January 31, 2007

It's such a perfect day,
I'm glad I spent it with you

Eileen Quinlan, Smoke and Mirrors #63, 2006

A Mustache Drawn On Americana XIII
-- by Carl Rakosi

I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts
the Vincents hit us tonight.
The village chief just took off,
claiming he had business in Danang.

I'd like to take off myself,
all the way to Flint, Michigan.
For openers I'd show up at the airport
Under that in smaller letters:
starting with me.

Atmosphere Anthrax
-- by Carl Rakosi

I would rather sing folk songs against injustice
and sound like ash cans in the morning
or bark like a wolf
from the open doorway of a red-hot freight
than sit like Chopin on my exquisite ass.

A Reminder of William Carlos Williams
-- by Carl Rakosi

How quickly the dandelions
come up
after a rain.

I picked them
only yesterday.

January 30, 2007

The moon is a light bulb breaking

Kiki Smith., Come Away from Her (after Lewis Carroll), 2003

* Froomkin: The Unraveling of Dick Cheney. excerpt:

"While Dick Cheney undoubtedly remains the most powerful vice president this nation has ever seen, it's becoming increasingly unclear whether anyone outside the White House believes a word he says.

"Inside the West Wing, Cheney's influence remains considerable. In fact, nothing better explains Bush's perplexing plan to send more troops to Iraq than Cheney's neoconservative conviction that showing the world that we have the 'stomach for the fight' is the most important thing -- even if it isn't accomplishing the things we're supposed to be fighting for. Even if it's backfiring horribly.

"But as his astonishing interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer laid bare last week, Cheney is increasingly out of touch with reality. He seems to think that by asserting things that are simply untrue, he can make others believe they are so."
"Meanwhile, the trial of Cheney's former chief of staff Scooter Libby is exposing to public view the vice president's role as master-manipulator of misinformation and vindictive retaliator-in-chief -- once again, indifferent to the truth. (For example, Cheney ordered his staff to lie to reporters about the contents of a highly classified National Intelligence Estimate.)

"And former aide Cathie Martin's testimony on Friday validated the most cynical conspiracy theories about how Cheney manipulates the press."

* From an interview of Gerard Malanga. excerpt:

Interviewer: You do see yourself primarily as a poet.

Malanga: I started writing poetry when I was sixteen and was published, at eighteen or nineteen. In 1967 my first book was actually a collaboration for a screen test that I had done. That was my first big book. And I had two tiny books that came out that year also. But when I went to work with Andy Warhol my identity was already established. I had already appeared in a number of very prestigious magazines. Poetry for me was a way of entering into a secret language. That's what I felt at the age of sixteen and seventeen. It was a thought that struck me like lightning. I've never stopped writing. Strangely, there have always been spells when I didn't write, moments that were a regenerative process, I wasn't writing because it enabled me to see more clearly. I was also taking photographs at the time so these were activities that meshed to a certain degree. I've always thought of poetry as an introverted process whereas photography has always been an extroverted process. But they both involve the eye to a certain extent -- both the inner eye and the outer eye. I enjoy the process when I'm involved in it.

Interviewer: Have the Factory Years affected your subsequent work? Have you managed to get free of that reputation over the last forty years?

Malanga: It's been positive and negative. My new collection is called No Respect. The poetry mafia in New York have not been very kind to me because, I think, of my connection with Andy. Jealousy. I don't get grants, awards, fellowships. I try. But there's something amiss there. I love writing. It doesn't affect me writing. I still write. That's my love. It's what I do. I can step outside of myself and look at myself. My poetry has suffered because I became famous. I don't say that out of bitterness. But it has. In terms of getting it out there. You've got to make allies.

Interviewer: How does the present cultural scene compare with the 60s?

Malanga: What I'm thinking about is how quickly change is happening now. This is the digital age. Back in the 60s we were in the analogue age. Store fronts are disappearing that I've lived with for ever. I've lost my Chinese laundry! The Arts scene is in some sort of weird state at the moment. They don't know where they're going now. My friend had a musical which closed last year and I was photographing DJs. I was getting the animated ones. Alec Empire and others. Wonderfully talented people. Alchemists with sound. Things are happening so rapidly and some of is good, some bad. Hollywood is shit at the moment. The poetry is ok -- it's always a tradition with a sub culture attached to it. I'm constantly amazed. The sixties were so different. In retrospect it was a very well paced but quiet time at a certain level. Things were nurtured and developed and evolved. But now that doesn't happen. I don't know how that affects the arts world. Art has become commerce. Big Business. Andy would love that.

* Clever New Radiant Storm King video.

* Bonnie Prince Billy BBC Sessions.

January 29, 2007

i could look in your face
for a thousand years
it’s like a civil war
of pain and of cheer

Lynda Pogue, Secrets

* Top ten conservative idiots, special STOU edition.

* The limits of presidential power. excerpt:

"President Bush doesn’t seem to care that Congress wants a bigger role in guiding the Iraq war. Talking about his plan to send in 20,000 additional troops, he said on '60 Minutes' that he knows Congress can vote against it, 'but I’ve made my decision and we’re going forward.'

"It is hardly the first time this president has insisted that he is “the decider,” or even the first time he’s used the Constitution to justify it, as Vice President Dick Cheney did when he told Fox News: 'The Constitution is very clear that the president is, in fact, under Article 2, the commander in chief.'

"But Mr. Cheney told only half the story. Congress has war powers, too, and with 70 percent of Americans now opposed to President Bush’s handling of the war, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll, it is becoming more assertive about them. Congress is poised to pass a resolution denouncing the troop increase. Down the line, Congress may well consider mandatory caps on the number of troops in Iraq, or setting a date for withdrawal.

"If it does, we may be headed toward a constitutional clash, with the administration trying to read powers into the Constitution — as it has with its 'enemy combatant' doctrine and presidential 'signing statements' — that the Founders did not put there. The Constitution’s drafters were intent on balancing power so no one branch could drift toward despotism. The system of checks and balances that runs through the document divides the war power between the president and Congress."
"There is little question that Congress could use its power of the purse to end a war. But cutting off financing is a drastic step, and one that members of Congress are understandably reluctant to take, because it can look like a refusal to support the troops. The Constitution’s text, Supreme Court cases and history show, however, that Congress can instead pass laws that set the terms of military engagement. Whether it would be wise for Congress to adopt such limits is debatable; whether it has the authority to do so should not be.

"The Bush administration insists that if Congress tries to manage the Iraq war, it will leave the commander in chief with too little authority. But the greater danger is the one Madison recognized at the nation’s founding — that all the power will be left with the person 'most interested in war, and most prone to it.'"

* "In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. ... Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness." -- Hannah Arendt, The Origins Of Totalitarianism [via wood s lot]

* In NY over the weekend and was able to catch an excellent (and early) set by Brooklyn's Muggabears. They have a bunch of shows in New York in the upcoming month, so if you get a chance, check them out.

January 26, 2007

you and yours and all your wars have run your last campaign

Raymond Saunders, Red Star, 1970

#999, Red
-- by Beth Woodcome

Not a color, but something that happened.
Like the year the bed was shared and you forgot
everything that happened at its edges.
Not shared, but emptied. Not emptied, but utterly.
I wrote it all down while you slept, and I did not ever.
Not a color, but a reflection of what you’ve done.
Not a mouth, but a place to be hurt and by this I mean:
an adult orphanage. At best, another if, then.
A thing smeared, and not even that.

