November 30, 2006

waking you up to close the bar

Albert Renger-Patzsch, Cows at the Mouth of the Ruhr River, 1934

* A Crack In the Stone Wall. excerpt:

"It was one of the more outrageous moments in the story of the Bush administration’s illegal domestic wiretapping. Almost a year ago, Congressional Democrats called for a review of the Justice Department’s role in the program. But the department investigators assigned to do the job were unable to proceed because the White House, at President Bush’s personal direction, refused to give them the necessary security clearance.

"Now the president, for reasons we can’t help thinking might have something to do with this month’s elections, has changed his mind. The White House will give Justice Department inspectors the required clearance, and a review will go forward.

"That’s all to the good, as long as the investigation is not intended to pre-empt any efforts by the new Democratic majority to conduct its own Congressional review of the wiretap program. The Justice Department inquiry will hardly do the full job."
"The Justice Department inquiry also will do nothing to fix the biggest problem with Mr. Bush’s eavesdropping program, which is that — once again — he ignored existing law and instead tried to create a system outside the law, resting on his dangerously expansive claims of executive power.

"If Mr. Bush had wanted to conduct the wiretapping within the law, he could have quite easily done so, using the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. That law, written after the Watergate scandal and the eavesdropping abuses of the Vietnam era, created a special court to approve applications for domestic surveillance. The court operates in secret, and has rarely denied the authorities’ requests. Even in the post-9/11 era, it should have met the administration’s needs. And if there was a problem, Congress had shown itself ready and willing to amend the law."
"The question of the wiretap program’s constitutionality is now making its way through the courts and should ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court. Congress should not be satisfied with Mr. Fine’s very limited investigation. It should mount its own independent inquiry into how the war on terror, and American civil liberties, are being affected by an eavesdropping program about which we have been told so little."

* Drug prohibition not working in England either. excerpt:

The war on drugs "makes the war on terror look like a pushover. The latest figures from the European drug monitoring agency indicate that Britain leads the continent in cocaine and heroin use and is equalled only by Denmark for cannabis. Given how often prohibitionists abuse Holland’s proactive drugs policy, it is worth noting that twice as many Britons as Dutch use cocaine and a third more use cannabis. With 327,000 so-called 'problem users' (up a quarter on the last estimate), Britain is far worse than France, Germany and Italy."
"British drugs policy is a disaster. Parliament’s refusal for more than a third of a century even to amend the prohibitionist 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act is the most damning comment on the state of politics today, in thrall to the tabloid mob. The 1971 act must be the only criminal justice statute not to have been rewritten a dozen times by Tory and Labour governments. Charles Clarke and John Reid pass four terrorism acts a year, yet not one to tackle the drug market. The act contributes to the deaths of hundreds of young people each year. It stokes violent crime and impoverishes families and communities, while giving Britain the biggest prison population in Europe. Yet nobody in politics has the guts to touch it."
"The prohibitionists think that by passing laws they are curing a problem. In reality universal drug availability ensures just two things. An industry catering to almost a third of Britons (reputedly with a turnover similar to that of the petrol or drinks industries) prospers uncontrolled and untaxed. At the same time the quality of its product is unregulated and therefore at risk of adulteration. The dilution of cocaine has recently been shown to be highly carcinogenic. Crooks are making millions out of killing people.

"Most drug users can handle the harm it undoubtedly does them personally. To this extent there is no justification for the state interfering in a private activity. As with the control of alcohol, the regulation of outlets should be required only to protect minors, prevent adulteration and collect taxes. Other European countries are moving in this direction, at least with ecstasy, cannabis and heroin.

"Britain must find a way of legalising supplies. Only then can smuggling and racketeering be suppressed. How this is achieved is a subsidiary matter and a good subject for a committee. But the prohibitionist softies must first be outgunned. They are the true enemies of drug control. This market will never go away. The only tough policy is to regulate it.

"More people die each year from adulterated drugs than from terrorism. The cost of prohibition both to the state and to the community is colossal. The illicit market in drugs undermines Britain’s communities and subverts British values far more than any Muslim cleric or rucksack bomber.

"It will never be confronted until the counterproductive prohibitionist 1971 act is repealed."

* "Experience is never limited, and it is never complete; it is an immense sensibility, a kind of huge spider-web of the finest silken threads suspended in the chamber of consciousness, and catching every air-borne particle in its tissue." -- Henry James

November 29, 2006

Like a smile that tastes like blood

Philip Guston Daydreams, 1970

Capitalism Is A Contact Sport
-- klipschutz

I sold kisses to my mother and bought them from my daughter—met my wife at the county fair. She was hanging a Going Out of Business Sale sign over her (sniffle) booth (sniffle). I lifted her down, spun her around, and planted a wet one square on those home sweet home lips. (It was like giving mouth-to-mouth to the American Dream.) She swooned. I whipped out a smelling-salt twenty. Her green eyes shot open like cash registers. "Really, I couldn’t." It was my last leaf, but what the hell, and besides, I had plans. You're worth double this, I said, baby, and put it back in my pocket. We walked past a WPA placard and she held on to me and asked me about my plans.

A Matter Of Policy
-- klipschutz

The cop downstairs beats his wife
really throws her around

I was brought up to have respect
for the law
I was brought up by 2 aunts
not related to me
or each other
I was brought up right
in the heart of America
the heart that keeps giving out
the one you read about in the papers
that quits at fifty forty thirty
the one they’re replacing with monkeys
& machines
Everything’s different
where I was brought up
I was brought up to show respect
for the individual the right to privacy

I practice the Good Neighbor Policy:
I wear earplugs

Elegy For John Belushi
-- klipschutz

Dead in a Hollywood hotel,
no doubt your picture
on a billboard nearby.

Dead on the national news,
with film clips, in grim tones,
sandwiched between the economy
and El Salvador.

Dead over the radio.
Dead in newsprint.
Dead on the street.

One more mouthful of dirt
on our coffin of dreams.


1949-1982. Same age as Jesus.
In 2000 years, will someone
be waiting for you
to cartwheel back to life?


We laughed so hard
we got sick, my buddies and I.
Never missed an episode
the first year and a half.

One time we stole Rod’s tv
when Mike's punked out.
(“Just break the window.
I'll buy him a new one tomorrow.”)
We were so bored we ran down
mailboxes (a federal offense)
in an black ’62 Cadillac, for kicks.
You kept us off the streets
one night a week.


I was in a bookstore with a full bladder
re-reading “Bomb” by Gregory Corso
when the flattened out words,
half-heard, flew past.
I reshelved the book and left.
On every channel they said
the same thing:

Dead as a censored sketch.
Dead as a cancelled Czech.
Dead as Francisco Franco.


I have this wife, and she’s crying.
(3,000 miles away, she’d been watching too.)
"It’s not fair, It’s not fair."


How’d ya get so fat and stay so limber?
Why'd ya haveta split so soon?
“Live from New York. . .”
Raised in Chicago.
Dead in L.A.
Dead in bed. Dead. Dead.

I half expected Old Wax-Face
to melt the world today, but not this.
You must’ve had other plans for the afternoon yourself.

Like all great comedians, however,
Death is a master of surprise.


Where are the legs with which you danced
In porkpie hat and baggy pants?
Why don’t we get another chance?
What made us think we knew ya. . .

* klipschutz's The Good Neighbor Policy, is available here.

November 28, 2006

All secrets sleep in winter clothes

Gerhard Richter, Abstract Painting 780-1, 1992

* David Byrne:

"The president’s speechwriters may go on about promoting democracy and ridding the world of evil, and Simple George may come to believe his own pronouncements (not uncommon at all for that to happen in a powerful person) but his court and ministers agree that the invasion was 'to make an example of Hussein….so that no one would have the temerity to acquire destructive weapons …or to flout the authority of the United States.' [Quote from Ron Suskind via NYRB.]

"The American Century doctrine, to which all those guys signed on, in a nutshell.
"Though oil is never mentioned it seems obvious to me that the biggest practical advantage to being boss in that part of the world is to control the resources that lie underground. The continuation of the U.S. as a power depends on it — our dependence on foreign oil makes a certainty of that. So of course the Alpha dog looks after its own best interests, that’s its nature, and a dog can’t be faulted for being a dog. But we can at least see it for what it is, without all the nice wrapping, and ask if it really is in all of our best interests, of if in this case the dog claims it’s acting for all the pack, in all our interests, but it has in fact been swept away by a fever of self-importance and self-righteousness.

