October 31, 2006

rented out the perfect convention space

Mel Bochner, Meaningless, 2003

* William Burroughs narrates a video, possibly titled "Superstition: Middle Ages and Now," in which "all the witches have to show respect for Satan by kissing his ass."

The original satanic footage here is from a 1922 silent film which was re-released in 1968 with a soundtrack by Jean-Luc Ponty and narration by Burroughs. For the brand new second half, your guess is as good as mine.

* Iraq War public relations. exerpt:

"The Pentagon is buttressing its public relations staff and starting an operation akin to a political campaign war room as Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld faces intensifying criticism over the Iraq war.

"In a memo obtained by the Associated Press, Dorrance Smith, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, said new teams of people will 'develop messages' for the 24-hour news cycle and 'correct the record.'"
"Rumsfeld has complained bitterly that the press focuses too much attention on bad news coming out of Iraq, and not enough on progress being made there. As an example, during a trip to Nevada earlier this year, he said he was deeply troubled by the success of terrorist groups in 'manipulating the media' to influence Westerners."
"Ruff said today that the reorganization, spearheaded by Smith, will help the department "set the record straight" and provide accurate, timely information.

"He denied that the effort was set up to respond to the eroding public support for the war, or that it was aimed at helping in next week's elections. He also said he would not call it an 'information operations' program, which generally refers to a propaganda-type campaign.

"Ruff said the effort grew out of Rumsfeld's criticism of the department's communications capabilities, which the secretary compared unfavorably to how quickly and effectively terrorists can get their message out.

"'If I were grading I would say we probably deserve a 'D' or a 'D-plus' as a country as to how well we're doing in the battle of ideas that's taking place in the world today,' Rumsfeld said during a visit to the Army War College in March. 'I'm not going to suggest that it's easy, but we have not found the formula as a country' for countering the extremists' message.

"'We're trying to do better than a D-plus,' said Ruff."

* The Caribbean are playing The Trash Bar (256 Grand Street Brooklyn, NY) tomorrow evening as part of HomeTapes' CMJ showcase. The Caribbean are slated to hit the stage at 9:30pm. Labelmates Nick Butcher goes on at 8:45pm and Paul Duncan headlines at 12:30am.

October 30, 2006

long may you run

Robert Frank, Sick of Goodby's, Mabou 1978

* Lou Reed on Robert Frank's Sick of Goodby's:

"I was looking at Robert Frank's photograph Sick of Goodby's in his book The Lines of My Hand. Moments before I had been listening to a Johnny Cash song called I Wish I Was Crazy Again. Then I thought of the goodbyes in the book to old friends caught once and for all and never again to be seen in life, and I was struck by the intensity of the sadness of life and its redeeming qualities as reflected in these moving photos. With Johnny Cash as well, the desire to see it all again, to go out one more time into the wild flame only to be burned up forever and never be seen again except in these farewell photos, is moving beyond description. The photos speak of an acceptance of things as they are. the inevitable death of us all and the last photo - that last unposed shot to remind us of our friends, of our loss of the times we had in a past captured only on film in black and white. Frank has been there, and seen that, and recorded it with such subtlety that we only look in awe, our own hearts beating with the memories of lost partners and songs.

"To wish for the crazy times one last time and freeze it in the memory of a camera is the least a great artist can do. Robert Frank is a great democrat. We're all in these photos. Paint dripping from a mirror like blood. I'm sick of goodbyes. And aren't we all, but it's nice to see it said."

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"4. The Ohio Republican Party

"If you think this year's election has produced some of the most ridiculous negative attacks ever made, you haven't seen anything yet. The Ohio GOP put out a news release last week attacking Sherrod Brown for accepting support from Al Franken. The news release came complete with a doctored photo of Franken, in which the Ohio GOP have photoshopped a picture of Franken's head onto someone wearing diapers and holding a big teddy bear.
"The release also came complete with this charming accusation:

"'It is not surprising that Sherrod Brown is enlisting the help of a Hollywood liberal, who like him, is so far out of the mainstream of Ohio values. What is troubling is that Brown would solicit support from someone who compared conservatives to Nazis 'who should drink poison and die.''

"Al Franken compared conservatives to Nazis 'who should drink poison and die?' Uh, no. That quote comes from Bernard Goldberg's book 110 People Who Are Screwing Up America, and it's part of a fictional interview between Goldberg and Franken, which Goldberg admittedly invented for 'humorous" purposes.'

"I'm actually surprised the Ohio GOP didn't use Goldberg's entire fictional quote, which went like this: 'I think they're all a bunch of motherf***ing, Nazi, ass***** who should drink poison and die.' But then I guess they're cynical enough to realize that even diehard Republicans aren't dumb enough to fall for that one.

"Well, most of them."

* Silver Jews performing There Is A Place, from June 29, 2006.

October 27, 2006

Well, you know what happens after dark

Doug Aitkin, Still from Electric Earth, 1999

For Mac
-- by Jack Spicer

A dead starfish on a beach
He has five branches
Representing the five senses
Representing the jokes we did not tell each other
Call the earth flat
Call other people human
But let this creature lie
Flat upon our senses
Like a love
Prefigured in the sea
That died.
And went to water
All the oceans
Of emotion. All the oceans of emotion
are full of such ffish
Is this dead one of such importance?

New Year's Eve at Dave and Sheila's
-- by W.S. DiPiero

"Everybody's looking for something." —Annie Lennox

This side of the freeway,
wooly pops confuse
the dance floor beat.
Everything smells good.
My sweating partner's hips
push harder into mine,
tequila yeasting through our skin.
We'd lick each other dry,
drink, then do it again
while blue lamps twitch
between other lost dancers.
Until someone at midnight
presses S T O P and calls us
to the front door. We kiss
and hug whoever's near,
squeezing into the night air
where the pops, a thousand corks
like muffled distant gunshots,
are gunshots in fact, louder now
in the quiet outside.
They won't fall here
where in June mysterious
citron lilies bloom. Who knows
how they got here?
We know from Eyewitness News
what guns cost there, beyond
the freeway, the kind
with snappy briefcase handles.
In the air, we smell ourselves,
the old grand cedar by the door,
the dangerous holly leaves,
our tequila, peanuts, and sweat.
How can we not love them,
so telling and transfixed?
When music snaps on again,
we drift back to the floor,
adrift in each other's arms,
and love it more, the constancy
of unchanging beat and words,
against which throbbing voice
my partner, pressing her mouth
to my ear, rubs harder with me
and sings We're here because
we're here because we're here.

Survival of the Fittest
-- by William F. Vanwert

Darwin was the first to link
underwear with evolution:
the better-fitting survived,
reproduced, accommodated
the elements. First loincloth,
then short tunic or chiton,
Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, all
wore underwear designed to show
from under a toga. By way of
casual greeting, the Romans
often flashed each other.

Thing Language
-- by Jack Spicer

This ocean, humiliating in its disguises
Tougher than anything.
No one listens to poetry. The ocean
Does not mean to be listened to. A drop
Or crash of water. It means
Is bread and butter
Pepper and salt. The death
That young men hope for. Aimlessly
It pounds the shore. White and aimless signals. No
One listens to poetry.

October 26, 2006

the new faces of the holy vagabonds

Exene Cervenka, Beautiful, 2006, mixed media collage

* Cheney confirms U.S. uses waterboarding. excerpt:

"Vice President Dick Cheney has confirmed that U.S. interrogators subjected captured senior al-Qaida suspects to a controversial interrogation technique called 'water-boarding,' which creates a sensation of drowning.

