May 31, 2007

Battle scars from childhood, there's no one to believe

Sara Padgett

* New York Times. in full:

"The Supreme Court struck a blow for discrimination this week by stripping a key civil rights law of much of its potency. The majority opinion, by Justice Samuel Alito, forced an unreasonable reading on the law, and tossed aside longstanding precedents to rule in favor of an Alabama employer that had underpaid a female employee for years. The ruling is the latest indication that a court that once proudly stood up for the disadvantaged is increasingly protective of the powerful.

"Lilly Ledbetter, a supervisor at the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in Gadsden, Ala., sued her employer for paying her less than its male supervisors. At first, her salary was in line with the men’s, but she got smaller raises, which created a significant pay gap. Late in her career, Ms. Ledbetter filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. A jury found that Goodyear violated her rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

"Goodyear argued that she filed her complaint too late and, by a 5-4 margin, the Supreme Court agreed. Title VII requires employees to file within 180 days of 'the alleged unlawful employment practice.' The court calculated the deadline from the day Ms. Ledbetter received her last discriminatory raise. Bizarrely, the majority insisted it did not matter that Goodyear was still paying her far less than her male counterparts when she filed her complaint.

"In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted that there were strong precedents supporting Ms. Ledbetter. The Supreme Court ruled in a similar race discrimination case that each paycheck calculated on the basis of past discrimination is unlawful under Title VII. The courts of appeals have overwhelmingly agreed. So did the E.E.O.C., the agency charged with enforcing Title VII.

"In addition to interpreting the statute unreasonably and ignoring the relevant precedents, the majority blinded itself to the realities of the workplace. Employees generally do not know enough about what their co-workers earn, or how pay decisions are made, to file a complaint precisely when discrimination occurs. At Goodyear, as at many companies, salaries were confidential. The court’s new rules will make it extraordinarily difficult for victims of pay discrimination to sue under Title VII. That is not how Congress intended the law to be enforced, merely how five justices would like it to be.

"It is disturbing that Anthony Kennedy, the court’s swing justice, cast the deciding vote in favor of gutting a key part of the Civil Rights Act. Fortunately, Congress can amend the law to undo this damaging decision. It should do so without delay."

* Listen to the first single from the upcoming (out in September on Hometapes)record, Populations, by The Carribean The Go From Tactical.

* 1966 Brian Wilson doll.

* M.Ward covers some classics, including Pete Townshend's Let My Love Open the Door and Daniel Johnston's Story of an Artist.

May 30, 2007

Bad luck comes in from Tampa

Barry Frydlender, Dream, Sinai 2004

Over The Skyline
-- by Linda Bosson

...a crop-dusting plane that has been reworked
for sky-writing will draw a series of clouds over
the Manhattan skyline.
--The New York Times

Meanwhile an artist in Central Park
makes life-size drawings of trees.
They look exactly like the real ones.
Even the people who picnic beneath them
don't notice the difference.
But are they really people
or someone else’s artwork?

Downtown, two little boys
erect a skyscraper
from Legos, so realistic
that pilots swerve to avoid it.
The pilots, of course,
are simply the word "pilots"
on a piece of yellowed paper.
The paper's an image in your dreams.
And you--you are the child
your parents might have had
if they had ever met.

Ornette Coleman And Thelonious Monk At Dinner
-- by Elizabeth Alexander

When people smoked, and it hung over the table like magic
or like wisps of the talk and the music between them,

chicken bone, the best Chateaux, Coca-Cola in glass, Monk's eyes
cut left, Ornette laughing at something off camera,

safari suit and Savile Row bespoke haberdashery
circa '72 and the black globe is damn near free.

Deep sounds in the cusp and shift, in the sour and the off-notes
you bang and you blow, in the butter, in the biscuits, the bird carcass,

jelly, just what you wanted and all you can eat.

Declaration of Independence
-- by Michael Brownstein

When, in the midst of the thriving alien
Corn of congratulation for clever auspices
To spray out cruel politics like little birds
Set in rows, knocking them and breaking
The backs, just to suck out blood
Of complacency adn dumb wistful resignation
Whose dumpy quality is force-fed inward
Against the natural flow of their actual
Energies all their lives, doubly dizzy
From wheezing through nostrils of boredom
On a vacation isle they fought for frantically
Only to ruin and poison artificially
With plastic clicking hands holding mule-like
Pills of false and clotted rest, then I
Get up much earlier than the rest, and smoke
Under creaking trees shocked by ice,
Lace of sunlight, glittering fir and snow,
Hours of eating from this planet's tasty
Dwindling peace of mind.

May 29, 2007

she's always too high on arrival

Jeff Lipschutz, Chinese-American, 2002

* Austinites turn old mac into a bong. excerpt:

"Giving new meaning to the term high tech, a couple of stoners have turned an old Macintosh into a bong.
'Agapornis' and 'Prozac,' a pair of 29-year-old computer nerds from Austin, Texas, traded chips for hits when they transformed an old all-in-one Mac into a device for smoking marijuana.

"'It has a lilting touch of death-like intoxication,' said Prozac. 'It's treated us well.'

"The Mac Bong, or iBong, is made from a water-filled bong mounted inside an old Mac SE 30. The bowl of the bong protrudes from the front of the computer, just below the screen. The mouthpiece sticks out the back.

"'It looks like any other dingy Mac,' said Prozac. 'But it doesn't draw as much suspicion if you do have to take it outside the house. We haven't taken it to Macworld, but it has been to a couple of computer swap meets. People like it. They laugh. It gets the usual, 'Whoa, dude, that's crazy' reaction. Everyone wants to try it.'

"The iBong delivers a killer hit, according to the pair. After smoking the iBong one evening, Prozac wrote about the experience and posted it online."

* Video for Velvet Underground's After Hours, featuring lots of edie sedgwick footage.

* “Fortunately art is a community effort - a small but select community living in a spiritualized world endeavoring to interpret the wars and the solitudes of the flesh." -- Allen Ginsberg

May 25, 2007

welcome to the house of the bats

Uri Korn, The Bubble, 1994

Poems by Denise Duhamel, from her book The Woman With Two Vaginas, poems based on Eskimo mythology:

Learning How to Make Love

This couple couldn't figure it out.
The man licked his wife's genitals while she stared straight ahead.
The woman poked her husband's testicles with her nose.
The man put his toe in the folds of the woman's vulva.
The woman took the man's penis under her armpit.
Neither one of them wanted to be the first to admit
something was off. So it went on --
the man put his finger in his wife's navel.
The woman batted her eyelashes against the arch of her husband's foot.
They pinched each other's earlobes. They bit each other's rear ends.
To perpetrate the lie, they ended each encounter with a deep sigh.
Then one day while the husband was hunting,
a man stopped by the igloo and said to the wife:
I hear you have been having trouble.
I can show you how to make love.
He took her to bed and left before the husband came home.
Then the wife showed her husband,
careful to make it seem like the idea sprang
from both. After all these years of rubbing one's face against the other's belly
or stroking a male elbow behind a female knee,
this couple had a lot of catching up to do. They couldn't stop to eat or sleep
and grew so skinny they died. No one found them for a long time.
And by then, their two skeletons were fused into one.


There was a husband who married a wife he found so beautiful
that his penis was in a state of constant arousal.
His wife was delicate and needed her sleep, but the needy penis
kept after her night and day. She served her husband dinner
and he wanted to have sex. Her shoulder brushed his as she passed
in the igloo's passage way and he wanted to have sex again.
He often woke her up in the middle of the night, his hard penis
nudging against her soft thigh.
Soon he'd rubbed inside her so many times, that her vagina
wore away. The husband didn't see his mistake
and stroked his penis between her knees until his wife had no more legs.
He used up her belly and her arms. Her breasts were next
to disappear. When nothing was left that he could touch,
Him-Whose-Penis-Never-Slept ejaculated into his wife's shadow.
It vanished, his semen a liquid ghost dripping down a lonely snow wall.


She wasn't a giant. And no, her vagina
didn't have teeth. Instead it was like a hollow snake
able to swallow whole big things.
This woman's vagina didn't lead, like others,
to a womb. Instead its slippery path
pulled men like metal right to her magnet stomach.
There, the men churned with blubber and seal meat
she'd recently eaten. Other women looked for the remnants
of their missing husbands in the shit
of Her-Whose-Vagina-Ate-Men. Sometimes,
a gold tooth, an unmistakable button.
Widows didn't cry much. They knew
a stray husband was worth less than a dog --
which wives could at least have for supper
if they grew hungry enough.

