February 28, 2007

My cup is full, and I feel okay
The world is dull, but not today

Francis Picabia, Lausanne Abstract

Headphones at Dawn
-- by Edward Sanders (from History of America in Verse)

Just as young people studied City Lights pocket poets
or mimeographed magazines
for news that was Really News

by the mid and late 1960s they studied stereo albums
as if they were religious texts
or as an anodyne to the crimson chaos
or even to help them build courage to
stand up for change

Raptured at dawn with headphones listening to Cecil Taylor
Jim Morrison & the Doors

Joni Mitchell
the wild wail of Janis

Dylan & other mind-mending mind-bending
mixes from the revolution in multi-track over-dubbed recording -- gifts from what Charles Olson called the Electromagnetic Aeon

The Old Man
-- George Oppen

The old man
In the mirror
But the young man
In the photograph
Is stranger

There It Is
-- by Jayne Cortez

And if we don't fight
if we don't resist
if we don't organize and unify and
get the power to control our own lives
Then we will wear
the exaggerated look of captivity
the stylized look of submission
the bizarre look of suicide
the dehumanized look of fear
and the decomposed look of repression
forever and ever and ever
And there it is

Stupid Punk vs. Smart Punk
-- by Kim Gordon

When I first moved to NYC. I
was at the Kiev. Johnny Thunders was
in the next booth. He was there with some
friends. He threw sugar in my eggs having
"a punk moment." I told him to fuck off...
He called me four eyes. I blushed and bit my tongue.
He's a dead punk. He's a dead punk.

February 27, 2007

I Cross Myself Twice, Nothings Working

Cramped Leisure ep
[design by West Main Development]

'Cramped Leisure' by the foreign press

can be ordered now

from Baltimore-based b-sides label West Main Development

recorded in dc, arlington and amsterdam

songs: checkmate, tuscaloosa, sitting under a clock, leave the city, 230 volts, +

the unique West Main Development packaging

and, of course, the songs

make this release necessary for your collection

and listening pleasure

order here: West Main Development


(also on itunes)

thank you, the foreign press

* From Think Progress. excerpt:

"New Yorker columnist Sy Hersh says the 'single most explosive' element of his latest article involves an effort by the Bush administration to stem the growth of Shiite influence in the Middle East (specifically the Iranian government and Hezbollah in Lebanon) by funding violent Sunni groups.

"Hersh says the U.S. has been 'pumping money, a great deal of money, without congressional authority, without any congressional oversight' for covert operations in the Middle East where it wants to 'stop the Shiite spread or the Shiite influence.' Hersh says these funds have ended up in the hands of 'three Sunni jihadist groups' who are 'connected to al Qaeda' but 'want to take on Hezbollah.'

"Hersh summed up his scoop in stark terms: 'We are simply in a situation where this president is really taking his notion of executive privilege to the absolute limit here, running covert operations, using money that was not authorized by Congress, supporting groups indirectly that are involved with the same people that did 9/11.'"

* "The whole question of free will and choice and determinism is inevitably interesting to a novelist. Are your characters puppets in the hands of fate or are they really able to make free choices?" -- Margaret Drabble

* Watch Olbermann on Condi.

February 26, 2007

Hiding in a parking lot and
Watching all the people fall to pieces

Darren Almond, Today, 2000

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"4.Do-Nothing Republicans

"So how come this dreadful situation has been unfolding at Walter Reed for such a long time, but has only just come to light? Simple - up until very recently, Republicans were in charge, and they preferred to sweep this sort of thing under the rug. You see, it's one thing to repeat over and over again that you support the troops, but it's another thing altogether to put your money where your mouth is.

"Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) appeared on Meet The Press last week and, according to Think Progress, "argued that the Senate Armed Services Committee did not conduct oversight of the treatment at military facilities in recent years because 'they did not want to embarrass the President.' That's quite an allegation - and given the reputation of the do-nothing 109th Congress, it's entirely believeable.

"The Bush administration has spent billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars conducting an ill-planned and poorly-managed occupation of Iraq, to the tune of 3,150 American lives and more than 23,400 wounded. When those wounded troops come back from Iraq, they find a Veterans Administration that has been systematically weakened and defunded by Bush & Co. over the past six years.

"And where was the Republican-led Congress while this was going on? Picking its toenails, apparently."

* 2000 Interview of IraKaplan. excerpt:

Interviewer: Does it seem to you as if the notion of indie rock has grown out of its own self-willed marginalization, that the wall separating a small community and a larger audience has crumbled a bit?

Ira: I don't know that I fully agree with that. There are still plenty of people who are perfectly happy to maintain that wall, or a sort of distance like that. But [as] for our band, we've always gone on the road, done interviews, done things to try to get our music in front of people. Our last record ["I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One"] sold a lot more than our earlier ones. Bands like Pavement made lots of commercial inroads that changed those perceptions. And just being around for a certain length of time changes the way people approach a band. But I've always found it odd when people have ever referred to us as lo-fi. That's always been mind-boggling because we've been in 24-track recording studios for all these records. I think people have wanted to think of us as being in our bedroom making records and just never emerging.
Interviewer: You are a big Knicks fan. Does that make you a Bill Bradley man?

Ira: [Laughs] I'm sorry to say it does. It's embarrassing but true. When the New Jersey primary rolls around, I may just have to cast my ballot for the '69 Knicks. It's nice to be a part of the electorate making that choice for horrible reasons: "I like the way you used to move without the ball ... I think you'd make a great president."

Interviewer: You're also a big baseball fan -- Mets rather than Yankees, right?

Ira: Yes. Unlike in basketball, where I have only good feelings for the Nets and wish them well -- except when they play the Knicks -- I'm the classic baseball fan. I like one team to dislike the other. I just really don't like the Yankees' owner, and since he wants to be synonymous with his team, I'm going to let him. [George] Steinbrenner reminds me of [Rudolph] Giuliani. He's just a bully.

Interviewer: You go to a lot of downtown jazz shows in New York, and you've sort of tapped into that scene recently. [Percussion phenom Susie Ibarra plays on the new album; Yo La Tengo recently released a double 7-inch recorded with members of jazz act Other Dimensions in Music.] Has that mostly improvisational music influenced your approach to the band?

Ira: I would imagine it has. I always think that is happening with whatever we're listening to. It's hard for me to compare record to record because they're from such different times and the memories are so different. But it doesn't feel like that aspect is so entirely different. The songs are written based in improvisation at the start, and we try to leave songs unfinished so we can make spur-of-the-moment decisions in the studio. My feeling is the difference with this record affects the way people hear it almost as much as our approach to it. Because the new songs are more stylistically similar, I think you notice all the little arrangement touches; it almost calls attention to them because they are the differences in these songs a lot of times. Before, you could say there's a fast one, there's a slow one, there's the one Georgia sings. There were ways to describe the songs using much broader terms, but now a lot of the differences are in the details.

* "Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self." --Cyril Connolly

February 23, 2007

Sometimes a dream is what makes you a slave

Scott Prior, Apple Tree in Fog, 2004

Epitaph on a Tyrant
-- by W. H. Auden

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.