"There can indeed be dual realities. The reality of events — chaos, death, fear — and the reality of the imagination — progress, idealism and faith. Fiction and storytelling are stronger than fact — we 'make' facts out of fiction. We use fictions to order and interpret evidence. The imagination runs the senses. Until the disconnect is overwhelming and we search for a new story.

"We do this in our personal lives and in politics. Nations are people, a person even, and the storytellers guide us to realize our secret desires and wants. It feels better if we all tell the same story. The most gripping fiction feels inexorable, inevitable.

"I’m obsessed with all this — with how we can do what, either in retrospect or in the cold light of day, is obviously wrong, counterproductive and harmful — both to ourselves, ultimately, and to others. I guess some of the interest is research for the Imelda project, which portrays a person acting out her childhood needs and wishes on a global scale. Again, a Freudian view, to some extent — in that it seems to adhere to his formulations of repressed desire (not just sexual) and unconscious needs acting as a hidden hand, guiding our behavior and decisions. I sense that women have pretty much always accepted the idea of secret and unconscious desire motivating action — it might be harder for men to accept — to men it might seem like spiritism. I’m not interested in his Oedipal theories — though more than one person has mentioned Bush Jr.’s relationship to his dad as a motivating force. I think maybe Sigmund might have been fishing with some of that stuff, or maybe he made up those stories in order to tell to himself."

* From a 1981 NYT review of Liars in Love, the second collection of short stories by Richard Yates (now part of The Collected Stories of Richard Yates):

"Though Richard Yates's first collection of short stories, 'Eleven Kinds of Loneliness,' is now hard to come by, the mere mention of its title is enough to produce quick, affirmative nods from a whole generation of readers. It has become something of a cult book, evoking in one's memory a series of poignant glimpses into the lives of Manhattan office workers, would-be novelists hacking away at lowly trade journals, male residents of New York's outer boroughs more closely bonded to their Friday night drinking buddies than to their yearning and frustrated women. The stories stand up well to a later reading. Less subtle, less detached, less verbally adept than Joyce, Yates nonetheless created - in such pieces as 'The Best of Everything,' 'Wrestling With Sharks' and 'The B.A.R. Man' - what is almost the New York equivalent of ''Dubliners': the exposure of the small, fiercely defended dignities and much vaster humiliations of characters who might have been picked almost at random from the fat telephone book of the Borough of Queens.

"Yates's novels all contain episodes of considerable power, but none of them -not even the widely acclaimed 'Revolutionary Road' - has had for me the impact of half a dozen stories in 'Eleven Kinds of Loneliness.' Scrupulous in its realism, honorable in its refusal to evade embarrassment or failure, the longer fiction seems less able than the short to escape the prison of an (apparently) autobiographical self into the freely imagined lives of others. Repeatedly in the novels we encounter the same protagonist, whether as the insecure child of a divorced, self-deluding mother, as a persecuted boy in 'A Good School,' as a rookie soldier awaiting the tests of battle and sex, or as a young man struggling within the trap of premature marriage and parenthood; in 'Disturbing the Peace' we follow a similar figure into alcoholism and breakdown. Even when the protagonist is a woman, as in 'Easter Parade,' much the same pattern prevails. It is as if Yates were under some enchantment that compelled him to keep circling the same half-acre of pain.

"In terms of their preoccupations, the seven stories that make up 'Liars in Love' have more in common with the novels than with 'Eleven Kinds of Loneliness.' Avoiding the present, most of the stories reach back into the childhood or the young manhood of a protagonist that we quickly recognize. But once again the short form has proved both congenial and effective; several of the new pieces are as fine as anything Yates has written.

* The North Beach Branch of the San Francisco Public Library presents: Return to Return: An Early Evening of Poetry with Sharon Doubiago and klipschutz Tuesday, November, 28, 2006, 7 p.m. sharp, free to the public. Location: 2000 Mason Street (at Columbus) 415-355-5626.

* "If you are trying to transform a brutalized society into one where people can live in dignity and hope, you begin with the empowering of the most powerless. You build from the ground up." -- Adrienne Rich

November 27, 2006

the owners hate the jocks

Morris Louis, Pi, 1960, Acrylic on canvas

Writing in 1960, Clement Greenberg insisted that Louis's "suppression of the difference between painted and unpainted surfaces causes pictorial space to leak through—or rather, to seem about to leak through—the framing edges of the picture into the space beyond them." Pi is one of the earliest of the Unfurleds, a series of 150 heroic-size paintings, each characterized by symmetrical banks of streaming color separated by an empty expanse of white. Despite the simplicity and flatness of the design, the bleached white of the canvas and the rivulets of color interact to create the illusion of vibrant space. In Pi the progression of color, warm-to-cool, furthers the sense of recession, as through a valley, toward a luminous void. Occupying two-thirds of the canvas, that void becomes the dominant element, uniting as well as dividing the sides. In such paintings, Louis aspired to a sublime purity of expression, cleared of the rhetorical and nonessential—a singularly visual experience.

* Clusterfuck Nation. excerpt:

"The chief failure in American politics lately has been the inability to appreciate the relationship between how we live here and how other people in other lands support us with their resources -- oil from the Middle East, human labor and money saved from the fruits of human labor from the Far East. The oil obviously runs all the cars and the money from China and Japan supports our debt (and incidentally pays for building ever more big box stores and fried food emporia). The Middle East is now so close to exploding that we may not get so much oil from them in the years ahead. China and Japan have stepped back from buying American debt in the form of US Treasury certificates.

"Even if there were no exogenous forces operating, the proverbial Man-From-Mars casual observer would have to conclude that America has built all the shopping venues it will ever need (and far beyond), and certainly more single-family housing subdivisions useful only in a happy motoring meta-system. But the exogenous events are out there and they are going to assert their power to make us uncomfortable and to alienate us from the very stuff that we have poured all of our wealth and spirit into.

"The New York Times headlined yesterday that the US government might try to start negotiations with Iran and Syria over the fate of Iraq -- an idea so preposterous that it might have been a wire-story from The Onion. Iran and Syria have no interest in the matter whatsoever except in the failure of America to control events, and the humiliation entailed by that failure, which is happening on its own. So the story is a clear signal of our desperation that we are even pretending to make overtures.

"For the US military this is a tragedy of classical Greek dimensions, a playing out of implacable forces despite its heroism or even good intentions. But for the American public, back home, enjoying the bright lights of the WalMarts and the steaming heaps of baby back ribs, and the comfort of the ride home with the latte plugged into the cup holder and Jay-Z's inspirational thoughts playing on the car stereo -- it's really the end of the road.
"This is really a tight spot. Wider war in the Middle East is hardly out of the question, with Iran and a broad array of jihadistas emboldened by America's flounderings in Iraq. A year from now, perhaps, or less, we will lose our access to a substantial portion of the imported oil that we run all our stuff on. The sodium vapor lamps will flicker out. The last taco will be served. The US public will have to start paying attention and making other arrangements. I believe what Garrison Keilor says about the people in Minnesota. Scratch below the surface, you'll find a thoughtful, practical mentality. I believe that when they can't do anymore of what they're doing now, they'll turn around and do something else."

* Ex-General claims Rumsfeld ok'd abuse. excerpt:

"Outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorized the mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the prison's former U.S. commander said in an interview on Saturday.

"Former U.S. Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski told Spain's El Pais newspaper she had seen a letter apparently signed by Rumsfeld which allowed civilian contractors to use techniques such as sleep deprivation during interrogation.

"Karpinski, who ran the prison until early 2004, said she saw a memorandum signed by Rumsfeld detailing the use of harsh interrogation methods.

"'The handwritten signature was above his printed name and in the same handwriting in the margin was written: 'Make sure this is accomplished,' she told Saturday's El Pais.

"'The methods consisted of making prisoners stand for long periods, sleep deprivation ... playing music at full volume, having to sit in uncomfortably ... Rumsfeld authorized these specific techniques.'