The Woman With Two Vaginas

The woman with two vaginas tried her best
to hide them from her husband. It was difficult
because her vaginas weren't in the usual place

but in the palms of her hands. To distract her husband,
she tickled his penis with her nipple,
or she took him into her backside.

She had traveled far, from a place she preferred
not to talk about, and her husband assumed
she learned her sexual practices there. He was happy

until he discovered his wife
pissing through her fingers, as though she were trying
to cup running water. He wished

that he didn't know what he then knew --
that his sexy young wife was also a ghost.
This was no time for sentimental lust --

a ghost can only bring loneliness to a snow hut.
So he strapped his wife into his kayak
and deposited her on an ice-floe far from home.

He told her to go back to the Land of the Dead,
but she was trapped like a moving shadow
that was neither here nor there. Some say

they still hear her sobbing: "My husband
will not have me! My husband will not have me!"
But she has no way of knowing how he misses her

twin vaginas, how he tries his best to
hide it from his new wife -- yet the village is small,
the gossip as fast as wind during a storm.

It's said he makes his new wife slap his face,
to feel the warm tingle of her fingers,
that he then cries out into her barren palms.

May 24, 2007

There are only moments

Anthony Barboza, James Baldwin, NYC, 1975

* NYT on Goodling testomony. excerpt:

"It would have been naïve to think that Monica Goodling, a right-wing true believer and onetime Republican opposition researcher, was going to blow the whistle on the United States attorney scandal. But Ms. Goodling made some disturbing admissions yesterday, even as she strained to present every fact in the most favorable light to her Bush administration allies and claimed convenient memory lapses. Ms. Goodling admitted to politicizing the Justice Department in ways that certainly seem illegal; she made clear that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales lied at a critical point in the investigation; and she gave Congress all the reason it needs to compel Karl Rove and Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel, to testify about what they know.

"In her testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, Ms. Goodling removed all doubt about whether partisan politics infected the Justice Department’s treatment of federal prosecutors. She admitted that she investigated the party affiliations, and even campaign contributions, of applicants for prosecutor, and other nonpolitical jobs. 'I know I crossed the line,' she said of her actions, which may have violated federal law. Her admission that partisan politics was used to hire people only makes it more likely that it was also used to fire people."
"Ms. Goodling was an odd witness. She was one of the most powerful officials in the Justice Department, but claimed to be a minor player who barely knew what was going on around her. 'At heart, I am a fairly quiet girl, who tries to do the right thing and tries to treat people kindly along the way,' said the 33-year-old Ms. Goodling. She presented herself as an innocent, yet testified only under immunity and admitted to apparently illegal practices.

"The only people odder than Ms. Goodling were the House Republicans who rushed to praise her. Even in these partisan times, a Justice Department official who admitted to her level of wrongdoing ought to draw bipartisan condemnation.

"As with other witnesses, notably Mr. Gonzales, Ms. Goodling’s memory lapses were not credible. On questions that made her uncomfortable, the past was a blur. But on others, her recall was remarkable, as when she denied misinforming Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty about the dismissal of the attorneys before he testified to Congress."
"Ms. Goodling made clear that the Justice Department was shamefully politicized. Congress needs to find out how far it went, and who was involved. Then it can begin the long and difficult process of trying to restore the department’s integrity and reputation."

* Not Surprising: Lots of Moms smoke pot. excerpt:

"A number of mothers in the Phoenix area admit they use marijuana to wind down after a long day, television station KPHO reported.

"Shay Pausa surveyed hundreds of mothers through her Web site, She targeted women in affluent suburban areas.

"'These were middle to upper-middle class women, professional women, mommies. We had some that were members of the PTA and one school teacher even reported,' Pausa said.

"They're women like Jan, who's 30 and has one child.

"'I like it just to relax, if I'm very stressed out and I just need some time, just to relax. It's good for that,' Jan said."

"Sue is 37 and has two kids.

"'But I've also used it for headaches. I've used it when I've been sick with the stomach flu, when I've been really nauseous and, I mean, I need to function. So it's in my medicine cabinet,' Sue said.

"Of the hundreds of mothers Pausa surveyed, 52 percent said they smoke pot at least 10 times a year.

"Twenty-seven percent said they smoke it one to seven times a week."

-- related: Forbes' Magazine slideshow: Most exotic types of pot.

* Bird's eye view of Michael Jordan's home.

* "Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen." -- Robert Bresson

May 23, 2007

I have no use for their rewards

Jason Gubbiotti, Traditional Sunset Circumcision, 2006

Instructions for Angels
- by Kenneth Patchen

Take the useful events
For your tall.
Red mouth.
Blue weather.
To hell with power and hate and war

The mouth of a pretty girl...
The weather in the highest soul...
Put the tips of your fingers
On a baby man;
Teach him to be beautiful.
To hell with power and hate and war

Tell God that we like
The rain, and snow, and flowers,
And trees, and all things gentle and clean
That have growth on the earth.
White winds.
Golden fields.
To hell with power and hate and war.

The Origin of Baseball
-- by Kenneth Patchen

Someone had been walking in and out
Of the world without coming
To much of a decision about anything.
The sun seemed too hot most of the time.
There weren't enough birds around
And the hills had a silly look
When he got on top of one.
The girls in heaven, however, thought
Nothing of asking to see his watch
Like you would want someone to tell
A joke --"Time," they'd say, "what's
That mean --time," laughing with the edges
Of their white mouths, like a flutter of paper
In a madhouse. And he'd stumble over
General Sherman or Elizabeth B.
Browning, muttering, "Can't you keep
Your big wings out of the aisle?" But down
Again, there'd be millions of people without
Enough to eat and men with guns just
Standing there shooting each other.

So he wanted to throw something
And he picked up a baseball.

Nuremberg, U.S.A.
-- by Bill Knott

In this time and place, where "Bread and Circuses" has
become "Bread and Atrocities," to say 'I love you' is
like saying the latest propaganda phrase...'defoliation'...
'low yield blast'.
If bombing children is preserving peace, then
my fucking you is a war-crime.

(End) of Summer (1966)
-- by Bill Knott

I'm tired of murdering children.
Once, long ago today, they wanted to live;
now I feel Vietnam the place
where rigor mortis is beginning to set-in upon me.

I force silence down the throats of mutes,
down the throats of mating-cries of animals who know they are extinct.
The chameleon's death-soliloquy is your voice's pulse;
your scorched forehead a constellation's suicide-note.

A phonograph needle plunges through long black hair,
and stone drips slowly into our veins.
The earth has been squandered by the meek.
And upsidedown in the earth a dead man walks upon my soles when I walk

A baby is crying.
In the swaddling-pages
a baby.

'Don't cry. No Solomori's-sword can
divide you from the sky.
You are one. Fly.'

I'm tired, so tired.
I have sleep to do.
I have work to dream.

May 22, 2007

The louder they come
The bigger they crack
Come now, sweet cream
Don't forget to flash

Bridget Riley, Blaze 3, 1963

* US Government trying to seize new Michael Moore film. excerpt:

"Cannes is smacking its lips in anticipation of filmmaker and provocateur Michael Moore's latest jeremiad against the US administration, which receives its premiere at the film festival today. Sicko, a documentary tackling the state of American healthcare, focuses on the pharmaceutical giants, and particularly on health insurers.

"The film has already caused Moore - who won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 2004 with Fahrenheit 911 - to clash with the American authorities. Now, according to movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, whose Weinstein Company is behind the film, the US government is attempting to impound the negative.

"According to Weinstein, the US Treasury's moves meant 'we had to fly the movie to another country'- he would not say to where. 'Let the secret service find that out - though this is the same country that thought there were weapons of mass destruction, so they'll never find it.' He added that he feared that if the film were impounded, there might be attempts to cut some footage, in particular the last 20 minutes, which related to a trip to Cuba. This, said Weinstein, 'would not be good.'

"In March, Moore travelled to the Caribbean island with a group of emergency workers from New York's Ground Zero to see whether they would receive better care under the Castro regime than they had under George Bush. He had applied for permission to travel in October 2006 and received no reply.