"Cheney indicated that the Bush administration doesn't regard water-boarding as torture and allows the CIA to use it. 'It's a no-brainer for me,' Cheney said at one point in an interview."
"Water-boarding means holding a person's head under water or pouring water on cloth or cellophane placed over the nose and mouth to simulate drowning until the subject agrees to talk or confess."
"'It's a no-brainer for me, but for a while there, I was criticized as being the vice president 'for torture.' We don't torture. That's not what we're involved in,' Cheney replied. 'We live up to our obligations in international treaties that we're party to and so forth. But the fact is, you can have a fairly robust interrogation program without torture, and we need to be able to do that.'"

* Good old Vincent Gallo:

"'Brown Bunny' director Vincent Gallo, 45, has a new friend - Los Angeles 'It' Girl Cory Kennedy, 16 [her blog]. Kennedy, who blogs about her nightlife exploits and dalliances with celebrities despite being underage, has called Gallo a 'keeper' on her blog and posts pictures of them together. Asked to comment, Gallo - who stressed there is no sexual relationship between the two - told Page Six: 'With the psychotic, middle-aged Madonna out there on the loose buying up all the stolen Negro babies in Africa, I felt it my social and humanitarian duty to take in any young, beautiful and sexy orphaned Jew teens running wild in Beverly Hills. Cory's a great kid, and I'm proud to be her daddy.'" Lovely.

* "The multitude of books is making us ignorant." - Voltaire

October 25, 2006

hold me like alcohol

Kurt Schwitters, The Proposal, 1942

to jim lowel's goldfish
-- by d.a. levy

there is little or nothing
of the minds nightwork
so there is pretending & amusement
a goldfish in a toilet bowl
a piece of the captured sun
the heart of a melons wisdom
if of the Spanish marauders
a ripping up of alabaster by its iron roots
carries this treasure off to store in a
galleon that is to die young

instead, i anchor him with old memories
and change his water by day
he thinks it is the tide

-- by Bob Kaufman

Where the string
some point,
Was umbilical jazz,
Or perhaps,
In memory,
A long lost bloody cross,
Buried in some steel cavalry.
In what time
For whom do we bleed,
Lost notes, from some jazzman's
Broken needle.
Musical tears from lost
Broken drumsticks, why?
Pitter patter, boom dropping
Bombs in the middle
Of my emotions
My father's sound
My mother's sound,
Is love,
Is life.

Foxy's Den
-- by Maggie Jaffe

Inside, cool forced air of Hotel
Casa del Zorro's cozy bar.
Outside, an alien tamarisk tree sips H20
insatiably as a golfcourse, and toxic
oleanders hedge the pool where a sunburned
boy with orange flippers and a gold watch
swims in circles. The Anza Borrego desert
begins at the edge, secretive as a side?winder,
unforgiving by June's end. The piano
player sneezes and adjusts his synthesizer.
Long?nosed, intellectual seeming and badly
bent with arthritis, when he plays something
sad from the 50s, even Yuppie cowboys
feel the ache. Freshly showered, newly prozaced,
I step to the bar. At 49, I have the best-
looking tits in this womanless, over-priced saloon.
Hunched over his pitcher of Margaritas,
is that son-of-a-bitch who broke
my heart? So what. The piano
player takes a spin on the stool next
to mine, and though he's upbeat,
waving his hands over his crystal
goblet of Armagnac, he says, let's walk
into the desert and never come back

October 24, 2006

Acoustic guitar, if you think I play hard
Well you could of belonged to Steve Earle

Marcel Duchamp, Portrait of a Chess Player, 1911

* From a 1977 interview of Kurt Vonnegut:

Interviewer: You have been a public relations man and an advertising man -- was this painful? I mean -- did you feel your talent was being wasted, being crippled?

Vonnegut: No, That's romance -- that work of that sort damages a writer's soul. At Iowa, Dick Yates and I used to give a lecture each year on the writer and the free enterprise system. The students hated it. We would talk about all the hack jobs writers could take in case they found themselves starving to death, or in case they wanted to accumulate enough capital to finance the writing of a book. Since publishers aren't putting money into first novels any more, and since the magazines have died, and since television isn't buying from young freelancers any more, and since foundations give grants only to old poops like me, young writers are going to have to support themselves as shameless hacks. Otherwise, we are soon going to find ourselves without a contemporary literature. There is only one genuinely ghastly thing hack jobs do to writers, and that is to waste their precious time.

Interviewer: Should young writers be subsidized?

Vonnegut: Something's got to be done, now that free enterprise has made it impossible for them to support themselves through free enterprise. I was a sensational businessman in the beginning -- for the simple reason that there was so much business to be done. When I was working for General Electric, I wrote a story, "Report on the Barnhouse Effect," the first story I ever wrote. I mailed it off to Collier's. Knox Burger was fiction editor there. Knox told me what was wrong with it and how to fix it. I did what he said, and he bought the story for $750, six weeks' pay at GE. I wrote another, and he paid me $950, and suggested that it was perhaps time for me to quit GE. Which I did. I moved to Provincetwon. Eventually, my price for a short story got up to $2900 a crack. Think of that. And Knox got me a couple of agent who were as shrewd about story telling as he was -- Kenneth Littauer, who had been his predecessor at Collier's, and Max Wilkinson, who had been a story editor for MGM. And let it be put on record here that Knox Burger, who is about my age, discovered and encouraged more good young writers than any other editor of his time. I don't think that's ever been written down anywhere. It's a fact known only to writers, and one that could easily vanish, if it isn't somewhere written down.

* Bush lies, claiming "we've never been 'stay the course.' Talking Points Memo reader asks "Isn't it interesting that now, just before the elections, Bush is choosing to cut and run from his pat phrase 'stay the course?'"

* Stephin Merrit is interviewed and plays a Gothic Archies song on Fox 5 Atlanta.

* Blogger shows this to be the 1600th post on Dust Congress. Thanks all for reading.

October 23, 2006

The injustice of our greed

Jerry Burchfield, You Have Entered, 2005

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"6. Tan Nguyen

"Last week, a letter written in Spanish was sent to 14,000 Democratic voters in central Orange County, CA. The letter read in part, 'You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time.'

"Nice attempt to suppress the vote! In fact, immigrants who have become naturalized U.S citizens are most certainly eligible to vote. They can even run for high political office. What, you thought Arnold Schwarzenegger was born in Inglewood?

"State and federal officials investigated the letter and managed to track down its source: the office of Tan D. Nguyen, Republican candidate for California's 47th Congressional District. Believe it or not, even Republicans are now asking him to step down:

County Republican Chairman Scott Baugh said that after speaking with state investigators and the company that distributed the mailer, he believes Nguyen had direct knowledge of the "obnoxious and reprehensible" letter. He told the AP that the party's executive committee voted unanimously to urge Nguyen to drop out of the race against Democratic U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez.

"'I learned information that allows me to draw the conclusion that not only was Mr. Nguyen's campaign involved in this, but that Mr. Nguyen was personally involved in expediting the mailer,' Baugh said in a telephone interview.

"Ironically, Nguyen is himself an immigrant to the United States - his family left Vietnam when he was eight years old. Yet somehow I get the feeling that he won't be following the letter's advice..."

* Voting machines could skew elections. excerpt:

"Diebold, the company that makes the voting machines, told ABC News, 'These discs do not alter the security of the Diebold touch-screen system in any way,' because election workers can set their own passwords.

"But ABC News has obtained an independent report commissioned by the state of Maryland and conducted by Science Applications International Corporation revealing that the original Diebold factory passwords are still being used on many voting machines.