"The Geneva Convention says prisoners of war should suffer 'no physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion' to secure information."
"Rumsfeld also authorized the army to break the Geneva Conventions by not registering all prisoners, Karpinski said, explaining how she raised the case of one unregistered inmate with an aide to former U.S. commander Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez.

"'We received a message from the Pentagon, from the Defense Secretary, ordering us to hold the prisoner without registering him. I now know this happened on various occasions.'

"Karpinski said last week she was ready to testify against Rumsfeld, if a suit filed by civil rights groups in Germany over Abu Ghraib led to a full investigation."

* "I use the guitar, rather than play it." -Pete Townshend

November 22, 2006

I’ll cry diamonds while you burn

burroughs, with candle, unknown

"We must find out what words are and how they function. They become images when written down, but images of words repeated in the mind and not of the image of the thing itself." - William S. Burroughs

A Thanksgiving Prayer
-- by William bourroughs

Thanks for the wild turkey and the passenger pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts.

Thanks for a continent to despoil and poison.

Thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger.

Thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin leaving the carcasses to rot.

Thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes.

Thanks for the American dream, To vulgarize and to falsify until the bare lies shine through.

Thanks for the KKK.

For nigger-killin' lawmen, feelin' their notches.

For decent church-goin' women, with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces.

Thanks for "Kill a Queer for Christ" stickers.

Thanks for laboratory AIDS.

Thanks for Prohibition and the war against drugs.

Thanks for a country where nobody's allowed to mind the own business.

Thanks for a nation of finks.

Yes, thanks for all the memories -- all right let's see your arms!

You always were a headache and you always were a bore.

Thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.

November 21, 2006

the white noise witch her hammers cold

diane arbus, teen with baseball bat, 1962

* From Harper's December 2006:

-- Ratio of people worldwide that are overweight to the number who are undernourished: 5:3

-- Percentage change from 2004 to 2005 in the number of criminal violations by U.S. military recruiters: +106

-- Number of private firms that have been hired since 2002 to recruit soldiers for the Army: 7

-- Percentage of Americans in October who said that Congress should impeach President Bush: 51

-- Minimum number of checkpoints Mary and Joseph would face today on their journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem: 10

-- Number of Texas high schools that offered Bible courses as electives last year: 25

* Tips for Thanksgiving travel. excerpt:

"Leave for the airport NOW. Especially if your flight is on Wednesday.

"Bring no luggage. Wearing the same clothes for a week is a small price to pay.

"If you have children under the age of five tell your relatives one has an ear ache and make everyone come to YOU.

"Three words of advice if you’re driving a long distance: XM satellite radio. Especially if you’re crossing Texas and want to listen to Air America.

"Air travelers: avoid O’Hare. Better to land in Dallas, even if your destination is Chicago.

"There’s more legroom in Exit rows. When the flight attendants ask if you are willing to help out in case of emergency just say yes. Like it’s going to make a big difference anyway if you crash.

"There are NO bargains in the Sky Mall magazine.

"When you’re stuck in St. Louis and all flights are grounded (and trust me, you WILL be), grab lunch at Mike Shannon’s.

"If you’re flying on an airline that doesn’t have reserved seating never sit next to anyone whose already eating or reading Ann Coulter.

"Put a big strip of duct tape on your luggage so you’ll recognize it easily. And it makes a nice fashion statement.

"If you’re flying with small children see if there’s such a thing as 'Flintstones Valium.'

"In-flight alcoholic beverages are expensive. Better to drink heavily at the airport before boarding."

* "There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people." -- Howard Zinn

November 20, 2006

the waves and the thunder’s prose

René Magritte, Decalomania, 1966.

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpts:

"5. The Republican Party

"The GOP is clearly in a state of denial and disarray - last week they re-elected the same leaders who just led them straight into the minority, John Boehner and Roy Blunt. And speaking of minorities, it seems that the Republican party is so hard up for leadership that they've decided to give Trent Lott a second chance.

"Boehner and Blunt were comfortably re-elected, proving that House Republicans are still keen to 'stay the course' despite the fact that their minibus just drove through a guardrail and is currently bouncing to the bottom of a crevasse. The big losers in last week's House leadership election were arch-conservative John Shadegg (27 votes) and Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, who garnered an impressive one vote.

"Things were closer on the Senate side, at least for the number two spot. While Mitch McConnell - who was running unopposed - grabbed the Senate Minority Leader position, Republicans gave a good hard look at Sen. Lamar Alexander for Minority Whip before plumping for Trent Lott by 25 votes to 24. Lest we forget, Trent Lott was drummed out of his job as Senate Majority Leader in 2002 after announcing, 'I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either.'

"So congrats, Repubs! You just picked a pair of losers and a disgraced racist to lead your party into a bold new future. Best of luck."

* From a 1975 interview of Neil Young. excerpt:

Q: Why, then, did you release a live album?

Young: I thought it was valid. Time Fades Away was a very nervous album. And that's exactly where I was at on the tour. If you ever sat down and listened to all my records, there'd be a place for it in there. Not that you'd go there very time you wanted to enjoy some music, but if you're on the trip it's important. Every one of my records, to me, is like an ongoing autobiography. I can't write the same book very time. There are artists that can. They put out three or four albums every year and everything fucking sounds the same. That's great. Somebody's trying to communicate to a lot of people and give them the kind of music that they know they want to hear. That isn't my trip. My trip is to express what's on my mind. I don't expect people to listen to my music all the time. Sometimes it's too intense. If you're gonna put a record on at 11:00 in the morning, don't put on Tonight's the Night. Put on the Doobie Brothers.
Q: You sound pretty drunk on that album [Tonight's the Night].

Young: I would have to say that's the most liquid album I've ever made. [laughs] You almost need a life preserver to get through that one. We were all leaning on the ol' cactus . . . and, again, I think that it's something people should hear. They should hear what the artist sounds like under all circumstances if they want to get a complete portrait. Everybody gets fucked up, man. Everybody gets fucked up sooner or later. You're just pretending if you don't let your music get just as liquid as you are when you're really high.

Q: Is that the point of the album?

Young: No. No. That's the means to an end. Tonight's the Night is like an OD letter. The whole thing is about life, dope and death. When we [Nils Lofgren, guitars and piano, Talbot, Molina and Young] played that music we were all thinking of Danny Whitten and Bruce Berry, two close members of our unit lost to junk overdoses. The Tonight's the Night sessions were the first time what was left of Crazy Horse had gotten together since Danny died. It was up to us to get the strength together among us to fill the hole he left. The other OD, Bruce Berry, was CSNY's roadie for a long time. His brother Ken runs Studio Instrument Rentals, where we recorded the album. So we had a lot of vibes going for us. There was a lot of spirit in the music we made. It's funny, I remember the whole experience in black and white. We'd go down to S.I.R. about 5:00 in the afternoon and start getting high, drinking tequila and playing pool. About midnight, we'd start playing. And we played Bruce and Danny on their way all through the night. I'm not a junkie and I won't even try it out to check out what it's like . . . but we all got high enough, right out there on the edge where we felt wide open to the whole mood. It was spooky. I probably feel this album more than anything else I've ever done.
Q: Why did you wait until now to release Tonight's the Night? Isn't it almost two years old?

Young: I never finished it. I only had nine songs, so I set the whole thing aside and did On the Beach instead. It took Elliot [manager Elliot Roberts] to finish Tonight's The Night. You see, a while back there were some people who were gonna make a Broadway show out of the story of Bruce Berry and everything. They even had a script written. We were putting together a tape for them and in the process of listening back on the old tracks, Elliot found three even older songs that related to the trip, 'Lookout Joe,' 'Borrowed Tune' and 'Come on Baby Let's Go Downtown,' a live track from when I played the Filmore East with Crazy Horse. Danny even sings lead on that one. Elliot added those songs to the original nine and sequenced them all into a cohesive story. But I still had no plans whatsoever to release it. I already had another new album called Homegrown in the can. The cover was finished and everything. [laughs] Ah, but they'll never hear that one.

Q: Okay. Why not?

Young: I'll tell you the whole story. I had a playback party for Homegrown for me and about ten friends. We were out of our minds. We all listened to the album and Tonight's the Night happened to be on the same reel. So we listened to that too, just for laughs. No comparison.

