July 31, 2006

white heat it tickle me down to my toes

* Frank Rich. excerpt:

"Certainly there has been no shortage of retrofitted explanations for the war in the three-plus years since the administration’s initial casus belli, to fend off Saddam’s mushroom clouds and vanquish Al Qaeda, proved to be frauds. We’ve been told that the war would promote democracy in the Arab world. And make the region safer for Israel. And secure the flow of cheap oil. If any of these justifications retained any credibility, they have been obliterated by Crisis in the Middle East. The new war is a grueling daily object lesson in just how much the American blunders in Iraq have undermined the one robust democracy that already existed in the region, Israel, while emboldening terrorists and strengthening the hand of Iran.

"But it’s the collapse of the one remaining (and unassailable) motivation that still might justify staying the course in Iraq — as a humanitarian mission on behalf of the Iraqi people — that is most revealing of what a moral catastrophe this misadventure has been for our country. The sad truth is that the war’s architects always cared more about their own grandiose political and ideological ambitions than they did about the Iraqis, and they communicated that indifference from the start to Iraqis and Americans alike. The legacy of that attitude is that the American public cannot be rallied to the Iraqi cause today, as the war reaches its treacherous endgame."
"The simple answer is that the war planners didn’t care enough to provide the number of troops needed to secure the country so that reconstruction could proceed. The coalition authority isolated in its Green Zone bubble didn’t care enough to police the cronyism and corruption that squandered billions of dollars on abandoned projects. The latest monument to this humanitarian disaster was reported by James Glanz of The New York Times on Friday: a high-tech children’s hospital planned for Basra, repeatedly publicized by Laura Bush and Condi Rice, is now in serious jeopardy because of cost overruns and delays.

"This history can’t be undone; there’s neither the American money nor the manpower to fulfill the mission left unaccomplished. The Iraqi people, whose collateral damage was so successfully hidden for so long by the Rumsfeld war plan, remain a sentimental abstraction to most Americans. Whether they are seen in agony after another Baghdad bombing or waving their inked fingers after an election or being used as props to frame Mrs. Bush during the State of the Union address, they have little more specificity than movie extras. Chalabi, Allawi, Jaafari, Maliki come and go, all graced with the same indistinguishable praise from the American president, all blurring into an endless loop of instability and crisis. We feel badly ... and change the channel."
"That the latest American plan for victory is to reposition our forces by putting more of them in the crossfire of Baghdad’s civil war is tantamount to treating our troops as if they were deck chairs on the Titanic. Even if the networks led with the story every night, what Americans would have the stomach to watch?"

* "I think that one possible definition of our modern culture is that it is one in which nine-tenths of our intellectuals can't read any poetry" -- Randall Jarrell

* Clusterfuck Nation. excerpt:

"World War Three probably started on September 11, 2001. The responding campaigns by the US in Afghanistan and Iraq have proven to be inadequate efforts at political containment via the nostrum of 'democracy.' The Iraq campaign especially has backfired because the US pretended it was about something other than guaranteeing our continued access to Middle East oil. The ironic result a few years from now may be that oil fields of Shia-dominated southern Iraq will come under the direct management of Iran. Whoops.

"Another evolving reality may also be the end of the conceit that the US controls Israel. Right now, the US is desperate to keep the Islamic world from exploding by reigning in Israel. But Israel is equally desperate to not be 'wiped off the map.' Israel may keep fighting in Lebanon longer than America wants it to."
"America has been reduced in the current affair to something only a little better than a nervous bystander. America's growing exhaustion and its inability to control events is on display for all to see. So is the foolish intransigence of our easy-motoring, suburban sprawl-building economy, which has made us psychologically the vassals of the Islamic oil-exporting nations. We're doing nothing to prepare for the day when all that oil stops coming through the Strait of Hormuz. Most of the American public not only has no idea what trouble we're in, but they're strangely proud of their cluelessness -- as they kick back and wait for 'the market' to 'come up with something.'

"But if the guns of August 2006 really do set something bigger off, and the oil fields go up in flames, or the shipping lanes get shut down, or if any number of other things that can go wrong do go wrong, America will have a whole lot more to think about than Nascar and Jennifer Anniston's love life."

July 28, 2006

they got a name for the winners in the world

charles a. kraus, peace, freedom...are they one in the same?

man walking to work
-- by denis johnson

the dawn is a quality laid across
the freeway like the visable
memory of the ocean that kept all this
a secret for a hundred million years.
I am not moving and I am not standing still.
I am only something the wind strikes and clears,
and I feel myself fade like the sky,
the whole of Ohio a mirror gone blank.
my jacket keeps me. my zipper
bangs on my guitar. lord god help me
out by the lake after the shift at Frididaire
when i stop laughing and taste how wet the beer
is in my mouth, suddenly recognizing the true
wedding of passage and arrival I am invited to.

only one set in the singer's eyes
- frank stanford

He got drunk looking at a woman from his past
And this is what he wrote down on a paper sack
In the tavern one night while I watched him:
Your body is a plantation
I worked on for seven years, all of them solid,
Deep in summer it's uncleared timber, backwater
Ditch and slough, the years of the bad-assed
Sax, the years of bad cotton, nights and crops
I went shares on, evenings with gars,
Lord God Almighty didn't it rain,
So long, say love, say night honey, pull
A stump, court with your crowbar,
The bedrooms like trembling bridges,
Like women holding mirrors in the spring,
And here I am, the snow all around me,
A match in my mouth, like the high water,
Crazy, sad, and dangerous, a log
Chain on your floor, what love
There was, bee on the rose, buried in the year
Book in the attic, common and pretended sleep,
No one loses their shadow because no one
Is a boat on a river without wind,
And there are screws on the window sill
Never will be sunken to hold a pane,
You can listen to the rain, you can lie
Yourself back into bodies you never
Touched, cruelty, cruelty, cruelty,
That's what I told her.

jade rabbit
-- by tina celona

i consider writing about something
i have written about before
but am interrupted by something outside
very wet because of the rain
and it occurs to me i will never
say convincingly "lets go swimming"
because you know i dont like swimming
though we go often but because
i always say "so should we go
swimming" doubtfully
looking at my jade rabbit
his humid posture and placid posture
as he nibbles the orange ground
of a book by john ashbury
rivers and mountains

called war
-- by Richard Brautigan

I never want
to go away
to a place
called war

i don't think
you want
to go there either.

* Holla Copter's You've Changed is a great, great summer song. Check it out on their myspace page. It will make your weekend more enjoyable.

July 27, 2006

You're so beautiful to look at when you cry

morris louis, number 99, 1959-60

Morris Louis Bernstein was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1912. He studied at the Maryland Institute of Fine and Applied Arts from 1928–1933 and left shortly before completing the program. Although he lived in New York City from 1936 to 1940, Louis was never fully a part of the New York art scene. He dropped his last name around this time. From 1940 on, he worked alone in Maryland and Washington, D.C. American artist Kenneth Noland was one of his few close friends among other artists.

During a trip to New York City with Noland and art critic Clement Greenberg in the spring of 1953, Louis saw the work of Franz Kline and Jackson Pollock and was introduced to Helen Frankenthaler, whose painting Mountains and Sea (1952) had a profound effect on him. In Louis’ words, Frankenthaler created 'a bridge between Pollock and what was possible.' After this experience, Louis began his first series of Veil paintings in 1954.

