s New York Cosmos. excerpt:

"'Once in a Lifetime,' now on the film festival circuit, recreates the Cosmos' brief vogue in the late 70's. That's when Howard Cosell said soccer would become 'the biggest big league of all.' Mick Jagger, Barbra Streisand and Henry Kissinger mugged with players and cheered at games. The film relives all this, but also has the honesty to portray the dark side of this glamour. It entertains the possibility that the Cosmos may have actually undermined soccer's growth here.

"In the film's sprightly telling, the life and times of the North American Soccer League, in which the Cosmos played, resembled a cocaine-fueled night at Studio 54, where the Cosmos regularly frolicked. The N.A.S.L. binged on fat television contracts and rapidly expanded to 24 cities. But when ratings failed to materialize and expansion teams fielded incompetent squads, it all went bad. Instead of blaming mismanagement, the TV executives and sportswriters chastised the game itself. It was simply too boring, too unsuited for the American temperament, they reasoned."

-- related: "The socialism I believe in is everyone working for each other, everyone having a share of the rewards. It's the way I see football, the way I see life." -Bill Shankly, Liverpool Manager, 1959-1974

* Take a caffine nap. excerpt:

"The Caffeine Nap is simple. You drink a cup of coffee and immediately take a 15 minute nap. Researchers found coffee helps clear your system of adenosine, a chemical which makes you sleepy. So in testing, the combination of a cup of coffee with an immediate nap chaser provided the most alertness for the longest period of time. The recommendation was to nap only 15 minutes, no more or less and you must sleep immediately after the coffee."

February 10, 2006

we stayed up all night taking truth serum

victor vasarely, opus 2604

A Birthday Poem
-- Ted Kooser

Just past dawn, the sun stands
with its heavy red head
in a black stanchion of trees,
waiting for someone to come
with his bucket
for the foamy white light,
and then a long day in the pasture.
I too spend my days grazing,
feasting on every green moment
till darkness calls,
and with the others
I walk away into the night,
swinging the little tin bell
of my name.

-- Robert Lowell

History has to live with what was here,
clutching and close to fumbling all we had--
it is so dull and gruesome how we die,
unlike writing, life never finishes.
Abel was finished; death is not remote,
a flash-in-the-pan electrifies the skeptic,
his cows crowding like skulls against high-voltage wire,
his baby crying all night like a new machine.
As in our Bibles, white-faced, predatory,
the beautiful, mist-drunken hunter's moon ascends--
a child could give it a face: two holes, two holes,
my eyes, my mouth, between them a skull's no-nose--
O there's a terrifying innocence in my face
drenched with the silver salvage of the mornfrost.


The undersigned shall not depict the Prophet
in a proscribed idolatrous manner.
Make that not at all. In this regard,
the tenets of our beliefs and/or religions,
or the values of our cultures, or our countries,
shall not guide our actions,
but rather the dictates of your faith
and that alone. In turn,
you have agreed to withdraw
the threat of death and not
to put to torch another building
that functions as a symbol
of any European nation
whose individual citizens
have insulted your truth.
We shall sin no more, and cherish
the Death to America sash
which seals this sacred pact.
It is lovely, truly lovely,
beyond words.

* "I believe that today more than ever a book should be sought after even if it has only one great page in it: we must search for fragments, splinters, toenails, anything that has ore in it, anything that is capable of resuscitating the body and soul. It may be that we are doomed, that there is no hope for us, any of us, but if that is so then let us set up a last agonizing, bloodcurdling howl, a screech of defiance, a war whoop! Away with lamentation! Away with elegies and dirges! Away with biographies and histories, and libraries and museums! Let the dead eat the dead. Let us living ones dance about the rim of the crater, a last expiring dance. But a dance!" - Henry Miller (1934)

February 9, 2006

and then the rent became whiskey

graham sutherland, crucifixion

* Senators neglect to swear in Gonzales, so Gonzales lies to Senators. excerpt:

"Shortly after the warrantless eavesdropping program began, then-NSA Director Michael V. Hayden and Ashcroft made clear in private meetings that the president wanted to detect possible terrorist activity before another attack. They also made clear that, in such a broad hunt for suspicious patterns and activities, the government could never meet the FISA court's probable-cause requirement, government officials said.

So it confused the FISA court judges when, in their recent public defense of the program, Hayden and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales insisted that NSA analysts do not listen to calls unless they have a reasonable belief that someone with a known link to terrorism is on one end of the call. At a hearing Monday, Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the 'reasonable belief' standard is merely the 'probable cause' standard by another name.