Q: So you released Tonight's the Night. Just like that?

Young: Not because Homegrown wasn't as good. A lot of people would probably say that it's better. I know the first time I listened back on Tonight's the Night it was the most out-of-tune thing I'd ever heard. Everybody's off-key. I couldn't hack it. But by listening to those two albums back to back at the party, I started to see the weaknesses in Homegrown. I took Tonight's the Night because of its overall strength in performance and feeling. The theme may be a little depressing, but the general feeling is much more elevating than Homegrown. Putting this album out is almost an experiment. I fully expect some of the most determinedly worst reviews I've ever had. I mean if anybody really wanted to let go, they could do it on this one. And undoubtedly a few people will. That's good for them, though. I like to see people make giant breakthroughs for themselves. It's good for their psyche to get it all off their chests. [laughs] I've seen Tonight's the Night draw a line everywhere it's been played. People who thought they would never dislike anything I did fall on the other side of the line. Others who thought 'I can't listen to that cat. He's just too sad,' or whatever . . . 'His voice is funny.' They listen another way now. I'm sure parts of Homegrown will surface on other albums of mine. There's some beautiful stuff that Emmylou Harris sings harmony on. I don't know. That record might be more what people would rather hear from me right now, but it was just a very down album. It was the darker side to Harvest. A lot of the songs had to do with me breaking up with my old lady. It was a little too personal . . . it scared me. Plus, I had just released On the Beach, probably one of the most depressing records I've ever made. I don't want to get down to the point where I can't even get up. I mean there's something to going down there and looking around, but I don't know about sticking around."

November 17, 2006

grounded fireflies are little stars that are dying

Nigel Cooke, The Painter On His Way To Work 2005, oil on canvas

Sudden Opera
-- by Frank Stanford

In Arkansas the liquor costs
The wind lifts a finger
And that is all

You look over your shoulder
When you have a chance
Your bottle is empty

If I could go somewhere
I would go
where the music doesn't have knuckles
And the dancers don't wear boots

I'll never leave here
The creeks are so cold and solo

My tie-rack is a convent
The pool hall is closed

When It's After Dark
-- by Frank Stanford

I steal
all the light bulbs
and hide them like eggs
in a basket
going to some outlaw
I put on the best l can find
I cover them with a swatch
of something
that swells like a bite
that bleeds green
cloth that smells
of a feed store
but looks
to of been worn
I go over to nasty willy's bridge
and throw them into the creek
there in the shade I listen
for them
to make nests
to escape
agony and burst

The Last Dance
-- by Frank Stanford

after Jean Follain

Save it for me
they ask you
or you asked them
what difference does it make
some guy from college
always forks over
a couple
extra bucks to the band
a little before twelve
you don't have wheels anyway
and if you still intend
on going
to school next fall
you've got to be on the gym floor
with a broom at midnight
helping clean
broken glass and flowers

November 16, 2006

The all-seeing all-knowing eye is dog tired

Maureen Gallace, Late November, 2005

* Rolf Potts on Ginsberg's Wichita Vortex Sutra, the last anti-war poem. excerpt:

"'Wichita Vortex Sutra' originated as a kind of proto-podcast that Ginsberg intoned into an Uher tape recorder [given to him by Bob Dylan] while traveling across the American heartland in the winter of 1966. In the early verses Ginsberg makes his way south into Kansas from Nebraska, juxtaposing images of the Great Plains landscape with fragmented media reports about the distant war in Vietnam. Reciting the bloodless newspeak that will sound familiar to anyone who has followed the current Iraq War (vague phrases like 'tactical bombing' and 'limited objectives'), Ginsberg eventually grows impatient, dismissing official military body counts as 'the latest quotation in the human meat market.'

"As Ginsberg continues his southward journey to Wichita, his poem notes the stunted attention span of the mass media, mixing the empty language of war ('Rusk Says Toughness Essential For Peace;' 'Vietnam War Brings Prosperity') with the noises of advertising and entertainment ('the honkytonk tinkle/of a city piano/to calm the nerves of taxpaying housewives of a Sunday morn'). Television images, which reduce everything to a shorthand of analogy and synecdoche, gloss over the human suffering ('electric dots on Television--/fuzzy decibels registering/the mammal voiced howl/from the outskirts of Saigon to console model picture tubes').

"The poet attempts to use the warmth and sensuality of the human body to make the distant violence urgent and real ('flesh soft as a Kansas girl's/ripped open by metal explosion/...on the other side of the planet'), but he concedes that his very medium--language--has already been 'taxed by war:

The war is language, language abused for Advertisement, language used like magic for power on the planet: Black Magic language, formulas for reality-- Communism is a 9 letter word used by inferior magicians with the wrong alchemical formula for transforming earth into gold.

"Just as 'terrorism' (another nine-letter word) has become an incantation that aims to blur all manner of failures and lies by 'inferior magicians' within the Bush Administration, the word 'Communism' was central to the alchemical formula for Johnson-era spin and manipulation--a drab reminder that language could obscure truth as readily as express it."
"Thus, moments after Ginsberg appears to be trumpeting Percy Bysshe Shelley's assertion that 'poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world,' he quietly concedes to W.H. Auden's notion that, politically at least, 'poetry makes nothing happen: it survives/in the valley of its own making.' Poetic language might aspire to have political potency in a censored society, where brave dissent could be heard amid the repressive silence--but Ginsberg's free, media-saturated America had come to the point where truth and untruth, politics and entertainment, had become so intermixed as to become indistinguishable. In declaring war over 'by my own voice,' he is ironically underscoring the ambiguity and powerlessness of poetry as a political gesture. Consequently, 'Wichita Vortex Sutra' reads like a prophetic and final antiwar poem, an elegy for the power of language in an age of competing information.

"Because Ginsberg's revelations are difficult--because they seem to question the potency of poetry--it's no surprise that the anniversary of 'Wichita Vortex Sutra' has been ignored this year, despite the poem's jarring relevance to the current American landscape.

"Instead, the poetry community will continue to focus on the anniversary of Howl--not just because 50 is a rounder number than 40, but because it's more enjoyable to celebrate the First Amendment triumph of an old sex-and-drugs anthem than wrestle with a poem that reminds us of the limitations of language in a political world."

* Abramoff is behind bars.

* "A poet dares be just so clear and no clearer... He unzips the veil from beauty, but does not remove it. A poet utterly clear is a trifle glaring." -E. B. White

November 15, 2006

we have placed our final bets
we have come out to play

Joyce Pensato, A Different Homer, 2006

Old Photograph of Me
-- by CAConrad

I remember his smile
behind the camera

From Celebrities I've Seen Offstage
-- by CAConrad

Pete Rose signing autographs at the 1980 World Series in Vet Stadium I was wishing he was my father then I saw Tug McGraw and wished he was instead.

Debbie Harry entering the Kennel Club I got high in an alley with my friends not old enough to get inside we imagined dancing and laughing doing lines of coke with Debbie singing "Heart of Glass" the higher we got

Gregory Corso pacing back and forth in the North Star Bar office ranting at me, Janet, Jim and Dee about how we only wanted to open for him so we could ride his famous coattails which was crazy because we were invited to open for him he calmed down later and we all had a great night

Courteney Love and Billy Corrigan at J.C. Dobbs while I was on stage reading poems with Regie Cabico for the Lollapalooza show everyone lathered themselves in Courteney's drunken blond drama later she crossed the street to Zipperhead to set fire to t-shirts with Kurt's death certificate on them

Patti Smith outside the Trocadero a year later on South Street years later in HMV Records when she yelled at my friend Jeffrey for taking her picture

Sold smiley Cameron Diaz a copy of Philosophy for Dummies and I thought to myself "THIS is going in my goddamned poem!"

Leaving the Only Bed America
That Keeps Me Satisfied

-- by CAConrad

on the bus
i'm still in love with you
getting out of town
like you said
fast as i can
a flea
from your cat
works my ankle
chewing as much
as he can chew of me
and i'm wishing
he was

November 14, 2006

Should I play ball with the dog, or walk away

Martin Parr, Think of England 85, Brighton, 1999

* 1993 Jim Jarmuch interview of Tom Waits. excerpt:

JJ: Do you sometimes sketch out your songs with other musicians?