* Molly Ivans. excerpt:

"From the first day of 24/7 coverage, you could tell this was big. By the time Chapter 9,271 of the conflicts in the Middle East had gotten its own logo, everyone knew it was huge. I mean, like, bigger than Natalee Holloway. Then anchormen began to arrive in the Middle East, and people like Anderson Cooper and Tucker Carlson—real experts. Then Newt Gingrich—and who would know better than Newt?—declared it was World War III. Let’s ratchet up the fear here—probably good for Republican campaigning.

"By then, of course, you couldn’t find a television story about the back corridors of diplomacy and what was or, more important, what was not going on there. Between Anderson Cooper and Tucker Carlson, it was obviously World War III, and besides, there were a bunch of American refugees in Lebanon who couldn’t get out, and so elements of the Katrina story appeared. Thank God Anderson was there.

"Meanwhile, people who should have known better were all in a World III snit over Chapter 9,271. Actually, they all knew better, but it was a better story if you overplayed it—sort of like watching a horror movie that you know will turn out OK in the end, but meanwhile you get to enjoy this delicious chill of horror up your spine.

"What if it really was The End? I mean, any fool could see it could easily careen out of control, and when George W. Bush is all you’ve got for rational, fair-minded grown-ups, well, there it is.

"If I may raise a nasty political possibility: One good reason for the Bush administration to leave Chapter 9,271 to burn out of control is that this administration thrives on fear. Fear has been the text and the subtext of every Republican campaign since 9/11. Endless replay of the footage from 9/11 has graced every Republican campaign since. Could it be that 9/11 is beginning to pall, to feel as overplayed as Natalee Holloway? Fear is actually more dangerous than war in the Middle East. For those who spin dizzily toward World War III, the Apocalypse, the Rapture—always with that delicious frisson of terror—the slow, patient negotiations needed to get it back under control are Not News."

* Marijuana gumballs. excerpt:

"At first glance, the yellow smiley face gumballs confiscated from Howard High School seem innocent enough.

"But stuffed in the so-called 'Greenades' was something that caught the attention of federal drug enforcement agents: marijuana.

"'It’s a new idea and it’s new to the DEA,' said Gregory Lee, a retired supervisory special agent of the Drug Enforcement Agency, who had never heard of anyone packaging marijuana in such a way before. 'When it comes to drug-dealing, you’re only limited by your imagination.'"

* "I live in two worlds. One is real and the second is an alternative created from the negative of bad qualities of the real world. The second one is of higher value for me. It is my mirror or my picture. It is changing by the incessant self-control, it is developing. I am closing myself into this world little by little, maybe voluntarily, maybe out of necessity, because this world is better and more perfect than the real one. It is not pragmatic, logical, intolerant or superficial. There is nothing to explain-it is filled with fantasy, absurd situations and play. Sometimes it is determined by the real world, then also violence and evil can appear in it." -- Pavel Pecha

* Here is a picture of the guy who threw a bag of cocaine at the feet of Foreign Press guitarist Dave during our Mt. Pleasant show a few weeks ago. apparenly, his way of saying thanks for the sounds that were coming out of the guitar. click here for additional background, and here for more of Stereogab's pictures of The Foreign Press.

In other Foreign Press news, the wonderful folks at West Main Development have agreed to put out our first release, a yet-untitled ep. Keep your eyes here, on the West Main Development page and on our myspace page for more details.

July 26, 2006

he's a dedicated follower of fashion

william klein, Candy Store, Amsterdam Avenue, New York, 1954-55

Yellow Tulips
-- by eileen myles

I was walking along the sidewalk
in all the daily pain
& miserable faces & awful air.
Up above in a flower box
were yellow tulips, too real
to be real, so big
and sexual looking in
that funny way flowers
always are. I guess
they were like heads
poking in from another
world. How do you
like Wednesday, you
beautiful things?

A Raspberry Sweater
-- by Frank O'Hara

to George Mongomery

It is next to my flesh,
that's why. I do what I want.
And in the pale New Hampshire
twilight a black bug sits in the blue,
strumming its legs together. Mournful
glass, and daises closing. Hay
swells in the nostrils. We shall go
to the motorcycle races in Laconia
and come back all calm and warm.

-- by Frank O'Hara

I am stuck in traffic in a taxicab
which is typical
and not just of modern life

mud clambers up the trellis of my nerves
must lovers of Eros end up with Venus
muss es sein? es muss nicht sein, I tell you

how I hate disease, it's like worrying
that comes true
and it simply must not be able to happen

in a world where you are possible
my love
nothing can go wrong for us, tell me

The Fine Rain
-- by James Tate

the poker game went on into the wee hours
of the morning. I lost everything I had and
then some. Don offered me a ride home but I
wanted to walk. there was a very fine rain
coming down, warm. it woke me up and rinsed
the sense of loss off me. I had lived my
whole life in this neighborhood. I knew every-
one. everyone dreams, but none escape, darting
glances, the lucky day to come.

July 25, 2006

if i smile tell me some bad news

Lucian Freud, Interior in Paddington, 1951

* David Byrne on income from playing live:

THE BELIEVER: You’ve said, I think, that playing live now accounts for a good portion of your income, and of musicians like yourself. Is that really the case?

DAVID BYRNE: A good portion of my income, yes, but probably the lion’s share comes from publishing—the songwriting, which is distinct from record sales. But I have reached a place where I can tour and don’t need to have a new record out, which is great. People will simply come to see what I’m up to. Sometimes that uncoupled relationship is depressing, as when I do a show and then folks ask me, “Hey, when are you going to do a new record?” when one has been out for a few months. But I can’t complain. I see recording and touring as related, but as very separate skills and activities. Some people can do one but not the other. I feel that sometimes my performances in the past have not been up to some recordings, and sometimes the recordings are nowhere near as exciting as the live versions. Sometimes the recordings are tarted up too much, as they say over here.

Record companies have encouraged the quasi-myth that touring is what “supports” record sales—that it generates press, excitement, and a buzz that then carries over to the sales counter; so the story goes, anyway. Well, maybe in some cases it does work that way—the show has to be good, for starters—but I’ve done tours where I’ve played to a larger number of people than the number of new records sold. They are really two different experiences and only the songs and voice are necessarily the same.

This adherence to the carrot-and-stick, cause-and-effect myth forces musicians who just aren’t really very good at performing to spend ages getting a band and show together, then to tour for a long time—often thereby getting themselves more and more in debt to the record company, as the record company often picks up the slack and the losses. Presumably it’s done in order to kickstart the artist’s career, or so the theory goes.

I think it just isn’t true—or at least is only true a small percentage of the time. These particular musicians would be better served spending their time and money recording and writing more, if they are writers. Or figuring out another mode of performance. And vice versa: there are those who are great performers but don’t seem to make great records.

It’s funny how these economic factors in various ways influence and create what we see and hear. It can be a depressing subject, but not necessarily so. Working within restrictions and borders isn’t always a bad thing.

* Old print ads, with commentary.

* "To be a poet is a condition, not a profession." -Robert Frost

July 24, 2006

an electrical storm has caught us in a trap

kirsten everberg, Staircase (Concert Hall), 2005

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

2. George W. Bush

"George W. Bush vetoed his first bill last week, and somewhat unsurprisingly it was a bill which would have given hope to millions of people who suffer from incurable diseases. Can't have that, can we?