The End
-- Sharon Olds

We decided to have the abortion, became
killers together. The period that came
changed nothing. They were dead, that young couple
who had been for life.
As we talked of it in bed, the crash
was not a surprise. We went to the window,
looked at the crushed cars and the gleaming
curved shears of glass as if we had
done it. Cops pulled the bodies out
Bloody as births from the small, smoking
aperture of the door, laid them
on the hill, covered them with blankets that soaked
through. Blood
began to pour
down my legs into my slippers. I stood
where I was until they shot the bound
form into the black hole
of the ambulance and stood the other one
up, a bandage covering its head,
stained where the eyes had been.
The next morning I had to kneel
an hour on that floor, to clean up my blood,
rubbing with wet cloths at those glittering
translucent spots, as one has to soak
a long time to deglaze the pan
when the feast is over.

A Story
-- by Melissa Green

Pre-Raphaelite hair, a little black dress
and fuck-me pumps, my poems drawing
actors, dancers, painters to my Village digs,
books, opera tickets, the Met.
Someone else is living the life I thought I’d get.

When I whistle, a white horse
in Central Park lifts its head, wickering.
I lie down like Nebucadnezzer to graze.
My lips kissing a subway grate
five hundred miles away, years too late,
a forelock whisks my cheek.

-- by Donald Hall

To grow old is to lose everything.
Aging, everybody knows it.
Even when we are young,
we glimpse it sometimes, and nod our heads
when a grandfather dies.
Then we row for years on the midsummer
pond, ignorant and content. But a marriage,
that began without harm, scatters
into debris on the shore,
and a friend from school drops
cold on a rocky strand.
If a new love carries us
past middle age, our wife will die
at her strongest and most beautiful.
New women come and go. All go.
The pretty lover who announces
that she is temporary
is temporary. The bold woman,
middle-aged against our old age,
sinks under an anxiety she cannot withstand.
Another friend of decades estranges himself
in words that pollute thirty years.
Let us stifle under mud at the pond's edge
and affirm that it is fitting
and delicious to lose everything.

February 22, 2007

I heard there was a secret chord that David played
and it pleased the lord
but you don’t really care for music do ya

Valery Milovic, Love: The Only Engine Of Survival, 2000

This is the first in a series of paintings inspired by the music/poetry of artist, Leonard Cohen. The title of this painting came from Cohen's song, The Future.

* Matt Taibbi. excerpt:

"While America obsessed about Brittany's shaved head, Bush offered a budget that offers $32.7 billion in tax cuts to the Wal-Mart family alone, while cutting $28 billion from Medicaid.

Now, after she shaved her head in a bizarre episode that culminates a months-long saga of controversial behavior, it's the question being asked by her fans, her foes and the general public: What was she thinking?"-- Bald and Broken: Inside Britney's Shaved Head, Sheila Marikar, ABC.com, Feb. 19

"What was she thinking? How about nothing? How about who gives a shit? How's that for an answer, Sheila Marikar of ABC news, you pinhead?

"I'm not one of those curmudgeons who freaks out every time that Bradgelina moves the war off the front page of the Post, or Katie Couric decides to usher in a whole new era of network news with photos of the imbecile demon-spawn of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. I understand that we live in a demand-based economy and that there is far more demand for brainless celebrity bullshit than there is, say, for the fine print of the Health and Human Services budget.

"But that was before this week. I awoke this morning in New York City to find Britney Spears plastered all over the cover of two gigantic daily newspapers, simply because she cut her hair off over the weekend. To me, this crosses a line. My definition of a news story involves something happening. If nothing happens, then you can't have 'news,' because nothing has changed since the day before. Britney Spears was an idiot last Thursday, an idiot on Friday, and an idiot on both Saturday and Sunday. She was, shockingly, also an idiot on Monday. It will be news when she stops being an idiot, and we'll know when that happens, because she'll have shot herself for the good of the planet. Britney Spears cutting her hair off is the least-worthy front page news story in the history of humanity.
"On the same day that Britney was shaving her head, a guy I know who works in the office of Senator Bernie Sanders sent me an email. He was trying very hard to get news organizations interested in some research his office had done about George Bush's proposed 2008 budget, which was unveiled two weeks ago and received relatively little press, mainly because of the controversy over the Iraq war resolution. All the same, the Bush budget is an amazing document. It would be hard to imagine a document that more clearly articulates the priorities of our current political elite.

"Not only does it make many of Bush's tax cuts permanent, but it envisions a complete repeal of the Estate Tax, which mainly affects only those who are in the top two-tenths of the top one percent of the richest people in this country. The proposed savings from the cuts over the next decade are about $442 billion, or just slightly less than the amount of the annual defense budget (minus Iraq war expenses). But what's interesting about these cuts are how Bush plans to pay for them.

"Sanders's office came up with some interesting numbers here. If the Estate Tax were to be repealed completely, the estimated savings to just one family -- the Walton family, the heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune -- would be about $32.7 billion dollars over the next ten years.

"The proposed reductions to Medicaid over the same time frame? $28 billion.

"Or how about this: if the Estate Tax goes, the heirs to the Mars candy corporation -- some of the world's evilest scumbags, incidentally, routinely ripped by human rights organizations for trafficking in child labor to work cocoa farms in places like Cote D'Ivoire -- if the estate tax goes, those assholes will receive about $11.7 billion in tax breaks. That's more than three times the amount Bush wants to cut from the VA budget ($3.4 billion) over the same time period.
"Here's the thing about the system of news coverage we have today. If the Walton family, or Lee Raymond, or the heirs to the Mars fortune actually needed the news media to work better than it does now, believe me, it would work better. But they have no such need, because the system is working just fine for them as is. The people it's failing are the rest of us, and most of the rest of us, apparently, would rather sniff Anna Nicole Smith's corpse or watch Britney Spears hump a fire hydrant than find out what our tax dollars are actually paying for.

"Shit, when you think about it that way, why not steal from us? People that dumb don't deserve to have money." Read the whole article.

* David Axelrod on Phil Spector (from 2005):

Interviewer: So, your production and arranging style wasn't a response to that of, say, Phil Spector?

Axelrod: I nevr paid a lot of attention to him anyway. I wasn't aware of him. What did I care what Phil spector was doing? I didn't listen to his records. And I never went for that 'Wall of Sound' thing. Spector just booked the studio. It was Jack Nitzsche who did the arrangements. He was a weird dude, but I liked him a lot.

Interviewer: So you're saying that the arranger should have gotten credit for developing the Wall of Sound?

Axelrod: I always thought the engineer at Gold Star [Studios] should have gotten about half the credit for that. He had a studio that would hold fourteen people, and in walks Spector with twenty people. You have to give credit to the engineer to make it possible to hear anything. And still have room to record the singers. He probably called Spector a fucking idiot.

Interviewer: We can't print that, can we?

Axelrod: Why not? Is he paying your salary? Fuck him...

* "That's one reason why it's pretty worthless, I can't totally buy it, if you think about it, it's things like the Phil Spector records. On one level they were rebellion, on another level they were keeping the teenager in his place." -- Lester Bangs

February 21, 2007

Vicarious pleasure in my brain
Fantastic life never the same

Jacques Villegle, Carrefour Sylvia Montfort - Picasso, 1973
décollage mounted on canvas

-- by Robert Lowell

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

Every Time He Starts the Car
-- by Ben Kopel

for Robbie Howton

The click and ah
of the air conditioner
gives him hope
for a better tomorrow
in America-

the possibility
of a Dixie cup
filled with water
from a Japanese glacier.