TW: Yeah. We had a session a week ago where we took just viola, double bass and cello, and we created a pointillist kind of ant colony. It just happened very spontaneous and thrilling. Conceptually, working with suggestions is usually the best way for me. We made up a train, a monster-- Sometimes it's good to combine high music with low music, orchestral guys with guys that play in the train station. Then, through the conflict of background you go to a new place. And there's a lot of orchestral guys who rarely get an opportunity to just, to abandon their history on the instrument, just play free, go to a totally free zone, and you fall into these Bermuda Triangles of rhythm, melody. And lately those are the places that I like to go to.

But most of the songs I write are very simple. They're three-legged chairs, and you make 'em very fast. You provide just enough for them to be able to stand up...You paint 'em, let 'em dry and move on to the next one. I mean the songs on 'Bone Machine' are all really simple songs, "Murder in the Red Barn", "That Feel", "In the Coliseum", "Earth Died Screaming", mostly written with just a drum in a room, and my
voice, just hollering it out, until -- like the other day when we were in there making photos.
JJ: You've written stuff with him [Keith Richards] before.

TW: Yeah, he's all intuition. I mostly play drums, he plays guitar. He stands out in the middle of the room and does those Chuck Berry splits, y'know, and leans over and turns it up on 10 and just grungg! I mostly just play drums. He plays drums, too, he plays everything. It was good. I'm just recently starting to collaborate in writing and find it to be really thrilling. And Keith is great 'cause he's like a vulture, he circles it and then he goes in and takes the eyes out. It was great. I guess we maybe wrote enough for a record, but everything didn't get finished, so --There was one called "Good Dogwood", about the carpenter that made the cross that
Jesus hung on. (Sings:) "Made the other two out of pretty good pine, they all seemed to be doing just fine, but I hung my lord on good dogwood, huh!(40 ton)...And I made my house myself, and I know he likes the workmanship 'cause he's a carpenter himself, and I made the other two out of pretty good pine, they all seemed to be doing just fine, but I hung my lord on good dogwood." Dogwood is what the cross was made out of. And they say after Jesus went up to heaven that the blossoms on the dogwood developed a red cross in the bloom, and you can see it in the dogwood blossom. And that wasn't until after He had risen. So, uh, that was a good one.
JJ: When I was a kid and first read Jack Kerouac, when I was 15 or something, I read 'On the Road', and it didn't speak to me. I didn't get it. I mean I liked the adventure of it, but the language of it seemed slapped together and shoddy to me. And four or five years later I hear Kerouac on tape reading stuff, and suddenly I got it, immediately I got it, and I went back and I read that and 'The Subterraneans', and I understood. But without that first understanding his voice and his way of hearing language, it was hard for me to get it off the page. Now it's permanently in me, I can read it, I can pick up Kerouac and I hear his voice. Breathing and phrasing and be-bop and sound influenced his way of thinking about

TW: Yeah, I agree. It's like for Robert Wilson, words are like tacks or like broken glass. He doesn't know what to do with them. He lays down on them and it's alway uncomfortable. He wants to melt them down or just line 'em up and use 'em as design, or whatever, because he doesn't like to deal with them. I love reference books that help me with words, dictionaries of slang or the 'Dictionary of Superstition', or the 'Phrase and Fable, Book of Knowledge', things that help me find words that have a musicality to them. Sometimes that's all you're looking for. Or to make sounds that aren't words, necessarily. They're just sounds and they have a nice shape to them. They're big at the end and then they come down to a little point that curls. Words, y'know, for me are really, I love 'em, I'm always lookin' for 'em, I'm always writin' 'em down, always writin' down stuff. Language is always
evolving. I love slang, prison slang and street idioms and --
JJ: What writers do you like?

TW: 'Course Bukowski, the new collection is great, the 'Last Night of the Earth' poems. The one called "You Know and I Know and Thee Know"...there's some beautiful things in there, very mature, and (with an) end of the world sadness. And Cormac McCarthy I like. He has a new novel called 'All the Pretty Horses'.

JJ: You worked with William Burroughs on 'The Black Rider'. What do you think about Burroughs? Burroughs has always incorporated the language of criminals and junkies and street stuff into that like process that he runs the words through.

TW: Yeah, I love Burroughs. He's like a metal desk. He's like a still, and everything that comes out of him is already whiskey.

* The best metal/punk band with an eight-year-old singer/guitar player.

November 13, 2006

which side are you on, boys

Charles H. Traub, Los Angeles, 1984

* New York Times:

"There have been many examples of the shambles that the Republican-controlled Congress made of its responsibility for oversight of the Bush administration. But none was so peremptory as the mass firing of 60 House appropriations investigators last month — virtually the entire hired staff responsible for tracking spending abuses in such money pits as the Iraq war, intelligence operations and the $62 billion Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

"The dismissed investigators — former F.B.I. and C.I.A. agents and other professionals — did not have their contracts renewed because their work has “not been that good,” in the words of a Republican spokesman who offered no compelling evidence. An attempt was made to sell the purge as a bipartisan decision, but it turned out to be the unilateral order of the committee’s Republican chairman, Jerry Lewis of California.

"The result is that, until the Democrats assume committee control in January, there’s an investigatory vacuum on such matters as soldiers’ body armor in Iraq and levee and dam spending along the Gulf Coast. A year ago, amid public outrage over the administration’s bungling of Katrina relief, Mr. Lewis promised that a timely public report would be made. No such report has surfaced.

"There had been a bipartisan tradition on the committee, with majority and minority leaders proposing and signing off on investigation assignments. But that degraded with the arrival of one-party rule as Republicans shirked their oversight duty. This was obvious three years ago when the ranking Democrat, David Obey of Wisconsin, was rebuffed in his proposal for an investigation of the freewheeling intelligence operation quietly constructed by the administration in the Pentagon.

"Mr. Obey takes the committee gavel in January, and among his tasks will be restocking the investigation staff and setting the committee back on a productive, bipartisan course. This should not be a matter of party vengeance, as some Republicans fear. Rather, it’s a necessity of the course set by the voters to end one-party rule and find out what the government is actually up to."

* T-shirt allows air guitarists to play for real.

"The T-shirt has motion sensors built into its elbows that pick up movements and relay them wirelessly to a computer which interprets them as guitar riffs.

"One arm is interpreted as picking chords while the other strums.

"The 'wearable instrument shirt' is adaptable to both right and left-handed would-be rock stars.

"'It's an easy-to-use, virtual instrument that allows real-time music-making - even by players without significant musical or computing skills,' said the research team leader, Richard Helmer.

"'It allows you to jump around and the sound generated is just like an original mp3.'

* William Burrough on Scientology:

"In view of the fact that my articles and statements on Scientology may have influenced young people to associate themselves with the so called Church of Scientology, I feel an obligation to make my present views on the subject quite clear.

"Some of the techniques are highly valuable and warrant further study and experimentation. The E Meter is a useful device ... (many variations of this instrument are possible). On the other hand I am in flat disagreement with the organizational policy. No body of knowledge needs an organizational policy. Organizational policy can only impede the advancement of knowledge. There is a basic incompatibility between any organization and freedom of thought. Suppose Newton had founded a Church of Newtonian Physics and refused to show his formula to anyone who doubted the tenets of Newtonian Physics? All organizations create organizational necessities. It is precisely organizational necessities that have prevented Scientology from obtaining the serious consideration merited by the importance of Mr. Hubbard's discoveries. Scientologists are not prepared to accept intelligent and sometimes critical evaluation. They demand unquestioning acceptance.

"Mr. Hubbard's overtly fascist utterances (China is the real threat to world peace, Scientology is protecting the home, the church, the family, decent morals ... positively no wife swapping. It's a dirty Communist trick ... national boundaries, the concepts of RIGHT and WRONG against evil free thinking psychiatrist) can hardly recommend him to the militant students. Certainly it is time for the Scientologists to come out in plain English on one side or the other, if they expect the trust and support of young people. Which side are you on Hubbard, which side are you on?"