"Bush vetoed the bi-partisan stem cell research bill (which passed the Senate by 63 votes to 37) because apparently he's the most moral president ever and thinks that life is so sacred that performing revolutionary medical research on invisible clumps of cells is equivalent to walking up to someone and shooting them in the face. (But -and I must stress this point - it's not the same as dropping bombs on civilians. That's called 'collateral damage in the fight for freedom.')

"Strangely, while announcing the veto, Bush chose to surround himself with families who have all benefited from embryonic research and the destruction of numerous blastocysts. (Or as Tony Snow might put it, the mass-murder of defenseless babies.) The families had created so-called 'snowflake babies' by 'adopting' embryos which had been created during the in vitro-fertilization process, a medical procedure which, curiously, is championed by the very same people who think stem cell research is conducted via satanic ritual.

"There are around 400,000 blastocysts currently stored in deep-freeze; the by-products of IVF treatment. Before the president vetoed the stem-cell research bill, they could have been used to search for cures for diabetes, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and many other devastating illnesses. Now he's vetoed the bill, there are two options remaining: they can either be adopted, or thrown in the trash.

"And incidentally, when the snowflake families 'adopted' their embryos they had to go through the normal IVF procedure, which involves implanting several blastocysts into the womb in the hope that one will turn into a baby.

"The other blastocysts? Let's just call them 'collateral damage in the fight for fertilization.'"

* Washington Times column: Legalize Drugs. excerpt:

"Our drug war constitutes an assault on individual liberty, privacy and choice, from both the left and right. Liberals fight for a woman's right to abortion and conservatives go to the ramparts to defend gun owners, but both agree to throw into prison an adult who smokes dried, leafy vegetation. With impunity, we can drink ourselves stupid and destroy our lungs with tobacco. But using a recreational substance as old as wine will get us jailed.

"Waste of treasury. When our resources should be directed at lawful attempts to keep dangerous politicized religious fanatics from entering our country, we spend tens of billions futilely trying to interdict chemicals, most of which, in moderation, are demonstrably no more harmful to the body than alcohol and tobacco.

"Government-created violent black market. Alcohol did not create Al Capone. Prohibition created Al Capone, with the mayhem, official corruption and murder that accompanied the 18th Amendment. And cocaine does not create drug cartels. America's War on Drugs creates drug cartels.

"Government violence against its own people. With guns blazing, law enforcement agencies not only deny life, liberty and property to those who work in the government stimulated black market; they rack up untold 'collateral damage,' maiming and killing innocent bystanders, in countless stings gone bad.

"Promoting disrespect for the rule of law. With millions of Americans scoffing at the China-like oppressiveness of the War on Drugs, our policies undermine respect for the rule of law and our democratic policy-making institutions. As the drug warriors clog our courts and fill our jails, we disrupt the lives of the poor and the powerless, who can't afford crafty lawyers and have no political connections.

"Health harm creation. Perhaps most important, our policy is creating untold health harm to millions, particularly the young. We educate them about the responsible use of two potentially very dangerous, but legal, substances, but we try our best to keep them ignorant of the real effects, and side effects, of other psychoactives. While hundreds of thousands die each year from the short- and long-term health damage of alcohol and tobacco, no one succumbs to marijuana, and remarkably few die from other illegal drugs."
"I understand how difficult it will be to return to drug policy sanity. I had jury duty this summer and was sent out on a panel for a case of marijuana possession with intent to distribute. I wasn't chosen for the jury, but it made me realize how much the Drug War Industrial Complex has to lose if we change our laws. Probably a third of the jobs in that courthouse would disappear. Thousands of lawyers, prosecutors, DEA agents, and prison guards would have to find productive employment. Local law enforcement offices would lose much of their federal funding for high-tech toys.

"But America would be a less violent and healthier nation. Billions fewer tax dollars would be disbursed as welfare to the legal industries formed around the drug war. And official corruption, stimulated by the lucrative black market we have created with our policies, would diminish, not just in Colombia, Mexico and Afghanistan, but right here in America."

* "Everything one invents is true, you may be perfectly sure of that. Poetry is as precise as geometry." -Gustave Flaubert

* New Pernice Brothers video.

July 21, 2006

it's the way I'm living right or wrong

Frank Stella, Felsztyn I, 1971

another timely poem by Klipschutz:

War Poem

It’s just a war, it’s not the end of the world
It’s not the end of the war, just of a world

Just the, not the, end of, world of, war
War of world of not the just of love

The dogs set loose, the madness, Mayday! Blog!
The blogs set loose, dog, May Day Blowout Sale

It’s just a word, war, not the end of the book
It’s not the end of the word, its just a hyph—

All along the watchtower Jimi sang
The joker and the thief spoke back and forth

It’s not the just the end the just, Adjust!
Adjust the world, not it’s the, is it? Yet

A few by Charles Bukowski:

8 Count

from my bed
I watch
3 birds
on a telephone
one flies
one is left,
it too
is gone.
my typewriter is
and I am
reduced to bird
just thought I'd
let you


even in calmer times
have I ever
dreamed of
bicycling through that
wearing a


small conversation in the afternoon with John Fante

he said, "I was working in Hollywood when Faulkner was
working in Hollywood and he was
the worst: he was too drunk to stand up at the
end of the afternoon and so I had to help him
into a taxi day after day after day.

"but when he left Hollywood, I stayed on, and while I
didn't drink like that maybe I should have, I might have
had the guts then to follow him and get the hell out of

I told him, "you write as well as

"you mean that?" he asked from the hospital
bed, smiling.

Yes Yes

when God created love He didn't help most
when God created dogs He didn't help dogs
when God created plants that was average
when God created hate we had a standard utility
when God created me He created me
when God created the monkey He was asleep
when He created the giraffe He was drunk
when He created narcotics He was high
and when He created suicide He was low

when He created you lying in bed
He knew what He was doing
He was drunk and He was high
and He created the mountains and the sea and fire at the same time

He made some mistakes
but when He created you lying in bed
He came all over His Blessed Universe.

July 20, 2006

And I was pretending that I was in a Galaxie 500 video

musical structure, by dronepop.

* Molly Ivans. excerpt:

"Back to politics for comic relief. The most luckless candidate so far this year is Katherine Harris, now 30 points behind Democrat Bill Nelson in the Florida Senate race. Three campaign managers have quit on Ms. Harris, not to mention a dozen or so other staffers. The latest defector, Glenn Hodas, said her 'tantrums were uncontrollable.' Another former campaign manager, Jamie Miller, said no one from Florida would work for her: 'It’s a nuclear wasteland in there. Anyone who goes in is going to be tainted.'

"Some of them are upset by the fact that she’s involved with a corrupt defense contractor who showed up in the Duke Cunningham scandal. Ms. Harris also loaned her own campaign $3 million, but then took back $100,000 so she could refurbish her house in Washington, D.C.

"Also providing comic relief these days is Holy Joe Lieberman, senator from Connecticut, Al Gore’s 2000 running mate, and the most annoyingly sanctimonious person in politics. Lieberman has more than miffed Connecticut Democrats by backing the war in Iraq and other Bush policies, setting off a big primary fight. Lieberman now threatens to run as an independent if he loses the primary, thus opening the seat to a Republican and further alienating Democrats.