"In a letter dated May 2, the treasury department notified Moore that it was investigating him for unlicensed travel to Cuba, or, as the missive put it, engaging in 'travel-related transactions involving Cuba.'

"Now team Moore is hitting back. Weinstein has hired an attorney, David Boies, who has lodged a request under the US freedom of information act to find out what motivated the treasury to begin its investigation. 'They have to tell us why they did it and what they did,' said Weinstein. 'And they are not too happy about it.'

"Weinstein believes the investigation has a political agenda. 'We want to find out who motivated this. We suspect there may be interference from another office,' he said. 'Otherwise, I don't understand why this would have come about.'"
"Moore's underlying thesis in Sicko relates to the structure of American society. 'Others see themselves as a collective that sinks or swims together,' he told Variety.

"'It's important to have a safety net and free universal health care. In America, unfortunately, we're more focused on what's in it for me. It's every man for himself. If you're sick and have lost a job, it's not my problem. Don't bother me.'

"The insurance companies are a negative force, he believes. 'They get in the way of taking care of those who are ill. They make it worse. We don't need them,' he said."

* The release event for Soft Targets v.2.1., a handheld journal of poetry, artwork, theory, and fiction will be held at:

The Kitchen, NYC
512 West 19th Street
Wednesday, May 30th
7pm, FREE

Please join the publishers for readings and performances by Kalup Linzy, Gary Lutz, Ariana Reines, and Mick Barr as Octis.

SOFT TARGETS v.2.1 features contributions from Alain Badiou, John Waters, Zoe Leonard, Yto Barrada, Jean-Jacques Schuhl, James Tate, Alexander Kluge, Christian Marclay, Tatiana Trouvé, Paris-based political collective TIQQUN, Chris Marker, Ben Lerner, Arno Schmidt, Roberto Bolaño, Lisa Jarnot, and RAQS Media Collective, among others. 256pp, w/ color illustrations throughout; dusty pink cover.

* The greatest long tracking shots in cinema.

* "Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law,’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual." -- Thomas Jefferson

May 21, 2007

you say it's your birthday
it's my birthday too

Bob Gruen, Patti Smith On Knees, Central Park 1976

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"8. Paul Wolfowitz

"Last week World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz began to 'negotiate the terms under which he would resign, in return for the bank dropping or softening the charge that he had engaged in misconduct,' according to the New York Times. Now it turns out that Wolfowitz will happily resign on June 30, provided that the World Bank says he didn't do anything wrong when he gave his girlfriend a promotion and a fat pay raise.

"That might sound dubious, but it's not. See, George W. Bush explained the situation last week when he said, 'All I can tell you is Paul Wolfowitz has an interest in what's best for the bank.'

"Sure, Wolfowitz has admitted he made a mistake when, shortly after becoming president of the World Bank, he helped his girlfriend to get a cushy job at the State Department while keeping her on the Bank's payroll. And he may certainly regret increasing her salary to $193,590, which is more than the Secretary of State earns. And yes, despite the fact that the Bank's board wanted his ass out of there, he refused to step down unless they cleared him of all wrongdoing (not to mention give him a nice severance package).

"But let's be fair - he was just doing what's best for the World Bank."

* Former president Carter slams Bush. excerpt:

"Former president Jimmy Carter called President Bush's international relations 'the worst in history' and also took aim at Bush's environmental policies and the administration's 'quite disturbing' faith-based initiative program.

"The criticism came in an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, which reported Carter's remarks Saturday. The denunciation of a sitting president was unprecedented for Carter, a biographer said.

"The former president also lashed out at British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Asked by BBC Radio how he would judge Blair's support of Bush, Carter said: 'Abominable. Loyal. Blind. Apparently subservient. And I think the almost undeviating support by Great Britain for the ill-advised policies of President Bush in Iraq have been a major tragedy for the world."
"Carter said that Bush's policy of preemptive war, "where we go to war with another nation militarily, even though our own security is not directly threatened," was "a radical departure from all previous administration policies."

"Carter also offered a harsh assessment for the White House's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, which helps religious charities receive billions in federal grants.

"'As a traditional Baptist, I've always believed in separation of church and state and honored that premise when I was president, and so have all other presidents, I might say, except this one,' he said."

* From an Index interview of Bijou Phillips, daughter of John Phillips:

BRUCE: It says in the book that Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall were baby-sitting you once when your parents were going through heroin withdrawal, and Mick and Jerry wouldn't give you back to them because they were too fucked up. And then your father tried to burn down his own house. Do you remember that?

BIJOU: No. I was only three. My dad went to jail at the time, and no one would give my mom money.

BRUCE: But she had lots of rich, celebrity friends.

BIJOU: My parents fucked so many people over that no one wanted to talk to either of them. Me and my mom ended up sleeping on the street.

BRUCE: You weren't sleeping on the street!

BIJOU: Yeah, we slept on the street a couple of nights, in doorways. And we had to steal food.

BRUCE: I read that your dad was a real grifter.

BIJOU: At one point, he bought a drugstore so he wouldn't have to cop on the street anymore.

BRUCE: And before he became famous he was a mailman, but he was too lazy to deliver the mail so he'd just throw it away.

BIJOU: He's just dumb.
BRUCE: You came to New York when you were fourteen. Sleuth says that you pretended to have a heroin habit so you could go to rehab to get away from your parents.

BIJOU: Okay, here's what happened. I had gotten a hold of my dad's credit card when I was fourteen, and I started buying all this stuff. I would have food delivered and furniture delivered, and I charged about ten grand on the card and no one did anything for six months. I hadn't tried heroin because I've always been kind of scared of it, and then one day a friend of mine was in town from L.A. and I hung out with him. He had some China dust and I snorted some of it. I'd taken E earlier with this other friend — I was really into drugs at the time — and then I went over to another friend's hotel room, and his friend had just flown in from L.A. with a gigantic chunk of Mexican tar.

BRUCE: Is that heroin?

BIJOU: Yeah, New York is powder and here in L.A. we smoke it. So we smoked the heroin for three days in the hotel room. I smoked a bunch of it and I passed out for a day. Then I woke up and we went to Central Park to ride on the Carousel.
BRUCE: Now, according to Celebrity Sleuth, Lemon Dando — I mean, Evan Dando — deflowered you. T or F?

BIJOU: Basically, yeah. We'd been going out for about two weeks, and then I threw a barbell out a window and almost hit Anna Sui in the head.
BRUCE: [laughing] Almost!

BIJOU: And he had a heart attack, like freaked out and got so mad at me. 'You could have killed somebody! You can't just throw a barbell from the twentieth floor in New York City! You just can't do that!' Then he calmed down and we were making out, and he said, 'Should we have sex?' and I was like, 'Um, I guess.'

BRUCE: And you were how old?

BIJOU: I was sixteen. Or was I fifteen?

BRUCE: You could've busted him.

BIJOU: And then he dumped me four days later.

BRUCE: [whispering] Was it ... you know, big?

BIJOU: No. And it was over in about five seconds. I was like, 'That's it? Isn't it supposed to last longer?' And he said, 'Well, I was really excited.' I said, 'Yeah, the barbell must have really worked you up.' And he dumped me four days later.

BRUCE: Was he a jerk?

BIJOU: Afterwards, yeah. At first he was like, 'God, I love you, I want to marry you.' And I was just naive. But he was a rock star, and I had this daddy thing. I thought I could make my dad jealous if I was dating a cute young rock star.

* "Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious." -- Oscar Wilde

* Others born today.

May 18, 2007

Everybody's trying to make us
Another century of fakers

Maurício Nogueira Lima, Rhythmic Object 2 (second version), 1953

Poems by Kenneth Patchen:

The Way Men Live Is a Lie

The way men live is a lie.
I say that I get so goddamned sick
Of all these pigs rooting at eachother's asses
To get a bloodstained dollar-Why don't
You stop this senseless horror! this meaningless
Butchery of one another! Why dont you at least
Wash your hands of it!

There is only one truth in the world:
Until we learn to love our neighbor,
there will be no life for anyone.

The man who says, 'I don't believe in war,
But after all somebody must protect us'-
Is obviously a fool-and a liar.
Is this so hard to understand!
That who supports murder, is a murderer?
That who destroys his fellow, destroys himself?