-- by Ben Kopel

My heart is in the yard like snow.
I do not want this world to end.
In the ashtray
A bit of filter nothings.

The day we put her in the earth
The marching band stepped
And refused to yield.

I can’t even think
About the things I did that day,
Alone with a girl, awkward
Like a Jew in a tattoo shop.

In Plain View
-- Frank Stanford

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

February 20, 2007

think these guys would have something to salute right now

Andrew Moore, Four Trees, Ferrapontou, Russia, 2004, Chromogenic print

* Murry Waas. excerpt:

"In the fall of 2003, as a federal criminal probe was just getting underway to determine who leaked the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame to the media, I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, the then-chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, sought out Cheney to explain to his boss his side of the story.

"The explanation that Libby offered Cheney that day was virtually identical to one that Libby later told the FBI and testified to before a federal grand jury: Libby said he had only passed along to reporters unsubstantiated gossip about Plame that he had heard from NBC bureau chief Tim Russert."
"At the time that Libby offered his explanation to Cheney, the vice president already had reason to know that Libby's account to him was untrue, according to sources familiar with still-secret grand jury testimony and evidence in the CIA leak probe, as well as testimony made public during Libby's trial over the past three weeks in federal court.

"Yet, according to Libby's own grand jury testimony, which was made public during his trial in federal court, Cheney did nothing to discourage Libby from telling that story to the FBI and the federal grand jury. Moreover, Cheney encouraged then-White House press secretary Scott McClellan to publicly defend Libby, according to other testimony and evidence made public during Libby's trial."
"If Libby is found guilty, investigators are likely to probe further to determine if Libby devised what they consider a cover story in an effort to shield Cheney. They want to know whether Cheney might have known about the leaks ahead of time or had even encouraged Libby to provide information to reporters about Plame's CIA status, the same sources said.

"Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and defense attorneys for Libby are expected to begin their closing arguments in the case as early as Tuesday morning. Defense attorneys for Libby had said for months that they were going to call Cheney as a defense witness, but informed Federal District Court Judge Reggie Walton, who has presided over the Libby trial, at the last minute that they were not going to call him after all.

"Had Cheney testified, he would have been questioned about whether he encouraged, or had knowledge of, the leaking of Plame's CIA status. Sources close to the case say that Cheney would have also been sharply questioned as to why, when presented by Libby with what prosecutors regarded as a cover story to explain away Libby's role in the leak, Cheney did nothing to discourage him."

* From Harper's, March 2007:

-- Number of consecutive months that the American workforce has spent more than its take-home pay: 20

-- Number of previous months since the Depression that this had been the case: 0

-- Number of U.S. states where marijuana is the top cash crop: 12

-- Percentage change since 2002 in the number of U.S. teens using illegal drugs: -15

-- Percentage change in the number of adults in their fifties doing so: +63

-- Minimum hourly wage last year of a member of the U.S. House of Representatives: $203.95

-- Minimum wage this year, given new rules that require more hours in session: $139.97

-- Average number of Legos owned by each person worldwide: 75

-- Estimated percentage of U.S. household spending that is controlled or influenced by children under 14: 47

* The Caribbean will be performing music at The Black Cat [1811 14th Street NW] next Wednesday night, February 21 at around 10pm. Shortly thereafter, they head out for a brief trip through the southern US and wind up in Austin, Texas to play at South-By-Southwest. Opening at the Black Cat will be Little Brazil, rockers from beautiful Omaha, Nebraska.

subsequent dates:

March 10: Swanson Reed Contemporary, Louisville, KY
March 11: Ruby Green gallery, Nashville, TN
March 12: White Water Tavern, Little Rock, AR
March 14: The Mohawk, Austin, TX [SXSW - Hometapes Label Showcase]

the caribbean.

February 19, 2007

I don't like Mondays

Georg Baselitz, Akt Elke, 1977

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

3. Stacey Campfield

"Last week State Rep. Stacey Campfield (R-Naturally) introduced a bill in the Tennessee General Assembly which would 'collect death certificates for aborted fetuses,' according to the Associated Press. Campfield said 'his bill would provide a way to track how many abortions are performed in Tennessee.'

"Strangely enough though, 'Tennessee law already requires abortions to be reported to the Office of Vital Records.' So there already is a way to track how many abortions are performed in Tennessee. Why would Campfield want to go through the trouble (and expense) of requiring that an aborted fetus needs a death certificate?

"Perhaps because according to the AP, under the current law in Tennessee, 'the identities of women having abortions are not included in the reports.' However, 'Death certificates require identifying information like Social Security numbers.' See, it's not really a way to track abortions at all. It's a way to publicly shame women who get an abortion in Tennessee. Nice.

"One thing that's confusing to me though: if Campfield wants to give death certificates to aborted fetuses, why not give them to miscarried fetuses as well? The end result is the same, after all. Why should miscarried fetuses not be given the honor of a death certificate? Has Rep. Campfield got something against them?

"Anyway, Rep. Camfield's obvious prejudice against miscarried fetuses aside, I think you'll agree that we could all use a public list of women who didn't complete their pregnancies for whatever reason.

"Actually, better yet, why don't we just force them to wear shirts with a big red letter on the front? We could have 'A' for abortion and 'M' for miscarriage. While we're at it, let's put a big red letter 'C' on women who are using contraception, the shameless hussies."

* Military amputee uninvited from Bush event because the press would see him with no legs. [via]

"Perks and stardom do not come to every amputee. Sgt. David Thomas, a gunner with the Tennessee National Guard, spent his first three months at Walter Reed with no decent clothes; medics in Samarra had cut off his uniform. Heavily drugged, missing one leg and suffering from traumatic brain injury, David, 42, was finally told by a physical therapist to go to the Red Cross office, where he was given a T-shirt and sweat pants. He was awarded a Purple Heart but had no underwear.

"David tangled with Walter Reed's image machine when he wanted to attend a ceremony for a fellow amputee, a Mexican national who was being granted U.S. citizenship by President Bush. A case worker quizzed him about what he would wear. It was summer, so David said shorts. The case manager said the media would be there and shorts were not advisable because the amputees would be seated in the front row.

"'Are you telling me that I can't go to the ceremony 'cause I'm an amputee?' David recalled asking. 'She said, 'No, I'm saying you need to wear pants.'

"David told the case worker, 'I'm not ashamed of what I did, and y'all shouldn't be neither.' When the guest list came out for the ceremony, his name was not on it."

* "The constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure." -- George Washington

February 16, 2007

I can't get that sound you make out of my head

Alison Jackson, Bush on the loo, 2004, chromogenic print

Snow Emergency Street
-- by Gerard Malanga

All I know is this slow exhibition of greatness.
A description of what's been
Happening. The pain is not
Clearly defined. These are
The eyes of the young girl and that side of her
Character capable of being
Afraid. Across street young man walks
Back with hands in pockets.
Children's voices at playground
In distance. The sound
Track of tire treads making sharp turns
In the distance.
Water sprinkler being turned off.
A roadway ribbed with white line where no one is
Crossing. In its beginning was its end.
A woman, a city, an intellect.
The environment of that experience.
Afer the affirmations
Who will discover the rejections?