Last Trip to the Island
-- by Erin Belieu

You're mad that I can't love the ocean,

but I've come to this world landlocked
and some bodies feel permanently strange.
Like any foreign language, study it too late and
it never sticks. Anyway,

we're here aren't we? —
trudging up the sand, the water churning
its constant horny noise, an openmouthed heavy

breathing made more unnerving by
the presence of all these families, the toddlers

with their chapped bottoms, the fathers
in gigantic trunks spreading out their dopey
circus-colored gear.

How can anyone relax
near something so worked up all the time?

I know the ocean is glamorous,
but the hypnosis, the dilated pull of it, feels

impossible to resist. And what better reason to
resist? I'm most comfortable in

a field, a yellow-eared patch
of cereal, whose quiet rustling argues for
the underrated valor of discretion.

And above this, I admire a certain quality of
sky, like an older woman who wears her jewels with
an air of distance, that is, lightly,
with the right attitude. Unlike your ocean,

there's nothing sneaky about a field. I like their
ugly-girl frankness. I like that, sitting in the dirt,

I can hear what's coming between the stalks.

Pasture Dream
-- by Frank Stanford

My daughter put black
Lady Fingers between my toes
I gave her a silver dollar
to buy oranges and a loaf of bread
and she came back with firecrackers
The dew was so heavy they wouldn't light
My son was jumping the barbed wire
on his white pony Oats in his hair
drunk from the honeysuckle
he cut his morning coffee with
His eyes were deep and green like mine
like ponds of sleeping minnows
My wife was looking for mushroom and poke
Her skirt was lifted high
over her thighs in the tall grass
Her crutch was like a divining stick
It smelled like root beer
Brother Leo told me the bell was ringing

Play everybody knows (by The Evens) at all your parties tonight. its on get evens, a fantastic record.

January 25, 2007

I drive through Exeter Rhode Island all alone

Jacob Hashimoto, Untitled (Tree sculpture), 2005

* The World Agrees: Stop Him. excerpt:

"Stop him before he kills again. That is the judgment of the American people, and indeed of the entire world, as to the performance of our president, and no State of the Union address can erase that dismal verdict.

"President Bush has accomplished what Osama bin Laden only dreamed of by disgracing the model of American democracy in the eyes of the world. According to an exhaustive BBC poll, nearly three-quarters of those polled in 25 countries oppose the Bush policy on Iraq, and more than two-thirds believe the U.S. presence in the Middle East destabilizes the region.

"In other words, the almost universal support the United States enjoyed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks has been completely squandered, as a majority of the world’s people now believe that our role in the entire world is negative."
"Americans understand in their gut that the long-term consequences of disillusionment with democracy, here and abroad, would be disastrous. In the same way Congress repudiated an out-of-control president three decades ago, the House and Senate must show the world today that our celebrated system of checks and balances is not just a fanciful mirage.

"Spreading the ideal of democracy throughout the world remains a compelling obligation of those who enjoy freedom, making this an excellent occasion to demonstrate that we still possess a system capable of holding a deceitful and egomaniacal leader accountable."

* 2005 interivew of Chris Stroffolino. excerpt:

Aryanil Mukherjee: Casting a look at the different periods of American poetry, which era do you think stands out in terms of its innovation of the poetic language and why?

Chris Stroffolino: I'm skeptical of talking about poetry in terms of periods or eras, at least in any definitive way. Eras tend to be ill-defined, or tend to come down to a few individuals whose ideas of poetry, for rather arbitrary reasons, get put forth as maxims more than others. Often, if we're thinking of American poetry, the name that comes up as the most influential innovator of 'poetic language'(which is in my opinion less profound than other forms of poetic innovations) is Ezra Pound, with his theoretical/aesthetic tomes and machinations that persuaded many of the need to 'modernize' language and other aspects of poetry to suit what he perceived 'the age demanded' and to justify his own particular aesthetics. Thus, it's no accident that he would be held up for his superior 'music' or 'ear' as many of Pound's 'innovations' have now become 'naturalized' in many discussions of American poetry of the last 100 years—despite what discomfort many may feel about his poetic project. One could say the Beats did much, for a time, to help provide an alternative to Pound—obviously on an ethical and content level, as well as in terms of language. But this question for me is ultimately more about individuals than movements or periods, and about much more than language. I might even argue that the most important poets for me, even if they can be seen as 'innovators,' are not primarily so, at least if we restrict the question to 'poetic language.'"
AM: How have the times changed for poetry journal editors in America compared to when, say, Ed Sanders published his journal FUCK YOU?

CS: Well, I'd say one big difference is that there are simply so many poets today—perhaps even more than there are readers of poetry. It's a more conservative time (both politically and socially) than the 1960s, and probably even than the 1950s. Many poets (on the self-proclaimed 'cutting edge') claim the 'shock value' of those words, or of strapping your naked self to a nuclear warhead, no longer exists, and is now simply passé. But when Albert Gonzalez comes, can Lenny Bruce be far behind? Besides, there are still magazines that are more similar to FUCK YOU than to most poetry magazines, but more likely they are connected to the 'underground' or 'punk' music magazines. That culture is more truly the heir to the spirit of the Beats and to Sanders (whose band the Fugs inspired many punk-like bands in the 80s and beyond) in its youth, and its desire to want to change culture, and not strictly publish poetry, or 'LITERATURE.' I think most poetry magazines today are much more like the way poetry magazines were before the Beats came around and traded in 'respectability' for a certain 'hipness.' I think many magazines, even many I'm glad to have been published in, reek of respectability—and having just said that, I'll add, it's not really their fault. It's but a symptom of what has happened to culture in general in America."

* "Creativity is a meeting, a conversation. When you listen to a symphony by Mozart, that is a conversation with Mozart . . . In this conversation . . . there is much that is intuitive and not spoken." -- Jean Renoir

January 24, 2007

throwing nickels at the sunset to buy more time

Arthur Trees, Masked Children, 110th Street, New York, 1969

Cosmopolitan Greetings
-- by Allen Ginsberg

Stand up against governments, against God.
Stay irresponsible.
Say only what we know & imagine.
Absolutes are Coercion.
Change is absolute.
Ordinary mind includes eternal perceptions.
Observe what’s vivid.
Notice what you notice.
Catch yourself thinking.
Vividness is self-selecting.
If we don’t show anyone, we’re free to write anything.
Remember the future.
Freedom costs little in the U.S.
Asvise only myself.
Don’t drink yourself to death.
Two molecules clanking us against each other require an observer to become
scientific data.
The measuring instrument determines the appearance of the phenomenal
world (after Einstein).
The universe is subjective..
Walt Whitman celebrated Person.
We are observer, measuring instrument, eye, subject, Person.
Universe is Person.
Inside skull is vast as outside skull.
What’s in between thoughts?
Mind is outer space.
What do we say to ourselves in bed at night, making no sound?
“First thought, best thought.”
Mind is shapely, Art is shapely.
Maximum information, minimum number of syllables.
Syntax condensed, sound is solid.
Intense fragments of spoken idiom, best.
Move with rhythm, roll with vowels.
Consonants around vowels make sense.
Savour vowels, appreciate consonants.
Subject is known by what she sees.
Others can measure their vision by what we see.
Candour ends paranoia.