Force cannot be overthrown by force;
To hate any man is to despair of every man:
Evil breeds evil-the rest is a lie!

There is only one power that can save the world-
And that is the power of our love for all men everywhere.

A Vision for the People of America

The poets with death on their tongues shall come to address you.

The fat nonsense will end.
You will drown in your rot.

The poets with death on their tongues shall come to address you.

The slimy hypocrisy will end.
You will go down in your filth.

O the poets with death on their tongues shall come to address you.

What There Is

In this my green world
Flowers birds are hands
They hold me
I am loved all day

All this pleases me
I am amused
I have to laugh from crying
Trees mountains are arms
I am loved all day

Children grass are tears

I cry
I am loved all day
Pompous makes me laugh
I am amused often enough
In this
My beautiful green world

There’s love all day

May 17, 2007

Stunning bureaucrat you're so fucking lost
Signing the letters and cutting the costs

Barnaby Furnas, John Brown, 2005

* New York Times: Mr. Gonzales’s Incredible Adventure. excerpt:

"There were many fascinating threads to the testimony on Tuesday by the former deputy attorney general, James Comey, who described the night in March 2004 when two top White House officials tried to pressure an ailing and hospitalized Attorney General John Ashcroft into endorsing President Bush’s illegal wiretapping operation.

"But the really big question, an urgent avenue for investigation, is what exactly the National Security Agency was doing before that night, under Mr. Bush’s personal orders. Did Mr. Bush start by authorizing the agency to intercept domestic e-mails and telephone calls without first getting a warrant?

"Mr. Bush has acknowledged authorizing surveillance without a court order of communications between people abroad and people in the United States. That alone violates the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Domestic spying without a warrant would be an even more grievous offense.

"The question cannot be answered because Mr. Bush is hiding so much about the program. But whatever was going on, it so alarmed Mr. Comey and F.B.I. Director Robert Mueller that they sped to the hospital, roused the barely conscious Mr. Ashcroft and got him ready to fend off the White House chief of staff, Andrew Card, and Mr. Bush’s counsel, Alberto Gonzales. There are clues in Mr. Comey’s testimony and in earlier testimony by Mr. Gonzales, Mr. Ashcroft’s successor, that suggest that Mr. Bush initially ordered broader surveillance than he and his aides have acknowledged.

"Mr. Comey said the bizarre events in Mr. Ashcroft’s hospital room were precipitated by a White House request that the Justice Department sign off on a continuation of the eavesdropping, which started in October 2001. Mr. Comey, who was acting attorney general while Mr. Ashcroft was ill, refused. Mr. Comey said his staff had reviewed the program as it was then being run and believed it was illegal.

"So someone at the White House (and Americans need to know who) dispatched Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Card to Mr. Ashcroft’s hospital bed. Mr. Ashcroft flatly refused to endorse the program, Mr. Comey said. Later, he said, Mr. Bush agreed to change the wiretapping in ways that enabled Justice to provide a legal rationale. Mr. Comey would not say why he opposed the original program — which remains secret — or how it was changed.
"While testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in February 2006, Mr. Gonzales was asked if Mr. Comey had expressed reservations about the eavesdropping program. Mr. Gonzales replied, 'There has not been any serious disagreement about the program that the president has confirmed.' By that, he must have meant the program that included modifications made after the hospital visit and after Mr. Comey’s meeting with Mr. Bush.
"The Republican-controlled Congress did a disservice to the nation by refusing to hold Mr. Bush to account for the illegal wiretapping. The current Congress should resume a vigorous investigation of this egregious abuse of power."

* John Phillips' She's Just 14.

One reviewer claims "John recorded a song called ‘she's just 14’ that was inspired by trying to kick a bathroom door in at a party because inside that bathroom Mick Jagger was fucking his fourteen year old daughter Mackenzie." another reviewer claims Mackenzie was 18 when she and Mick got together, noting that Mick had told her at the outset of the liaison he'd been waiting for this moment since she'd been ten.

Regardless, the band on the recorded track included keith richards, mick taylor, ron wood and the production was by keith and mr jagger himself. John recorded a whole album with the Stones but it wasn't released until fairly recently, as Pay Pack and Follow.

* "I'm worried that students will take their obedient place in society and look to become successful cogs in the wheel - let the wheel spin them around as it wants without taking a look at what they're doing. I'm concerned that students not become passive acceptors of the official doctrine that's handed down to them from the White House, the media, textbooks, teachers and preachers." -- Howard Zinn

* In DC? Tonight at The Red and The Black (1212 H Street NE): The Foreign Press, with Hammer No More the Fingers (North Carolina) and Barkitechture (Arlington). 9pm. $8.

May 16, 2007

Drink the long draught
for the Hip Priest

Kenneth Patchen, What Eternity Is

-- by Louise Gluck

A man and a woman lie on a white bed.
It is morning. I think
Soon they will waken.
On the bedside table is a vase
of lilies; sunlight
pools in their throats.
I watch him turn to her
as though to speak her name
but silently, deep in her mouth--
At the window ledge,
once, twice,
a bird calls.
And then she stirs; her body
fills with his breath.

I open my eyes; you are watching me.
Almost over this room
the sun is gliding.
Look at your face, you say,
holding your own close to me
to make a mirror.
How calm you are. And the burning wheel
passes gently over us.

She Is the Prettiest of Creatures
-- by Kenneth Patchen

She is the prettiest of creatures
All like a queen is she
I have made a paper wheel
And I pin it to her dress

We lie together

And it is as nice as music
When you are half-asleep
And then we want to cry because
We are so clean and warm
And sometimes it is raining
And the little drops scuttle
Like the feet of angels on the roof

I have made this poem tonight
And I pin it in her hair
For she is the prettiest of creatures
O all like a strange queen is she

The Character of Love Seen As
A Search for the Lost

-- by Kenneth Patchen

You, the woman; I, the man; this, the world:
And each is the work of all.

There is the muffled step in the snow; the stranger;
The crippled wren; the nun; the dancer; the angel's wing
over the walkers in the village; and there are
many beautiful arms about us and the things we know.

See how those stars tramp over heaven on their sticks
Of ancient light: with what simplicity that blue
Takes eternity into the quiet cave of God, where Caesar
And Socrates, like primitive paintings on a wall,
Look, with idiot eyes, on the world where we two are.

You, the sought for; I, the seeker; this, the search:
And each is the mission of all.

For greatness is only the drayhorse that coaxes
The built cart out; and where we go is reason.
But genius is an enormous littleness, a trickling
Of heart that covers alike the hare and the hunter.
How smoothly, like the sleep of a flower, love,
The grassy wind moves over night’s tense meadow:
See how the great wooden eyes of the forest
Stare upon the architecture of our innocence.

You, the village; I, the stranger; this, the road:
And each is the work of all.

Then, not that man do more, or stop pity; but that he be
Wider in living; that all his cities fly a clean flag. . .
We have been alone too long, love; it is terribly late
For the pierced feet on the water and we must not die now.

Have you wondered why all the windows in heaven were broken?
Have you seen the homeless in the open grave of God’s hand?
Do you want to acquaint the larks with the fatuous music of war?

There is the muffled step in the snow; the stranger;
The crippled wren; the nun; the dancer; the angel's wing
Over the walkers in the village; and there are
Many desperate arms about us and the things we know.

The Sea Is Awash with Roses
-- Kenneth Patchen

The sea is awash with roses O they blow
Upon the land

The still hills fill with their scent
O the hills flow on their sweetness
As on God’s hand

O love, it is so little we know of pleasure
Pleasure that lasts as the snow

But the sea is awash with roses O they blow
Upon the land

May 15, 2007

Out of my brain on the five fifteen

Sarah Morris, Mandalay Bay (Las Vegas), 1999

* Oversight: the Bush Administration way. excerpt:

"The White House's Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has been an open joke ever since it was launched as a result of a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission's 2004 report. The panel was supposed to keep a sharp eye on the government's possible infringement on citizens' civil liberties. But it turns out that it's a bigger joke than people even realized.

"Yesterday, one of the board's five handpicked members, Lanny Davis, resigned. Davis, a former Clinton White House official, left over "administration attempts to control the panel’s agenda and edit its public statements."