"The SAIC study also shows myriad other security flaws, including administrative over-ride passwords that cannot be changed by local officials but can be used by hackers or those who have seen the discs.

"The report further states that one of the high risks to the system comes if operating code discs are lost, stolen or seen by unauthorized parties — precisely what seems to have occurred with the discs sent to Kagan, who worries that the incident indicates the secret source code is not that difficult to obtain."
"Many are concerned about how the confusing technical issues will be handled by poll workers, who tend to be senior citizens and who are not necessarily tech-savvy.

"Electronic voting machines were supposed to be the solution to the paper ballot problems from the 2000 presidential election. But to many critics, America's voting system has gone out of the frying pan and into the fire."

* "I risked my life to make this film because I felt that I had a certain skill set that could be brought to bear on understanding this war in terms of being able to tell the story of the war in images, through people. The news was never going to do it; the news would always be headlines about statistics and bombs going off, and I knew I could be patient and tell a story with the subtlety of things unfolding, which I believe has a greater impact in creating understanding. Hopefully, that’s one of the things the film accomplishes." - Laura Poitras on her film My Country, My Country, which airs this Wednesday on PBS.

October 20, 2006

we've got baskets, basket of love

Ian Cooper, Doctor Is Out, 2006

Vacation’s End
-- by Wendy Breuer

Already the shasta daisies look
like Catholic schoolgirls after recess,
the starch gone out of their skirts.
Blanket flowers and coreopsis hang,
heads heavy, hungover with seeds,
and Bermuda grass has crowded back
into every crevice. In June,
stalks of lilies and foxgloves
stretched and lengthened, buds
ready to let loose
but now they’re opened
and spent in the dry heat
of August, a part of summer,
but truly a separate season—
the season of panic,
of ornamental shrubbery
past pruning, past order,
overrun by returning chaparral,
depleted by drought,
your carefully constructed landscape
almost lost, like your parents
who’ve grown too old
and your children
who’ve scattered.

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.

digital recording (after Eliot)
-- by Joanne Burns

one thinks of all the hands
that whip money out of ATMs
quick as condoms, headache pills;
that jiggle herbal tea bags in thick
mugs like puppeteers; that fill
out lotto forms on a stream of
thin white shelves; that are
dropping shaggy track pants on
the floor beside a bed, that
press touchfones more than flesh;
that vote in cardboard booths
with short lead pencils, tied
to string like small harpoons:
that tremble at the mirror too
close to the patinas of their skin;
one thinks of all the hands, burning
teaspoons in a thousand motel rooms

My Angels, Their Pink Wings
-- by Rachel Loden

Who, if I pitched a hissy fit, would even
blink a powdered eyelid

among the angelic orders? The night sky
is indifferent and glittery with facts.

A third millennium giddily
boots up and Lenin, firm and pliant

from his glycerine bath, waits for kisses
in the glass sarcophagus. But I too

wish to call a meeting of the Committee
for the Deathless Beauty

of the Tsar, the standing Congress for
the Recarnation of the President. I too

wish to lie in state inside the Hall
of Pillars, in the echoes of the Capitol

Rotunda, cooing to my tricky
one, crooning to my trembling Republic.

October 19, 2006

we drink whiskey like our fathers

Michael Spano, Smoker, New York, 2000

* The Rude Pundit on Bill O'Reilly's interview of president bush. excerpt:

"Yeah, yeah, the whole jack-off fest is still going on, with O'Reilly handing out bits of it at a time like he's feeding pigeons. But so far, here's the stupidest things said in the first two parts of the interview between the Leader o' the Free World and the Duke of Falafel:

"1. When O'Reilly asked Bush why 60 percent of the public opposes the war, Bush said, "Because they want us to win. They believe — they are wondering whether or not we have the plans in place to win. They want to know whether or not we have the flexibility on the ground to constantly meet the enemy." So, like because we want to win, we want to get out.

"2. Along with that logic, Bush also says the American people are pussies: 'I can understand why there's frustration, because the enemy knows that killing innocent people will create a sense of frustration and they know that they know America. They know we are a conscience-driven people that value life. And the more people they destroy and the more innocent lives that are destroyed, the more likely it is we will retreat in their way of thinking.' Yep, killing innocent people makes Americans want to run the other way. God, how loathsome we are.

"3. You can take the man off the fake ranch, but you can't take the fake ranch off the man. Bush said, 'As you know, we picked up a fellow named Khalid Sheik Mohammed. Intelligence folks believe or suspect that he was a person that masterminded the 9/11 attacks.' It wasn't torture. Just a fellow having his nuts vice-smashed by folks.

"4. When O'Reilly asked Bush about defining torture, Bush got all pissy once again: 'We don't talk about techniques. And the reason we don't talk about techniques is because we don't want the enemy to be able to adjust. We're in a war...one thing is that you can rest assured we're not going to talk about the techniques we use in a public forum. No matter how hard you try because I don't want the enemy to be able to adjust their tactics if we capture them on the battlefield.' Motherfucker sticks to a talking point like a barnacle sticks to a whale.

"Watching O'Reilly interview Bush is like watching a horny mongoose hump a steering wheel."

* "Tom Wolfe ate the world and vomited lava. Dickens dined at a different table every hour of his life. Moliere, tasting society, turned to pick up his scalpel, as did Pope and Shaw. Everywhere you look in the literary cosmos, the great ones are busy loving and hating. Have you given up this primary business as obsolete in your own writing? What fun you are missing, then. The fun of anger and disillusion, the fun of loving and being loved, of moving and being moved by this masked ball which dances us from cradle to churchyard. Life is short, misery sure, mortality certain. But on the way, in your work, why not carry those two inflated pig-bladders labeled Zest and Gusto." --Ray Bradbury, 1973, "The Joy of Writing," from Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity [via]

* On an August morning in 1978, French filmmaker Claude Lelouch mounted a gyro-stabilized camera to the bumper of a Ferrari 275 GTB and had a friend, a professional Formula 1 racer, drive at breakneck speed through the heart of Paris. The film was limited for technical reasons to 10 minutes; the course was from Porte Dauphine, through the Louvre, to the Basilica of Sacre Coeur.

No streets were closed, for Lelouch was unable to obtain a permit.

The driver completed the course in about 9 minutes, reaching nearly 140 MPH in some stretches. The footage reveals him running real red lights, nearly hitting real pedestrians, and driving the wrong way up real one-way streets.

Upon showing the film in public for the first time, Lelouch was arrested. He has never revealed the identity of the driver, and the film went underground until a DVD release a few years ago.

To watch the film click here. [via]

October 18, 2006

temper the machine gun sounds

Louise Rosskam, N Street at Union Street S.W., wdc, 1941

Daily Commute
-- by Jessica Goodheart

We ride out of downtown on a river of exhaust,
past a woman, drunk with the fumes,

who clutches a sign in dirty hands:
Very hungry. Please help.

Once I stopped to explain why we dress in steel,
point our chins East.

She shook her head, unwilling
to know a world outside her sorrow,

and I don't stop any more. She doesn't understand
the flow of traffic, the agreement we've made to move in sync.

Sometimes she holds out a bouquet of roses
as if she wanted to jam the freeways with her troubled flowers,

but we keep going, drifting on rafts of glass
toward the freedom of our separate houses,

windows that flicker television blue
along the quieted streets.

-- by Denise Levertov

The flowerlike
animal perfume
in the god’s curly
hair —

don’t assume
that like a flower
his attributes
are there to tempt

you or
direct the moth’s
hunger —
simply he is
the temple of himself,

hair and hide
a sacrifice of blood and flowers
on his altar

if any worshipper
kneel or not.