On Going Back To The Street After Viewing An Art Show
-- by Charles Bukowski

they talk down through
the centuries to us,
and this we need more and more,
the statues and paintings
in midnight age
as we go along
holding dead hands.

and we would say
rather than delude the knowing:
a damn good show,
but hardly enough for a horse to eat,
and out on the sunshine street where
eyes are dabbled in metazoan faces
i decide again
that in theses centuries
they have done very well
considering the nature of their
it's more than good
that some of them,
(closer really to the field-mouse than
have been bold enough to try.

-- by Mary Campbell

Coffee: the tightening at the heart,
The wreath of ice, like thorns
Arranged there to give pleasure,
The interpenetration of the nerves
And mind, until thought
Bites at your breast -- keen lover
Or gourmand to a sentient peach.

A little later in life, not much,
Cold beer ungirdles that tight
Garland, turns the nerves to rivers,
Gives them sense of their own
Latent, riotous joyfulness, as if
They were in bed in fact, always in beds,
And by them willows loosing their long hair.

And oh, the cigarette: beyond
These sexual illusions, the pure bliss
Of smoke loved for its own sake
The moment at which the body of man,
Alone among the animals,
Finds itself satified by nothing,
Or by a desire crafted to fulfill
A source of satisfaction.

January 23, 2007

do something pretty while you can

unknown, 1999, bloomington, indiana

* Froomkin: Bush goes from hero to goat. excerpt:

"After six years of striding onto the House floor like a conqueror, President Bush will arrive for Tuesday night's State of the Union Speech deeply unpopular and politically crippled.

"The most vivid symbol of the new order of things will be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi literally looking over his shoulder. With Pelosi's Democrats now in control of both houses of Congress -- and some members of the president's own party peeling off as he pushes stubbornly ahead in Iraq -- Bush will find his friends far outnumbered by his foes.

"The pomp of the State of the Union address and the deference given to Bush's office will prevent the night from turning into an outright rout.

"But as a defensive measure, White House speechwriters are said to have crafted a speech that avoids the traditional laundry list of proposals and applause lines that would almost surely have fallen flat -- or even led to boos and groans -- given Bush's new circumstances.

"To some extent, what's amazing is that it has taken this long."

* It's time for a new strategy for the drug war. excerpt:

"The president's new plan for the Iraq war stems from the lack of success in bringing security to a sizable number of Iraqis. Seeing that and recognizing the American people's patience on that front is wearing thin, the president took a new look at how he was conducting that war. After decades of an even worse failure in the drug war, it's time for the government to rethink that war as well.

"Recent reports show an increase in the amount of heroin from Afghanistan flowing into the United States. A Drug Enforcement Administration analysis showed that in 2003, 8 percent of the heroin seized in the U.S. came from Afghanistan, but in 2004 that number jumped to 14 percent.

"In addition to more heroin coming into this country from Afghanistan, the DEA reports that drugs from Colombia and Mexico are flowing across our southern border.

"Although it's difficult to prove interdiction efforts aren't working, we haven't seen any reports of there being shortages of illegal drugs in our communities.

"Besides failing to keep drugs off the street, the drug war is detrimental to our national security.

"Many officials note that the illicit drug trade finances terrorism.

"That's a fair point, but it's 180 degrees off course.

"It blames drug users for all the money in the illegal drug trade, when prohibition is responsible for the huge amounts of money to be made selling drugs.

"Banning a product doesn't make it go away; it creates a black market for it, which increases the price. Terrorists take advantage of the higher price by entering the drug trade to raise money for their operations. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia has simplified this; it hires out its members to drug cartels for security.

"The way to get terrorists out of the drug trade is to take away the profit incentive.

"The drug trade doesn't finance terrorism, the drug war does. If the U.S. and other nations stop treating personal choices such as drug use as crimes, many problems would disappear."
"We believe some sort of sin tax to help offset costs of drug use is preferable to the wider war of drugs the nation has been waging for decades.

"After four years of war in Iraq, the American people tell pollsters they're tired of what they see as the same results for the billions we've spent, so the administration is reconsidering its tactics.

"After four decades of a failed drug war, isn't it time to take a fresh look at what's not working on that front?"

* "Whether I admit it or not, I write to participate in the delusion of my own immortality which is born every minute. And yet, I write to resist myself. I find resistance irresistible." -- Mark Strand

January 22, 2007

what if it cost $.25 to wake up in the morning

Arnold Mesches. Art in Public Places. 1983

* Top tenconservative idiots. excerpt:

5. Alberto Gonzales (and Arlen Specter)

"Perhaps that's taking things a bit too far. After all, why scrap the judicial system when you can simply stuff it with stooges? Last week, U.S. Attorney Carol Lam was fired by Alberto Gonzales for... well, apparently for not being a classmate of George W. Bush. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, 'Lam's strong record of fighting political corruption and drug kingpins certainly did not provide any grounds for her dismissal.'

"The good news is that her likely replacement, Pat Shea, is a former classmate of George W. Bush. They went to Harvard together. Shea says that 'he and the president remain in regular contact with each other and he voices keen interest in the job of U.S. attorney.' How convenient!

"Oh, did I mention that it was Carol Lam who successfully prosecuted former GOP congressman Randy 'Duke' Cunningham? Tsk tsk. Can't have rogue attorneys running around putting prominent Republicans in jail, can we.

"If Pat Shea is nominated to replace Carol Lam, he'll have to face the brutal Senate confirmation process. Well, technically he won't actually have to face it, because thanks to Arlen Specter a last-second provision was magically inserted into the Patriot Act which says that the president can bypass the Senate confirmation process and indefinitely appoint an "interim" U.S attorney.

"I say again, how convenient! This White House just gets all the luck.

"Oh, and by the way: Lam was just one of six U.S. attorneys who were recently purged by the Attorney General. Hmm."

* A few pages of the 1987 'zine Disaster by Bill Callahan. check it out.

* "I remember vividly how important it was during the Vietnam War that students all over the country spoke up boldly calling for the United States to withdraw from Vietnam, even when neither the media nor the Congress had come to that position. But what the students did was to put withdrawal on the agenda, compel the rest of the country to consider it, and as the truth about the war became more and more clear others joined, the movement spread, and policy changed.

"Today, there is a similar crisis, and the removal of the Bush administration from power, putting impeachment on the agenda, putting withdrawal on the agenda, is a matter of saving lives, American and Iraqi lives. In this developing situation, students can play a critical role, as they have at other times in history. My hope is that students will join the actions taking place around the State of the Union, to demonstrate that the state of the union is perilous with this administration in charge, and the Bush cabal which has taken power must be compelled to step down. As the Declaration of Independence said so forcefully, when governments no longer fulfill their requirement to safeguard life, liberty, the pursuit of happinessd, they have lost their legitimacy and must be removed from power." -- Howard Zinn

January 19, 2007

Nighttime's the right time to pull all the dimes from your pocket

Arthur Dove, Space Divided by Line Motive (U.S.A.), 1943

Duality II
-- by Wendell Berry

What can bring us past
this knowledge, so that you
will never wish our life
undone? For if ever you
wish it so, then I must wish
so too, and lovers yet unborn,
whom we are reaching toward
with love, will turn to this
page, and find it blank.

Speech Alone
-- by Jean Follain
Translated by W. S. Merwin

It happens that one pronounces
a few words just for oneself
alone on this strange earth
then the small white flower
the pebble like all those that went before
the sprig of stubble
find themselves re-united
at the foot of the gate
which one opens slowly
to enter the house of clay
while chairs, table, cupboard,
blaze in a sun of glory.