Still Another Signal
-- by Gerard Malanga

Someone has written
on the wall of the
flat I've just moved into
nothing changes

Older Women
-- by Jack Gilbert

Each farmer on the island conceals
his hive far up on the mountain,
knowing it will otherwise be plundered.
When they die, or can no longer make
the hand climb, the lost combs your
after year grow heavier with honey.
And the sweetness has more and more
acutely the taste of that wilderness.

-- by Jack Gilbert

When I hear men boast about how passionate
they are, I think of the two cleaning ladies
at a second-story window watching a man
coming back from a party where there was
lots of free beer. He runs in and out
of the building looking for a toilet. "My Lord,"
the tall woman says, "that fellow down there
surely does love architecture."

First Times
-- by Jack Gilbert

I had not seen her for twenty years when she called
to welcome me back to America, wanting to see me.
Warning that she was past forty now and the mother
of a seven year-old. The lost time flooded me.
Paris and me without money or a place to take her.
I borrowed a room and lit candles and had wine.
It went badly. My knees kept sliding away under me
on the starched sheets. I managed the humiliation
by turning my back and refusing to talk. She was
as young as I was and felt, I suspect, relief.

February 15, 2007

the doughnut man sounds crazy too

Pierre Bismuth, Coming Soon, 2005

The Foreign Press ep Cramped Leisure can be pre-oredered at West Main Development. The (arbitrary) release date is February 27, 2007.

* Carl Bernstein compares the Nixon administration with the Bush administration. excerpt:

"Veteran reporter Carl Bernstein says the lack of truth and candor from the Bush administration is unprecedented in his experience.

"Comparing the Nixon administration's press relations to those of Bush, Bernstein says, 'Nixon's relationship to the press was consistent with his relationship to many institutions and people. He saw himself as a victim. We now understand the psyche of Richard Nixon, that his was a self-destructive act and presidency.'

"'The Bush administration,' Bernstein continues, 'is a far different matter in which disinformation, misinformation and unwillingness to tell the truth -- a willingness to lie both in the Oval Office, in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, in the office of the vice president, the vice president himself -- is something that I have never witnessed before on this scale.'

"Bernstein contrasted Nixon's covering up of illegal activities tied to his re-election campaign with the Bush White House's 'unwillingness to be truthful, both contextually and in terms of basic facts that ought to be of great concern to people of all ideologies.'

"'This president has a record of dishonesty and obfuscation that is Nixonian in character in its willingness to manipulate the press, to manipulate the truth,' he adds. 'We have gone to war on the basis of misinformation, disinformation and knowing lies from top to bottom.'"

* From a Paris Review interview of William Meredith:

Interviewer: You've said that you average about six poems per year. Why so few?

Meredith: Why so many? Ask any reviewer. I remember one particularly wicked review of Edna St. Vincent Millay whose new poems weren't as good as they should have been. "This Millay seems to have gone out of her way to write another book of poems." You're always afraid of that. That could be said, I believe, of certain people's poems. So I wait until the poems seem to be addressed not to "Occupant" but to "William Meredith." And it doesn't happen a lot. I think if I had a great deal more time it would happen more often because I would get immediately to the typewriter. But it might happen eight times a year instead of six- not much more than that. I'll say this because it may be interesting or important: I think it is because poetry and experience should have an exact ratio. Astonishing experience doesn't happen very often. Daily experience is astonishing on a level at which you can write a poem, but astonishing experience would be the experience which is not astonishment of reality but astonishment of insight. It is for me, as a lyric poet, to make poems only out of insights I encounter. Robert Frost used to say, "How many things have to happen to you before something occurs to you?"
Interviewer: Do you think writing a poem is a specific engagement of a mystery?

Meredith: I would say exactly that. It is the engagement of a mystery which has forced itself to the point where you feel honor-bound to see this mystery with the brilliance of vision. Not to solve it, but to see it.
Interviewer: In poems like "Politics" and "Nixon's the One" and "On Jenkins' Hill" and "A Mild-Spoken Citizen Finally Writes to the White House" you develop an unusual civic stance for a contemporary poet, a kind of "poet as concerned citizen" approach to the political scene. Does that characterization seem accurate to you? And does this attitude signify a new kind of openness or political engagement in your work?

Meredith: I believe it represents an openness that I've always felt and acted on but never found much way, before this, to talk about in poetry. The lyric poem is often so private. For example, my intention in writing "The Wreck of the Thresher" was to write a public poem about my feeling of disappointment in the hopes of the United Nations. When I was writing that poem I remember seeing it change from a rather pretentious public statement to the very private statement it turned out to be. It occurred to me that this is simply a demonstration of what Auden said in the "Dyer's Hand," that we don't trust a public voice in poetry today. I would say that my concern about politics is precisely the concern of a Joan Didion or a Denise Levertov but that my stance is very different, so it doesn't appear to be the same. There is a spectrum of political opinion and a spectrum of political involvement. I stand with regard to involvement where those two women stand, but in the political spectrum I'm much more Jeffersonian-I'm nearer the middle.
Interviewer: Theodore Roethke once said, "In spite of all the muck and welter, the dark, the dreck of these poems, I count myself among the happy poets." Do you want to be one of the happy poets?

Meredith: I would like "The Cheer" to seem like someone who would say, "Yes. Without any reservations, I say yes." I speak about other things with reservations: things that I would want to change, things that I wish hadn't happened, things that we need to do and that we're not doing. But there are people who involuntarily give off an aura of "No," and those seem to be the people I quarrel with. It is inevitable to quarrel with that which you consider damaging in life.

* Neil Young's Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, with Crazy Horse, from the Fillmore East 1970.

February 14, 2007

To hotwire and hightail crosses my mind

Anselm Reyle, untitled, 2006

A Break in the Inaction
-- by Klipschutz

She left us during a recess in the Scooter Libby trial
between modules 2 and 3 of PowerPoint class,
sweeping the rest of the day’s news
off the monitor without moving a muscle.
In my way I too bowed down
before the bully pulpit of her bounty
spilling over like a template for these times,
the six-foot come to mama blonde, outrageous
as a drag queen with those pillow power looks.
Hell, she fucked a filthy rich old man to death
(unless the sight of her unmediated flesh
was all it took). When she spoke a ScreenTip
said Betty Boop. She could have made herself
useful by opening a front between the beats
of one Richard Cheney’s purblind heart
but utility was not the way she rolled
on the lost highways to heaven of her gams.
-Highways? Heaven? Gams? If you say so.
She always could cry like a kitten, right on cue,
like a B-girl from Texas expelled in tenth grade
for fighting’s idea of an ingénue,
and left us pending litigation to remember her by
and a baby with three regent wannabes.
Scooter’s on the ropes, Russert’s limping to the stand
and you’ll excuse me while I format a New Slide.

Elegy for Jane
(My student, thrown by a horse)
-- by Theodore Roethke

I remember the neckcurls, limp and damp as tendrils;
And her quick look, a sidelong pickerel smile;
And how, once startled into talk, the light syllables leaped for her,
And she balanced in the delight of her thought,

A wren, happy, tail into the wind,
Her song trembling the twigs and small branches.
The shade sang with her;
The leaves, their whispers turned to kissing,
And the mould sang in the bleached valleys under the rose.