"Brother Ralph Reed, alas, tanked in Georgia. Do you think he knows Baptists don’t approve of gambling? Meanwhile, in Texas, we’re all excited about the possibility of having Tom DeLay back on the ballot in his old district. You must admit the Republicans have lost their moral compass since DeLay quit. Now, if we could just have a free press and free religion like Iraq!"

* From an excellent and long 1978 Playboy interview of Bob Dylan. excerpt:

PLAYBOY: What was the quality of those visionary experiences?

DYLAN: Well, in the winter, everything was still, nothing moved. Eight months of that. You can put it together. You can have some amazing hallucinogenic experiences doing nothing but looking out your window. There is also the summer, when it gets hot and sticky and the air is very metallic. There is a lot of Indian spirit. The earth there is unusual, filled with ore. So there is something happening that is hard to define. There is a magnetic attraction there. Maybe thousands and thousands of years ago, some planet bumped into the land there. There is a great spiritual quality throughout the Midwest. Very subtle, very strong, and that is where I grew up. New York was a dream.
PLAYBOY: What made that time [very early 1960s] so special?

DYLAN: I think it was the last go-round for people to gravitate to New York. People had gone to New York since the 1800s, I think. For me, it was pretty fantastic. I mean, it was like, there was a cafe-what was it called?-I forgot the name, but it was Aaron Burr's old livery stable. You know, just being in that area, that part of the world was enlightening.

PLAYBOY: Why do you say it was the last go-round?

DYLAN: I don't think it happened after that. I think it finished, New York died after that, late to middle Sixties.

PLAYBOY: What killed it?

DYLAN: Mass communication killed it. It turned into one big carnival side show. That is what I sensed and I got out of there when it was just starting to happen. The atmosphere changed from one of creativity and isolation to one where the attention would be turned more to the show. People were reading about themselves and believing it. I don't know when it happened. Sometime around Peter, Paul and Mary, when they got pretty big. It happened around the same time. For a long time, I was famous only in certain circles in New York, Philadelphia and Boston, and that was fine enough for me. I am an eyewitness to that time. I am one of the survivors of that period. You know as well as I do that a lot of people didn't make it. They didn't live to tell about it, anyway.

PLAYBOY: Why do you think they didn't survive?

DYLAN: People were still dealing with illusion and delusion at that time. The times really change and they don't change. There were different characters back then and there were things that were undeveloped that are fully developed now. But back then, there was space, space-well, there wasn't any pressure. There was all the time in the world to get it done. There wasn't any pressure, because no body knew about it. You know, I mean. music people were like a bunch of cotton pickers. They see you on the side of the road picking cotton, but nobody stops to give a shit. I mean, it wasn't that important. So Washington Square was a place where people you knew or met congregated every Sunday and it was like a world of music. You know the way New York is; I mean, there could be 20 different things happening in the same kitchen or in the same park; there could be 200 bands in one park in New York; there could be 15 jug bands, five bluegrass bands and an old crummy string band, 20 Irish confederate groups, a Southern mountain band, folk singers of all kinds and colors, singing John Henry work songs. There was bodies piled sky-high doing whatever they felt like doing. Bongo drums, conga drums, saxophone players. xylophone players, drummers of all nations and nationalities. Poets who would rant and rave from the statues. You know, those things don't happen anymore. But then that was what was happening. It was all street. Cafes would be open all night. It was a European thing that never really took off. It has never really been a part of this country That is what New York was like when I got there.

PLAYBOY: And you think that mass communications, such as Time magazine's putting Joan Baez on the cover-

DYLAN: Mass communication killed it all. Oversimplification. I don't know whose idea it was to do that, but soon after, the people moved away.
PLAYBOY: Why did the musicians like grass so much?

DYLAN: Being a musician means-depending on how far you go-getting to the depths of where you are at. And most any musician would try anything to get to those depths, because playing music is an immediate thing-as opposed to putting paint on a canvas, which is a calculated thing. Your spirit flies when you are playing music. So, with music, you tend to look deeper and deeper inside yourself to find the music. That's why, I guess, grass was around those clubs. I know the whole scene has changed now; I mean, pot is almost a legal thing. But in the old days, it was just for a few people.

PLAYBOY: Did psychedelics have a similar effect on you?

DYLAN: No. Psychedelics never influenced me. I don't know, I think Timothy Leary had a lot to do with driving the last nails into the coffin of that New York scene we were talking about. When psychedelics happened, everything became irrelevant. Because that had nothing to do with making music or writing poems or trying to really find yourself in that day and age.

* "We have two American flags always: one for the rich and one for the poor. When the rich fly it means that things are under control; when the poor fly it means danger, revolution, anarchy." -- Henry Miller

July 19, 2006

Come move in another dimension

10th and D, NYC, March 1937, by Berenice Abbott

Two poems by Raymond Queneau:

Raymond Queneau was born in 1903 in Le Havre and is one of the most influential French authors of the twentieth century. Queneau was at the forefront of the surrealist movement of the 1920s. During the Occupation, Queneau refused to work with the collaborationists and worked in secret on Resistance publications. After the war he was elected to Académie Goncourt and became director of the Encyclop'[die de la Pléiade. His best-known novel, Zazie dans le métro, was made into a movie by Louis Malle in 1959.

Front-Page Carnage
-- by Raymond Queneau

translated by Rachel Galvin

I've walked my sorrow
through the streets of Paris
I kept it on a leash
so the Parisians would laugh
pigsty cheese shop
window display all splayed out
bloody shop window
butcher stall
wallowing on every corner
a calf that blubbers
maybe it's me
maybe it's my double
I hold back my sadness
and sit down on a bench
to read the papers
which tell of misfortune
crime and assassination
floods earthquakes
murders epidemics
rape and violent death
and this does not console me one bit
and this consoles me not

The Water Tanks

In the middle of deserted lots
amidst the soot of the burned silks
not far from the stock market
close to the pillars of sundown
under the screen of the equinoxes
beyond the white frost of time
deep in the eye of the four corners
by the central metro station

that's where the water tanks are

Bent Tones
-- by C.D. Wright

There was a dance at the black school.
In the shot houses people were busy.

A woman washed her boy in a basin, sucking
a cube of ice to get the cool.

The sun drove a man in the ground like a stake.
Before his short breath climbed the kitchen's steps

She skipped down the walk in a clean dress.
Bad meat on the counter. In the sky, broken glass.

When the local hit the trestle everything trembled —
The trees she blew out of, the shiver owl,

Lights next door — With her fast eye
She could see Floyd Little
Changing his shirt for the umpteenth time.

The High-Toned Old Christian Woman
by Wallace Stevens

Poetry is the supreme fiction, madame.
Take the moral law and make a nave of it
And from the nave build haunted heaven. Thus,
The conscience is converted into palms,
Like windy citherns hankering for hymns.
We agree in principle. That's clear. But take
The opposing law and make a peristyle,
And from the peristyle project a masque
Beyond the planets. Thus, our bawdiness,
Unpurged by epitaph, indulged at last,
Is equally converted into palms,
Squiggling like saxophones. And palm for palm,
Madame, we are where we began. Allow,
Therefore, that in the planetary scene
Your disaffected flagellants, well-stuffed,
Smacking their muzzy bellies in parade,
Proud of such novelties of the sublime,
Such tink and tank and tunk-a-tunk-tunk,
May, merely may, madame, whip from themselves
A jovial hullabaloo among the spheres.
This will make widows wince. But fictive things
Wink as they will. Wink most when widows wince.