Bargain Hunt
-- by Ron Padgett

for Tessie

Suppose you found a bargain so incredible
you stood there stunned for a moment
unable to believe that this thing could be
for sale at such a low price: that is what happens
when you are born, and as the years go by
the price goes up and up until, near the end
of your life, it is so high that you lie there
stunned forever.

Fuck Poem
---by Joyce Peseroff

The rooms live on.
When we finish, they continue,
the walls creating the same space,
holding the same air that held
our bodies when we
held our bodies,
preserving the scene
when we have abandoned it
for some novel sunset, some television,
dinner at a friend's.
The bed is forced into it.
The lamps compose themselves in darkness,
the turntable turns at 33-1/3 revolutions
per minute for hours
after we have forgotten the problem,
and I think it's amazing.

January 18, 2007

Deep in the back of my mind is an unrealized sound

Michal Rovner, Untitled, 1990

* Chess: the most human game. excerpt:

"As a fan, I could 'see,' for example, that chess pieces are not static entities but rather their power is constantly evolving based upon where they are positioned on the board and how effectively they are functioning relative to other pieces and chunks of empty space. A pawn can be a powerhouse and a knight or bishop a weakling.

"There are many such paradoxes in chess, much as there are in good writing or in life itself. As I watched more and more games I began to recognize that the little armies of pieces operate like fields of force, and top level games are abstract, deeply nuanced and emotional works of art.

"When chess geniuses collide, their technical abilities offset one another. Their knowledge is so profound, so masterful that a state of dynamic equilibrium often emerges; and at the highest level, games become psychological and philosophical struggles more than the fairly obvious tactical melees most of us equate with chess. This arcane game exudes humanness--it touches us like music and literature. I suppose that's why I fell in love with chess."
"In my conversations with Kasparov, chess felt like the embodiment of art, competition, resonant emotion, psychology--what a game! 'When you understand the hidden mechanisms,' he explained to me, 'you can make something brilliant from what might appear really stupid. Some positions are so complex that you cannot calculate two moves ahead. You must use your intuition. Sometimes I play by my hand, by my smell.'

"Kasparov talked about the game more like a poet than a calculating machine. This was good for my secret because I was comfortable with such language, and he and I shared sumptuous ideas over fine wine or walking through the Central Park Zoo smelling the chilly fall air. Once he said to me, 'At the highest level, chess is a talent to control unrelated things. It is like controlling chaos.' That made sense to me. In fact, it was thrilling."

* From Harper's February 2007:

-- Percentage of worldwide IPO proceeds in 1999 that were realized on U.S. exchanges: 56

-- Percentage last year: 18

-- Percentage of Nigerians living on less that $1 per day in 1985 and today, respectively: 32, 17

-- Total oil revenues that have flowed into Nigeria since 1974: $728,500,000,000

-- Minimum number of Texas death-row inmates who have MySpace pages: 36

-- Average number of times an adult worldwide has sex each year, according to self-reporting in polls: 103

-- Average in Japan, the lowest of forty-one countries surveyed: 45

* Fun Jeffery Lewis video for Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror.

* "An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way." -- Charles Bukowski

January 17, 2007

All in a dream, all in a dream
The loading had begun

Cara Ober, Carrier

-- by Rae Armantrout


Anything cancels
everything out.

If each point
is a singularity,

thrusting all else
aside for good,

'good' takes the form
of a throng
of empty chairs.

Or it’s ants
swarming a bone.


I’m afraid
I don’t love
my mother
who’s dead

though I once –
what does 'once' mean? –
did love her .

So who’ll meet me over yonder?
I don’t recognize the place names.

Or I do, but they come
from televised wars.

Danse Russe
-- by William Carlos Williams

If when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,-
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
'I am lonely, lonely,
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!'
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
against the yellow drawn shades,-

Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?

Each Morning My Neighbor Walks Out
-- by Jane Hirshfield

In the morning
my neighbor walks onto his deck and looks out,
some days in a yellow jacket,
some days in a raincoat, some days in a shirt.
The house is far enough off
I do not know his name, cannot quite see his face.
I would not know him in line at the grocery.
He looks for a moment in my direction, across the small gorge,
then turns and reenters his door.
Between us leaves shift their colors, fall, reappear.
Between us the flash of a blue jay, sometimes a hawk.
Each time happiness greatens, sorrows too must increase,
but I cannot let go the longing for what passes.

January 16, 2007

I love young haley mills, and pills

Erik Bulatov, The Way the Clouds Move—the Way Things Are Going, 2001, oil on canvas

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

3. Dick Cheney

"But don't worry about all that - the Bush administration has things firmly under control. And if you don't agree, well, you must love Osama bin Laden.

"Last week Dick Cheney appeared from his undisclosed location to announce on Fox News that '(The terrorists) are convinced that the current debate in the Congress, that the election campaign last fall, all of that is evidence that they're right when they say the United States doesn't have the stomach for the fight in this war against terror. ... If we have a president who sees the polls going south and concludes we have to quit, all it will do is validate the Al-Qaeda view of the world.'

"Now where have I heard that before? Oh yes - just about every time Dick Cheney opens his frickin' yap. I mean, come on Dick. Hasn't that old chestnut gone stale by now? Hasn't the American people's sound rejection of your fascist fearmongering given you a clue yet?

"Cheney went on to say that withdrawing troops from Iraq would be 'the most dangerous blunder.' But then, Cheney also said almost two years ago that, 'The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.'

"So please do feel free to ignore the miserable old asshat."

* From an interview of Jonathan Baumbach, author, father to Noah Baumbach, and founder of Fiction Collective. excerpt:

Q: Who was Jonathan Baumbach when you started the press and who is Jonathan Baumbach now?

Baumbach: In 1973, I was a fiction writer going on his own way, a teacher of writing, a film critic, husband and father of four. In 2003, I'm the same person 30 years old, with a different wife and grown up children, one a filmmaker whose movies I've acted in.

Q: What impact did Fiction Collective have on your own writing?

Baumbach: I don't know that Fiction Collective had any particular impact on my writing beyond-this during the period I was co-director with Peter Spielberg-that it gave me less time to do my own work. Working with other writers may have made a better person of me but writing itself is a private matter and there is no way of determining how I might have developed as a writer if Fiction Collective never existed.

Q: At the time Fiction Collective was being formed, you called Reruns your best novel. What would you now consider your best novel?

Baumbach: The books of mine I like best are the ones I hardly recognize as products of my labor after they appear. That is, they come from some uncharted place inside that is smarter and more daring and more interesting than I am. Though I haven't looked at Reruns for some time I still feel warming toward it. For an extended period, now past, Chez Charlotte and Emily was my favorite of my books. These days, it's the one I've just published or the one I'm working on at the moment that I tend to prefer. It's difficult to go on writing if you think you've already written your best novel.
Q: How did you feel about the congressional uproar in 1997 and what did that make you think about FC2's future?

Baumbach: In a sense, notoriety-trumped-up scandal-is useful for a small press because it puts it on the big map for awhile and so helps to sell books. Of course, no one wants censorship except regimes deep into hypocrisy who feel threatened by whatever undermines their agenda. Art by definition undermines all totalitarian agendas. At the same time, its prohibitively difficult for serious literature in our culture to sustain itself financially over the long haul without some outside support. In a democracy, the government belongs as much to us as to Jesse Helms-I'm being theoretical here-which means we have a aright to be subsidized at least in part by the NEA. That is, for as long as we continue to publish without compromise important innovative fiction.