Oh, when she was sad, she cast herself down into such a pure depth,
Even a father could not find her:
Scraping her cheek against straw,
Stirring the clearest water.

My sparrow, you are not here,
Waiting like a fern, making a spiney shadow.
The sides of wet stones cannot console me,
Nor the moss, wound with the last light.

If only I could nudge you from this sleep,
My maimed darling, my skittery pigeon.
Over this damp grave I speak the words of my love:
I, with no rights in this matter,
Neither father nor lover.

Before She Died
-- by Karen Chase

When I look at the sky now, I look at it for you.
As if with enough attention, I could take it in for you.

With all the leaves gone almost from
the trees, I did not walk briskly through the field.

Late today with my dog Wool, I lay down in the upper field,
he panting and aged, me looking at the blue. Leaning

on him, I wondered how finite these lustered days seem
to you, A stand of hemlock across the lake catches

my eye. It will take a long time to know how it is
for you. Like a dog's lifetime -- long -- multiplied by sevens.

February 13, 2007

I could show you memories
To rival Berlin

Jack Breit, Decoys And Faux Ploys, Digital Print on Canvas, 2005

* Giuliani's vulnerabilities, according to his staff.

"As he campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination, Rudolph Giuliani will have to contend with political and personal baggage unknown to prospective supporters whose knowledge of the former New York mayor is limited to his post-September 11 exploits. So, in a bid to educate the electorate, we're offering excerpts from a remarkable 'vulnerability study' that was commissioned by Giuliani's campaign prior to his successful 1993 City Hall run.

"The confidential 450-page report, authored by Giuliani's research director and another aide, was the campaign's attempt to identify possible lines of attack against Giuliani and prepare the candidate and his staff to counter 'the kinds of no-holes-barred assault' expected in a general election rematch with Democratic incumbent David Dinkins. As he tried to win election in an overwhelmingly Democratic city, Giuliani needed 'inoculating against' the 'Reagan Republican moniker,' the vulnerability study reported. 'The Giuliani campaign should emphasize its candidate's independence from traditional national Republican policies.' The final six words of that sentence are underlined in the study. Additionally, the Giuliani report noted that the candidate needed to make it clear to voters that he was 'pretty good on most issues of concern to gay and lesbian New Yorkers' and was pro-choice and supported public funding for abortion. 'He will continue city funding for abortions at city hospitals. Nothing more, nothing less.'

"Giuliani's stance on these issues, of course, may leave him vulnerable today with an entirely different electorate. The campaign study was obtained by The Village Voice's Wayne Barrett in the course of preparing 'Rudy!,' an investigative biography of Giuliani. In its preface, the study notes that it is 'tough and hard-hitting. It pulls no punches.'" Perhaps that is why Giuliani, as Barrett reported, ordered copies of the vulnerability study destroyed shortly after it was circulated to top campaign aides.

"He surely could not have been pleased to read that his 'personal life raises questions about a 'weirdness factor.' That weirdness, aides reported, stemmed from Giuliani's 14-year marriage to his second cousin, a union that he got annulled by claiming to have never received proper dispensation from the Catholic Church for the unorthodox nuptials. 'When asked about his personal life, Giuliani gives a wide array of conflicting answers,' the campaign report stated. 'All of this brings the soundness of his judgement into question--and the veracity of his answers.'

"The internal study also addresses prospective charges that Giuliani dodged the Vietnam draft and was a "man without convictions" because of his transformation from George McGovern voter to a Reagan-era Justice Department appointee. 'In many ways Rudy Giuliani is a political contradiction...He doesn't really fit with the Republicans. Too liberal. Giuliani has troubles with the Democrats, too.'"

* Trailer for the movie Silver Jew.

* "I'm an artist and that means I can be as egotistical as I want to be." -- Lou Reed

* Will Oldham (aka, Bonnie "Prince" Billy) designs the spring issue of Zoetrope: Musician/ actor / artist / all-around indie icon Will Oldham lends his unique perspective to the forthcoming Spring 2007 edition of All-Story. The issue, which debuts mid March, includes fiction from Woody Allen, Elizabeth McCracken, Rachel Cusk, Helen Simpson, and Chris Adrian, among others. A don't miss issue.

February 12, 2007

baby you're so obscure

Francis Guy, Winter Scene in Brooklyn, circa 1817–20.

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

5. George H. W. Bush

"Last week Poppy Bush went to Los Angeles to receive the 2007 Ronald Reagan Freedom Award (whatever that is), and while in town, had lunch with 'Desperate Housewives' star Teri Hatcher. Apparently George Sr. thought that Teri really was desperate, because he ended their lunch date by giving her a couple of slaps on the ass."

* What happens when we die? excerpt:

"In the process of caring for the more than 650 patients that have received care at the centre since it opened in 2003, Dellar said the centre's 25 nurses have listened and learned and now want to share some of their observations.

"An estimated 98 per cent of patients accurately predict when they will die - often within a day or two, but sometimes even to the exact hour.

"In the final 72 hours, the dying person often experiences a burst of energy and mental clarity that they used to declare their love, say goodbyes and right past wrongs.

"Patients report having dreams that revolve around travel - a sleigh filled with relatives, filling a car up with gas, a train leaving a station or a bus stopping and starting.

"Many people report seeing a warm and welcoming light.

"Visions of deceased loved ones are common. The dying reach for them, talk to them. 'When will we be leaving?' one man asked. 'Monday,' was the accurate response.

"'To keep these stories to ourselves would be unfair,' said Rose De Angelis, the centre's nursing director. 'We experience these things - if not daily - certainly weekly.'

"In some cases, Dellar said, there are plausible medical explanations.

"Pain medications and other drugs used in palliative care can induce hallucinations. Dwindling supplies of oxygen to the brain could also be responsible for bringing on delirium. But, Dellar said, the inexplicable events are too numerous to be totally discounted as drug-induced.

"De Angelis said nurses at the palliative care centre are ideally positioned to collect the kind of intimate details that can open a dialogue, help families respond appropriately and, more broadly, educate society about death.

"'We ask patients about their dreams and their visions,' she said. 'That's not going to happen in a 40-bed surgical unit in a hospital.'

"'It's often very personal stuff.'

"Palliative care nurses are trained to know when to probe, when to listen and what to watch for.

"Their observations are not necessarily the kind you find in 'peer-reviewed journals,' De Angelis conceded. But at the same time, she said, neither should they be fodder for the kind of hokey stories often seen published in supermarket tabloids."

"'Just because it is unexplainable does not mean it is without value,' she said."

* "Any orator with a minimum of experience knew by Aristotle's time that if statements made under torture supported his cause he must stress them to the utmost by insisting that there was no surer way of finding out the truth, while in the opposite case he must harp on the notorious unreliability of such statements, pointing out that unfortunate people will say anything in order to put an end to their agonies (though again on other occasions it must be emphasized that some keep up their lies even under torture)." --Friedrich Solmsen

February 9, 2007

And just like in a movie, her hands became her feet

Gert & Uwe Tobias, The Devil is Not Mocked, 2004

-- by Gregory Corso

In this lovely lonely orchard
perhaps stemmed from Eve’s core
I move in applelight continuum
of no dimension no dominion
And these apples whose certain death breeds more
has me reach for that out of reach one
and quite make it

-- by Aoife Mannix

I’m asleep when the phone rings,
though it’s four in the afternoon
so I can’t tell her that.
I don’t recognize the voice,
make her repeat her name stupidly.
‘Kitty, we were in school together.’
I have a flash of staring at her hands
in biology class. I was oddly fascinated
by the way her skin stretched
like paper over the bone.
She’d missed the debs
because she was in the hospital
having nearly succeeded
in starving herself to death.