Coming Forth by Day
-- by Phillip Whalen

I must get up early in the morning
Let all the insects out to air and feed
They come back nightly, ever faithful
Even this cold weather when I wished
They’d all be dead

For You
-- by Ted Berrigan

to James Schuyler

New York’s lovely weather hurts my forehead
here where clean snow is sitting, wetly
round my ears, as hand-in-glove and
head-to-head with Joe, I go reeling
up First Avenue to Klein’s. Christmas
is sexy there. We feel soft sweaters
and plump rumpled skirts we’d like to try.
It was gloomy being broke today, and baffled
in love: Love, why do you always take my heart away?
But then the soft snow came sweetly falling down
and head in the clouds, feet soaked in mush
I rushed hatless into the white and shining air,
thankful to find release in heaven’s care.

* Pete Townshend on Syd Barrett:

Later, Pete toyed with his guitar effects between songs and announced his recent obsession with a new echo rig. He related how he had been originally introduced to echo when he first saw Syd Barrett with Pink Floyd in London circa 1967: 'Syd came out on the stage and the first thing he did was this:' (Pete played some power chords and and hit the echo by way of demonstration, subjecting the laughing audience to this for a minute.) 'I think Syd was still standing there with that same chord echoing when Pink Floyd ended their set.' (More audience laughter... Pete was playing the Rose Garden Arena in Portland on October 10 when he made these statements)

October 17, 2006

It's raining triple sec in Tchula

Lisa Krivacka, Fine Dining in the Woods, 2005, oil on panel

* Bush in a Snit. excerpt:

"The notion that President Bush is not just in denial -- but is petulantly in denial -- is taking on greater credence thanks to two recent Washington Post stories.

O"ne describes Bush's seemingly inexplicable confidence that Republicans will maintain control of both houses of Congress in the upcoming elections. He doesn't even seem to have a backup plan.

"The other describes Bush's growing penchant for calling events on the world stage that he doesn't like 'unacceptable' -- an awfully strong formulation in diplomatic circles -- even as his ability to affect those events continues to wither away."

* Boulder Weekly editorial on Colorado Admendment 44, which asks Colorado voters to decide whether or not to legalize possession of less than one ounce of marijuana for adults 21 years and older. If passed it would still be illegal to consume marijuana in public, drive while under the influence, grow marijuana, sell it or possess it if you are under 21. excerpt:

"Proponents of Amendment 44 say that marijuana is a safer alternative drug than alcohol and that Colorado citizens should be allowed to consume it in the privacy of their homes if they so choose. Every year, there are thousands of injuries and deaths, in addition to violence, that occur as a direct result of alcohol, yet alcohol is legal. Marijuana, on the other hand, does not cause a persistent threat to public safety and carries no risk of overdose. Marijuana users are far less likely to engage in violence or erratic behavior than those who imbibe alcohol. Furthermore, supporters of Amendment 44 say that many studies have shown marijuana to be less addictive than other illegal and legal drugs.

"Amendment 44 will also save taxpayers money. Currently, it costs Colorado thousands of dollars every year to track down, apprehend and prosecute marijuana users. This is money that could be better spent capturing violent criminals and fighting drugs that are more harmful to the public, like crack and meth. Supporters say that arresting marijuana users for such a minor offense needlessly destroys thousands of lives and eats up taxpayer revenue."
"Opponents also claim that marijuana is a 'gateway' drug that introduces young people to the drug culture and encourages them to try other truly harmful drugs. They say prohibition works and it is the only viable option in the drug war. There is also the concern that legalizing pot will attract drug users to Colorado, raising crime rates throughout the state.

"Finally, those opposed to Amendment 44 argue that legalizing pot will not save money in the long run. The costs of enforcement are minimal when compared to the costs of addiction treatment and the drug counseling centers that the state would be forced to pay for.

"Boulder Weekly position: Opponents are full of bull, and a large percentage of Boulder County readers knows it. Why? Because they smoke pot and lead healthy, functional lives. The war on pot is a waste of money and a waste of lives. Prohibition has never worked and never will. If alcohol and cigarettes, which are demonstrably more costly and harmful to human beings and to society, are legal, then ganja should be legal, too."

* "Surely all art is the result of one's having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, where no one can go any further. The further one goes, the more private, the more personal, the more singular an experience becomes, and the thing one is making is, finally, the necessary, irrepressible, and, as nearly as possible, definitive utterance of this singularity." --Rainer Maria Rilke

October 16, 2006

a flock of knives cut the sky

Stephen Wilkes, Ellis Island Psychiatric Hospital, "electric chair", Island 2

"In the southern shadows of Ellis Island’s Great Hall, forgotten by history and ill-equipped in its battle with nature, I came upon the ruins of a vast hospital: the contagious-disease wards and isolation rooms for the people whose spirits carried them across oceans but whose bodies failed them, just inches from Paradise. What I was obsessed to do, almost as if I was chosen to do it, was document the light and the energy and living spirit of this place. I added no light of my own, nor any artifice of the photographic craft. I wasn’t simply interested in graphics born from the patina of ruin. I just wanted to record the place as I found it." — Stephen Wilkes, for additional shots from the collection, click here

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

6. Christopher Shays

"When so-called moderate Republicans start toeing the right-wing talk-radio line and spout off about Chappaquiddick, you know they're in trouble. And that's exactly what Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut did last week. Shays compared the 37-year-old incident to Dennis Hastert's role in the Mark Foley scandal, as if one thing had something to do with the other:

"'I know the speaker didn't go over a bridge and leave a young person in the water, and then have a press conference the next day,'" Shays told reporters. 'Dennis Hastert didn't kill anybody.'

"True enough - all Hastert did was turn a blind eye to a Republican congressman who was sending sexually explicit emails and instant messages to 16-year-old congressional pages while engaging in drunken whack-off sessions during votes on the House floor. And it's also true that Hastert didn't kill anybody. Not like, say, George W. Bush.

"But Shays wasn't done yet. I guess he must be worried about holding on to his rapidly disappearing right-wing base, because he also parroted the Limbaugh line last week by telling reporters that Abu Ghraib was not torture. In fact, it was 'more about pornography than torture.'

"Really? Quick, someone call Craig Schelske!"

* From Harper's November 2006:

-- Percentage of Americans who cannot say in which year the September 11 attacks occured: 30

-- Number of additions made to the U.S. endangered species list so far under George W. Bush: 56

-- Average number made each year under Bill Clinton: 65

-- Percentage of U.S. GDP represented by salaries and wages today: 45

-- Number of years since record-keeping began in 1929 that this percentage has been so low: 0

-- Number of U.S. mortgages whose interst rates will reset next year to higher levels: 2,000,000

-- Percentage by which the average payments on these loans will increase: 25

-- Fraction of Manhattan real estate that could be bought with the annual gambling earnings of Native American tribes: 1/8

* "When I am in a painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It is only after a sort of 'get acquainted' period that I see what I have been about. I have no fears about making changes, destroying the image, etc, because the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through. It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well." -- Jackson Pollack

October 13, 2006

all the green green bottles
but it won't last forever

Mark Grotjahn, Untitled (Green Butterfly), 2002

The Drinker
-- by Robert Lowell

The man is killing time - there's nothing else.
No help 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 colour
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 cornflakes 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.