-- related: Bush's program is illegal.

* Who knew?: Joy Division's 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' was an answer song to the Captain & Tennille's 'Love Will Keep Us Together.'

* "When I first come into the studio to work, there is this noisy crowd which follows me there; it includes all of the important painters in history, all of my contemporaries, all the art critics, etc. As I become involved in the work, one by one, they all leave. If I'm lucky, every one of them will disappear. If I'm really lucky, I will too." -- Philip Guston, painter

* Why are drugs still illegal. excerpt:

"Let me suggest four reasons. The first is simply the tyranny of the status quo. In the case of drug prohibition, the usual status quo bias is bolstered by the fact that the currently illegal drugs are not all that popular (relative, for instance, to alcohol during national Prohibition in the US), and there is essentially no memory (in the case of opiates and cocaine) of a regulatory regime that does not involve prohibition. This lack of pertinent experience is itself partly a cause and now also an effect of the UN conventions that render drugs illegal on a global basis.

"Second, there is a dose of logic which is persuasive (on the surface, at least) and irrefutable, but not dispositive – though the fact that it is not dispositive apparently is subtle. That logic goes along the lines of “if there were no drugs, there would be no drug problems.” Because this logic is absolutely correct, any tragedy that occurs under the current prohibitory regime – instead of discrediting prohibition, which would seem to be the obvious response – can be met, without conspicuous senselessness, by a call for a more committed prohibition. The notion that the drug-free world that the logic calls for is itself either a chimera or not worth the cost seems to be less than immediately accessible. So prohibition becomes a self-justifying policy.

"Third, parents in the middle and upper classes in developed nations might believe – and they might be right to believe – that prohibition (relative to some undelineated alternative) makes it a bit less likely that their kids will become enmeshed in drugs. (This might be true even of parents who are former or current illegal drug users themselves.) Certainly the bulk of the observable costs of drug prohibition tend to be foisted upon lower class neighborhoods, because these are the neighborhoods in which open markets for drugs are likely to arise. The less obvious costs of prohibition – for instance, that there are black market sellers who have a significant financial interest in selling to the underaged, that the purity of the product is compromised (leading to unintentional overdoses), that stronger forms of the drug (heroin instead of opium) become relatively more available, and that ridiculously severe jail sentences are imposed – are, well, less obvious, though they are brought home quickly when it is your kid who pays one of these prices.

"Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, people don’t have a good idea about what a legal alternative entails. (This point obviously parallels point one.) Legal channels for the distribution of opiates to adults for recreational purposes do not imply that every convenience store sells heroin to all comers. Kids will remain prohibited, licenses can be required for both buyers and sellers, advance purchase agreements can be mandated, significant taxes can be imposed, and so on. Perhaps the time has come for the legalization advocates to coalesce around some very specific policies that spell out, on a drug-by-drug basis, the precise regulatory regime that we have in mind."

February 8, 2006

television truth is lies debated

transmission, by Laurence Pignarre Wyllie

Three poems by Denis Johnson:

upon waking

at the far edge of earth, night
is going away. another
poem begins. slumped over

the typewriter i must get this
exactly, i want to make it
clear this morning that your

face, as it opens
from its shadow, is more
perfect than yesterday; and

that the light, as it
hesitates over the approach
of your smile, has given this

aching bed more than warmth,
more than poems; someway

a generous rose, or a very
delicate arrangement of sounds,
has come to peace in this new room.


i would like to be just an old man with my gin,
retireing 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.

white, white collars

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

February 7, 2006

In this perfect water I have never been so free

Sarah Lucas, Max's Wanking Armchair, 2000

* Dutch to return art seized by nazis. excerpt:

"In one of the largest restitutions ever of art seized by the Nazis, the Dutch government announced Monday that it would return more than 200 old-master paintings to the heir of Jacques Goudstikker, a wealthy Dutch Jewish dealer and collector who fled Amsterdam ahead of advancing German troops in May 1940.

"The works include oils by Jan Steen, Filippo Lippi, Anthony van Dyck, Salomon van Ruysdael, Jan Mostaert and Jan van Goyen that have been hanging in 17 Dutch museums and other government buildings since the 1950's. No immediate estimate of their market value was available.
"Since the mid-1990's, when attention turned anew to art looted by the Nazis from Jewish families and never returned to them, the only restitution larger than this one involved some 250 artworks returned to the Viennese branch of the Rothschild family by the Austrian government in 1999.
"Among the treasures singled out by experts are Steen's 1671 'Sacrifice of Iphigenia,' van Ruysdael's 1649 'Ferry on a River,' Isaac van Ostade's 'Winter Scene With an Inn by a Frozen Stream' and van Goyen's 1651 'View of Dordrecht.' Ronald de Leeuw, the director of the Rijksmuseum, which will surrender 15 paintings, identified two 'iconic' works: Daniel Vosmaer's 1663 'View of Delft' and Mostaert's 1540 'Episode From the Conquest of America.'"