November 10, 2006

may your shade be sweet

John Winslow, Six Characters in Search of An Auteur, 2003

I’m In Love With A German Film Star
-- by Todd Swift

Somewhere in Kansas or wherever Wichita is
I stop to dally with a waitress in a summer dress
under a diner’s neon kiss; I’m wearing a UPS
uniform, I drive for them. My name tag lies

when it says: W.W. Pabst. I make a highway
angel by slyly helicoptering my sleeved arms
on the line that divides the independent cinema
of this scene. I have the ball cap and the smirk,

when you stamped my lips with FIRST CLASS
you really went to work. I voted for Cheney
but not for Bush, only in the sense I’d vote for
four o’clock but not the evening news on its heels;

I’m filled with an unbearable urge to be 32 always
and to marry a chick named Miss Miss. I am
basically filled with the luminous possibilities
of American landscape as it unfolds in movies.

If I was a plane I’d never have to land -
I’d be the land, you see, I’d already be the land,
and the way wings spread over and below,
the way a shirt is also a stain is also a shadow.

A Dream of Suffocation
-- by Robert Bly

Accountants hover over the earth like helicopters,
Dropping bits of paper engraved with Hegel's name.
Badgers carry the papers on their fur
To their den, where the entire family dies in the night.

A chorus girl stands for hours behind her curtains
Looking out at the street.
In a window of a trucking service
There is a branch painted white.
A stuffed baby alligator grips that branch tightly
To keep away from the dry leaves on the floor.

The honeycomb at night has strange dreams:
Small black trains going round and round--
Old warships drowning in the raindrop.

The Suitor
-- by Jane Kenyon

We lie back to back. Curtains
lift and fall,
like the chest of someone sleeping.
Wind moves the leaves of the box elder;
they show their light undersides,
turning all at once
like a school of fish.
Suddenly I understand that I am happy.
For months this feeling
has been coming closer, stopping
for short visits, like a timid suitor.

Old Coat
-- by Liam Rector

Dressed in an old coat I lumber
Down a street in the East Village, time itself

Whistling up my ass and looking to punish me
For all the undone business I have walked away from,

And I think I might have stayed
In that last tower by the ocean,

The one I built with my hands and furnished
Using funds which came to me at nightfall,in a windfall....

Just ahead of me, under the telephone wires
On this long lane of troubles, I notice a gathering

Of viciously insane criminals I'll have to pass
Getting to the end of this long block in eternity.

There's nothing between us. Good
I look so dangerous in this coat.

November 9, 2006

more sick than dirty
more dead than alive

Morris Louis, Number 99, 1959–60

* From a 1961 interview of Corso, Ginsberg and Burroughs. excerpt:

Gregory Corso: What say you about political conflicts?

William Burroughs: Political conflicts are merely surface manifestations. If conflicts arise you may be sure that certain powers intend to keep this conflict under operation since they hope to profit from the situation. To concern yourself with surface political conflicts is to make the mistake of the bull in the ring, you are charging the cloth. That is what politics is for, to teach you the cloth. Just as the bullfighter teaches the bull, teaches him to follow, obey the cloth.

Gregory Corso: Who manipulates the cloth?

William Burroughs: Death

Allen Ginsberg: What is death?

William Burroughs: A gimmick. It's the time-birth-death gimmick. Can't go on much longer, too many people are wising up.

Gregory Corso: Do you feel there has been a definite change in man's makeup? A new consciousness?

William Burroughs: Yes, I can give you a precise answer to that. I feel that the change, the mutation in consciousness, will occur spontaneously once certain pressures now in operation are removed. I feel that the principal instrument of monopoly and control that prevents expansion of consciousness is the word lines controlling thought, feeling and apparent sensory impressions of the human host.
Gregory Corso: What kind of advice you got for politicians?

William Burroughs: Tell the truth once and for all and shut up forever.

Gregory Corso: What if people don't want to change, don't want no new consciousness?

William Burroughs: For any species to change, if they are unable and are unwilling to do so — I might, for example, have suggested to the dinosaurs that heavy armor and great size was a sinking ship, and that they do well to convert to mammal facilities — it would not lie in my power or desire to reconvert a reluctant dinosaur. I can make my feeling very clear, Gregory, I fell like I'm on a sinking ship and I want off.
Allen Ginsberg: What about control?

William Burroughs: Now all politicians assume a necessity of control, the more efficient the control the better. All political organizations tend to function like a machine, to eliminate the unpredictable factor of affect — emotion. Any machine tends to absorb, eliminate, Affect. Yet the only person who can make a machine move is someone who has a motive, who has Affect. If all individuals were conditioned to machine efficiency in the performance of their duties there would have to be at least one person outside the machine to give the necessary orders; if the machine absorbed or eliminated all those outside the machine, the machine will slow down and stop forever. Any unchecked impulse does, within the human body and psyche, lead to the destruction of the organism.

Allen Ginsberg: What kind of organization could technological society have without control?

William Burroughs: The whole point is, I feel the machine should be eliminated. Now that it has served its purpose of alerting us to the dangers of machine control. Elimination of all natural sciences — If anybody ought to go to the extermination chambers, definitely scientists. Yes, I'm definitely antiscientist because I feel that science represents a conspiracy to impose as the real and only universe, the universe of scientists themselves — they're reality-addicts, they've got to have things so real so they can get their hands on it. We have a great elaborate machine which I feel has to be completely dismantled — in order to do that we need people who understand how the machine works — the mass media — unparalleled opportunity.

Allen Ginsberg: Who do you think is responsible for the dope situation in America?

William Burroughs: Old Army game, 'I act under orders.' As Captain Ahab said, 'You are not other men but my arms and legs —' Mr. Anslinger [then head of FBI] has a lot of arms and legs, or whoever is controlling him. Same thing as the Eichman case: he's the front man who has got to take the rap. Poor bastard, I got sympathy for him.

According to Maynard & Miles, this is the first published interview with William Burroughs. It appeared in the 1961 issue of Journal for the Protection of All Beings, a periodical edited by Lawrence Ferlinghetti and published by City Lights Books in San Francisco.

* Democrats also will control Senate.

* Top 20 Iraq oversights.

November 8, 2006

it's a brand new era, but it came too late

Robert Colescott, Knowledge of the Past
is the Key to the Future: Upside Down Jesus
and the Politics of Survival, 1987

November 8, 2006
-- by Klipschutz

I woke up at two a.m.
Repubs were dropping like flies.
Is that what they were all along—
horror movie flies?
(Not even Vincent Price,
the remake with Jeff Goldblum.)
Every breaker of lines knows
there are occasions for enjambment
and there are end stop times.

Notes on Capitalist Persuasion
-- by John Haines


"Everything is connected to everything . . ."

So runs the executive saw,
cutting both ways
on the theme of all improvement:
Your string is my string
when I pull it my way.

In my detachment is your dependency.

In your small and backward nation
some minor wealth still beckons –
was it lumber, gas, or only sugar?
Thus by its imperial logic,
with carefully aimed negotiation,
my increase is your poverty.

When the mortgage payments falter,
then in fair market exchange
your account is my account,
your savings become my bonus,
your home my house to sell.

In my approval is your dispossession.


Often in distress all social bonds
are broken. Your wife may then
be my wife, your children
my dependents – if I want them.

So, too, our intellectual custom:
Your ideas are my ideas
when I choose to take them.
Your book is my book,
your title mine to steal,
your poem mine to publish.

In my acclaim is your remaindering.

Suppose I sit in an oval office:
the public polls are sliding,
and to prove I am still in command
I begin a distant war. Then,
in obedience to reciprocal fate,
by which everything is connected,
my war is your war,
my adventure your misfortune.

As when the dead come home,
and we are still connected,
my truce is your surrender,
my triumph your despair.

The President's Prayer
-- by Barton Sutter

Our Father who art in Washington
However hollow Thy fame,
Thy kingdom come,
Our will be one
At home as in foreign nations.
Give us this day our deficit,
And forgive us our bombing passes
As we bomb those who might surpass us.
Lead us not into conservation,
But deliver us from free will.
For ours is the thralldom,
The war, and the gory.
No matter, whatever,
Your man.

The Dead In Hammocks
-- by Ward Kelley

It's a matter of learning how to lounge
around correctly, occasionally
planting an obtuse comment,
one here, one there, into a favorite
carnal creature's mind. . .

but care must be taken to avoid
being overt with such a comment,
for if one will play by the rules,
then certitude must be avoided
completely and resolutely. . .

for truth is only truth when it can
be perceived by various viewers
as their own distinct revelation,
and it is so difficult-the dead
complain about it all the time-
to get those obstinate poets
into the correct mental hammocks.