Village With Dark Sun
-- by Frank Stanford

From where I live I can see it
The dark sun over the village
It's like living in a ship
Where I do
The wind rattles my book
Like a handful of tickets
I find out I have change in my cuffs
I feel like a mate
Standing guard over a deck of cards
The red ladies look for land
And the black ones have found it
The breeze always has something
It hasn't played
Some paper with no writing
I think of the stowaway in the lifeboat
No one has made fast
Like a blindfolded prisoner tied to a chair
The wind is taking
He goes around the perfect sphere of wood
In the whirl
Pool of the whistle
And he takes his flogging
Without blinking an eye
I live on the island the lake has made
I don't get around too much
Living here
A kind of buccaneer
On the other end of a bell rope
In an abandoned churchhouse

This Song is for You
-- by Hirsh Silverman

I'm feelin' high and happy
High enough to sing a reefer song
You are my lotus blossom
My sunken treasure
My stratosphere where flamingos fly
I don't know why
But it's only 3 o'clock in the morning and I'm feelin' high and happy
Must be the stuff is here and it's mellow
And it's voodoo hoodoo
That's the way it is
Where there's a jumpin' in a julip joint
A-doin' the head-rag hop
Hey let's boogie
The moon is full
This song is for you
And I don't care what time it is.

October 12, 2006

Running water, running water
What are you running from?

daniel johnston, I Want It All, 2006

* New York Tims. excerpt:

"Sudan’s leaders sent out a letter last week warning governments against volunteering their troops for a United Nations peacekeeping force for Darfur. Khartoum was obviously feeling cocky. But why shouldn’t it? The Security Council — or more to the point, the big powers that run the Security Council — made clear that it won’t send in troops to stop the genocide unless Sudan first agrees.

T"hen there’s Iran, which is still defiantly enriching uranium. And the North Koreans, who blew off the rest of the world when they blew off what they said was a nuclear weapon this week.

"Welcome to the new age of impunity.

"It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The Iraq war and President Bush’s with-us-or-against-us war on terrorism was supposed to frighten the bad guys so much that they wouldn’t dare cross the United States. But the opposite has happened. President Bush has squandered so much of America’s moral authority — not to mention our military resources — that efforts to shame or bully the right behavior from adversaries (and allies) sound hollow.

"There is plenty of blame to go around when it comes to empowering rogue states. The Chinese have been shielding Sudan and North Korea. The Russians have been shielding Iran. Were it not for Iraq and Mr. Bush’s other troubles, there would be ways to shame or bypass those roadblocks. When the Russians blocked U.N. action in Kosovo, President Clinton got NATO to stop the killing.

"Mr. Bush appears to care deeply about Darfur. But the United States is so overstretched in Iraq that no one in this White House is even talking about sending NATO to stop ethnic cleansing that has already left more than 200,000 dead and displaced more than two million.

"Closing our eyes for another two years isn’t an answer. Washington needs to assert its leadership, no matter how tattered, on all these fronts.
"In his news conference yesterday, Mr. Bush said that the abuses at Abu Ghraib 'hurt us internationally. It kind of eased us off the moral high ground.' He quickly added that the world had seen the perpetrators held to account.

"We fear it will take a lot more than the trials of a few low-level prison guards to repair the damage, whether from Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo, the secret prisons or the whole mismanaged Iraq war. There can be no impunity at home either."

* From an interview of Mark Linkous. excerpt:

Interviewer: Do you enjoy festivals?

ML: No.

Interivewr: (Laughs) Why’s that?

ML: Usually, in the States, it’s just too many drunk people and it’s too loud because, … it shouldn’t be this way at Austin City Limits, but a lot of festivals that I have done in the States…they’re just not very conscious of how loud… like sometimes I’m very quiet and y’know, Marilyn Manson could be playing on the next stage and it just negates Sparklehorse.
Interviewer: Is it other musicians that inspire you to create? What is it that inspires you to keep wanting to do this after five years off?

ML: Well, to be honest, lately it’s been so I can live, just so I can pay the rent again. Cause without putting out a record for five years it got to be dire financial throes where I couldn’t live. So that’s my first goal – to pay the rent.

Interviewer: I know it’s been several years since your accident [Linkous mixed Valium and anti-depressants, passed out in a hotel bathroom in London with his legs pinned under him for fourteen hours and required numerous surgeries and time spent in a wheelchair.] Does that experience still have lasting effects on you physically or mentally today?

ML: I don’t know how much mentally it affects me that I’m conscious of. Physically it still affects me because the operations that I had permanently damaged my legs. So I’ll always have to wear braces on my legs.

* If you have yet to watch The Devil and Daniel Johnston, do so soon.

October 11, 2006

All alone in your zoo of numbers and clues

Jonathan Monk, Today is Just a Copy of Yesterday

-- by klipschutz

The poet’s duty is this
To improve on the blank page
I doubt if it’s possible.
- Nicanor Parra

When I got to the party
the guacamole was history
and all the good jokes had been taken.

A guy who gophered on movie sets
held court with the film students with one about
"the Foley artist, the best boy and the grip. . ."

The MFAs amused themselves
over an unwieldy conceit featuring "Email"
("Call me. . .") and his main man Captain Rehab.

Until Daria started throwing cliterature around
like she hadn’t heard she was extinct. Wham!
Her G/F kissed a dude in front of everyone.

A "Turn the Page" parody failed
so the hippie with saffron teeth
stomped out. Again, who is Bob Seger?

I licked the wooden bowl clean as a baby’s—
scratch that—then bummed an American Spirit
off that vegan who wears fennel undies.

Upstairs the Lincoln-Douglas debates raged on:
firmly on both sides of the fence.

Betimes, in fifty years no one will know
Brit Hume from Harry Hamlin from
Hephaestus. Guacamole, mon amour.

Portrait of the Author
As a Young Anarchist

-- by Kenneth Rexroth

While things were going on in Europe,
Our most used term of scorn or abuse
Was 'bushwa.' We employed it correctly,
But we thought it was French for 'bullshit.'
I lived in Toledo, Ohio,
On Delaware Avenue, the line
Between the rich and poor neighborhoods.
We played in the jungles by Ten Mile Creek,
And along the golf course in Ottawa Park.
There were two classes of kids, and they
Had nothing in common: the rich kids
Who worked as caddies, and the poor kids
Who snitched golf balls. I belonged to the
Saving group of exceptionalists
Who, after dark, and on rainy days,
Stole out and shat in the golf holes.

-- by Paul Celan

Dull sun
across a black gray desolation.
A tree-
high thought
grasps the shade of light: there are
still songs
to sing past

—Translated from the German by Franz Wright

Southern Comfort
-- by Nin Andrews

Whiskey on the rocks. That was my dad's evening drink. As a girl, I liked to hold the glass, feel the cold against my cheek, then lift it up so I could see the light coming through the liquid, golden like the hairs on my father's arms, like the meadow that stretched out behind the barn. Sometimes I'd sip it, and if Mom were out of town, Dad would serve me my own drink, mixing lemon, sugar, whiskey, and water, letting me taste fire on my tongue, throat, and deep inside. Does it burn you, Daddy? No, he'd say. Not with just one drink. Then he'd pour himself another to take the edge off the day. And I'd watch it happen, the edges of the day dissolving, everything that had been the day, moving away from us, no longer true or obvious like the black and white of the clock-hands moving towards bed time. When at last it was dark and late, and all that was left were two pools of lamplight, tiny 40 watt islands, just for us, my father reading on the couch, me on my belly, head cocked sideways, staring at picture books I'd read a thousand times, I'd play a game in my mind, trying to hold on to that moment, make it last, just a little longer, and pretend, this is all there is. Just this, this whiskey light, the two of us alone, together, in a single summer night.

October 10, 2006

I wish I had a dream or a nightmare in my head

walker evans, abandoned house, 1973

* Top ten conservative idiots, the Mark Foley edition.