* the rude pundit. excerpt:

"Here's the deal: in America, right now, the American Family Association, whose protests helped the NBC program Book of Daniel fail, got the network to drop its planned storyline in an episode of Will and Grace with Britney Spears as a conservative Christian TV host whose cooking segment is called 'Cruci-fixins.' The Family Research Council got the Department of Health and Human Services to delete any pages that asked for acceptance of homosexuals to help lower substance abuse and suicide rates among them.

"Some pencil-pusher in the Bush administration is tellin' NASA scientists that they have to call the Big Bang a theory so as to not offend the intelligent design lovers, who have so much science on their side. And let's not even get into the whole morning after pill controversy, or a thousand other scientific policy decisions that have been manipulated or forced by the fear of offending the religious right in America, the power of faith over reason.

"Oh, but no riot, right? Maybe not yet, but ask yourself: how much of a nudge would the nutzoid zealot mob outside of Terri Schiavo's clinic have needed before shit started being torched like scared villagers outside of Frankenstein's castle? Hell, some crazed cunts were calling for armed intervention.

"It's all about exploitation. Whether it's Donald Wildmon, James Dobson, Tony Perkins, or whoever, someone's gonna be there to manipulate people into believin' that their god is so much fuckin' bigger than everyone else's. Behind almost every action where someone's wielding a Bible or a Koran or Dianetics, there's someone who wants money and/or power, and he or she is gonna convince the least among them that their really big god needs him some lovin' and obedience by everyone goin' a little bugfuck insane.

"There's always a spark - shitty cartoons, icky queers, whatever - but behind any kind of mass action are always the same things: poverty, isolation, opportunism. For what is a riot but an expression of complete and utter frustration and disempowerment, a cry out that larger issues of oppression have overwhelmed a population. In this case, that frustration is with the West (and, let's say, and why not, the patriarchal Middle Eastern policies of the White House), as well as within each nation."

* Stop what you are doing and listen to this (or, why I love the Silver Jews bulletin board). Only in Utah? Guy calls women and asks for a date to the Harry Potter movie, then goes to church to pray she accepts.

* "Even our misfortunes are a part of our belongings." -- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

February 6, 2006

You can call it a spin-off, say it's a knock-off, title it Part Two

Coming soon from Dust Congress Records:
The Silver Jews Bulletin Board Compilation

Front Cover [design by]

Back Cover [design by]

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"9. We Don't Need No Education

"Back in cloud-cuckoo land, Bush was busy touting science education. He told the nation:

'...we need to encourage children to take more math and science, and to make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations. We've made a good start in the early grades with the No Child Left Behind Act, which is raising standards and lifting test scores across our country.'

"Funny, then, that Bush's 2006 budget proposal slashed education spending, reducing the Department of Education's budget by half a billion dollars. Not only that, but a 2004 report by Business Week indicated that 'No Child Left Behind may be exacerbating the problem' of slipping science standards.

"According to the report, 'NCLB now requires that students be tested just in reading and math (science tests won't be added until 2007).' Said Gerald Wheeler, executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, 'some teachers are being told to stop teaching science and get back to reading and math.'

"ThinkProgress has the rest of the story. But you know, perhaps the continued dumbing down of the nation isn't really bad thing. After all, we all know what kind of horrors of science can bring..."

* Religiously oriented bad tattoos.

* Hertzog takes bullet, continues interview:

"During a recent interview with Werner Herzog, regarding his documentary Grizzly Man, the director was shot by an air rifle. Here's the God-dammer of it: He kept doing the interview:

"'He had a bruise the size of a snooker ball, with a hole in. He just carried on with the interview while bleeding quietly in his boxer shorts.'

An unrepentant Herzog insisted, 'It was not a significant bullet. I am not afraid.'"