Now ten years later
she’s ringing me up out of the blue
to invite me to our school reunion.
And I don’t say I doubt I’ll make it,
that in fact the only reason I’m in the country
is because my mother is dying.
Nor do I say what I suddenly feel like saying,
which is that even though
we were never really friends
or knew each other well,
I’m still glad to hear,
after all this time,
that she’s alive,
and I hope these days she’s eating more.
I just thank her politely and hang up.

The One That Starts With
"Bird On The Wire"

-- by James Babbs

I like
the girl
the white
sitting at
the typewriter
on the back
cover of
Leonard Cohen’s
second album

Nothing Left To Write
-- by Ross T. Runfola

Henry Chinaski is dead.
my world turned ass over when I heard the news.
rooming house man whose come will spread no more.
only death renders Buk incapable of erections, ejaculations,
exhibitions, and tales of ordinary madness.

heir of John Fante.
more bard of the barroom than barfly.
translator of Los Angeles skid row.
fucker of rhymes and visionary poetry
in favor of bleakness and truth.

major figure in European literary circles
horseplayer outside the winner’s circle of American literati
until the average American he gives meaning to
tries to make him a cultural icon.

Bukowski refuses to let celebrity devour him like Ginsberg.
stale middle-American air
the sailboats of San Pedro
Madonna’s Hollywood
do not make him soft.
living hard on the street made him fear life not death.

I pay homage to the great one by donating money
for a toilet stall inscription in the women’s john at my college
'To the underground poet Charles Bukowski who discovered more uses for
toilets in American bars than Thomas Crapper could have ever hoped for.'

A fitting tribute to Buk, who even in death
can be near young snatch.
the college president says the inscription is unfit for the academic world
as if his fear of the unholy is fit for any world.

Hell-Nixon got a twenty-one gun salute.
why can’t Hank rest in peace in the women’s shitter?

February 8, 2007

Either I'm too sensitive or else I'm gettin' soft

Ryan McGinley, Untitled (Morrissey 3), 2006

Ryan McGinley has been following Morrissey's tours for the past two years capturing the reclusive singer and his committed fans all over the US, the UK, and in Mexico. Although he has been an intensely devoted fan of the musician for most of his young life, McGinley has gained a distance on his subject through a total immersion. Having photographed quite literally hundreds of shows, McGinley becomes, in a sense, accustomed to the patterns of Morrissey's performances and can ''predict'' the response of fans for whom the singer's appearances form a major life anchor. McGinley is both immersed in the event (physically and psychologically) and, at the same time, so ''experienced'' a viewer that he can comment from outside.

In McGinley's Morrissey photographs, the lighting and coloration is, in large part, the result of the lighting palette chosen by the singer. Pinks, oranges, lurid blues and bright yellows all bathe the audience members during particular tunes and these colors in turn inspire McGinley to look for specific types of audience members. Not surprisingly, most of subjects who end up in his pictures are both completely enraptured by Morrissey's antics while possessing an intrinsic beauty that viewers of McGinley's works will find spellbinding. It is hard to take your eyes off these gorgeous kids who, in turn, are so completely awestruck by their idol.

* David Byrne on the responsibility of the soldier. excerpt:

"Are individual soldiers responsible for their actions? Or are they merely machine parts? 'I was only following orders' is the often heard claim when a soldier who committed a human rights abuse or worse is challenged. It is a way of absolving themselves from responsibility. 'I just drove the train, pushed the button, flew the plane because my commanding officer told me to.' If we follow this argument, it would be the higher-ups who are then always responsible, yes? But the higher-ups will always absolve themselves of responsibility for My Lai, Chechnya and Abu Graib. They’ll always say that those incidents were the work of 'rogue' soldiers, bad apples — or that there were higher-ups yet higher above them who made the order. Or, in the case of Rumsfeld, restructured things to make abuses easier and more likely to happen — and the attendant destruction of civilians and a country. Ultimately, following that logic that makes about 3 or 4 people ultimately responsible, if the buck continues to get passed on up the chain of command. Of course, those 3 or 4 will blame 'faulty intelligence' or try to absolve themselves one way or another, and they usually succeed.

"But what about the hundreds of thousands who simply do as they are ordered and whose actions in some cases destroy a nation, a population, and hundreds of thousands or millions of lives as a result? People whose actions have devastating and long-lasting repercussions? Sometimes they do these things unwittingly, but what I am dealing with here is the question of what happens when they do realize what is happening. Have participants no will of their own? Do they deny that they have free will in this case? Those who make sure the bombers are running smoothly but didn’t actually shoot anyone — are they not as guilty as those who pull the triggers? (Anyone see the footage of U.S. soldiers zapping Iraqis for a lark? It’s typical war stuff, it always happens. They act like they’re playing a video game, vaporizing civilians.)

"Are the guys in the green zone in their air conditioned offices and boozy evenings not as guilty as the grunts who massacre civilians? Don’t they, the officers and bureaucrats, facilitate the dehumanization of the locals, and as a result, the rapid dehumanization of their own soldiers? Those who do as they have been commanded, but abandoned all reason, free will, responsibility and common sense? Do soldiers have no apparent impulse or incentive to think about or question a policy or their own actions? Do none of these folks bear any responsibility for their actions? Will Paul Brenner eventually step forward and say, 'Oh, sorry, it was my fault, hang me too — I caused as many deaths as Sadam' —? Would Rummy take the heat? Will the gang who beat the war drums armed with lies and deception — Wolfowitz, Perle, Armstrong, Rice, Powell etc. — admit they hold responsibility for hundreds of thousands of deaths? Would Jeff Sacks admit he helped deliver the Russian people to the gangsters, KGB and oligarchs? Not likely."

* Keep up with the Food Stuff Consumption And Miscellany
of Automotive Acne.

* For those of you who will be at SXSW. Check out the world premiere of Silver Jew, directed by Michael Tully.

An intimate portrait of reclusive poet/musician David Berman and his band the Silver Jews, in the midst of their first-ever world tour. Berman, his wife Cassie, and the rest of the group traveled to Israel to play two shows and visit Jerusalem.

* "In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress." -- John Adams

February 7, 2007

The high winds scare me but I need the breeze

Jerry McMillan, Ed Ruscha Covered with Twelve of his Books, 1970

-- "Let us first say what photography is not. A photograph is not a painting, a poem, a symphony, a dance. It is not just a pretty picture, not an exercise in contortionist techniques and sheer print quality. It is or should be a significant document, a penetrating statement, which can be described in a very simple term-selectivity." -- Berenice Abbott

Ugly Beauty
-- by Geoff Page

Thelonious Monk

His songs are like an ancient city;
the architecture, strange but useful.
For sixty years the acolytes

have felt their way around these corners,
memorised their sharp left turns,
the streets that break all traffic rules

and leave new ones behind,
the intervals and sequences
stretched along a dark piano

and leaving no instructions.
Titles serve as talismans
to tell them where they’ve been:

'Brilliant Corners,' 'Bemsha Swing;'
or give offbeat advice:
'Straight, No Chaser,' 'Well, You Needn’t.'