"Now, we already knew that the board had virtually no power or independence. Here's how Justin described it last November:

The board can't demand documents; it can't force bureaucrats who actually implement the program -- and who might be aware of malfeasance -- to speak with them under oath. Instead, its sole and complete authority is to take the administration at its word.

"But apparently even this powerless watchdog was too much of a threat to the White House. According to The Washington Post, the White House 'made more than 200 revisions' to the board's annual report to Congress this April, some of them deletions of entire passages.

Like, for instance:

Davis charged that the White House sought to remove an extensive discussion of recent findings by the Justice Department’s inspector general of FBI abuses in the uses of so-called 'national security letters' to obtain personal data on U.S. citizens without a court order. He also charged that the White House counsel’s office wanted to strike language stating that the panel planned to investigate complaints from civil liberties groups that the Justice Department had improperly used a 'material witness statute' to lock up terror suspects for lengthy periods of time without charging them with any crimes.

"And the reason for striking the passage about the 'material witness statute'?

"Chairman Carol E. Dinkins told board members March 29 that the White House counsel's office had asked to delete the passage, fearing the revelation might inflame the ongoing political controversy over the administration's dismissal of nine U.S. attorneys.

"OK, so the White House deleted two passages. The first was a discussion of an already completed investigation, the results of which had already been made public. Presumably the White House didn't want to reopen old wounds. The second was spiked because it was inconvenient from a PR perspective. You get the picture."

* How cell phones help fishermen. excerpt:

"You are a fisherman off the coast of northern Kerala, a region in the south of India. Visiting your usual fishing ground, you bring in an unusually good catch of sardines. That means other fishermen in the area will probably have done well too, so there will be plenty of supply at the local beach market: prices will be low, and you may not even be able to sell your catch. Should you head for the usual market anyway, or should you go down the coast in the hope that fishermen in that area will not have done so well and your fish will fetch a better price? If you make the wrong choice you cannot visit another market because fuel is costly and each market is open for only a couple of hours before dawn—and it takes that long for your boat to putter from one to the next. Since fish are perishable, any that cannot be sold will have to be dumped into the sea.

"This, in a nutshell, was the situation facing Kerala's fishermen until 1997.
"But starting in 1997 mobile phones were introduced in Kerala. Since coverage spread gradually, this provided an ideal way to gauge the effect of mobile phones on the fishermen's behaviour, the price of fish, and the amount of waste. For many years, anecdotes have abounded about the ways in which mobile phones promote more efficient markets and encourage economic activity. One particularly popular tale is that of the fisherman who is able to call several nearby markets from his boat to establish where his catch will fetch the highest price. Mr Jensen's paper adds some numbers to the familiar stories and shows precisely how mobile phones support economic growth.

"As phone coverage spread between 1997 and 2000, fishermen started to buy phones and use them to call coastal markets while still at sea. (The area of coverage reaches 20-25km off the coast.) Instead of selling their fish at beach auctions, the fishermen would call around to find the best price. Dividing the coast into three regions, Mr Jensen found that the proportion of fishermen who ventured beyond their home markets to sell their catches jumped from zero to around 35% as soon as coverage became available in each region. At that point, no fish were wasted and the variation in prices fell dramatically. By the end of the study coverage was available in all three regions. Waste had been eliminated and the 'law of one price'—the idea that in an efficient market identical goods should cost the same—had come into effect, in the form of a single rate for sardines along the coast.

"This more efficient market benefited everyone. Fishermen's profits rose by 8% on average and consumer prices fell by 4% on average. Higher profits meant the phones typically paid for themselves within two months. And the benefits are enduring, rather than one-off. All of this, says Mr Jensen, shows the importance of the free flow of information to ensure that markets work efficiently. 'Information makes markets work, and markets improve welfare,' he concludes."

* John Phillips' Topanga Canyon, a great California country song about scoring from one's man.

* "Even in the valley of the shadow of death, two and two do not make six." -- Leo Tolstoy

May 14, 2007

I join the multitudes...
I raise my hand in peace
I never bow to the laws of the thought police

David Dees, Butcher

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

7. Jethro Monestime

"A few weeks ago Jethro Monestime, who until recently worked at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, decided to play a hilarious prank by downloading a verse from the Old Testament book of Leviticus onto his cellphone and then broadcasting it over the airport's PA system.

"The verse in question was this one: 'V'et zachar lo tishkav mishk'vey eeshah toeyvah hee.' In case you don't speak Hebrew, conservative Christians have translated this verse to mean, 'Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.' It's their favorite passage to point to when claiming that homosexuality is forbidden by the Bible. (Of course they also forget to mention that the book of Leviticus also says that eating shellfish is an abomination, slavery is a-ok, shaving is a no-no, and children who curse their mothers or fathers should be put to death.)

"If you want to find out everything that's wrong with that particular Bible verse, click here. But obviously Mr. Monestime's intention was clear - he wanted to publicly broadcast his bigotry. I'm sorry - I mean, he wanted to play a hilarious prank. Which would be only be found funny by other bigots.

"And so he did! And then he got fired. What a shame.

"Mind you, expect complaints from Pat Robertson and co. over Jethro's firing. I can see it now... How dare this man get fired for broadcasting a passage from the Bible over the PA system! Is nothing sacred any more? This is a Christian country! Getting Jethro Monestime fired is all part of the liberal atheists' War On Broadcasting Biblical Passages Over Airport PA Systems!"

* Top ten building implosions (with video).

* Stereogab's commentary published in Examiner. excerpt:

"A new relationship is developing between Congress and its constituents. As the Internet transforms Web users into politically savvy watchdogs, Congress has an opportunity to earn the public’s trust.

"Americans care about the way their country is run and want to actively participate in political processes, to help public policy and legislation more closely match their values and civic needs.

"The same citizens who contribute increasingly personalized content in blogs, commercial Web sites, and online forums to make informed decisions about their consumer purchases are also more interested in contributing to our legislative dialogue. But, they are too often met with red tape and blockades to congressional information.

"A more dynamic and productive relationship will arise between Americans and Congress when both recognize that they have a shared interest in creating a more transparent legislature.
"It is in this spirit that the Sunlight Foundation recently launched the Open House Project — a collaborative and bipartisan effort to suggest attainable, straightforward reforms to promote public access to the House of Representatives.

"The Open House Project today released its first report of transparency reform recommendations, which were informed by a united coalition of participants from left and right with substantial backgrounds in media, government, information technology, blogging, and public policy."
"We encourage a dialogue on the recommendations on our Web site, the, and also urge Congress to begin work on these reforms immediately.

"The Open House Project will hold Congress to its stated commitment to creating meaningful transparency. We recognize the obstacles to implementing all our recommendations, but these improvements can happen with a sustained, administrative commitment — the necessary response to the increased public pressure, the opportunities presented by the Internet, and the bipartisan support for transparency reform.

"Together, we are opening the house."

-- related: Video promo for Open House Project using music by Leafy Green.

* "A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it." -- Oscar Wilde

May 11, 2007

Goin to the movies
I found a shelter from the sun

André Ethier, Untitled, 2005

The Fox Explains The Dream of Foxes
-- by Hannah Craig

The women have come through the field,
one line for milk, another for flour.
They were told to wait there
for an hour, maybe two—
that was days ago. Some stand
but others sink back onto their heels.

There are dogs out there in the grasslands—
at the edge of the circle, grinning, baring their teeth.
But the women, too, could chew on rawhide,
could murder, give chase, devour anything
that moves. They could round out each
of a dozen solitary paths across the world—
meet in a great, physical hunt, get down on all fours
in the dust. I mean. In theory they could.

There's no fur on the ground—
but the women leave their hair behind them,
a few strands floating from a comb,
some stuck to a collar, a blanket, a sheet.
The art of clinging evolves as such,
to avoid the appearance of intent.
The women leave little red purses
behind them, beads, worn places
in the grass.

You think there's no shame in waiting?
Someone will come to assign you
a can of soup, a jar of rice. Someone
will let you be human, or send you
to the dogs. But love is subservient to need.
And the field is not peace; rich soil
is fed by blood, good fruit by toil and pain

-- by H.D.
O wind, rend open the heat,
cut apart the heat,
rend it to tatters.

Fruit cannot drop
through this thick air--
fruit cannot fall into heat
that presses up and blunts
the points of pears
and rounds the grapes.

Cut the heat--
plough through it,
turning it on either side
of your path.