-- related: Herzog rescues Joaquin Phoenix. [thanks to reader DK for the tip]

* "Those who are too lazy and comfortable to think for themselves and be their own judges obey the laws. Others sense their own laws within them." --Herman Hesse

February 3, 2006

Loving hand turns burning sand to water

red shoe, by elizabeth murray,1996

Three poems by Linh Dinh:

The Interstate

The Interstate is a generous and continous
System of multi-laned highways. It is never
Intersected, not even once, by a lessor road.
One needs not pause on one's life's journey
As long as one's travelling on the Interstate.
It is eternity made real and proven, a diagram
Of heaven (or hell) for the wordless masses.

Lapsarian Rag

We all know that sculptors
Enrich and litter this universe
With their masterpieces
But what about writers?

The filthy condos they build in our minds
Are also picturesque. And yet
Some of us would rather be an animal.

In nature films, the natives
Are always shunted
From the viewfinder.

Scratched Up

Writing your name means you exist and
You show your strength by how you write it
And you become immortal by writing on a wall

The Korean shopkeeper and the cholo say:
The soul is always in the line.
Forget the contents, look at the line.
Corporate signs are graffiti in neon.

I myself have takena class in Oriental calligraphy.
At the Pasadena Pacific Asia Museum
Under Yun Chung Chiang,
Himself a student of Pu Ju,
Brother of the last emperor of China.

* Pitchfork reviews The Caribbean's Plastic Explosives. The Caribbean will be playing with The Fake Accents, The Foreign Press and The Plums, March 4, 2006 @ DCAC.

* And, as today is Richard Yates' birthday, here's an old post on Yates. If you haven't, you should read his stuff:

Finished the Richard Yates biography last night. Its an amazing read -- his life was even more sad and lonely than you may even imagined if you have already read his fiction. A four-pack-a-day smoker who suffered from TB, and various forms of mental illness, Yates died alone, in a small dirty apartment (much like the roach infested apartments he lived most of his single life) in Alabama in 1992. For most of his life, he drank constantly (certainly more than many of his characters, who also seemed to always be drinking), and ended his life attached to an oxygen machine as his smoking caused him to get emphysema.

He divorced twice, and had three children -- to whom by all accounts he was a wonderful father despite all his other shortfalls. Even with all the money problems that plagued him throughout the years, Yates never missed a child support payment, and always enjoyed the time he had with the children. He was often loud and abusive to friends, and suffered no fools.

In addition to the wonderful, realistic fiction he created, his life intersected with some major political and entertainment events of the times.

In his 20s, as a PR writer, Yates wrote the ad copy for UNIVAC, the worlds first computer. In the 60s, he wrote some of Robert F. Kennedy's most moving speeches on civil rights (His final novel, "Uncertain Times," unfinished at his death, and published as a short story after his death in Open City, was on his time with Kennedy), and he was also the subject of an early episode of "Seinfeld."

[In the mid-80s, Yates' daughter dated Larry David (a huge Yates fan) briefly, and David based the 1990 episode ("The Jacket") on an awkward dinner with the writer. Yates played Elaine's father. In fact, Yates' daughter was the model for Elaine.]

In the Boston Globe, Dan Wakefield wrote:

"His fiction and his life were so intertwined that this biography of Yates reads almost like one of his own novels. The goodness and integrity of the man shine through his darkness, in his love of his daughters, his generosity of time and even what little money he made for his family, his dogged refusal to let rejection deter him from his path, and his total dedication to his art, which was the essence of his life, his reason to be.

"Yates himself could not have written a more bittersweet end to a story than the culmination of his lifelong obsession to be published in The New Yorker. After 30 years of ''shamelessly teasing me with encouragement,'' fiction editor Roger Angell wrote Yates's agent that ''his kind of fiction is not what we're looking for.' That is, until Yates died, when they published an early story of his they had rejected in 1952. On hearing this news, Yates's daughter Sharon went to the basement, where her father's ashes still rested in a box, pending a family decision on where to disperse them. She gave the box of ashes a shake and said, ''Way to go, Dad.''

Dust Congress doesn't ask you for much, dear readers, but we will here ask that you pick up some of Yates' books soon, if you haven't already (Dust Congress recommends "the easter parade," "revolutionary road," and the fantastic, recently published "the collected stories of Richard Yates.").

And after reading some of his fiction, find some time to read through the biography. It is, like his fiction, a sad read. A quote by Yates' hero Adlai Stevenson indicates a likely reason why Yates' books did not sell during his lifetime (Yates kept this quote on his desk): "Americans have always assumed, subconsciously, that every story will have a happy ending."

Looking back on his life, one is amazed that Yates was able to produce anything at all, much less nine books, and at least three modern American classics.