* "Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love." -- Martin Luther King Jr., December 11, 1966

January 12, 2007

he came home from the war
With a party in his head

Komar and Melamid, one of the works at the Blue Bird Café, Retrospectivism, 1965-68

With a Friend at Bennington
-- by Robert Bly
He wakes, reads some Frost, and soon is ready
To leave. 'See you tomorrow.' A long line
Of feeling follows him out the door. His shoulders
Slope as usual in their way, carrying on them

Deaths and stories, a divorce, marital love
As pertinacious as a bulldog’s mouth. Jane gone,
Who will hear the thin cough in the morning,
Hear the milk hitting the pail as his grandfather

Sings poems in the old barn, who will see
The forty drafts on yellow paper? Or notice him
Reading Francis Parkman till long after midnight.
'Stay, friend, be with us, tell me what happened.'

-- by Weldon Kees

The dog stops barking after Robinson has gone.
His act is over. The world is a gray world,
Not without violence, and he kicks under the grand piano,
The nightmare chase well under way.

The mirror from Mexico, stuck to the wall,
Reflects nothing at all. The glass is black.
Robinson alone provides the image Robinsonian.

Which is all of the room--walls, curtains,
Shelves, bed, the tinted photograph of Robinson's first wife,
Rugs, vases panatelas in a humidor.
They would fill the room if Robinson came in.

The pages in the books are blank,
The books that Robinson has read. That is his favorite chair,
Or where the chair would be if Robinson were here.

All day the phone rings. It could be Robinson
Calling. It never rings when he is here.

Outside, white buildings yellow in the sun.
Outside, the birds circle continuously
Where trees are actual and take no holiday.

The End Of The Library
-- by Weldon Kees

When the coal
Gave out, we began
Burning the books, one by one;
First the set
Of Bulwer-Lytton
And then the Walter Scott.
They gave a lot of warmth.
Toward the end, in
February, flames
Consumed the Greek
Tragedians and Baudelaire,
Proust, Robert Burton
And the Po-Chu-i. Ice
Thickened on the sills.
More for the sake of the cat,
We said, than for ourselves,
Who huddled, shivering,
Against the stove
All winter long.

January 11, 2007

I am breathing, yet I feel no sky

Lynda Pogue, Source, 2005

* Molly Ivans. excerpt:

"President Bush is right to recognize that U.S strategy in Iraq is not working and to seek a different policy. He is right to insist that the United States cannot afford to abandon the mission and to reject calls for an early withdrawal. But the new plan for the war Mr. Bush outlined last night is very risky. It envisions new missions and dangers for U.S. troops and counts on unprecedented military and political steps by the Iraqi government. The plan is likely to cause a spike in U.S. casualties, while the chances that it will stabilize Iraq are far lower. Moreover, Mr. Bush appears prepared to embrace this approach despite strong opposition from Congress and the public -- setting up a conflict that in itself could hurt the war effort.

"The president could have adopted a course that would have attracted broad support domestically and from Iraqis. That was the strategy -- outlined with small variations by U.S. military commanders, the Iraqi government and the Iraq Study Group -- that called for an acceleration of training of the Iraqi army and a gradual handing over of responsibility for fighting insurgents. The U.S. military presence would have decreased in the coming year, but enough troops would have remained to prevent the government's collapse, strike al-Qaeda and prevent intervention by Iraq's neighbors.

"Instead, Mr. Bush has chosen to increase the number of Army troops and Marines and to broaden their mission. U.S. forces will be asked to pacify Baghdad in conjunction with Iraqi army and police units. Two attempts last year to stop sectarian war in the capital failed; the president says this effort will be different because more U.S. and Iraqi troops will be involved and because Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government has promised to prevent 'political and sectarian interference.' If the plan proceeds, we hope U.S. forces succeed without heavy casualties. But even if they do, the victory will be temporary. U.S. forces cannot sustain the planned "surge" for long, and Baghdad will not be truly pacified until Iraqis can enforce the peace."
"Mr. Bush decided against the consensus strategy favored by the Iraq Study Group because he believed it would not prevent sectarian war from escalating. That may be right. But the president's policy poses a different danger: that Iraqi troops and Iraqi leaders won't deliver on the steps expected of them during what must be a relatively short time, even as American soldiers fight to secure Baghdad -- and, almost certainly, die in larger numbers than before. It also means launching a mission that -- until now, at least -- has not had the domestic support that should accompany the commitment of troops to battle.

"If the United States is not to abandon Iraq to its enemies, the U.S. mission needs to be sustainable, in both military and political terms, over the years it may take Iraqis to stabilize their country. Mr. Bush is betting that a boost in U.S. troops and aid can accelerate that process. If he is wrong, a continued American presence in Iraq may become untenable. The president must do more to persuade the country that the sacrifice he is asking of American soldiers is necessary. And if Iraqis do not deliver on their own commitments in the coming weeks, he must reconsider his strategy -- and suspend the U.S. reinforcements."

-- related: "George W. Bush spoke with all the confidence of a perp in a police lineup. I first interviewed the guy in 1987 and began covering his political rise in 1993, and I have never seen him, in public or private, look less convincing, less sure of himself, less cocky. With his knitted brow and stricken features, he looked, well, scared. Not surprising since what he was doing in the White House library was announcing the escalation of an unpopular war." -- Howard Fineman

* Love song to silver jews.

* Neil Pollack explains how marijuana improves the parenting experience. excerpt:

"My 35th birthday was approaching, and I needed to get myself a present. So I went vaporizer shopping online. I found a website for a sleek, gorgeous ceramic contraption called The Silver Surfer. New terms entered my stoner lexicon: 'heat source,' 'mouthpiece,' 'whip,' 'wand.' It would be the greatest present I’d ever give myself. No more apple bongs for me. I had to consume my THC wisely. I was a dad now.

"I’m a man of few vices. Alcohol doesn’t appeal to me, except in very limited quantities. I don’t play a lot of cards or smoke cigars, and I’m really not that into porn. My naughtiness all goes into the herb, and it’s as low-level as naughtiness gets.

"Before my son was born, my hobby went like this: When I had weed in the house, I’d do it a lot, and when I didn’t, I wouldn’t do it at all. I could go two months without it, or go two months with daily use. Usually, it moved in cycles. It never really occurred to me to give it up just because I’d become a parent. It didn’t even occur to me that anyone would expect me to give it up. If anything, parenthood meant that marijuana became a larger part of my life. Whereas before the boy’s arrival I’d often leave the house after 9 PM for a party, or a bar, or a movie, now my social life had contracted. By the kid’s bedtime, I’m often exhausted, and even if I’m not, babysitters run $10 an hour these days. A hit off the Silver Surfer and a night of Turner Classic Movies has become, for me, an acceptable middle ground.

"Then the morning comes, and I have responsibilities. I don’t Silver Surf when I have to drive Elijah somewhere, I don’t do it when I’m going to be alone with him for any extended period of time, and I’m very rarely baked before sundown. Since all that put together comprises 97 percent of my parenting time, there’s very little crossover with the weed. Occasionally, I’ll be stoned at the wrong moment, which will lead me to misjudge children’s entertainment, like the time I told my wife, 'Dude, 64 Zoo Lane is so trippy.' But as far as I’m concerned, weed, in very limited quantities, just improves the parenting experience. Everyone knows that TV is better when you’re high.