Thing Language
-- by Jack Spicer

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

-- by Frank Stanford

The maid used to pull the drapes
So I could see dust

When it didn't rain
I bought gum and worked in the boat
There was a locked up shack down the road
With a stack of records in the bedroom

We could tell when strangers were around
From what they drank

The girls waited in the orchards
There was no need to lie

May 10, 2007

she was dancing so hard
she danced herself into a diamond

Tom McGrath, TBT (Dusk Grid), 2007, oil on canvas over panel

* From Harper's June 2007:

-- Rank of New Orleans among cities with the highest per-capita murder rate last year: 1

-- Portion of all Internet traffic today that is file sharing of music, films, and videos: 2/3

-- Amount Lockheed Martin has spent so far on Polecat, a new unmanned stealth aircraft: $27,000,000

-- Date on which the only prototype crashed when the self-destruct mode was accidentally activated: 12/18/06

-- Number of the sixteen states of the South where more than 25 percent of adults are clinically obese: 12

-- Percentage change since 1900 in Americans' average leisure time: 0

* Oh Rudy: Guiliani went to bat for the Yanks, and look what he scored. excerpt [it's long but worth the read]:

"The greatest love affair of Rudy Giuliani's life has become a sordid scandal.
His monogamous embrace of the Yankees as mayor was so fervent that when he tried to deliver a West Side stadium to them early in his administration, or approved a last-minute $400 million subsidy for their new Bronx stadium, New Yorkers blithely ascribed the bad deals to a heaving heart.

"It turns out he also had an outstretched hand.

"Sports fans grew accustomed to seeing Giuliani, in Yankee jacket and cap, within camera view of the team's dugout at every one of the 40 postseason home games the Yankees played while he was mayor. His devotion reached such heights that at the 1995 Inner Circle press dinner, he played himself handing the city over to George Steinbrenner in a lampoon version of the Broadway musical Damn Yankees, succumbing to a scantily clad Lola who importuned him on behalf of the Boss to the tune of 'Whatever Lola Wants (Lola Gets).' Mike Bloomberg understood years later that the song was no joke; he nixed Rudy's stadium deal in his first weeks in office.

"It is only now, however, as Giuliani campaigns for president, that we are beginning to learn that this relationship went even deeper. Giuliani has been seen on the campaign trail wearing a World Series ring, a valuable prize we never knew he had. Indeed, the Yankees have told the Voice that he has four rings, one for every world championship the Yankees won while he was mayor. Voice calls to other cities whose teams won the Series in the past decade have determined that Giuliani is the only mayor with a ring, much less four. If it sounds innocent, wait for the price tag. These are certainly no Canal Street cubic zirconia knockoffs.

"With Giuliani's name inscribed in the 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000 diamond-and-gold rings, memorabilia and baseball experts say they are collectively worth a minimum of $200,000. The Yankees say that Giuliani did pay for his rings—but only $16,000, and years after he had left office. Anyone paying for the rings is as unusual as a mayor getting one, since neither the Yankees nor any other recent champion have sold rings to virtually anyone. The meager payment, however, is less than half of the replacement value of the rings, and that's a fraction of the market price, especially with the added value of Giuliani's name.

"What's more troubling is that Giuliani's receipt of the rings may be a serious breach of the law, and one that could still be prosecuted. New York officials are barred from taking a gift of greater than $50 value from anyone doing business with the city, and under Giuliani, that statute was enforced aggressively against others. His administration forced a fire department chief, for example, to retire, forfeit $93,105 in salary, and pay a $6,000 fine for taking Broadway tickets to two shows and a free week in a ski condo from a city vendor. The city's Conflicts of Interest Board (COIB) has applied the gift rule to discounts as well, unless the cheaper rate 'is available generally to all government employees.' When a buildings department deputy commissioner was indicted in 2000 for taking Mets and Rangers tickets, as well as a family trip to Florida, from a vendor, an outraged Giuliani denounced his conduct as 'reprehensible,' particularly 'at high levels in city agencies,' and said that such officials had to be 'singled out' and 'used as examples.'"
"And there's another, more recent, and closer-to-home example of arrogant nondisclosure noted publicly by Giuliani. When former police commissioner Bernard Kerik pled guilty last year to charges involving a city contractor's gift to him of a $165,000 apartment renovation, Giuliani said that Kerik had "acknowledged his violations." As part of a $221,000 plea deal, Kerik agreed to pay a $10,000 fine to the COIB for accepting and then failing to accurately disclose the renovations. Not only are Kerik and Giuliani's concealed gifts of similar value, but Kerik, like Giuliani, made a partial payment for the renovations—$17,800, far less than full value."
"The goodies list seems endless. Giuliani spent $71 million on a stadium for the Staten Island Yankees, a low-level minor league team half-owned by Steinbrenner's son. So few people go to games there that the team has yet to hit the minimal attendance threshold that triggers some rental payments to the city. Though the lease required the team to submit turnstile attendance numbers to the city, the stadium operated for years without turnstiles, and the comptroller has repeatedly found that it shortchanges the city. The city also helped the Yankees reconfigure Yankee Stadium in lucrative ways, including adding the very Legends seats in foul territory near the dugouts and home plate that Giuliani wound up occupying. On December 19, 2001, also just days before the end of Giuliani's term, Bob Harding signed a letter approving a million-dollar replacement of the playing field.

"Those who know Giuliani well say that when he thinks he's in love, he waives all the rules of acceptable conduct. But the story of him and his team is not just a saga of disturbing infatuation and self-absorption. It is an object lesson in what kind of a president he would be, a window into his willingness to lend himself to a special interest, to blur all lines that ordinarily separate personal and public lives. It is not so much that he identified with the Yankees. It was himself that he was serving."

* In Baltimore? The Caribbean are playing Mobtown Theater Saturday May 12, 2007. With The Expanding Man.

* "An artist may have burdens the ordinary citizen doesn't know, but the ordinary citizen has burdens that many artists never even touch. " -- Patti Smith

May 9, 2007

don't hide - the snake can see you

Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson, To Be a Drum (Jazz), 1996–98.

Poem For Vipers
-- by John Wieners

I sit in Lees. At 11:40 PM with
Jimmy the pusher. He teaches me
Ju Ju. Hot on the table before us
shrimp foo yong, rice and mushroom
chow yuke. Up the street under the wheels
of a strange car is his stash--The ritual.
We make it. And have made it.
For months now together after midnight.
Soon I know the fuzz will
interrupt, will arrest Jimmy and
I shall be placed on probation. The poem
does not lie to us. We lie under
its law, alive in the glamour of this hour
able to enter into the sacred places
of his dark people, who carry secrets
glassed in their eyes and hide words
under the coats of their tongue.

You Talk of Going But Don't Even Have a Suitcase
-- by John Wieners

(A series of Repetitions)

I will be an old man sometime
And will live in a dark room somewhere.

I will think of this night someplace
the rain falling on stone.

There will be no one near
no whisper on the street

only this song of old yearning
and the longing to be young

with you together on some street.

Now is the time for retreat,
This is the last chance.

This is not the last chance.
Why only yesterday I lay drugged
on the dark bed while they came
and went as the wind

and they shall come again
to bear me down into that pit
there is no returning from.

Old age, disaster, doom.

It shall be as this room.
With you by the sink, pinching your face

in the mirror.
Time is as a river

and I shall forget this night,
its joy.

V: Second Avenue (Manhattan)
-- by Bruna Mori

a man on the corner is smoking the man smoking on the corner at the newsstand the man at the corner newsstand is smoking in night in night smoking at the newsstand is the man on the corner with a fedora on a corner smoking in New York is the man on the corner in the cold see his breath in the cold fedora on a newsstand corner fedora breath on a night in New York corner newsstand with breath of the newsstand breath cigarette fedora warming the night with the newsstand smoke of breath and cigarette illuminated in lamplight of newsstand and the moon fedora in lamplight smoking cigarette and breath warming

REMINDER: The Foreign Press plays Velvet Lounge (9th & U NW, WDC) tonight with Phil Duarte and Ohsees. 9pm.

May 8, 2007

Have faith in wordless knowledge

Victor Vasarely, KEIHO-C2, 1963, casein on Masonite mounted on panel

* Postal rate increases unfair to independant magazines and journals.