July 18, 2006

These are stains upon your genes

blur heat, unknown

* From the department of common knowledge: most editors have no clue. excerpt:

"He is the nation's most lauded novelist, our only Nobel prize-winning writer, twice a winner of the Miles Franklin award and three times the Australian Literature Society's Gold Medallist. Yet without his name on the cover, Patrick White's work is apparently of little value to Australia's publishing industry.

"Inquirer submitted, under a pseudonym, chapter three of White's The Eye of the Storm to 12 publishers and agents. This novel clinched his Nobel Prize in Literature in 1973, with the judges describing it as one of his most accomplished works.

"Not one reader recognised its literary genius, and 10 wrote polite and vaguely encouraging rejection letters. The highest praise was "'lever.' A low point was a referral to a 'how to' book on writing fiction.

"Pan Macmillan referred the author to writers' workshops; Mark Latham's agent, Mary Cunnane, recommended the author improve by reading Penguin Books' The Art of Writing, for hints on character and form. Text Publishing, which prides itself on finding and publishing Australian literature, sent back a form rejection letter and HarperCollins flicked it back unread.
"Cunnane is a respected agent of 30 years' experience. She wrote: 'Alas, the sample chapter, while (written) with energy and feeling, does not give evidence that the work is yet of a publishable quality.

"'I suggest you get a copy of David Lodge's The Art of Fiction (Penguin) and absorb its lessons about exposition, dialogue, point of view, voice and characterisation.'

"Nicholas Hudson, of Hudson Publishing, found the work perplexing. 'What I read left me puzzled. I found it hard to get involved with the characters, so it was not character-driven, nor in the ideas, so it was not idea-driven. It seemed like a plot-driven novel whose plot got lost through an aspiration to be a literary novel. It was very clever, but I was not compelled to read on,' he wrote.

* Bob Herbert: the definition of tyranny. excerpt:

"The Bush-Cheney regime believes it can do whatever outlandish things it wants, including torturing people and keeping them incarcerated for life without even the semblance of due process. And it’s not giving up. The administration now wants Congress to authorize what the Supreme Court has plainly said was wrong. White House lawyers, in a torturous (pun intended) interpretation of the court’s ruling, seem to be arguing that the kangaroo courts, otherwise known as military commissions, will be quite all right if only Congress will say so.

"They’re not all right. They’re an abomination (like the secret C.I.A. prisons and the practice of extraordinary rendition) that spits in the face of the idea that the United States is a great and civilized nation.

"'Can you imagine if the Hamdan decision, among others, had gone the other way?' said Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has been waging an extraordinary fight to secure basic legal protections for prisoners at Guantánamo. 'I mean we’d be looking at a dark nightmare.'

"The court’s decision brought into sharp relief the importance of one of the most fundamental aspects of American government, the separation of powers. Checks and balances. The judicial branch put a halt — a check — on a gruesomely illegal practice by the executive.

"Mr. Bush has tried to scrap the very idea of checks and balances. The Republican-controlled Congress has, for the most part, rolled over like trained seals for the president. And Mr. Bush is trying mightily to pack the courts with right-wingers who will do the same. Under those circumstances, his will becomes law.
"There is every reason to be alarmed about the wretched road that Bush, Cheney et al. are speeding along. It is as if they were following a route deliberately designed to undermine a great nation.

"A lot of Americans are like spoiled rich kids who take their wealth for granted. Too many of us have forgotten — or never learned — the real value of the great American ideals. Too many are standing silently by as Mr. Bush and his cronies engage in the kind of tyrannical and uncivilized behavior that has brought so much misery — and ultimately ruin — to previous societies.

July 17, 2006

hot town, summer in the city

Provence, Summer Heat, by Ian Elliot

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"9. The Bush Administration

"I thought this was a joke when I first read it, but unfortunately it's all too true. Last week the National Journal published the salaries of 403 White House staffers, and Think Progress has found the four most overpaid:

"Deborah Nirmala Misir
Ethics Advisor
Salary: $114,688

"Erica M. Dornburg
Ethics Advisor
Salary: $100,547

"Stuart Baker
Director for Lessons Learned
Salary: $106,641

"Melissa M. Carson
Director of Fact Checking
Salary: $46,500

"Funny stuff, eh? It's hard to believe that there's a Director of Fact Checking, let alone a Director of Lessons Learned who gets paid $106,641 a year."

* The Rude Pundit:

"Ken Lay's Ashes:

"Already, just a week after his timely death, Ken Lay's corpse should be rotting in its grave. There was a good chance that insects would have already made their way in, soon to be hungrily burrowing into Ken Lay's flesh before it turned to jerky. His clogged arteries killed him, but they wouldn't have stopped the eggs from being laid in his body, from the worms and maggots disintegrating him, leaving him quite the opposite of the shell of a man he had become. Unfortunately, though, Ken Lay was cremated, his body boiled away and the bones crushed to make what we call 'ashes.'

"At his memorial service, Lay was compared, no shit, to JFK, Jesus, Martin Luther King, Jr., and racist dragging victim James Byrd. Said the Reverend Doctor William Lawson, 'Ken Lay was neither black nor poor as James Byrd was. But I'm angry because he was the victim of a lynching.' Except, you know, without the ripping off of skin and limbs in an agonizingly painful act, and with luxury houses in Aspen. Oh, and apparently, Lay was crucified. Except, you know, without the whole nails going through his body aspect and with beluga caviar.

"And...you know what? Fuck it. The Rude Pundit was gonna go on a bit about what a wimpy piece of shit Ken Lay was, how everyone talking about what a great man he was sounded like the people who say that George Bush is very personable if you forget all about the whole 'destroying the nation' shit. But instead, let's be brief here: Fuck Ken Lay. Fucker got off easy. The Rude Pundit's sickened writing this and sickened by the idea of a memorial for Lay attended by a former President. The proper memorial service would have been to hand his corpse over to former Enron employees so they could rip it into pieces and burn it for fuel in their homes."

* From Harper's, August 2006:

-- Number of giant inflatable rats that U.S. unions have purchased to protest non-union projects: 285

-- Hours it takes for non-union laborers to make each rat: 50

-- Number of AK-47s that have gone missing after being sent by the Pentagon to Iraq last summer: 26,000

-- Amount of casino profits that the Pechanga, a California tribe, paid out last year to each of its adults: $290,000

-- Total number of days that the 2005-6 House of Representatives is scheduled to have met by the end of its term: 241

-- Last two-year term whose House met for fewer days: 1955-56

-- Number of day that the 1947-48s famous 'do-nothing Congress' met: 254

* "Sit down, and put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it." -- Colette

July 14, 2006

like a bird on a wire I have tried in my way to be free

jean-paul riopelle, provence

"Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash." -- Leonard Cohen

Poems by Leonard Cohen

I Wonder How Many People in This City

I wonder how many people in this city
live in furnished rooms.
Late at night when i look out at the buildings
I swear I see a face in every window
looking back at me
and when I turn away
I wonder how many go back to their desks
and write this down.