February 2, 2006

a new home and a place to breathe

Joan Snyder, And Always Searching for Beauty, 2001

* Clusterfuck Nation. excerpt:

"But if the American public becomes subject to political despotism in the years ahead, it will come from somebody other than Bush and it will come because the public will demand it. The American public itself has been so grossly passive, complacent, and irresponsible in its raptures of credit-card shopping, infotainment, and easy motoring, that when our society runs into trouble due to the things we have ignored, the public will beg to be pushed around, they will crave to be directed toward some purposeful action to save their asses.

"That's why I think it's ridiculous to waste time wringing our hands over Bush. One day, very soon, for instance, we will find ourselves in a gasoline crisis that will not end. We will not be able to transport people and the goods they need around our country. Our railroad system will be a shambles because leaders like John Kerry were too busy wringing their hands over other things -- so we'll be stuck with no alternative to the interstate highway system. Likewise when the housing bubble implodes and the public discovers that an economy based on cheap oil suburbs and credit for the uncreditworthy can't continue, and nobody warned them about it.

"At some point not far away, we'll have a president who puts children in uniforms because their parents will have been scared to death by their own lifetime of slovenliness. It may not get us anything, except the illusion that we can regain what has been lost forever. And it may not last long, as the illusions finally fall away and we are left with only what we can do for ourselves locally. But it will not come from George W. Bush. It will come because of our own fantastic inattention to the things that really matter."

* 10 weirdest USB gadgets. excerpt:

"7. USB heated slippers

"Do you have cold feet? Do you want to tie yourself up to your laptop with a 2 metre long USB cable? Then this is the perfect product for you. USB heated slippers. Can you say awesome?"
"1. The USB vibrator

"This isn’t just a USB vibrator. This one includes 5 interchangable latex probes (wow!), has 10 unique preset pulse/vibrate rhythms (yihah!), and features a self adjustable finger ring vibrating bullet (amazing!)- here’s our winner ladies and gentlemen - the Super 10 function USB powered vibrator. Crazy shit."

* "There is nothing so stable as change." -- Bob Dylan

That said, the physical headquarters of dust congress will soon be moving from its urban location at 17th and P, in dupont circle to the quieter confines of Mt. Pleasant. The fantastic Ingleside Terrace, to be exact -- always one of my favorite roads in DC -- into a house with 3 bedrooms, three bathroom, two porches, one garage, and a backyard that borders Rock Creek Park. and room for a somewhat more proper studio in the basement. March is shaping up to be a busy month here, with the March 4 DCAC show, closing sometime between March 8 and 11, Joos shows the following week, and lots of painting to follow.....exciting.

February 1, 2006

the water's warmer than it has been in weeks

sara padgett, three perfect cones

L. Paul "Jerry" Bremer Meets Earl "Little Roy" Lowe in democratic [ahem] Kuwait [ahem] to discuss the reconstruction of revisionism, the quizzical dearth of Jah in Fallujah & the creation of Islamic subtance jockeys with Christopher-Columbus in my pocket & I just can't get no love
-- by Jules Boykoff

Don't Cross the nation
where the rich man live
and the poor man die

where habeas corpus means
"Get out the corpse, Corporal"
where my hair was getting in the way
of good conversation where
ballistic batons & a rising tide
drowns all goats where he asked,
"May I borrow your notes?" The reason
is other; the other is reason but
Bechtel but the pharmacy
but the chop shop the chrome
globe the foreign policy
of carnivorous goat fiction.
o, carnivorous riproar!
o, socially acceptable Molotov!
o, old-school mushroom cloud!
o, fracturous rapture for two!
o, slow cold stiffie!
o, capitalism! [er, privatization]
& everyone knows it
I say everyone knows it
at the thrift shop
called today.

Eric "Sleepy" Floyd meets Horace "Sleepy" Hinds in the Capitol routunda the morning before the evening after Ronald Reagan was shot to discuss the servility of civility, the utility of docility, & the convergent discrepance of extreme mediocrity
-- by Jules Boykoff

Hinckley could have used
a diligent grammarian of
unproblematic libel
at the intersection of
Schlitz for Schlitz &
neo sleepy liberal sleepy
Heimlich graft or maybe
just a getaway for at-risk kids.
Oh how handy these traits
become for de-localized honcho
logic for logistical regression
analysis for statistically
significant witch doctor
predictions of history
as a communicable disease

but don't mention the tension
between the world and your room
don't mention the tension of
why oh why can't I.

One Art
-- Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

---Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

* The District? reviews Saturday's DCAC show, sorta. Thanks! and, pictures of the foreign press, taken by dronepop can be viewed here.