November 7, 2006

are we free to think for ourselves
or doomed to repeat our mistakes?

Sister Corita Kent, Things Go Better With, 1967,

I'm sorry, but I don't want to be an Emperor - that's not my business. I don't want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone, if possible -- Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another; human beings are like that. We want to live by each other's happiness, not by each other's misery. We don't want to hate and despise one another. In this world there's room for everyone and the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone.

The way of life can be free and beautiful.

But we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men's souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women, and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.

To those who can hear me I say, "Do not despair." The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass and dictators die; and the power they took from the people will return to the people and so long as men die, liberty will never perish.

Soldiers: Don't give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you, enslave you, who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel; who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don't give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don't hate; only the unloved hate, the unloved and the unnatural.

Soldiers: Don't fight for slavery! Fight for liberty! In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written, "the kingdom of God is within man" -- not one man, nor a group of men, but in all men, in you, you the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.

Then, in the name of democracy, let us use that power! Let us all unite!! Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie! They do not fulfill their promise; they never will. Dictators free themselves, but they enslave the people!! Now, let us fight to fulfill that promise!! Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men's happiness.

Soldiers: In the name of democracy, let us all unite!!!

— Charles Chaplin, The Great Dictator [via]

* Wowee Zowee: Sordid Sentinels Edition is on sale today.

November 6, 2006

We tried to speak between lines of oration

William Kentridge, Drawing for Stereoscope, "Untitled" (1998-99)

* From Pat Buchanan's American Spectator. excerpt:


"It should surprise few readers that we think a vote that is seen—in America and the world at large—as a decisive “No” vote on the Bush presidency is the best outcome.

"Faced on Sept. 11, 2001 with a great challenge, President Bush made little effort to understand who had attacked us and why—thus ignoring the prerequisite for crafting an effective response. He seemingly did not want to find out, and he had staffed his national-security team with people who either did not want to know or were committed to a prefabricated answer.

"As a consequence, he rushed America into a war against Iraq, a war we are now losing and cannot win, one that has done far more to strengthen Islamist terrorists than anything they could possibly have done for themselves. Bush’s decision to seize Iraq will almost surely leave behind a broken state divided into warring ethnic enclaves, with hundreds of thousands killed and maimed and thousands more thirsting for revenge against the country that crossed the ocean to attack them. The invasion failed at every level...

"The war will continue as long as Bush is in office, for no other reason than the feckless president can’t face the embarrassment of admitting defeat. The chain of events is not complete: Bush, having learned little from his mistakes, may yet seek to embroil America in new wars against Iran and Syria.

"Meanwhile, America’s image in the world, its capacity to persuade others that its interests are common interests, is lower than it has been in memory. All over the world people look at Bush and yearn for this country—which once symbolized hope and justice—to be humbled....

"There may be little Americans can do to atone for this presidency, which will stain our country’s reputation for a long time. But the process of recovering our good name must begin somewhere, and the logical place is in the voting booth this Nov. 7. If we are fortunate, we can produce a result that is seen—in Washington, in Peoria, and in world capitals from Prague to Kuala Lumpur—as a repudiation of George W. Bush and the war of aggression he launched against Iraq....

"On Nov. 7, the world will be watching as we go to the polls, seeking to ascertain whether the American people have the wisdom to try to correct a disastrous course. Posterity will note too if their collective decision is one that captured the attention of historians—that of a people voting, again and again, to endorse a leader taking a country in a catastrophic direction. The choice is in our hands."

* New York Times. excerpt:

"On Tuesday, when this page runs the list of people it has endorsed for election, we will include no Republican Congressional candidates for the first time in our memory. Although Times editorials tend to agree with Democrats on national policy, we have proudly and consistently endorsed a long line of moderate Republicans, particularly for the House. Our only political loyalty is to making the two-party system as vital and responsible as possible.
"For us, the breaking point came over the Republicans’ attempt to undermine the fundamental checks and balances that have safeguarded American democracy since its inception. The fact that the White House, House and Senate are all controlled by one party is not a threat to the balance of powers, as long as everyone understands the roles assigned to each by the Constitution. But over the past two years, the White House has made it clear that it claims sweeping powers that go well beyond any acceptable limits. Rather than doing their duty to curb these excesses, the Congressional Republicans have dedicated themselves to removing restraints on the president’s ability to do whatever he wants. To paraphrase Tom DeLay, the Republicans feel you don’t need to have oversight hearings if your party is in control of everything.

"An administration convinced of its own perpetual rightness and a partisan Congress determined to deflect all criticism of the chief executive has been the recipe for what we live with today.

"Congress, in particular the House, has failed to ask probing questions about the war in Iraq or hold the president accountable for his catastrophic bungling of the occupation. It also has allowed Mr. Bush to avoid answering any questions about whether his administration cooked the intelligence on weapons of mass destruction. Then, it quietly agreed to close down the one agency that has been riding herd on crooked and inept American contractors who have botched everything from construction work to the security of weapons.

"After the revelations about the abuse, torture and illegal detentions in Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, Congress shielded the Pentagon from any responsibility for the atrocities its policies allowed to happen. On the eve of the election, and without even a pretense at debate in the House, Congress granted the White House permission to hold hundreds of noncitizens in jail forever, without due process, even though many of them were clearly sent there in error.
"This election is indeed about George W. Bush — and the Congressional majority’s insistence on protecting him from the consequences of his mistakes and misdeeds. Mr. Bush lost the popular vote in 2000 and proceeded to govern as if he had an enormous mandate. After he actually beat his opponent in 2004, he announced he now had real political capital and intended to spend it. We have seen the results. It is frightening to contemplate the new excesses he could concoct if he woke up next Wednesday and found that his party had maintained its hold on the House and Senate."

-- Related: Top ten conservative idiots.

* "Perhaps there is another kind of writing, I only know this one: in the night, when fear does not let me sleep." --Franz Kafka

November 3, 2006

Black Planet Black Freighter Black Sea

Shannon Ebner, Exit Glacier, 2005

Sex Is Counting On Your Vote
-- by Klipschutz

Make way for the midturps!

The erection is
-coming right up
-rearing its head

-ejectaroo time for da bombs
-in Lady Liberty’s face
-light around the corner

elsewise we’re in one barrel
(ain’t togetherness gland)
atop Viagra Falls

I may only be the dik-dik
at the Washington Zoo
but I approved this message.

The Woman At The Washington Zoo
-- by Randall Jarrell

The saris go by me from the embassies.

Cloth from the moon. Cloth from another planet.
They look back at the leopard like the leopard.

And I. . . .
this print of mine, that has kept its color
Alive through so many cleanings; this dull null
Navy I wear to work, and wear from work, and so
To my bed, so to my grave, with no
Complaints, no comment: neither from my chief,
The Deputy Chief Assistant, nor his chief--
Only I complain. . . . this serviceable
Body that no sunlight dyes, no hand suffuses
But, dome-shadowed, withering among columns,
Wavy beneath fountains--small, far-off, shining
In the eyes of animals, these beings trapped
As I am trapped but not, themselves, the trap,
Aging, but without knowledge of their age,
Kept safe here, knowing not of death, for death--
Oh, bars of my own body, open, open!

The world goes by my cage and never sees me.
And there come not to me, as come to these,
The wild beasts, sparrows pecking the llamas' grain,
Pigeons settling on the bears' bread, buzzards
Tearing the meat the flies have clouded. . . .
When you come for the white rat that the foxes left,
Take off the red helmet of your head, the black
Wings that have shadowed me, and step to me as man:
The wild brother at whose feet the white wolves fawn,
To whose hand of power the great lioness
Stalks, purring. . . .
You know what I was,
You see what I am: change me, change me!

Ex-Basketball Player
-- by John Updike

Pearl Avenue runs past the high-school lot,
Bends with the trolley tracks, and stops, cut off
Before it has a chance to go two blocks,
At Colonel McComsky Plaza. Berth’s Garage
Is on the corner facing west, and there,
Most days, you'll find Flick Webb, who helps Berth out.