"Anyone who says it’s impossible to be a stoner and a parent has either never been a stoner, or never been a parent. The dominant attitude among stoner dads—and moms—goes like this: Consuming pot is something, like watching college football or masturbating, that you used to do all the time, but now will do only if it’s convenient and appropriate to the moment. Still, there’s a kind of secret, unspoken society. I’ve been to many backyard family barbecues where another dad and I will discover that pot is a shared habit. The discussion will quickly veer into the familiar. We discuss our favorite varietals. We recount great pot-smoking moments of our past."
"... Parenting, rather than just being a natural, if challenging, byproduct of biology, had somehow become a sacred act. And smoking pot was a violation of its sanctity. Well, I never bought into that, and I’m not alone. Society is right to demand that parents treat their kids with respect and love, and provide them with food, clothing and shelter. But sainthood shouldn’t be a requirement.

"In a perfect world, or at least a better one, smoking pot would not carry any cultural meaning at all. My casual little habit doesn’t prevent me from fulfilling my parental duties, and no matter what DARE and the DEA might say, it has little or nothing to do with the crack epidemic or the spread of crystal meth. I think that weed should be legal, and I’m not going to lie about that to my kid if he asks me. Someday I’ll have an intelligent conversation with him about the pros and cons of legalization, and about the politics of prohibition. But he’s not ready for such a conversation yet. "

* "Judges, Policemen, Critics. These are the real Lower Orders, the low, sly lives,whom no decent person should receive in his house." --WH Auden

January 10, 2007

There's a box I still can't open

Christopher French, Contradictory Resemblances, 2002

I Wonder How Many People In This City
-- by Leonard Cohen

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

-- by Campbell McGrath

An obsessive compulsion, a ring of keys,
a sequence of numerals to roll the tumblers
and open the golden vault, a web, a blizzard,
a stochastic equation to generate song.
It goes on. There is no satiety mechanism
in the market system, in the agora of thought.
We cannot bloom, cannot flower,
cannot crystallize into coal or diamond
or disassemble ourselves into pure melody.
Alone in the ruined observatory we stand
surrounded by astral bodies, glittering
milk-folds of star creation we stutter to name
but still we cannot burn our fingerprints
into the void. Into. The. Saints of it, myths of it,
cloister, waterwheel, winged lion, myrrh.
Knots of olive wood in a beached rowboat
over which to roast the tiny silver fish
delicious with salt and lemon. Marooned, then,
but well fed on the substance of this world.
And still forsaken. And still hungry.

Franz Wright Was Kilroy Was Here
-- by Klipschutz

Then there’s the possibility,
remote, distinct, forensic,
that Life
as we know it
is nothing more or less than an extended reel of bloopers.

I wake up, sexually aroused,
half blind
in one eye,
thinking thus and suchly,
smoking an imaginary cigar,
propped up
in a fat red Crate & Barrel chair
sans ottoman,
for all the world a cardboard cutout of my
self. . .

The kitchen is closed.

My soul—that’s right, my soul—takes the stage
and launches in to its eternity routine,
killing, dying, killing, dying, killing,
shamelessly extracting one last laugh.

January 9, 2007

how can I make my body shed
around your metal scars

Edgar Martins, Untitled, from ‘The Diminishing Present’ 2003/2004

* New York Times. excerpt:

"We’ve been down this road before. This time, it has to be different.

"There have been too many times that President Bush has promised a new strategy on Iraq, only to repeat the same old set of failed approaches and unachievable objectives. Americans need to hear Mr. Bush offer something truly new — not more glossy statements about ultimate victory, condescending platitudes about what hard work war is, or aimless vows to remain 'until the job is done.'

"If the voters sent one clear message to Mr. Bush last November, it was that it is time to start winding down America’s involvement in this going-nowhere war.

"What they need is for the president to acknowledge how bad things have gotten in Iraq (not just that it is not going as well as he planned) and to be honest about how limited the remaining options truly are. The country wants to know how Mr. Bush plans to end its involvement in a way that preserves as much of the nation’s remaining honor and influence as possible, limits the suffering of the Iraqi people and the harm to Iraq’s neighbors, and gives Iraqi leaders a chance — should they finally decide to take it — to rescue their country from an even worse disaster once the Americans are gone."
"Mr. Bush must acknowledge that there is no military solution for Iraq. Whatever plan he offers needs to start with a tough set of political benchmarks for national reconciliation that the Iraqi government is finally expected to meet. It needs to concentrate enough forces in Baghdad to bring some security to streets and neighborhoods, giving Iraq’s leaders one last opportunity to try to bargain their way out of civil war.

"His plan needs to lay out tight timetables in which the Iraqis must take major steps to solve fundamental issues, including equitably dividing their oil wealth and disarming vengeful militias. There must also be a clear and rapid timetable for achieving enough stability in Baghdad to hand back significant military responsibilities to the Iraqis.

"The last time America presented Mr. Maliki with a set of political benchmarks, he bluntly rejected them. If he does that again, there is no way America can or should try to secure Iraq on its own. Mr. Bush must make clear to both Iraqis and Americans that without significant progress, American forces will not remain.

"We’re under no illusions. Meeting those challenges is going to be extremely tough. And Iraq’s unraveling may already be too far gone."
"Mr. Bush is widely expected to announce a significant increase in American troops to deploy in Baghdad’s violent neighborhoods. He needs to explain to Congress and the American people where the dangerously tapped-out military is going to find those troops. And he needs to place a strict time limit on any increase, or it will turn into a thinly disguised escalation of the American combat role.

"The Washington Post reported yesterday that just under 23,000 Iraqi civilians and police officers died violently in 2006, more than 17,000 of them in the last six months. That is a damning indictment of the Maliki government, and of current American military strategy.

"That is the Iraq that Americans want Mr. Bush to deal with tomorrow night."

* concerto for two bicycles: Frank Zappa on the Steve Allen show.

* Two good shows in dc thursday evening: Georgie James and the fake accents at the Rock and Roll Hotel, and the plums at Velvet Lounge, with Velcro Lewis & His 100 Proof band.

* Loretta Scars, new to the world of porn, hasn't even shot ten scenes yet (her favorite food, pizza; favorite band, pavement).

January 8, 2007

the kind of mistakes no one can trace

Erik Bulatov, The Way the Clouds Move—the Way Things Are Going, 2001

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

3. George W. Bush

"Late last year George W. Bush signed a postal reform bill into law. According to the New York Daily News, 'Most of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act deals with mundane reform measures. But it also explicitly reinforced protections of first-class mail from searches without a court's approval.'

"Therefore you won't be surprised to learn that Our Great Leader added a "signing statement" to the bill during the congressional recess which says that actually he can open and read anybody's mail without court approval. Which is the complete opposite of the law that he signed.

"Why would Bush want to read your mail? Well, mainly because he's The Decider, and he can do anything he damn well chooses, including opening and reading your mail without a warrant, even if the law specifically says that he can't. So it's not so much that he actually wants to read your mail, but hey, he's already decided that he can read your e-mail and listen to your telephone calls, so it seems a bit silly for him not to be able to read your snail mail as well, right?"

* From an interview of author Robert Stone. excerpt:

Interviewer: You aren't a believer in God, but you are certainly fascinated with the issues that religion(s) are concerned with.