"Postal rate increases are an unwelcome fact of life for every magazine publisher. But it seems the steep new increases for periodicals, scheduled to begin on July 15, will inflict undue hardship on small independent magazines that do much to inform the national discourse on politics and culture. They will be required to pay a much higher percentage increase than some of the largest magazines.

"A skimpily funded coalition of small journals of opinions and ideas — running the ideological gamut from The National Review on the right to The Nation on the left — is struggling to get Washington to focus on the issue. The group’s request that the rate increase be reversed, or at least done in stages to mitigate its crippling impact, warrants the immediate attention of the House and Senate committees that oversee postal operations.

"Among other things, those committees need to review the flawed process behind the new rate structure. The United States Postal Service first proposed a large but manageable across-the-board increase of about 12 percent. The rate-setting commission quietly abandoned that proposal and instead approved a new plan resembling one proposed by Time Warner, which publishes two of the nation’s largest-circulation magazines, Time and People.

"The magazine industry was given a comment period of just eight working days to respond to the complex changes, which were unveiled without any definitive computer model to help less well-heeled publications assess the impact.

"The approved plan is another step away from the traditional method of determining rates based primarily on the number of pieces being sent out and their total weight. The new formula sharply increases discounts to big mailers, which are able to save the Postal Service work, for example by trucking their mail to different states. According to an analysis by McGraw-Hill, many small- or medium-circulation magazines will incur rate increases exceeding 20 percent, some in excess of 30 percent.

"Of course, the Postal Service needs revenue, and popular magazines published by Time Warner and others may deserve some discount for mailing efficiencies. But rates must be structured to avoid impeding the easy dissemination of information, which the founding fathers sought to protect by creating a national postal system."

* Backwoods Golden Gigantic:

New work by Eric Amling (Raleigh), Matt Lafleur (Brooklyn), and Beth
Tacular (Chatham County, NC. Strange inventions, homages to ancestors, and alienated and tiny means of transportation. Opens Friday May 11, 6pm-midnight at Wootini Gallery in Chapel Hill, NC.

* Challenge of the SuperDuperFriends.

* "Existence is a series of footnotes to a vast, obscure, unfinished masterpiece." -- Vladimir Nabokov

May 7, 2007

my cup is full, and I feel okay
the world is dull, but not today

Richard Pettibone, Andy Warhol, Campbell's Soup Can, 1962
(with black paint) 1987

* New York Times: The Soft Bigotry of Iraq. excerpt:

"Whether out of blind loyalty or blind denial, most Congressional Republicans are prepared to back up President Bush’s veto of the Iraq spending bill. It is now essential that the revised version not back away from demanding that Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, finally deliver on the crucial national reconciliation measures he has spent the last year dodging. And it must make clear that American support for his failures — and Mr. Bush’s — is fast waning.

"What Mr. Maliki needs to do to slow Iraq’s bloodletting is no mystery. Iraq’s security forces must stop siding with the Shiite militias. Iraq’s oil revenue must be apportioned fairly. Anti-Baathist laws now used to deny Sunni Arabs employment and political opportunities must be rewritten to target only those responsible for the crimes of the Saddam Hussein era.

"Without these steps, Mr. Maliki and his allies cannot even minimally claim to be a real national government. With them, there is at least a chance that Iraqis can muster the strength to contain the chaos when, as is inevitable, American forces begin to leave. Mr. Bush acknowledges that these benchmarks are important. Yet he refuses to insist, or let Congress insist, that Baghdad achieve them or face real consequences. Each time Baghdad fails a test, Mr. Bush lowers his requirements and postpones his target dates — the kind of destructive denial Mr. Bush called, in another context, the soft bigotry of low expectations.
"Then there is the endless soap opera that is one day supposed to produce a fair share-out of Iraqi oil revenues. The Bush administration prematurely popped champagne corks in February when Mr. Maliki’s cabinet agreed on a preliminary draft. Now, in May, there is no share-out, no legislation and even the preliminary agreement is starting to unravel. The leading Sunni Arab party in Mr. Maliki’s cabinet is now threatening to withdraw its ministers, declaring that it has 'lost hope' that the Iraqi leader will deal seriously with Sunni concerns.

"Mr. Bush, by contrast, sees 'signs of hope' in the Baghdad security situation, urges Americans to give his failed policies more time and seems offended that Congress wants to impose accountability on Baghdad and the White House.

"The final version of the spending bill should include explicit benchmarks and timetables for the Iraqis, even if Mr. Bush won’t let Congress back them up with a clear timetable for America’s withdrawal. If Mr. Maliki and Mr. Bush still don’t get it, Congress will have to enact new means of enforcement, and back that up with a veto-proof majority."

* From the wires: "Kindergarten kids in ritzy L.A. suburb Calabasas have been coming home to their parents and talking about the "weird man" who keeps coming to thier class to sing 'scary' songs on his guitar. The 'weird' one turns out to be Bob Dylan, whose grandson (Jakob Dylan's son)attends the school. He's been singing to the kindergarten class just for fun, but the kiddies have no idea they're being serenaded by a musical legend - to them he's just the Weird Guitar Guy."

* In DC? The Foreign Press play the Velvet Lounge Wednesday May 9. With Phil Duarte, and SF folk psyche band Ohsees. 9pm.

* "Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe." -- Frank Zappa

May 4, 2007

I'm aimin' but I don't take the blame

Dronepop, Tilted and Jilted, 2007

Wake Up
-- by Ted Berrigan

Jim Dine's toothbrush eases two pills
activity under the clear blue sky; girl
for someone else in white walk by
it means sober up, kick the brunette out of bed
going out to earn your pay; it means out;
bells ring; squirrel, serve a nut; daylight
fade; fly resting on your shoulder blades
for hours; you've been sleeping, taking it easy
neon doesn't like that; having come your way
giving you a free buzz, not to take your breath away
just tightening everything up a little; legs
plump; head, wobble; tongue, loll; fingers, jump;
drink; eat; flirt; sing; speak;
night time ruffles the down along your cheek.

-- by Ted Berrigan

"Be whole"
"Be healthy"


Upside Down
-- by Ted Berrigan

You don't have to be Marie Curie
or even Simone de Beauvoir already
to write your memoris, you know? after
all, we all have a polymorphous perverse
first person singular, don't we?...
If you don't want to see & hear, don't feel
like it, say... maybe wd rather worry, or
sulk.... Still you do have to remember, there's
no way to put blinders on one's insides, you
know... or do you? Sure you can.

What a Pity, What a Shame
-- by Paul Beatty

went to hear marion williams
sing the gospel yesterday

she was singin so hard

I almost slipped up
and let jesus into my heart

May 3, 2007

There was no architect designed this view

William Christenberry, Alabama Wall I, 1985

* "Words mean nothing to George Bush." Seymour Hersh on the current situation. [via]

* "He's impeachable, you know." New York Times on Alberto Gonzales. excerpt:

"If Alberto Gonzales will not resign, Congress should impeach him. Article II of the Constitution grants Congress the power to impeach 'the president, the vice president and all civil officers of the United States.' The phrase 'civil officers' includes the members of the cabinet (one of whom, Secretary of War William Belknap, was impeached in 1876).

"Impeachment is in bad odor in these post-Clinton days. It needn’t be. Though provoked by individual misconduct, the power to impeach is at bottom a tool granted Congress to defend the constitutional order. Mr. Gonzales’s behavior in the United States attorney affair is of a piece with his role as facilitator of this administration’s claims of unreviewable executive power.

"A cabinet officer, like a judge or a president, may be impeached only for commission of 'high crimes and misdemeanors.' But as the Nixon and Clinton impeachment debates reminded us, that constitutional phrase embraces not only indictable crimes but 'conduct ... grossly incompatible with the office held and subversive of that office and of our constitutional system of government.'
"A false claim not to remember is just as much a lie as a conscious misrepresentation of a fact one remembers well. Instances of phony forgetfulness seem to abound throughout Mr. Gonzales’s testimony, but his claim to have no memory of the November Justice department meeting at which he authorized the attorney firings left even Republican stalwarts like Jeff Sessions of Alabama gaping in incredulity. The truth is almost surely that Mr. Gonzales’s forgetfulness is feigned — a calculated ploy to block legitimate Congressional inquiry into questionable decisions made by the Department of Justice, White House officials and, quite possibly, the president himself.