When this American woman

When this American woman,
whose thighs are bound in casual red cloth,
comes thundering past my sitting place
like a forest-burning Mongol tribe,
the city is ravished
and brittle buildings of a hundred years
splash into the street;
and my eyes are burnt
for the embroidered Chinese girls,
already old,
and so small between the thin pines
on these enormous landscapes,
that if you turn your head
they are lost for hours.

Poem 111

Each man
has a way to betray
the revolution
This is mine

the only poem

This is the only poem
I can read
I am the only one
can write it
I didn't kill myself
when things went wrong
I didn't turn
to drugs or teaching
I tried to sleep
but when I couldn't sleep
I learned to write
I learned to write
what might be read
on nights like this
by one like me

July 13, 2006

what a beautiful face I have found in this place

cecily brown, the quarrel, 2004

* From a 1971 interview of Syd Barrett. excerpt:

Q: Some of your songs seem rather obscure, like Chapter 24 on Piper.

Syd: 'Chapter 24'...that was from the 'I Ching', there was someone around who was very into that, most of the words came straight off that. 'Lucifer Sam' was another one, it didn't means much to me at the time, but then three or four months later it cam to mean a lot.

Q: How important are lyrics to you?

Syd: Very important. I think it's good if a song has more than one meaning. Maybe that kind of song can reach far more people, that's nice. On the other hand, I like songs that are simple. I liked Arnold Layne because to me it was a very clear song.

Q: What about Octopus, that was my personal favourite.

Syd: I carried that about in my head for about six months before I actually wrote it so maybe that's why it came out so well. The idea was like those number songs like 'Green Grow the Rushes Ho' where you have, say, twelve lines each related to the next and an overall theme. It's like a fool-proof combination of lyrics, really, and then the chorus comes in and changes the tempo but holds the whole thing together.
Q: Are you into other people's music?

Syd: I don't really buy many records, there's so much around that you don't know what to listen to. All I've got at home is Bo Diddley, some Stones and Beatles stuff and old jazz records. I like Family, they do some nice things.

Q: What about the Underground?

Syd: I haven't been to the Arts Lab or anything, so I don't really know what's happening. There are just so many people running around doing different thingsand no kind of unity. It doesn't really bother me.

Q: Do you read poetry?

Syd: I've got Penguins lying around at home. Shakespeare and Chaucer, you know? But I don't really read a lot. Maybe I should.

Q: Were you satisfied with Madcap Laughs?

Syd: Yes, I liked what came out, only it was released far too long after it was done. I wanted it to be a whole thing that people would listen to all the way through with everything related and balanced, the tempos and moods offsetting each other, and I hope that's what it sounds like, I've got it at home, but I don't listen to it much now.

Q: Madcap is rather gentle compated with your Floyd stuff. What about the new album?

Syd: There'll be all kinds of things. It just depends what I feel like doing at the time. The important thing is that it will be better than the last.

* Top ten power brokers of the religious right.

* Wales national poet plans to put poems on beer mats. excerpt:

"Punters could soon be enjoying poems with their pints if Professor Gwyn Thomas has his way.

"He is determined to introduce poetry to the masses and he believes one way to target them would be in their local pubs.
"'At one time, poems written by ordinary people were placed on buses in North Wales and shortly afterwards they started doing the same thing on the London Underground.

"'I hope that we can do something like that again for the whole of Wales.

"'It would also be good to print short poems on beer mats and pin them up in places where people tend to get bored, such as the waiting rooms of doctors and dentists. Hopefully it would get them interested in poetry.'"

* "One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment." -Hart Crane

July 12, 2006

do the fakers drop out

Jennifer Steinkamp/Jimmy Johnson collaboration titled Loop

every stain of panic
- by david lerner

my faith in god
is so hard and pure
it scares me

who am I
to write a million poems a second
and trade them for bread and fire

who am I
to have friends whose eyes I can
always find

whose features glow
with infinite cool
even when their hearts are

my faith in god
is so hard and pure
I don't understand it

I dont know why
I have a map
to long lost colors

why each fresh desire

every stain of fresh panic
is fuel for a torrent sky

my faith in god
is so hard and pure
it makes me uneasy

sometimes I feel like a
secretary taking dictation
from five lawyers at once
all felony cases

one misspelled word and we all go to hell

yet I'm awesomely polite

many are called
few are chosen

and some
just stumble home....

nineteen ways of looking at a women
-- by david lerner

and her wind full of promises and desert
and her glitter of her wild and tender mind
and her broken watch
and her window full of exotic curses
and her ineffable drugs
and her poisoned wisdom
and her busted serenade
and her thin gold heartbeat
and the shrug of her silence
and the watchfulness of her smile
and the edge of her stillness
and the chill of her turning away
and the rustle of her winter
and the black silk stockings of her disbelief
and the charred elegance of her thinking
and the cold charm of her obsessions
and the briliance of her longing

poem of the profession
-- eileen myles

language interests me
more than life
I just want to see where it goes --
explaining tonight I get
on a train to enter a big party
dance go make love to you
go mail a letter tomorrow
go invent cigarettes.
stop I want to turn the wheel!
so slightly to the right
examine evening through late day
or morning glimpses --
um apologetically in the rush

of color teevee, hot poem
by her who writes songs
enhances action
in the embrace of a tall cowboy
I think I see the snow
"alive burden"
I think we both are looking in
the Window.

July 11, 2006

Heading home for death's raincheck

A mosaic by Space Invader, Paris, 2006.

Space Invader is the most well-known and most original of France's post-graffiti artists. He revolutionized street art with one basic tactic: He zeros in on the characters from the cult video game that inspired his alias and translates their pixels into tiled mosaics. Since 1998 he has unleashed approximately two thousand of these bitmapped creatures across thirty-four cities around the world, and has hit everything from the Hollywood sign to the Jiulong public pier in Hong Kong.

* SYD BARRETT has died. RIP, SYD.

* Molly Ivans on the politics of greed. excerpt:

"I don’t get it. What’s the percentage in keeping the minimum wage at $5.15 an hour? After nine years? This is such an unnecessary and nasty Republican move. Congress has voted seven times to raise its own wages since last the minimum wage budged. Of course, Congress always raises its own salary in the dark of night, hoping no one will notice. But now it does the same with the minimum wage, quietly killing it.

"Anyone who doesn’t think this is a country where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer needs to check the numbers—this is Bush country, where a rising tide lifts all yachts.

"According to the current issue of Mother Jones:

"-- One in four U.S. jobs pays less than a poverty-level income.

"-- Since 2000, the number of Americans living below the poverty line at any one time has risen steadily. Now, 13 percent—37 million Americans—are officially poor.

"-- Bush’s tax cuts (extended until 2010) save those earning between $20,000 and $30,000 an average of $10 a year, while those making $1 million are saved $42,700.

"-- In 2002, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, compared those who point out such statistics as the one above to Adolph Hitler (surely he meant Stalin?).

"-- Bush has diverted $750 million to "healthy marriages" by shifting funds from social services, mostly childcare.

"-- Bush has proposed cutting housing programs for low-income people with disabilities by 50 percent.
"It seems to me that we’ve seen enough evidence over the years that the capitalist system is not going to be destroyed by an outside challenger like communism—it will be destroyed by its own internal greed. Greed is the greatest danger as we develop an increasingly winner-take-all system. And voices like The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page encourage this mentality by insisting that any form of regulation is bad. But for whom?