A few may be performance markings:
'Misterioso,' 'Trinkle Tinkle.'
One, 'Green Chimneys,' plays a skyline.

'Ruby, My Dear'
and 'Crepuscule with Nellie:'
two loved women make a life.

'Blue Monk', 'Monk’s Dream' are episodes.
So, too, 'Pannonica;'
likewise, 'In Walked Bud.'

'Round Midnight' is a shot of bourbon,
set up on the bar,
a nadir no life quite escapes.

The bar is in the city
they find they’ve come to know;
its street maps and geometries

are nine parts understood.
Resisting all transcription,
the tenth eludes them still.

-- by Todd Swift

Language exceeds light & meat
and other doubtful propositions

that shape neither nature or truth, but
decorate teeth like dazzling gems.

Desperate Young Americans
-- by Denise Duhamel and Stephen Paul Miller

Angela Y. Davis is history’s darling today.
The apple says yes, the artichoke says yay,
when Angela Y. Davis addresses young Democrats
and their yoyos. Yankee Doodles pony up
vapid ditties about yesterday’s baddy supermodel —
oh beautiful, for delicious skin, for amber eye shadow, so vain.
Angie Dickinson yodels to the Danish army.
Angelina Jolie’s giddy. The mayo on her sandwich
is laced with oxycodone. On a Discovery
Channel game show David Arquette yaps on
about dainty yak. Sweaty headgear around Dick Cheney
is brandished audaciously in bastard country clubs.
Social Security draws desperate young Americans,
disenfranchised elderly, dirty dancers, and celebrity dads.
My diaper bag is dowdy. Andy Dick’s diaper bag
holds austerely plaid baby bibs. Cindy Crawford
rocks the academy with a stylish dissertation
and dizzying defense: Dowdy Darlings and Daring Yin.
But Angela delays duplicating her syllabi,
rapidly white-watering on Yosemite, radical.

February 6, 2007

Man of weak flesh in an armored disguise

Jenny Brake, Hopscotch, 2006

* Bush's deficit dance. excerpt:

"Having piled up record deficits, President Bush now promises black ink by 2012 -- three years after he leaves office. The fiscal 2008 budget the president submitted to Congress yesterday shows Mr. Bush's purported path to a $61 billion surplus by 2012. Some of its approaches, particularly the effort to restrain the growth of Medicare through additional means-testing and cutting payments to providers, are commendable; they merit more serious consideration by Congress than they appear destined to receive. The administration also deserves credit for a more candid acknowledgment of the likely cost of the war in Iraq than in budgets past. For the first time, the administration included a realistic estimate of the cost of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for the coming year, $145 billion.

"Yet Mr. Bush's balance is more illusory than real. It ignores known costs such as ameliorating the impact of the alternative minimum tax, which would top $90 billion in 2012 alone; the administration, once again, would simply affix a one-year patch for 2008. It assumes the government will collect far more revenue than the Congressional Budget Office projects, amounting to a $150 billion difference in 2012. No one should start spending Mr. Bush's projected surplus."
"Either way, the money available would increasingly fall behind as the population grows and inflation erodes the funding's purchasing power. A Democratic Congress is not going to accept -- nor should it -- cutting health insurance for low-income children or fuel assistance for the elderly while extending tax cuts for millionaires.

"If Mr. Bush's budget is dead on arrival in this Congress, that increases pressure on the leadership there to come up with its own approach. Democrats have a new responsibility to propose realistic solutions to difficult problems and to demonstrate that they are willing to make the kinds of painful trade-offs for the country's long-term fiscal health that the president, once again, has ducked."

* Short, Chickfactor interview of Dump.

cf: where is my new dump album?
dump: it's not done yet.

cf: what has dump been watching on tv? now that dump is a tv star who has starred on the gilmore girls and the simpsons, what other shows does he want to be on?
dump: I've been watching heroes, the wire, lucky louie, pitagora suichi and talk sex with sue johanson. I wouldn't mind being in the audience of a judge judy.

cf: what is dump eating on the road with his other band?
dump: I've been eating cuban food in miami, somewhere near the corner of stab whitey and kill whitey. bbq from dreamland (the tuscaloosa branch, but delivered to us in birmingham) was stout and soulful. I couldn't find anything to eat in orlando so instead I bought records (eddie bo, skull snaps, chubb rock, beach boys "breakway" 45, released the day I was born!). fried chicken in tallahassee. very good cheeseburger at pete's in knoxville. jonathan marx brought me cookies from nashville's best bakery, becker's.

cf: what does dump download, listen to, watch, whatever, on the internet?
dump: recipes, sports scores, directions, occasionally music, 'can't stop the bleeding,' hardcore pornography, flipper videos on youtube, and streaming wfmu.

cf: where is my dump box set? badges? promotional vinyl carrying case?
dump: I don't know where your dump box set is. same goes for the badges. I don't even know how to address the matter of the promotional vinyl carrying case. those would all be pretty cool, because the first two things could fit inside the third thing, and you could carry them all around like that, and then it'd be really easy to know exactly where they all were. but I haven't made any of those things yet.

cf: why is dump ignoring the fans? when will he deliver the goods?
dump: I'm not ignoring dump fans, quite the contrary. I finally started a dump myspace spage, where I am conversing freely, practically like a normal person. I'm posting new, unreleased and hard-to-find songs there from time to time, as well as original artwork.

* Baltimore-based West Main Development will release Cramped Leisure, the first ep by The Foreign Press, February 27, 2007. You can pre-order now at the West Main Development site.

* "To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music that words make." -- Truman Capote

February 5, 2007

purple words on a gray background

Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park #83, 1975

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

6. The Oil Barons

"But let's be reasonable about this. If the Bush administration imposed mandatory reductions on carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels, the nation's struggling oil companies could face financial ruin. Take Exxon-Mobil, for example, which last week posted an annual profit of just $39.5 billion.

"Now, you might say to yourself, 'Hey, isn't that the largest profit ever posted by any company in the history of the world?' And you'd be right. But think about it. First, it's nice to know that last year's record gas prices didn't go to waste. And second, Exxon-Mobil's profit is still less than half of what George W. Bush wants to spend on sending more troops to Iraq. So it's not that much money really. And if Exxon Mobil had to settle for an annual profit of, say, $20 billion, well then where would we be? I'll tell you where - Commie Town.

"No, it's quite simple. Climate change is already here, we didn't do anything about it until it was too late, and now it is too late, well, why bother? I mean, talk about closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. Sheesh.

"So we might as well just enjoy the time we have left by giving our hard-earned taxes to George W. Bush so that he can keep sending troops to Iraq so that we can protect the interests of the Oil Barons who bring that sweet, sweet crude back to the homeland. Then we can jump in our Hummers and crawl through rush hour to work so that we can give more money to George W. Bush so he can send more troops to Iraq, and so on. It's the circle of life, my friends."

* 2004 Interview of Dean and Britta. excerpt:

Q: You've done several covers of different songs called 'Indian Summer' - one by the Beat Happening with Luna and the one by the Doors that's featured on L'Avventura. Ever played them back to back live?

