June 29, 2007

I want to be your tugboat captain

Hugo Kobayashi, Level Four and Rising

How To Listen
-- by Major Jackson

I am going to cock my head tonight like a dog
in front of McGlinchy's Tavern on Locust;
I am going to stand beside the man who works all day combing
his thatch of gray hair corkscrewed in every direction.
I am going to pay attention to our lives
unraveling between the forks of his fine-toothed comb.
For once, we won't talk about the end of the world
or Vietnam or his exquisite paper shoes.
For once, I am going to ignore the profanity and
the dancing and the jukebox so I can hear his head crackle
beneath the sky's stretch of faint stars.

-- by James Tate

When I drink
I am the only man
in New York City.
There are no lights,
but I am used to that.
There are the staircases
that go forever upward
like the twisted branches

of a cemetery willow.
No one has climbed them
since prohibition.
And the overturned automobiles
stripped to their skeletons,
chewed clean
by the darkness.

Then I see the ember of
a cigarette in an alley
and I know that I am no longer
alone. One of us
is still shaking.
And has led the other
into some huddle of extinction.

Today's News
-- by Ted Berrigan

My body heavy with poverty (starch)
It uses up my sexual energy
constantly &
I feel constantly crowded
On the other hand, One Day in the Afternoon of The World
Pervaded my life with a
heavy grace
I'll never smile again
Bad Teeth
But I'm dancing with tears in my eyes
(I can't help myself!) Tom
when he loves Alice's sonnets,
takes four, I'd love
to be more attentive to her, more
The situation having become intolerable
the only alternatives are:
Murder & Suicide.
They are too dumb! So, one
becomes a goof. Raindrops
start falling on my roof. I say
Hooray! Then I say, I'm going out
At the drugstore I say, Gimmie some pills!
Charge 'em! They say
Sure. I say See you later.
Read the paper. Talk to Alice. She laughs to hear
Hokusai had 947 changes of address
In his life. Ha-ha. Plus everything
else in the world
going on here.

Dream Song 14
-- by John Berryman

Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatingly) "Ever to confess you're bored
means you have no

Inner Resources." I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored.
Peoples bore me,
literature bores me, especially great literature,
Henry bores me, with his plights & gripes
as bad as Achilles,

who loves people and valiant art, which bores me.
And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag
and somehow a dog
has taken itself & its tail considerably away
into the mountains or sea or sky, leaving
behind: me, wag.

* "There are two things that I hate: analysis and power." -- Sviatoslav Richter

June 28, 2007

doesn't matter what no people say
pain is hard to confine

sarah small, bloody chair

* John Updike reviews a revisionist history of the Depression, and states in conclusion:

"My father had been reared a Republican, but he switched parties to vote for Roosevelt and never switched back. His memory of being abandoned by society and big business never left him and, for all his paternal kindness and humorousness, communicated itself to me, along with his preference for the political party that offered 'the forgotten man' the better break. Roosevelt made such people feel less alone. The impression of recovery—the impression that a President was bending the old rules and, drawing upon his own courage and flamboyance in adversity and illness, stirring things up on behalf of the down-and-out—mattered more than any miscalculations in the moot mathematics of economics. Business, of which Shlaes is so solicitous, is basically merciless, geared to maximize profit. Government is ultimately a human transaction, and Roosevelt put a cheerful, defiant, caring face on government at a time when faith in democracy was ebbing throughout the Western world. For this inspirational feat he is the twentieth century’s greatest President, to rank with Lincoln and Washington as symbolic figures for a nation to live by."

* Slate takes a look at Revolutionary Road, the movie. excerpt:

"And there he'd been every so often for the past 30 years, largely because of Revolutionary Road. From the beginning, ambitious filmmakers couldn't help being tempted by the book—a 'tough' look at the squalid heart of the American Dream—but only tempted. In the end, would people really pay good money to see a movie in which almost everything ends badly? Let's face it: Revolutionary Road is one of the most depressing novels ever written, which helps explain why it remains a 'cultish standard' (as Richard Ford described it) rather than a canonized classic like The Great Gatsby. Even I, Yates' biographer, could not bring myself to finish the book when I first picked it up a few years after college. Frank Wheeler—c'est moi, I thought again and again. Like Frank, I'd fancied myself a kind of "knockabout intellectual" in New York, working at crap jobs and reading books. Years later, at any rate, when things were a little better, I managed to finish the novel and realized how great it was.

"When the novel was first published in 1961, a few people in Hollywood came to the same conclusion, including director John Frankenheimer, who realized it was just the sort of arty, uncompromising vision he wanted to bring to the screen as the industry's foremost wunderkind. Cooler heads prevailed, and he proceeded to make The Manchurian Candidate instead. But meanwhile he'd bought rights to Lie Down in Darkness, by William Styron, who recommended none other than his friend Dick Yates to write the screenplay. Yates was then living in a ghastly basement apartment in Greenwich Village, and he could hardly believe his luck. Before he knew it, he was sucking down bullshots in Malibu with Frankenheimer, who told him, by God, that he wanted a rigorously faithful adaptation of Styron's novel and damn the censors!