"Even if perjury were not a felony, lying to Congress has always been understood to be an impeachable offense. As James Iredell, later a Supreme Court justice, said in 1788 during the debate over the impeachment clause, 'The president must certainly be punishable for giving false information to the Senate.' The same is true of the president’s appointees.

"The president may yet yield and send Mr. Gonzales packing. If not, Democrats may decide that to impeach Alberto Gonzales would be politically unwise. But before dismissing the possibility of impeachment, Congress should recognize that the issue here goes deeper than the misbehavior of one man. The real question is whether Republicans and Democrats are prepared to defend the constitutional authority of Congress against the implicit claim of an administration that it can do what it pleases and, when called to account, send an attorney general of the United States to Capitol Hill to commit amnesia on its behalf."

* From a 1982 interview of Joni Mitchell by Kristine McKenna [from McKenna's excellent book of interviews: Talk to Her]:

McKenna: In reading past interviews you've done, I got the impression that you considered jazz to be the superior form compared to pop?

Mitchell: I have to admit that Miles Davis' Nefertiti, as well as some of Miles' romantic music is something I've always revered and looked to as the real shit. To me, it had incredible contours, depth, whimsy -- it had everything. Miles had the full musicial talent: a gift of composition, shading, emotion, everything was there. At the time when that music came into my life, pop was in a formalized, simplistic phase. It had fallen into the hands of producers and been packaged for commerce, and a lot of it was very sterile. Of course, that happens to every musical form at one time or another, and then a temporary messiah comes along and revitalizes it. The Beatles brought new blood to rock 'n' roll after a very bland period, and punk brought some new textures as well. Punk interested me as an act of revolution, but its strength was in social rather that musical ideas. I keep hoping something musical will flower out of it.

From a 1988 interview:

McKenna: You once commented that the three great stimulants are artifice, brutality, and innocence. Can you elaborate on that?

Mitchell: That's an idea I borrowed from Nietzche but I agree with it. I rarely wear flamboyant makeup, but whenever I do I have to peel people off me who are responding to the seduction of artifice. Face painting, hiking up the skirt -- these are the flags of artifice. As for brutality, this culture is terrified of sex and thrives on decapitation. We're a culture of adrenaline addicts and need ever larger doses of horror to get off, so movies like Halloween III make millions. And innocence? A businessman wakes up in his mid-40s, jaded and thick-skinned from battling for financial opportunity, and he yearns for what he has lost -- his innocence. One of the recognizable characteristics of a culture in decline is the seduction of innocence.

From a 1991 interview:

McKenna: Ideally, how should art function in a society?

Mitchell: There's nothing wrong with art being decorative, but on a deeper level, I agree with Joseph Campbell, that it's the duty of the artist to be a kind of prophet and bring the lost flock back in.

* "When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness." -- Joseph Campbell

May 2, 2007

Sitting on a subway train watching all the people lose their senses

David E. Scherman, Lee Miller in Hitler's bathtub, Munich, April 30, 1945

From Disaster
-- by George Oppen

Ultimately the air
Is bare sunlight where must be found
The lyric valuables. From disaster

Shipwreck, whole families crawled
To the tenements, and there

Survived by what morality
Of hope

Which for the sons
Ends its metaphysic
In small lawns of home.

The Crowded Countries of the Bomb
-- by George Oppen

What man could do,
And could not
And chance which has spared us
Choice, which has shielded us

As if a god. What is the name of that place
We have entered:
Despair? Ourselves?

That we can destroy ourselves

Walking in the shelter,
The young and the old,
Of each other's backs and shoulders

Entering the country that is
Impenetrably ours.

About the Party
-- by David Berman

I loved seeing you the other night
(and I think everyone noticed!)
which was the first time I'm estimating
since the Oak Street Psychic Fair
when I first saw your ears
as the two beautiful pink wheels they are
and your powerful boyfriend unnecessarily claimed
that I only spread unhappiness with my harmonica playing.

People see each other all the time
and they can't always figure out how to act,
so it sometimes seems as if the dandelions
growing silently behind the high school
are the only truly outstanding reaction
to existence,
and perhaps because I thought
I had no argument with the world
until the backyard mosquitoes
started penalizing my hands
and Wayne of Wayne's Hair Systems
and Jimmy Food Hill combined
to not let me near you,
it came as such a horrible shock to notice
you looked so damn beautiful
beneath Bob's silver maples
that I about shit my heart out.

May 1, 2007

Time Will Break the World

Jeff Lipschutz, History Tower, oil on canvas

* New York Times on Law Day.

"President Dwight Eisenhower established May 1 as Law Day to co-opt the biggest day on the socialist calendar. While much of the world marked May Day with critiques of capitalism and parades celebrating working men and women, the United States would honor, President Eisenhower declared, the 'national dedication to the principle of government under laws.'

"Despite its propagandistic beginnings, a day set aside to honor the rule of law was not a bad idea. On the first Law Day, in 1958, Gov. Averell Harriman of New York attacked Gov. Orval Faubus of Arkansas for blocking integration. His fight to keep black children out of the Little Rock Central High School 'offends the concept of law on which our society is based,' Harriman insisted.

"Law Day proved to be a boon to international law, which was seen during the cold war as a check on communism. In his proclamation creating the holiday, Eisenhower emphasized law’s role 'in the settlement of international disputes.' On Law Day 1959, Senator Prescott Bush of Connecticut, grandfather of the current president, urged, remarkably, that international conflicts be settled by the World Court.

"While the Soviet threat loomed, Law Day attracted a sizable following. In 1961, a headline in The Times reported, '100,000 Law Day Celebrations Take Place Throughout Nation.' But as the cold war waned, so did Law Day. It is marked today most notably by the American Bar Association, and it is perilously close to becoming a celebration of lawyers.

"That is unfortunate. As long as there was a national consensus about the importance of the rule of law, Law Day felt superfluous, like celebrating gravity. But for six years now, the rule of law has been under attack. An array of doctrines has emerged to undermine it, like the enemy combatant doctrine, which says people can be held indefinitely without trial, and the unitary executive doctrine, which insists that a president can do as he wants in many areas, no matter what Congress says.

"In keeping with tradition, President Bush has issued a proclamation inviting Americans today to 'celebrate the Constitution and the laws that protect our rights and liberties.' It rings more than a little hollow, though, as he continues to trample on civil liberties in the war on terror, and stands by an attorney general who has politicized the Justice Department to a shocking degree.

"The less committed a president is to the law, the more need there is for Law Day, which makes it a holiday whose time has come."

* Interview of Gary Shteyngart. excerpt:

Interviewer: Have your work habits changed since your first book?

Shteyngart: Strangely enough, the freedom of living off my work made me worst in a way, because when I had day jobs, every moment I worked on the book I had a feeling that I was doing something sacred, fighting the establishment, kind of. But now, I'm part of the establishment.

Interviewer: What are your writing habits?

Shteyngart: The last 150 days, I practically wrote every single day because of deadlines. But when I'm not under pressure, I work sporadically. About four days a week, four hours a day.

I try to do two pages a day, editing or writing. Most of this book was written in Italy. I was really able to concentrate there. It is such a laid-back country. Nearly all my friends there did very little or no work. In NY, everyone works like an animal. It's so competitive; everyone talks about work, work, work. But when you go to a Roman party, everyone speaks of anything but work. Food, politics, sex. It allowed me to relax, think about the world around me, concentrating on sensual aspects, like great food. Especially since I was writing about a man who loves to
Interivewer: Are you afraid that the fiction you are reading would bleed into your writing?

Shteyngart: I always read fiction when I write but I try to vary it. For this book, I read Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh. I always go back to the Russian classics, of course. Also for this book, for some reason, Dovlatov really helped. His short stories are almost like blogs. They are hilarious. There is such quickness to them. Just brilliant. Like popcorn shrimp I'd swallow. Sometimes, I long for the mechanics of fiction, craftsmanship, so I'll pick up some Nabokov. If I want to read great dialog, I'd go to Philip Roth.

Interviewer: If you were not a writer, who would you be?

Shteyngart: An urban planner. I love cities more than anything and am fascinated with the way they are put together. But it's a little too late for me now, so I'll stick with writing.

* "First things first, but not necessarily in that order." -- Doctor Who