"It is so discouraging to watch this country become less and less fair—"justice for all" seems like an embarrassingly archaic tag. Republicans have rigged the "lottery of life" in this country in ways we don’t even know about yet. The new bankruptcy law is unfair, and the new college loan rules are worse. The system has been stacked so that large corporations have an inside track over small businesses in getting government contracts. We won’t see the full consequences of this mean and careless legislation for years, but it starting to affect us already.

* Mark Morford: George Bush is dead to me. excerpt:

"Everyone I know has had enough. Everyone I know is just about done. There is this threshold of happy deadened disgust, this point where the body simply resigns itself to the pain, a point where the disease, the poison has seeped so deeply into the bones that you just have to laugh and shrug it all off and go for a drink. Or 10.

"I was having cocktails recently with a group of people, among whom were two lifetime Republicans, each in his 60s, corporate businessmen, one admittedly slightly more moderate than the other (to the point where, after once hearing a senator read off a long list of Bush's hideous environmental atrocities, actually let his conscience lead his choice and ended up voting for Kerry) but nevertheless both devoted members of the party.

"Bush came up, as a topic, as a cancer, as a fetid miasma in the air. They were both shaking their heads. They were sighing heavily. They were both, in a word, disgusted. The more staunchly conservative of the two even went so far as to say he was so embarrassed and humiliated by this president, by this administration, so appalled at all the war atrocities and the wiretapping and the misuse of law, the fiscal irresponsibility and the abuse of the lower classes and the outright arrogance, that if the Dems could somehow produce a decent moderate candidate with a brain, he'd have zero problem switching allegiances and voting for him. Or her.

"It may not sound like much. It may not seem like a major shift. But it is, in its way, sort of massive. For thoughtful Repubs with a conscience (they actually exist, I have seen them), there is little left to defend. There is little this administration has done among all categories of ostensible GOP values that they can look to with any sort of pride. Medicare? Shrinking the budget? Smaller government? Less intervention in our lives? Reduced spending? Increased respect in the international community? Responsible international citizen? Ha. Name your topic, BushCo has failed. Spectacularly. Intentionally.
"This is where it stands: Bush can in no way risk alienating the ultra-right-wing bonk-job contingent that put him in office (they are, considering Bush's 32-percent approval rating, the only ones left even remotely supporting him -- even though, according to many estimates, they're starting to abandon him, too), and hence all policy and all agenda items from here on out will be even more vicious and desperate in an attempt to shore up the base. Hence trying to mutilate the Constitution to ban gay marriage. Hence attacking the New York Times and claiming newspapers are endangering American lives.

"In other words, Bush's latest nasty, Rove-designed salvos and upcoming attacks to save a sliver of power and pride and sneering GOP control are just the beginning.

"However -- praise Jesus and pass the scotch -- they are the beginning of the end."

* "Writers seldom write the things they think. They simply write the things they think other folks think they think." -Elbert Hubbard

July 10, 2006

It's not pretty but it sure smells good

Joseph Cornell, Untitled (How to Make a Rainbow), 1972

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"6. Rush Limbaugh

"Questions continue to be raised about Rush Limbaugh's recent trip to the Dominican Republic. Why was he there? Who was he with? Why was he carrying a bunch of boner pills?

"Now at least one of those questions can be answered: it turns out that Rush was traveling with four dudes, two of whom were producers of the Fox TV series '24' and one of whom was a Hollywood agent. So I guess that clears that up. But it does still leave other questions unanswered, such as: why did he need a bunch of boner pills on a trip to the Dominican Republic with an all-male group of Hollywood producer types?

"I mean, it just seems like something that El Rushbo would have an absolute fit about - if someone else was caught doing it."

* It’s my Beaver Cleaver neighborhood: During the second song of The Foreign Press set Saturday afternoon in Mt. Pleasant, out of the crowd of friends, street drunks, passersby, and hangers-on, emerged a seemingly drunk middle-aged El Salvadorian man who at first stopped short of the stage, then came on the stage and started turning up our guitar players amp, telling him in broken English that he too was a guitar player and that Dave's playing sounded great and he wanted to stand there to feel the sound. Then during the third song, he started playing with the amp again, and Dave kindly asked him to stop, at which point he threw a baggie of cocaine at Dave's feet as approval for the guitar sound -- really a pretty high compliment. The baggie sat by Dave's feet for a few songs, he told the guy thanks, but no thanks, so the guy reached back onto the stage (he'd stood behind us, on the stage, for about five songs), and grabbed his baggie and wandered off. The street really hasn't changed much since Tuscadaro sang about it in the mid-1990s.

* "I'm against lying in life, in principle, in any other activity except poetry." — Charles Simic

* Soi Disantra puts Smog's Knock Knock in its hall of fame.

* From a 1976 interview of Allen Ginsberg. excerpt:

Interviewer: Often those political movements can become so mutually exclusive that they serve to isolate one from a lot of the potential . . .

AG: Or so filled with resentment that they become dead-ends. More and more, by hindsight, I think all of our activity in the late sixties may have prolonged the Vietnam war. As Jerry Rubin remarked after '68, he was so gleeful he had torpedoed the Democrats. Yet it may have been the refusal of the Left to vote for Humphrey that gave us Nixon. Humphrey and Johnson were trying to end the war to win the election, while Nixon was sending emissaries (Mme. Claire Chennault) to Thieu saying, "Hang on until I get elected and we'll continue the war." Though I voted for Humphrey in '68 I think a lot of people refused to vote, and Nixon squeaked in by just a couple of hundred thousand votes.
Interviewer: You mentioned your trip to India in the early sixties. Do you consider that to be very significant in your orientation afterwards toward your present spiritual goals?

AG: My trip wasn't very spiritual, as anybody can see if they read Indian Journals. Most of it was spent horsing around, sightseeing and trying the local drugs. But I did visit all of the holy men I could find and I did encounter some teachers who gave me little teachings then that were useful then and now. Some of the contacts were prophetic of what I arrived at later here in America, because I met the head of the Kagyu order, Gyalwa Karmapa there, and saw the black crown ceremony in Sikkim in '62 or '63. He subsequently visited the U.S. with Trungpa as host. I went to see Dudjom Rinpoche, the head of the Nyingma sect and got one very beautiful suggestion from him about the bum LSD trips I was having at the time, which I'll quote again: "If you see something horrible, don't cling to it; and if you see something beautiful, don't cling to it."
Interviewer: Much of Dylan's music, even from the middle, electric period of his career, has impressed me as being very Zen-like in a lot of its imagery. Knowing him well as you do, do you think he has been influenced by Zen or Buddhism?

AG: I don't know him because I don't think there is any him, I don't think he's got a self!

INterviewer: He's ever-changing.

AG: Yeah. He's said some very beautiful, Buddha-like things. One thing, very important, was I asked him whether he was having pleasure on the tour, and he said, "Pleasure, Pleasure, what's that? I never touch the stuff." And then he went on to explain that at one time he had had a lot of pain and sought a lot of pleasure, but found that there was a subtle relationship between pleasure and pain. His words were, "They're in the same framework." So now, as in the Bhagavad Gita, he does what it is necessary to do without consideration of "pleasure," not being a pleasure junkie, which is good advice for anyone coming from the top-most pleasure-possible man in the world. He also said he believed in God. That's why I wrote "Lay down yr Mountain Lay down God." Dylan said that where he was, "on top of the Mountain," he had a choice whether to stay or to come down. He said, God told him, "All right, you've been on the Mountain, I'm busy, go down, you're on your own. Check in later." (laughs) And then Dylan said, "Anybody that's busy making elephants and putting camels through needles' eyes is too busy to answer my questions, so I came down the Mountain."