* Serge Gainsbourg's Melody Nelson to be performed live in London in October. It will mark the first time these songs have ever been played live. excerpt:

"He is known to many as 'the filthy-minded Frenchman,' but another side to Serge Gainsbourg will be revealed at the Barbican later this year with the first live performance of his most influential album.

"Gainsbourg made his name in the yé-yé tradition of France's take on Sixties pop, with hits such as 'Bonnie et Clyde' and 'Harley Davidson.' His notoriety in the UK began when Jane Birkin breathed heavily over his No1 hit 'Je t'aime... moi non plus.' In the Eighties, he scandalised TV audiences when on a chat show he talked dirty to Whitney Houston.

"Yet, in between, Gainsbourg showed himself to be a clever lyricist and innovative artist with a concept record that continues to influence musicians today. Nevertheless, were his ghost to be aware of the recent Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited album, he might well be turning in his grave. Ever the sophisticate, Gainsbourg's sometimes excellent confections were habitually infused with ironic distance. So to hear the usually excellent Cat Power and Karen Elson knowingly revisiting 'I Love You (Me Either),' Gainsbourg's arch musical tête-à-tête, is to experience more than a little ennui. Other interpreters of his songs on the set include Michael Stipe, Jarvis Cocker, Tricky, Franz Ferdinand and Jane Birkin.

"Many years before this supposed trubute, Gainsbourg's early compositions had been revealing a literate mind and a playful musical touch. But nothing prepared his fans for Histoire De Melody Nelson. Released in 1971, its musical arrangements are so involved that they have never been performed live. At least, that is, until October when the BBC Concert Orchestra aims to recreate them. Lyrically, the set is just as ambitious, as Melody tells the story of the narrator's love affair with an English schoolgirl. A narrator in a Rolls Royce knocks Melody off her bike, seduces her, and enjoys a brief romance, cut short when she decides to return to her native Sunderland. Melody dies in a plane crash, possibly caused by narrator's evil thoughts. The album closes with one of the most haunting choral works heard outside of a Gregorian mass.

"France's most celebrated songwriter died in 1991, so his vocal parts are to be sung by Jarvis Cocker, Damon 'Badly Drawn Boy' Gough and the Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys, all fans of Gainsbourg's masterpiece."

* "A synonym is a word you use when you can't spell the other one." -Baltasar Gracián

October 6, 2006

Is it peace to point the guns? Is it war to fire the guns?

barbara probst, Exposure #5: NYC, 545 8th Avenue, 12.20.00, 2:27 pm, 2000

The Visitors of Night
-- by Frank Stanford

This bed I thought was my past
Is really a monk in a garden

He's dressed in white
Holding a gourd of water
Because I have forgotten Tangle Eye
And Dylan Thomas
The swarthy goose
And the moon in the pennyroyal
With its gut full of shiners
And the skeleton keys to my room
And the snapshots of my land

It seems like dusk
The voice and curls
left in the strange clothes
Roaming the forty acres of my closet

In the bow wood mountains some boats
Stray as dogs go down in the fields
Shadows yet in the land of the living

When the shade clean leaves you
To your rewards
Bad luck and trouble
Come breaking the laws and trysts
Of love and gravity

So have respect for the dead my dear
And watch your heart like a juke box

Death coming low with its cold set of tools
But you can't jimmy love

-- Anne Sexton

I am not lazy.
I am on the amphetamine of the soul.
I am, each day,
typing out the God
my typewriter believes in.
Very quick. Very intense,
like a wolf at a live heart.
Not lazy.
When a lazy man, they say,
looks toward heaven,
the angels close the windows.

Oh angels,
keep the windows open
so that I may reach in
and steal each object,
objects that tell me the sea is not dying,
objects that tell me the dirt has a life-wish,
that the Christ who walked for me,
walked on true ground
and that this frenzy,
like bees stinging the heart all morning,
will keep the angels
with their windows open,
wide as an English bathtub.

She Didn't Mean To Do It
-- Daisy Fried

Oh, she was sad, oh, she was sad.
She didn't mean to do it.

Certain thrills stay tucked in your limbs,
go no further than your fingers, move your legs through their paces,
but no more. Certain thrills knock you flat
on your sheets on your bed in your room and you fade
and they fade. You falter and they're gone, gone, gone.
Certain thrills puff off you like smoke rings,
some like bell rings growing out, out, turning
brass, steel, gold, till the whole world's filled
with the gonging of your thrills.

But oh, she was sad, she was just sad, sad,
and she didn't mean to do it.

October 5, 2006

Get up early just to watch the sun rise

nathan lyons, untitled

* A shameful retreat from American values, by Garrison Keillor. excerpt:

"I would not send my college kid off for a semester abroad if I were you. This week, we have suspended human rights in America, and what goes around comes around. Ixnay habeas corpus.

"The U.S. Senate, in all its splendor and majesty, has decided that an 'enemy combatant' is any non-citizen whom the president says is an enemy combatant, including your Korean greengrocer or your Swedish grandmother or your Czech au pair, and can be arrested and held for as long as authorities wish without any right of appeal to a court of law to examine the matter. If your college kid were to be arrested in Bangkok or Cairo, suspected of 'crimes against the state,' and held in prison, you’d assume that an American foreign service officer would be able to speak to your kid and arrange for a lawyer, but this may not be true anymore. Be forewarned.

"The Senate also decided it’s up to the president to decide whether it’s OK to make these enemies stand naked in cold rooms for a couple days in blinding light and be beaten by interrogators. This is now purely a bureaucratic matter: The plenipotentiary stamps the file 'enemy combatants' and throws the poor schnooks into prison and at his leisure he tries them by any sort of kangaroo court he wishes to assemble and they have no right to see the evidence against them, and there is no appeal. This was passed by 65 senators and will now be signed by Mr. Bush, put into effect, and in due course be thrown out by the courts."
"Three Republican senators made a show of opposing the bill and after they’d collected all the praise they could get, they quickly folded. Why be a hero when you can be fairly sure that the court will dispose of this piece of garbage.

"If, however, the court does not, then our country has taken a step toward totalitarianism. If the government can round up someone and never be required to explain why, then it’s no longer the United States of America as you and I always understood it. Our enemies have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They have made us become like them.

"I got some insight last week into who supports torture when I went down to Dallas to speak at Highland Park Methodist Church. It was spooky. I walked in, was met by two burly security men with walkie-talkies, and within 10 minutes was told by three people that this was the Bushes’ church and that it would be better if I didn’t talk about politics. I was there on a book tour for 'Homegrown Democrat,' but they thought it better if I didn’t mention it. So I tried to make light of it: I told the audience, 'I don’t need to talk politics. I have no need even to be interested in politics — I’m a citizen, I have plenty of money and my grandsons are at least 12 years away from being eligible for military service.' And the audience applauded! Those were their sentiments exactly. We’ve got ours, and who cares?

"The Methodists of Dallas can be fairly sure that none of them will be snatched off the streets, flown to Guantanamo, stripped naked, forced to stand for 48 hours in a freezing room with deafening noise, so why should they worry? It’s only the Jews who are in danger, and the homosexuals and gypsies. The Christians are doing just fine. If you can’t trust a Methodist with absolute power to arrest people and not have to say why, then whom can you trust?"