Flick stands tall among the idiot pumps—
Five on a side, the old bubble-head style,
Their rubber elbows hanging loose and low.
One’s nostrils are two S’s, and his eyes
An E and O. And one is squat, without
A head at all—more of a football type.

Once Flick played for the high-school team, the Wizards.
He was good: in fact, the best. In ’46
He bucketed three hundred ninety points,
A county record still. The ball loved Flick.
I saw him rack up thirty-eight or forty
In one home game. His hands were like wild birds.

He never learned a trade, he just sells gas,
Checks oil, and changes flats. Once in a while,
As a gag, he dribbles an inner tube,
But most of us remember anyway.
His hands are fine and nervous on the lug wrench.
It makes no difference to the lug wrench, though.

Off work, he hangs around Mae’s Luncheonette.
Grease-gray and kind of coiled, he plays pinball,
Smokes those thin cigars, nurses lemon phosphates.
Flick seldom says a word to Mae, just nods
Beyond her face toward bright applauding tiers
Of Necco Wafers, Nibs, and Juju Beads.

* an oldie: check out No Exit Strategy (Motherfucker), by the cut ups.

November 2, 2006

watch beneath the eyelids every passing dot

Adam Ross, Untitled

* Seymour Hersh slams Bush at McGill address. excerpt:

"'The bad news,' investigative reporter Seymour Hersh told a Montreal audience last Wednesday, 'is that there are 816 days left in the reign of King George II of America.'

"The good news? 'When we wake up tomorrow morning, there will be one less day.'

"Hersh, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and regular contributor to The New Yorker magazine, has been a thorn in the side of the U.S. government for nearly 40 years. Since his 1969 exposé of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, which is widely believed to have helped turn American public opinion against the Vietnam War, he has broken news about the secret U.S. bombing of Cambodia, covert C.I.A. attempts to overthrow Chilean president Salvador Allende, and, more recently, the first details about American soldiers abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq."
"Hersh came out hard against President Bush for his involvement in the Middle East.
'In Washington, you can’t expect any rationality. I don’t know if he’s in Iraq because God told him to, because his father didn’t do it, or because it’s the next step in his 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous program,' he said.

"Hersh hinted that the responsibility for the invasion of Iraq lies with eight or nine members of the administration who have a 'neo-conservative agenda' and dictate the U.S.’s post-September 11 foreign policy.

"'You have a collapsed Congress, you have a collapsed press. The military is going to do what the President wants,' Hersh said. 'How fragile is democracy in America, if a president can come in with an agenda controlled by a few cultists?'

"Throughout his talk Hersh remained pessimistic, predicting that the U.S. will initiate an attack against Iran, and that the situation in Iraq will deteriorate further.

"'There’s no reason to see a change in policy about Iraq. [Bush]thinks that, in twenty years, he’s going to be recognized for the leader he was – the analogy he uses is Churchill,' Hersh said. 'If you read the public statements of the leadership, they’re so confident and so calm. It’s pretty scary.'"

* New York Times on the Great Divider. excerpt:

"As President Bush throws himself into the final days of a particularly nasty campaign season, he’s settled into a familiar pattern of ugly behavior. Since he can’t defend the real world created by his policies and his decisions, Mr. Bush is inventing a fantasy world in which to campaign on phony issues against fake enemies.

"In Mr. Bush’s world, America is making real progress in Iraq. In the real world, as Michael Gordon reported in yesterday’s Times, the index that generals use to track developments shows an inexorable slide toward chaos. In Mr. Bush’s world, his administration is marching arm in arm with Iraqi officials committed to democracy and to staving off civil war. In the real world, the prime minister of Iraq orders the removal of American checkpoints in Baghdad and abets the sectarian militias that are slicing and dicing their country.

"In Mr. Bush’s world, there are only two kinds of Americans: those who are against terrorism, and those who somehow are all right with it. Some Americans want to win in Iraq and some don’t. There are Americans who support the troops and Americans who don’t support the troops. And at the root of it all is the hideously damaging fantasy that there is a gulf between Americans who love their country and those who question his leadership.
"This is hardly the first time that Mr. Bush has played the politics of fear, anger and division; if he’s ever missed a chance to wave the bloody flag of 9/11, we can’t think of when. But Mr. Bush’s latest outbursts go way beyond that. They leave us wondering whether this president will ever be willing or able to make room for bipartisanship, compromise and statesmanship in the two years he has left in office."

* Watch.

* 1974 Interview of Ginsberg regarding Burroughs theory of evil. excerpt:

"Interviewer: I'd like to return to Burroughs' theory of evil. What would you say is its source?

"Ginsberg: Well, originally it was analyzed by William Lee the factualist (perhaps representative of a trust of giant insects from another galaxy) in Naked Lunch. But since then in Nova Express and Ticket That Exploded, and more recently in Exterminator! and The Job and The Wild Boys, the agency of the hallucinating Word is a virus from Venus so it's not other galaxies anymore — it's an external, extraterrestrial threat from within our own solar system.

"Interviewer: Would you go along with the notion that madness is the norm in Burroughs' fiction?

"Ginsberg: I would say the norm is metamorphosis. In Burroughs' fission madness is the normal behavior of the political world, but it's also a medium that A.J. Benway and the factualists are able to handle and deal with and use as the material for their examination... and sometimes get caught in, as is possible for an explorer to get caught in a sticky wicket, or as Burroughs himself feels he's been caught in certain areas he could not handle with drugs like psilocybin and LSD, or yage originally.

"But madness is not his ultimate goal, just the obstacle. That is why Burroughs' geography is so similar to gnostic and Tibetan procedural maps. The wrathful deities are the guardians of the gate to sunyala, blue space... except Burroughs is ascribing all these wrathful deities to a plot by the Control Forces. So his books are really investigations of his consciousness to "trace along the word lines" to the source of control.

"Interviewer: Is this terrifying chaos in Burroughs' fiction purposeful?

"Ginsberg: I think so. He would maintain that he is making propositions and hypothesis which he examines by means of language and imagination. So chaos — transfiguration is a better word, really — is only the preliminary guardian of the sacred extraterrestrial area of consciousness. The end is not déregelement de tous les sens but clear vision, not chaos but total silence and calm like a great blue tide flooding the body. And déregelement de tous les sens is not even so much as a means as it is a by-product of the pursuit through to the other side of phenomenon, the disruption of the apparently normal order determined by the CIA and the Control Forces.

"In fact, he feels that they are responsible for the chaotic apparitions, the fear of the Ovens, the images of death. What he is saying over and over, also, is that death is the greatest con, that it has been created by the Controllers to scare everybody, and there is really nothing to fear."

November 1, 2006

You could say so, motherfucker

Josef Albers, Homage to the Square -- Temprano, 1957

Postmortem for Lowell, Massachusetts
-- by Melanie Almeder

Lowell’s gone ash can, gone soot, gone hybrid
of lilac and factory and lapsed Catholic.
Leaves, the disoriented speak of trees;
with a little wind, they talk the shuffle, the sweep.
At night strange resemblances among teeth and grave stones:
We’ve got heads full of relatives
while the wind trills the silver ash leaves.

In the story of the city,
in the old woman’s grin back
at the wind and blue sky, teeth are the spokesmen
of bone, would have, if they could have, told
the one about skeleton where skin
makes off with the crows, wind pilfers sockets,
and later, much later, the industry of souls.

You Came Last Season
-- by Gregory Corso

You came and made penny candies with your thumbs
I stole you and ate you
And my feet crushed your wrappers
in a thousand streets
You hurt my teeth
You put pimples on my face
You were never anything for health
You were never too vitamin
You dirtied hands
And since you were stickier than glue
You never washed away
You stained something awful.

A Quiet Poem
-- by Frank O'Hara

When music is far enough away
the eyelid does not often move

and objects are still as lavender
without breath or distant rejoinder.

The cloud is then so subtly dragged
away by the silver flying machine

that the thought of it alone echoes
unbelievably; the sound of the motor falls

like a coin toward the ocean's floor
and the eye does not flicker

as it does when in the loud sun a coin
rises and nicks the near air. Now,

slowly, the heart breathes to music
while the coins lie in wet yellow sand.