July 7, 2006

you shouldn't let other people get your kicks for you

mt. pleasant and lamont street, wdc, photo by dave jones

The Foreign Press will be playing Mt. Plesant's Lamont Park (across the street from the scene in the picture) tomorrow at 4pm. Please come and say hello.

The Quitter

"You won’t have Nixon to kick around,"
quoth the Nixon, "nevermore,"
after losing the 1962 gubernatorial primary
in California.

Boy would he have left Hunter Thompson high and dry
if he hadn’t put his cleats back on and powered through
the bruising final quarter of his career.

They don’t make Nixons like they used to.

Take the recently deceased Kenneth Lay,
who I think believed his own lies,
or made up his own truths.

Another day another fake-out entity offshore.

Here I am feeling a twinge of pity
(either that or acid reflux or angina)
for a guy who didn’t have to watch Deadwood
one season behind on DVD like I sure do.

I must be quite a guy.

Frontier Guards
-- by James Tate

I'm surprised to find you here, I said.
Likewise, she said. I come here every night,
I said. I do, too, she replied. Well I've never
seen you here, I said. And I've never
seen you either. How could that be? I said.
When we drink we are invisible, she suggested.
I thought it over. What would you like? I said.
Hold my hand and we'll disappear together.
Shazam, she said.

los guitaristas
-- by Robert Creeley

The music is a dance
for the ones who don't dance, it is

a wiggle, obscene, beginning with the
hips, and acending forthwith

to the mind.

July 6, 2006

are you honest when no one's looking

France captain Zinedine Zidane ponders the World Cup final, French-style, enjoying a quiet smoke during a break from training at the team hotel in Frankfurt

* Froomkin. excerpt:

"The National Journal's Murray Waas on Monday served up another sizzling exclusive, describing previously secret elements of President Bush's interview in June 2004 with CIA leak investigation special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald.

"According to Waas's sources, Bush told Fitzgerald that he had directed Vice President Cheney in the summer of 2003 to counter damaging allegations being made by former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, and gave Cheney permission to disclose highly classified intelligence information to do so.
"Publicly, Bush has consistently portrayed himself as not only uninvolved with the leak of Plame's identity, but utterly in the dark about it -- and determined to punish any wrongdoers.

"But Waas's story suggests that Bush was directly responsible for the sequence of events that resulted in that leak.
"Isn't it about time Bush stopped pretending ignorance about this story -- and came clean on his own role? Why should that information only be shared with criminal prosecutors?

"Is it approved White House procedure to distribute misinformation? Is it okay to out a covert CIA operative? If it's not okay was he disappointed in how top deputies like Cheney and Rove -- both still very much at work at the White House -- carried out his orders?"

* Demonizing Drugs. excerpt:

"The standard story is that Prohibition was a bad idea because it couldn't 'work.' It's said the attempt to make America dry was doomed to failure because our legal system lacked the resources to stamp out alcohol use, at least at an acceptable price.

"The problem with this story is it assumes that, if it were possible to eliminate alcohol use in America at an 'acceptable' cost, then this would be a desirable thing. And that is a seriously wrongheaded belief.

"The truth about alcohol is that, for all the damage it does, its net effect on society is strongly positive. Alcoholic beverages bring both simple and sophisticated pleasures to the 75 percent of American adults who drink them at least occasionally.

"Alcohol encourages conviviality, making otherwise tedious social events palatable, and pleasant occasions even more enjoyable. Alcohol enhances meals, relationships, sporting events, and many other aspects of life. Human beings have recognized this for thousands of years. For example, the ancient Greek dramas, which remain among the greatest artistic achievements of civilization, were composed specifically for an annual festival to honor the god of wine.

"In other words, to make America a completely sober nation, even if it were possible, would be a terrible thing. And this point applies to many other mind-altering substances as well, to greater and lesser extents. In particular, the socially harmful effects of marijuana are almost wholly a product of the fact that its use is prosecuted as a crime, while the drug's beneficial effects may well be comparable to those of its far more dangerous legal cousin, alcohol.

"It's not even clear that it would be desirable to completely eliminate heroin and cocaine use, assuming such a thing could be done, which of course it can't (one of the dirty little secrets of the drug war is that many people use these drugs recreationally for years on end with little or no adverse effect)."

* "I thought how utterly we have forsaken the earth, in the sense of excluding it from our thoughts. There are but few who consider its physical hugeness, its rough enormity. It is still a disparate monstrosity, full of solitudes, barrens, wilds. It still dwarfs, terrifies, crushes. The rivers still roar, the mountains still crash, the winds still shatter. Man is an affair of cities. his gardens, orchards, and fields are mere scrapings. Somehow, however, he has managed to shut out the face of the giant from his windows. But the giant is there, nevertheless." -- Wallace Stevens

* In New York?-- The launch party for the Soft Targets Journal is Tuesday July 11, at the Paula Cooper Gallery. Come for readings by Wayne Koestenbaum, Damon Krukowski, and Rachel Kushner; a performance by electronic musician teleseen with live video mixing from C. Bravo; cold beer, and copies of the journal.

July 5, 2006

my logic is my style

Arthur Dove, Sun, 1943

In Plain View
-- by Frank Stanford

A white rose fell out of my lapel
outside the church house
like a hand with too much sun
A horse trampled it
The barefoot rider who was
just passing through
leaned over backwards
and picked it up with his toes
He said Sorry
and I said Much obliged
And I took it from his dark foot
and gave it to his fine horse

Night Jump
-- by Ron Padgett

At night Chinamen jump
on Asia with a thump

Who but Frank O’Hara
could have written that?
and then gone on to speak of
love and something he calls grace.
To start out so funny
and end up with mystery and grace —
we should all be so lucky.

The Way You Wear Your Hat
-- by Ron Padgett

Boing, boing, boing
is the sound the exclamation point makes
when it leaps around the page alone
like Fred Astaire in a tux at night
when he thinks that Ginger Rogers
is mad at him and only his toes
will lighten the glumness. Oh!
what a beautiful way to start a dance,
just a slow slide of the toe
along glittering black marble.
And in her hotel boudoir, Ginger
in a white satin gown, arms
crossed and lips pursed —
hey, she is mad. And no wonder:
they are in different films
being shown at different theaters!
And they will never, ever meet again,
for they have tricked each other
out of existence.

Bastille Day
-- by Ron Padgett

The first time I saw Paris
I went to see where the Bastille
had been, and though
I saw the column there
I was too aware that
the Bastille was not there:
I did not know how
to see the emptiness.
People go to see
the missing Twin Towers
and seem to like feeling
the lack of something.
I do not like knowing
that my mother no longer
exists, or the feeling
of knowing. Excuse me
for comparing my mother
to large buildings. Also
for talking about absence.
The red and gray sky
above the rooftops
is darkening and the inhabitants
are hastening home for dinner.
I hope to see you later.