* the rude pundit. excerpt:

"Here's the bottom line on the Foley snowball, a runaway fucker that's heading down a clear mountain path: they knew. Republicans in the leadership and you can sure as shit bet many, many more (Karl Rove, anyone?). They fucking knew. They knew that, while he may not have actually gobbled that unsullied seven-and-a-half-inch cock, that he wanted to, desperately. They knew that he was creeping out the pages, that he was a joke, that predatory old queen who the pages laughed at behind their dorm doors, sharing stories about how much Foley put his hands on them when they talked or invited them to different places. They knew in 2001, and they let him try to innoculate himself by putting him on the forefront of writing and passing legislation making it a federal crime to do the very things he was doing, giving him the shiny imprimatur of Mr. 'America's Most Wanted' himself, John Walsh, allowing him to appear on television condemning others even as he condemned himself. They let him remain as chair of the House caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, as if the fox would only eat the grown chickens while guarding the just-hatched in the henhouse.

"And, just as importantly, the Republicans showed complete and utter disdain for the people of Foley's district because it was a safe seat in the Congress and because he was a motherfucking cash cow for fellow Republicans, who would suck some of that filthy lucre from Foley's teats. So for two elections they allowed the people of the 16th district in Florida to vote him back to office, 172,858 of 'em in 2002 and 215,563 of 'em in 2004. Yet despite the heat being turned up months ago, they were gonna let them vote for him again, thinking that saying to Foley, 'Hey, you know all the shit you write to the boy pages? Cut it out' was enough.

"So fuck Mark Foley. Just another tiny-dicked fucker who abused his power and position in obeisance to a sublimated libido that Republican politics would not allow to run rampant and free, another pathetic conservative who denied his true self and destroyed himself for it. This ain't about Foley's online jackin' it to chats with teenaged boys writing about how they fuck their own beds. It's about the people still in power and what they'll do to maintain power.

"God, if they would allow tens of thousands of people in Florida to vote for someone they knew was getting his rocks off in a definitely unethical and probably illegal way, what wouldn't they do? If they knew that Mark Foley cut open illegal Ecuadoran immigrants and fucked their still pumping aortas, they'd probably say, 'Well, it's not like he's fucking the hearts of voters.'"

* "My language is the common prostitute that I turn into a virgin." --Karl Kraus

October 4, 2006

fiery pianos wash up on a foggy coast

Albert Oehlen, Song X, 2004

Freedom, Revolt, and Love
-- Frank Stanford

They caught them.
They were sitting at a table in the kitchen.
It was early.
They had on bathrobes.
They were drinking coffee and smiling.
She had one of his cigarillos in her fingers.
She had her legs tucked up under her in the chair.
They saw them through the window.
She thought of them stepping out of a bath
And him wrapping cloth around her.
He thought of her walking up in a small white building,
He thought of stones settling into the ground.
Then they were gone.
Then they came in through the back.
Her cat ran out.
The house was near the road.
She didn't like the cat going out.
They stayed at the table.
The others were out of breath.
The man and the woman reached across the table.
They were afraid, they smiled.
The other poured themselves the last of the coffee.
Burning their tongues.
The man and the woman looked at them.
They didn't say anything.
The man and the woman moved closer to each other,
The round table between them.
The stove was still on and burned the empty pot.
She started to get up.
One of them shot her.
She leaned over the table like a schoolgirl doing her lessons.
She thought about being beside him, being asleep.
They took her long gray socks
Put them over the barrel of a rifle
And shot him.
He went back in his chair, holding himself.
She told him hers didn't hurt much,
Like in the fall when everything you touch
Makes a spark.
He thought about her getting up in the dark
Wrapping a quilt around herself.
And standing in the doorway.
She asked the men if they shot them again
Not to hurt their faces.
One of them lit him one of his cigarettes.
He thought what it would be like
Being children together.
He was dead before he finished it.
She asked them could she take it out of his mouth.
So it wouldn't burn his lips.
She reached over and touched his hair.
She thought about him walking through the dark singing.
She died on the table like that,
Smoke coming out of his mouth.

I'll Just Bleed So the Stars Will Have Something Dark to Shine In
-- Frank Stanford

I was riding with the man called Dark
he smelled like alcohol that had been asleep and his smoky clothes
that he hadn't changed for months were like ship wood
when he spoke which was seldom
his voice carried over the fields and the bogs and yet it was not loud
it was deep like a wound or a cool well
when he sang like a blue hole with no bottom the words made no sense
at first but if you looked
out of the corners of your eyes without looking you saw what he was singing
about there might be a night snake choking to death
with a chorus frog
there might be a women with big breasts walking at the turn now
there might be water for the hands spilling
out of a barrel on the back of a blue school bus
it will be many years before I can tell about Dark before I can remember
that low down song
as the sleepy mule swayed back and forth down the road
the dust curling under his wet belly
I was rocked to and fro like a careening boat
the violinist and the juggler thinking about stretches of sea
through their windows where they were born
I saw them in time I saw them going to sleep at their work
I saw them as children before the wars with extra spending money
along a coast in Europe
climbing cliffs and talking about he days to come
the handkerchieves tied around their necks and the sea below
I felt like the wounded man being painted by the drunken artist
in the picture show Odd Man Out
I felt like he did when he remembered the words from the bible
and he stood up amidst that stares of the living paintings
and said his piece
I felt the two words Power and Dominion had been betrayed by lawyers
of property I dreamed that these days the union carpenters
in the suburbs have joined the same houses for the sake of joining them
in the subdivisions
and I dreamed the cathedrals built by the unknown

-- lines 7300 through 7327, of The Battlefield Where The Moon Says I Love You the book length poem written by Frank Stanford. The poem, which contains no punctuation throughout the 20,000 lines, was likely written between 1968 and 1971, but was not published until 1978, following Stanford's suicide at age 29.

Sparlkehorse's Mark Linkous has said that the album "It's a Wonderful Life" was inspired by Frank Stanford.

The Gentle Man
-- William Carlos Williams

I feel the caress of my own fingers
on my own neck as I place my collar
and think pityingly
of the kind women I have known.

-- William Carlos Williams

I have had my dream--like others--
and it has come to nothing, so that
I remain now carelessly
with feet planted on the ground
and look up at the sky--
feeling my clothes about me,
the weight of my body in my shoes,
the rim of my hat, air passing in and out
at my nose--and decide to dream no more.

October 3, 2006

Say the money just ain't what it used to be

Jeffrey Hersch, Katmandu Night

* Washington Times editorial. excerpt:

"The facts of the disgrace of Mark Foley, who was a Republican member of the House from a Florida district until he resigned last week, constitute a disgrace for every Republican member of Congress. Red flags emerged in late 2005, perhaps even earlier, in suggestive and wholly inappropriate e-mail messages to underage congressional pages. His aberrant, predatory -- and possibly criminal -- behavior was an open secret among the pages who were his prey. The evidence was strong enough long enough ago that the speaker should have relieved Mr. Foley of his committee responsibilities contingent on a full investigation to learn what had taken place, whether any laws had been violated and what action, up to and including prosecution, were warranted by the facts. This never happened.
Now the scandal must unfold on the front pages of the newspapers and on the television screens, as transcripts of lewd messages emerge and doubts are rightly raised about the forthrightness of the Republican stewards of the 109th Congress. Some Democrats are attempting to make this "a Republican scandal," and they shouldn't; Democrats have contributed more than their share of characters in the tawdry history of congressional sexual scandals. Sexual predators come in all shapes, sizes and partisan hues, in institutions within and without government. When predators are found they must be dealt with, forcefully and swiftly. This time the offender is a Republican, and Republicans can't simply "get ahead" of the scandal by competing to make the most noise in calls for a full investigation. The time for that is long past.