Robet Stone: I am not a believer in God. I have been a believer in God. I am obsessed with the absence of God. I believe in that phrase from Pascal, that says—I can't remember where I used it—I think it's in Damascus Gate, where he reads somewhere in Pascal, 'Everything on Earth gives a sign of the divine presence. Everywhere we look there seems to be evidence of it. And it never yields itself to our discovery. And yet it seems to be everywhere.' Or as in the Kabalistic notions, it is as though God has separated himself forever and would have to be put together by gathering up all these items of light which is a virtually impossible task. That whatever that was, whether it was some kind of physical force, big burst, or blast we have seen the last of it, and yet it has conditioned the way we feel and what we want for all eternity. I think we go without it, we go with this longing and with this kind of half hallucination that we are seeing it out there. We want it to be there. There is almost a psychological space for it to be there, as Pascal was suggesting and yet as far as we can discover… I mean because I am finally a pragmatist when I come right down to it. I do admit that faith is not what you believe, it's not about believing in a body of doctrine. Faith is something else. Well, I don't have the body of doctrine. But I don't have the faith either. Which is an insistence that somehow that things are all right and as they should be. I don't have that.
Interviewer: Why did you become a writer?

Robet Stone: It was what I did best. I always wrote English best. I always got rewarded for what I had written. I plainly felt that this was one thing that I could do that—you know. Some guys had things that they could do that they did better than the other guys. This was what I did. And that was a way I could make my way through life one way or the other. I was in the Navy and I was a radio operator and got the chance to become what the Navy calls a journalist. And so I was a writer in one form or another ever since I was quite young. I worked in tabloids; I worked in writing advertising copy. Didn't much bother me to have to do that.
Interviewer: George Bush burns a lot of money to take a jet to a ship that is close to docking anyway. This is very cynical. That was sort of a question, what do you think?

RS: Well, I think there it is, while he was dodging the draft and pretending—dodging his National Guard duties, even. Jesus I wouldn't have dreamed of not doing the military stuff I was supposed to do. I was just a petty officer in the Navy. But I would never have dreamed of trying to get out of it even under any circumstances I could imagine. I happen to resent George Bush being flown onto a carrier all dressed up like a pilot. But the people who go for that, God they have it coming, except we are all in the same boat. These are a bunch of triumphalist babbits who suddenly think that their way of seeing the world and their way of operating is so superior that the rest of the world is going to fall down before them. And they are going renegotiate, as it were, the Sykes-Picot Treaty in the Middle East and start it all over again. I think it's really a terrible mistake. Of course, they don't have the imperial style. If they had any style at all [both laugh] but they have no imperial style, they are just babbits.

Interviewer: It's frightening that ostensibly, Americans seem to be eating this stuff up. How about the move to time the Republican convention closer to Sept 11? That's really cynicism.

RS: I find that cynical I don't know why…in the world outside the United States, I don't think the United States is going to find too many friends.

January 5, 2007

Well you know what happens after dark

fabian marcaccio, content vertigo paint

From The Basketball Article by Bernadette Mayer and Ann Waldman, written in April 1975 as an assignment for Oui (defunct?, i remember seeing them as a kid in my uncles closet) but never published in the magazine. Also rejected, for not being technical enough, by the Village Voice. Finally put out by Mayer in 1975, as an edition of 100 'duplicated...by a Gestetner 420 mimeograph machine using green film stencils no. 62.' In 2005 it was rereleased by Shark Books in a limited edition of 500. Its worth finding.

We sit down to watch a few Knicks games. If one sat down with Dave DeBusschere, one might have a margharita. Margharitas, tequila sunrises, someone tells us Wendell Ladner likes to fuck. Frazier's 'sometimes I get an offer I can't refuse,' occurs to us. Jim Wergeles, the Knicks publicity manager, tells us Bill Bradley won't give interviews this year. Frazier's publicity is awful. Bill Walton announces they're trying to discredit him, he doesn't fit in. The FBI is looking for the people who shared his house. They question Walton about Patty Hearst. the Knicks steal Eddie Donovan from the Buffalo Braves. 20,000 people come to watch an NBA game. In the cheaper seats in the Garden, nobody cares is you stand up for the national anthem. It's not like baseball. We always say we're pregnant if anybody hassles us. If they play the national anthem before every game because the sport is a national sport, then how can the champions be world champions? What does Bill Walton think when he listens to the bombs bursting in air? After all, he's been arrested in a peace demonstration. Could a player be arrested for reading Shakespeare. Jim Bouton said everybody though he was queer for reading any books at all. You feel like you know the Knicks personally. Its the publicity, or maybe age. Your age, our age. So Bradley won't give interviews but Jackson will talk about mysticism and philosophy. He grows a beard, he shaves it, he looks like a different person. He and Gianelli become look-alikes for a moment on the court. Jackson looks younger, Red Holzman looks the same. Why do coaches crouch.


Oscar Robinson tells us if it weren't for basketball he'd probably be in jail. "Economics calls this...when you're poor you don't have anything to do. He was the first black player at Cincinnati in 1960. His great, great grandfather, an ex-slave, lived to be 115 years old in Bellsberg, Virginia. His mother raised him, she was a beautician, and his father was a meatpacker and a 'punishing figure.' 'I have a lot of stories but I can't tell them.

Self-Portrait: Black’s Law Dictionary
-- by Beth Woodcome

for Megan Hehir

An elephant moth, devoted to eating,
a tender of meat, a compulsive, a meek,
something that should have been smaller.
Did I do that, or did my body?

I was an Omitted Child. I love the law,
my box, knowing what I should do.
I cannot touch, or swear, or forget my food.
If my mouth opens, something has gone wrong.
Something has gone very wrong.

This will all make sense to you.
I was only an Issue, anything more or less
would have meant love. My own will,
for instance, is blank. Given nothing,
I am only the thing in the woods searching
for an adoption, a different statute, or a good kill.

-- by Beth Woodcome

Lean in like babies. Lean in like paranoids. Our eyes go to the left,
and quickly to the right. Can you hear it? Can you tell me when it’ll happen?

The sound of someone plotting. A deep breath.
All those fatigues. Those boys.

Let me tell you something. Come closer so my lips. So my lips.
Last I checked you should run.

January 4, 2007

the baffled king composing Hallelujah

Roberto Matta, Jazz Band, 1973

* The Union of Concerned Scientists claims Exxon-Mobil 'paid groups to mislead public' on global warming:

"Oil conglomerate ExxonMobil paid interest groups to "mislead the public" on climate concerns, a science advocacy organization alleges.

"'ExxonMobil Corp. gave $16 million to 43 ideological groups between 1998 and 2005 in a coordinated effort to mislead the public by discrediting the science behind global warming,' says the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), according to an Associated Press article.

"The oil giant 'has manufactured uncertainty about the human causes of global warming just as tobacco companies denied their product caused lung cancer,' a spokesman with the watchdog group said during a telephone news conference announcing the assertions, Reuters reports.

"A press release by the UCS lists multiple charges against ExxonMobil as outlined in its extensive report. It accuses the oil giant of, among other things:

"--Raising doubts about 'indisputable' scientific evidence;

"--Funding various 'front organizations' to give the impression of a 'tight-knit group of vocal climate change contrarians;'

"--Using its ties to the White House to 'block federal policies and shape government communications on global warming.'"