Britta: No, those songs have remained exclusive to each 'band.'
Dean: It's a good idea though. And there's another song by Lee Hazlewood entitled 'L'Ete Indien' that we could do also.

Q: What attracted you to covering both 'Indian Summers'?
Britta: Dean picked all of the covers.
Dean: The Doors one is easily the best thing on Morrison Hotel. A nice lyric and very nice playing by Robbie Krieger. Both songs are elegantly simple.

Q: 'Night Nurse', the lead track off L'Avventura, is obviously heavily influenced by the old Lee Hazlewood song 'Your Sweet Love'. Can you take us through how 'Night Nurse' came about - did you start with the string sample and go from there?

Britta: The strings were not sampled, they were played on a keyboard and then doubled by Scorchio String Quartet. We started with the drums. Dean and I played bass and guitar along with Matt Johnson, but we ended up replacing our parts. Then Dean added the Omnichord and Tony added the strings. It ended up sounding a lot like a hi-fi version of Dean's home demo.

Q: It seems that Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazlewood and Serge Gainsbourg/Jane Birkin were the leaping off point for L'Avventura. Or were there other duet records that inspired you? Glen Campbell & Bobbie Gentry?

Dean: My parents had the Glen Campbell & Bobbie Gentry album when I was a kid, I'm very fond of it, it's quite similar to the Nancy & Lee sound. Hazlewood actually recorded a version of 'Ode to Billie Joe.'

Q: Have you heard the new Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood record - Nancy and Lee 3?

Dean: I haven't heard it yet, I think it's only been released in Australia. She has another new album of duets out right now. I did get to meet Lee Hazlewood a few years ago, I interviewed him for a U.S. magazine, that was very exciting. I flew down to his place near Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida, and we drank wine and smoked a lot of cigarettes. People told me he would be grumpy, but he wasn't at all.

Q: Dean - your vocal style's been likened to Kermit D. Frog's. Do you appreciate the similarities?

Dean: I think I'm a better singer than Kermit, I know that may sound boastful.

Q: Is it hard being green?

Dean: Again with the Kermit thing...

Q: Why are there so many songs about rainbows and what's on the other side?
Dean: Because life is nasty, brutish and short?

Q: What attracted you to re-designing Madonna's 'I Deserve It'?

Dean: That song by Madonna and Mirwais has several great elements, one of which is a great drum machine pattern. I am a fan of Ray of Light and Music. Though the lyrics can be a little hard to take.

* "As long as the outside does not put a value on you it remains outside but when it does put a value on you then it gets inside or rather if the outside puts a value on you then all your inside gets to be outside." -- Gertrude Stein

February 2, 2007

the flames kept dancing higher

Carrie Moyer, Old Flame, 2006, acrylic on canvas

Greenwich Village Suicide
-- by Gregory Corso

Arms outstretched
hands flat against the windowsides
She looks down
Thinks of Bartok, Van Gogh
And New Yorker cartoons
She falls

They take her away with a Daily News on her face
And a storekeeper throws hot water on the sidewalk

Italian Extravaganza
-- by Gregory Corso

Mrs. Lombardi's month-old son is dead.
I saw it in Rizzo's funeral parlor,
A small purplish wrinkled head.

They've just finished having high mass for it;
They're coming out now
....wow, such a small coffin!
And ten black cadillacs to haul it in.

I Am 25
-- by Gregory Corso

With a love a madness for Shelley
Chatterton Rimbaud
and the needy-yap of my youth
has gone from ear to ear:
Especially old poetmen who retract
who consult other old poetmen
who speak their youth in whispers,
saying:--I did those then
but that was then
that was then--
O I would quiet old men
say to them:--I am your friend
what you once were, thru me
you'll be again--
Then at night in the confidence of their homes
rip out their apology-tongues
and steal their poems.

February 1, 2007

draw sand with your fingers
into circles just for fun

Kristen Schiele, Reach, 2004. Oil on canvas

* RIP, Molly Ivins. excerpt:

"Columnist, best-selling author and partisan wit Molly Ivins died Wednesday after a long and recurring battle with breast cancer.

"She did not confine her humorous skewering to Republicans. She aimed it at wherever she perceived pomposity or wrongdoing.

"Of the Gore-Bush presidential race in 2000 she said, 'It's like having Ted Baxter of the old 'Mary Tyler Moore' show running for president: Gore has Ted's manner and Bush has his brain.'" [read the whole article]

-- related: "There are two kinds of humor," she told People magazine. One was the kind "that makes us chuckle about our foibles and our shared humanity,"
she said. "The other kind holds people up to public contempt and ridicule. That's what I do." -- Molly Ivins

-- Ivins' final column.

* Dumb title for this long, but excellent, article on the failure of the war on drugs. excerpt:

"Thirty-five years into the 'war on drugs,' the United States still has a huge drug abuse problem, with several million problem users of illicit drugs and about 15 million problem users of alcohol. Illicit drug-dealing industries take in about $50 billion per year. Much of the retail drug trade is flagrant, involving either open-air activity or identified, dedicated drug houses. Flagrant dealing creates violence and disorder, wrecking both the neighborhoods where it goes on and the lives of the dealers. Chronic heavy users of expensive illicit drugs steal and deal to finance their habits. Drug injection spreads HIV and hepatitis-C.

"On top of all that, we have a highly intrusive and semi-militarized drug enforcement effort that is often only marginally constitutional and sometimes more than marginally indecent.11. For accounts of the 'epidemic of isolated incidents' in which innocent people have been killed or injured when their homes were wrongly subjected to SWAT-style searches, see Radley Balko, Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America (Cato Institute, 2006). That enforcement effort keeps about 500,000 Americans behind bars at any one time for drug law violations, about 25 percent of the total U.S. prison and jail population. A larger proportion of U.S. residents is doing time for drug law violations than is behind bars for all offenses put together in any country to which we’d like to be compared.

"These are depressing facts that cry out for a radical reform to solve the drug problem once and for all. But the first step toward achieving less awful results is accepting that there is no one “solution” to the drug problem, for essentially three reasons. First, the potential for drug abuse is built into the human brain. Left to their own devices, and subject to the sway of fashion and the blandishments of advertising, many people will wind up ruining their lives and the lives of those around them by falling under the spell of one drug or another. Second, any laws—prohibitions, regulations or taxes—stringent enough to substantially reduce the number of addicts will be defied and evaded, and those who use drugs in defiance of the laws will generally wind up poorer, sicker and more likely to be criminally active than they would otherwise have been. Third, drug law enforcement must be intrusive if it is to be effective, and enterprises created for the expressed purpose of breaking the law naturally tend toward violence because they cannot rely on courts to settle disputes or police to protect them from robbery or extortion."
"Supervising the national drug policy research agenda, and thinking about how to create less disastrous national drug policies, ought to be part of the job of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (the 'drug czar' operation). But instead, that office has been mostly a cheerleader and ideological enforcer, intent on maintaining current ideas and defending the interests of the public and private agencies that provide enforcement, prevention, treatment and drug-testing services. A president who is serious about dealing with the twin problems of drug abuse and drug enforcement, and is prepared to be bold about it, would have to start either by finding smart, knowledgeable, serious and bold people to staff that office—or by getting rid of it entirely. Such a president, alas, is nowhere is sight."

* "One certain effect of war is to diminish freedom of expression." -- Howard Zinn