"House Speaker Dennis Hastert must do the only right thing, and resign his speakership at once. Either he was grossly negligent for not taking the red flags fully into account and ordering a swift investigation, for not even remembering the order of events leading up to last week's revelations -- or he deliberately looked the other way in hopes that a brewing scandal would simply blow away. He gave phony answers Friday to the old and ever-relevant questions of what did he know and when did he know it? Mr. Hastert has forfeited the confidence of the public and his party, and he cannot preside over the necessary coming investigation, an investigation that must examine his own inept performance.

"A special, one-day congressional session should elect a successor. We nominate Rep. Henry Hyde, also of Illinois, the chairman of the House International Relations Committee whose approaching retirement ensures that he has no dog in this fight. He has a long and principled career, and is respected on both sides of the aisle. Mr. Hyde would preside over the remaining three months of the 109th Congress in a manner best suited for a full and exhaustive investigation until a new speaker for the 110th Congress is elected in January, who can assume responsibility for the investigation."

* From an interview of environmentalist Bill McKibben. excerpt:

Interviewer: I know you were an early adopter of hybrid car technology. And I suspect your house is heavily insulated and the refrigerator filled with locally grown food. But one attitude I've encountered time and again is that solving global warming is such a huge issue that nothing individuals can do will make a difference, so why bother? Any advice on how to break through the stubbornness?

McKibben: It's hard to break through that idea because, frankly, there's a deep mathematical logic to it. Individual action is a kind of calisthenics before the big event, which must be political. Only the kind of massive change that can be brought about through national (and, even harder, international) policy will really suffice to reduce the flow of carbon into the atmosphere. So the key is summoning political will - and the very act of coming together in a march, say, to demand that kind of action will help us to start feeling politically powerful again.

I wrote the very first general book about global warming, way back in 1989, and I've been working on it ever since. The science has grown grimmer in the past few years as we understand just how fast we're unhinging the Earth's system. There remains time to do something about global warming (not avert it, but keep it from getting any worse than it has to be), but we need very quickly to seize that moment. And I think that right now - because of Katrina, because of Gore's movie, because of our hot summer - is the best opening we've had in two decades.
Interviewer: If you rubbed a compact fluorescent bulb and the Eco-Genie popped out to offer you one wish - passage of a single piece of narrowly focused global warming legislation - what would you ask for?

McKibben: I think the rapid phase-in of a 40 mpg average for new cars. Because the technology is there to do it easily, because it would demonstrate to us that the change in our sacred lifestyles will be very small at first - and because it will give everyone the added benefit of saving some money on gas. Unless you drive a hybrid, you can't believe the number of people who sidle up to you at a gas station and ask some longing questions about exactly how far it goes on a tank of gas.
Interviewer: What kind of useful advice does a small-town/rural family like yours have for us urban dwellers?

McKibben: City dwellers, depending on how they live, are already the greenest Americans. New York City, because it's the least car-dependent city in the country, is our environmental champion in many ways. I think the biggest changes are needed where the majority of Americans live - i.e., the suburbs, a landscape that only sprung up because of cheap energy, and which will take real work to transform. The kind of semi-intact small towns and local economies that Vermont and some other rural places still possess are useful models - at least, that's one of the theses of my next book.

But the real lesson, and the one I hope this march will highlight, is that the technology we need above all is the technology of community. Vermont still has town meeting government - we're reasonably good at talking with each other. It's one reason lots of experiments have come out of this state: the nuclear freeze movement of the 1980s, for instance, or for that matter, the Dean campaign. It's not that we're so liberal (we have a conservative governor; we've lost more people per capita in Iraq than any other state). But I think we're still pretty good at community, which is the underlying necessity for a more efficient and happier country. At root, dealing with global warming will mean sanding the edges off of some of America's hyperindividualism - and perhaps that will be just a little easier out in the country.

* "The truth is that Mozart, Pascal, Boolean algebra, Shakespeare, parliamentary government, baroque churches, Newton, the emancipation of women, Kant, Marx, and Balanchine ballets don't redeem what this particular civilization has wrought upon the world." -- Susan Sontag

October 2, 2006

They're going down, on the dirty boulevard

Ann Forbush, Autumn Returns

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

1. Mark Foley

"Okay, who guessed that Mark Foley would be at the top of the list this week? Wow - all of you!

"Yes, Rep. Mark Foley (R-Sexual Predator) resigned last week after it was revealed that he had exchanged sexually explicit instant messages with teenage boys.

"In the one chat session that we have a copy of (PDF), "Maf54" presses a 16-year-old congressional page to describe what he's wearing and discusses masturbation techniques in frank terms, before the young man signs off with:

Xxxxxxxxx (8:16:53 PM): well i better go finish my hw...i just found out from a friend that i have to finish reading and notating a book for AP english

"Eww. And it turns out that Foley's unwarranted attention was directed at not just one, but at least five pages:

His sudden resignation as a Congressman, a position he loved, came only hours after he was confronted with e-mails and AOL instant messages he had exchanged with a pair of teenage boys. ABC News since has reported that as many as five boys - all congressional pages - have come forward.

"But this isn't your everyday Republican congressional teenage sex scandal - it turns out that Mark Foley was, believe it or not, founder and co-chair of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus.

"Foley was very proud of his work looking after our nation's children. His website - which was obviously deleted last week - had a whole page called "Child Protection."

"And the irony doesn't stop there. There's a video of Mark Foley talking to John Walsh about his new legislation to track down child predators. Foley's classic last line, 'If I were one of these sickos I'd be nervous with America's Most Wanted on my trail.'

"At this point I'd like to thank DU's Blue-Jay who has already won the Foley scandal-naming contest with 'Masturgate.'"

* For the latest on Masturgate, including Tony Snow's comment that this scandal is nothing more than "Simply naughty emails,' check americablog and talking points memo regularly today.

* "The human race has had long experience and a fine tradition in surviving adversity. But we now face a task for which we have little experience: the task of surviving prosperity." -- Alan Gregg

* Washington Post on the "anything goes" administration. excerpt:

"THE INTERIOR Department's inspector general says the department suffers from an 'anything goes' ethical culture.

"'Simply stated, short of a crime, anything goes at the highest levels of the Department of the Interior,' Inspector General Earl E. Devaney told a House Government Reform subcommittee last month. 'Ethics failures on the part of senior department officials -- taking the form of appearances of impropriety, favoritism and bias -- have been routinely dismissed with a promise 'not to do it again.'

"At the Education Department, its inspector general found, officials violated conflict-of-interest rules and steered contracts for its $4.8 billion Reading First program to favored textbook publishers."
"Meanwhile, three top officials at the Department of Housing and Urban Development told the inspector general there that Secretary Alphonso Jackson had said 'it was important to consider presidential supporters when candidates for HUD discretionary contracts were being considered.'
"And then there was the U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, which sent -- in the account of The Post's Rajiv Chandrasekaran, 'the loyal and the willing instead of the best and the brightest' to help rebuild Iraq -- with a screening process that featured questions on whether applicants voted for George W. Bush or even what they thought about Roe v. Wade.

"A 24-year-old who lacked a background in finance -- but who had applied for a White House job -- was detailed to reopen Baghdad's stock exchange. The head of a faith-based relief organization that provided health care while promoting Christianity in developing countries was sent to replace a physician with extensive experience in postwar health administration because, the physician was told, the White House wanted a 'loyalist' in the job.

"These dots connect to form a disturbing picture -- not so much of greed-fueled corruption as of ideologically driven coziness. Those who differ from the party line are excluded from the benefits of power, while those who toe it are welcomed and, if they err, quickly forgiven. A more responsible president would put a quick stop to this. A more responsible Congress would insist."