* Baltimore-based label West Main Development, has its first release, a cd single by The Malarkies, ready for your ears. The single features a Marlarkies original Swinging in the Twilight (small version), as well as a beautiful version of Dylan's When I Paint My Masterpiece. The West Main Development site has all the info you need to order this seminal single. Go get it!

-- related: The Foreign Press, whose first ep, Cramped Leisure, is currently in production, and will be released soon by West Main Development, were included in the Washington Post's inaugural (and fantastic idea) Mixtape (thanks DM!)

* "The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the 'state of emergency' in which we live is not the exception but the rule. We must attain to a conception of history that is in keeping with this insight. Then we shall clearly realize that it is our task to bring about a real state of emergency, and this will improve our position in the struggle against Fascism. One reason why Fascism has a chance is that in the name of progress its opponents treat it as a historical norm. The current amazement that the things we are experiencing are 'still' possible in the twentieth century is not philosophical. This amazement is not the beginning of knowledge--unless it is the knowledge that the view of history which gives rise to it is untenable." --Walter Benjamin, Theses on the Philosophy of History, (Spring, 1940) trans. Harry Zohn.

January 3, 2007

Why's everybody actin funny?
Why's everybody look so strange?
Why's everybody look so nasty?
What do I want with all these things?

Mark Rothko, 1957 #20

Progress Report
-- by Leonard Nathan

The trees won't talk; but we've got information
To get the truth. Old omens of the air
Mean Birds are hungry, here as everywhere,
And speak, if forced to, in the present tense.
This took eternity and some expense
To verify. Gods, never really there,
Reduce to heros dying for a share
In prospects disconnected and immense.

Symbols, like homespun drugs, were handy things,
But facts are good as guns. And then there's you --
No priestess circled by sacramental wings
From Cythera, but a girl well suited to the act;
And what's to be done with nature? Nothing new.
We'll dream in symbols, wake up cold in fact.

The Potato Eaters
-- by Leonard Nathan

Sometimes, the naked taste of potato
reminds me of being poor.

The first bites are gratitude,
the rest, contented boredom.

The little kitchen still flickers
like a candle-lit room in a folktale.

Never again was my father so angry,
my mother so still as she set the table,

or I so much at home.

The Visitors of Night
-- by Frank Stanford

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

Hets 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

--- in memory of Christopher Tercy (1973 - Dec. 24, 2006) RIP.

January 2, 2007

don't hide - the snake can see you

Brice Marden, Return I, 1964-65

* 100 Years later, the food industry is still a Jungle. excerpt:

"Nothing in 'The Jungle' sticks with the reader quite like what went into the sausages. There was the rotting ham that could no longer be sold as ham. There were the rat droppings, rat poison and whole poisoned rats. Most chilling, there were the unnamed things 'in comparison with which a poisoned rat was a tidbit.'

"Upton Sinclair wrote “The Jungle' as a labor exposé. He hoped that the book, which was billed as 'the ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ of wage slavery,' would lead to improvements for the people to whom he dedicated it, 'the workingmen of America.' But readers of 'The Jungle' were less appalled by Sinclair’s accounts of horrific working conditions than by what they learned about their food. 'I aimed at the public’s heart,' he famously declared, 'and by accident I hit it in the stomach.'

"'The Jungle,' and the campaign that Sinclair waged after its publication, led directly to passage of a landmark federal food safety law, which took effect 100 years ago this week. Sinclair awakened a nation not just to the dangers in the food supply, but to the central role government has to play in keeping it safe. But as the poisonings of spinach eaters and Taco Bell customers recently made clear, the battle is far from over — and in recent years, we have been moving in the wrong direction.

"When 'The Jungle'” was published, the public reaction was instantaneous. Outraged readers deluged President Theodore Roosevelt with letters. Roosevelt was ambivalent, but he invited Sinclair to the White House for lunch, and promised to send his labor commissioner and assistant Treasury secretary to Chicago to investigate.
"As a result of Sinclair’s crusade, Congress passed the Food and Drug Act, which had been effectively blocked by industry. At the start of 1907, it became a federal crime to sell adulterated food or drugs, and the new law set up a system of federal inspections. Food had to be labeled, and it was illegal to misstate the contents. Future laws would expand on this newly declared government responsibility to ensure the safety of the nation’s food supply.

"In recent years, the momentum has shifted. Since the Reagan era, conservatives have tried to turn 'government regulation' into an epithet. Books like 'The Death of Common Sense,' a 1990’s best-seller, have twisted the facts to argue that laws like a New York ordinance requiring restaurants to clean dishes in a way that kills salmonella are somehow an infringement on liberty.
"But this is an unusually promising moment for food safety. Wide media attention was given to last fall’s spinach contamination, which killed three and injured more than 200 in 26 states, and to the Taco Bell food poisonings, which made dozens of people ill. And Democrats have recaptured Congress, which should hold hearings to get to the bottom of those recent food disasters and to explore what the next ones are likely to be. It should push for larger budgets for food inspections and, as one Democratic-sponsored bill calls for, create a single federal agency with responsibility for food safety.

"The powerful meat and produce industries can be counted on to call on their allies in Congress and the White House for help in resisting. That would come as no surprise to Sinclair, who was already complaining loudly in 1906 that Armour & Co. had contributed $50,000 to the Republican Party, and that the meatpackers had hired a prominent government official 'as confidential adviser as to federal inspection problems.'

"The answer, Sinclair believed, was always the same: providing the American people with the gritty truth that they needed to protect themselves. 'The source and fountain-head of genuine reform in this matter,' Sinclair insisted, 'is an enlightened public opinion.'"

* 10 Most Outrageous Civil Liberties violations of 2006. excerpt:

"6. The State-Secrets Doctrine
The Bush administration's insane argument in court is that judges should dismiss entire lawsuits over many of the outrages detailed on this very list. Why? Because the outrageously illegal things are themselves matters of top-secret national security. The administration has raised this claim in relation to its adventures in secret wiretapping and its fun with extraordinary rendition. A government privilege once used to sidestep civil claims has mushroomed into sweeping immunity for the administration's sometimes criminal behavior.
"4. Extraordinary Rendition
So, when does it start to become ordinary rendition? This government program has us FedEx-ing unindicted terror suspects abroad for interrogation/torture. Khalid El-Masri, a German citizen, was shipped off to Afghanistan for such treatment and then released without charges, based on some government confusion about his name. Heh heh. Canadian citizen Maher Arar claims he was tortured in Syria for a year, released without charges, and cleared by a Canadian commission. Attempts to vindicate the rights of such men? You'd need to circle back to the state-secrets doctrine, above.
"2. The Military Commissions Act of 2006
This was the so-called compromise legislation that gave President Bush even more power than he initially had to detain and try so-called enemy combatants. He was generously handed the authority to define for himself the parameters of interrogation and torture and the responsibility to report upon it, since he'd been so good at that. What we allegedly did to Jose Padilla was once a dirty national secret. The MCA made it the law.

"1. Hubris
Whenever the courts push back against the administration's unsupportable constitutional ideas—ideas about 'inherent powers' and a 'unitary executive' or the silliness of the Geneva Conventions or the limitless sweep of presidential powers during wartime—the Bush response is to repeat the same chorus louder: Every detainee is the worst of the worst; every action taken is legal, necessary, and secret. No mistakes, no apologies. No nuance, no regrets. This legal and intellectual intractability can create the illusion that we are standing on the same constitutional ground we stood upon in 2001, even as that ground is sliding away under our feet."

* "Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth." -- Muhammad Ali