"Yates took him at his word and wrote an adaptation that would have amounted to a great movie adapted from a semigreat novel. Natalie Wood and Henry Fonda were ready to star as Peyton and Milton Loftis, whereupon Yates would receive (as he put it) "an avalanche of money." Then poof! Wood's agent decided it would tarnish her image to appear as the quasi-incestuous daughter of Henry Fonda, and United Artists pulled the plug. Yates went back to his vermin-infested apartment. 'God, it's good,' Frankenheimer said 40 years later of Yates' screenplay. 'I'd still like to make that movie.'

"By the time Yates returned to Hollywood in the summer of 1965, his stock had fallen on both coasts. Though he'd followed up Revolutionary Road (his first novel) with a magnificent story collection, Eleven Kinds of Loneliness, he'd published nothing since, and many thought he was washed up for good. A manic-depressive alcoholic, Yates had been institutionalized twice in the previous five years for mental breakdowns, and now that he was taking psychotropic drugs (and washing them down with bourbon), he found it hard to write a single sentence without crossing it out. Still, his devoted agent got him a job writing a script about Iwo Jima for Roger Corman."
"For the rest of Yates' life, the lucrative prospect of Revolutionary Road—the movie—shimmered like a mirage in the middle distance. In 1967, Ruddy bought the property outright for $15,500, which Yates gave to his ex-wife so she could start a college fund for their beloved daughters. By 1972, Yates was languishing as a writer-in-residence at Wichita State University. Desperate to get the hell out of Kansas, he asked Ruddy if he could earn a few bucks writing his own adaptation of Revolutionary Road. Ruddy had just produced The Godfather, so what better time for a 'ballsy' guy like him to roll the dice? But Ruddy already had two other projects lined up, and while he told Yates it would "break [his] heart" for another person to make Revolutionary Road, Ruddy wouldn't stand in the way if someone made him an 'irresistible offer.'

"Fatefully, that someone proved to be actor Patrick O'Neal, and there the matter remained. To the very end, Yates tried wresting Revolutionary Road away from O'Neal, whose original screenplay he'd read and found godawful. But O'Neal wouldn't budge. Yates died (still broke) in 1992, and O'Neal died two years later.

"I've always had a perverse curiosity to see O'Neal's screenplay, so I could imagine Yates' reaction to its various lapses. One thing I'm willing to bet is that O'Neal made the Wheelers a lot more sympathetic than they ought to be. It was a common misconception when the book was first published, even among good critics. Quite simply, Yates meant for the Wheelers to seem a little better than mediocre: not, that is, stoical mavericks out of Hemingway, or glamorous romantics out of Fitzgerald. Rather, the Wheelers are everyday people—you and me—who pretend to be something they're not because life is lonely and dull and disappointing.

"Were Yates alive to advise Mendes, I daresay he'd insist that the movie begin, as the novel does, with April's mortifyingly awful performance in an amateur production of The Petrified Forest. In other words, the Wheelers' doom should never be in doubt because they can't help being themselves. 'When the curtain fell at last,' Yates wrote, at the end of one of the most excruciating scenes in American literature, 'it was an act of mercy.'"

* "They say that we are better educated than our parents' generation. What they mean is that we go to school longer. It is not the same thing." - Richard Yates

June 27, 2007

We will fold and freeze together
Far away from here
There is sun and spring and green forever
But now we move to feel

Mikiko Hara, Untitled (Is As It), 1996

The Mad Girl, Loses Her Discontinue Lipstick
-- by Lyn Lifshin

nearly missing the
metro, dumping
out zip bags, plastic
cases, forgetting her
bottle of water
before the dash to
the door. It’s just
a small loss in a
stretch of things
leaving her: teeth,
her publisher, the
man who doesn’t
exist. It’s too pale
she knows, not
worth tearing the
house apart, a
light rose flesh
color, almost not
there but somehow
better than the
others like lovers
she’s dreamt of,
imagined covering
her like lips trans-
forming what was

The Woman Who Loves Maps
-- by Lyn Lifshin

aches for the old
ones, dusky as an
abandoned ghost town
where the wooden
pier is driftwood.
She doesn't want
longitudes and
latitudes, favors
roads mutable as
a bracelet made
of sand she can
write an SOS in to
the wind. She dreams
of islands, magical
as the fingers of
the concert pianist,
each with its own
intelligence and
breath. She wants
the light to be what
photographers long
for, the magic hour
flecked with the color
of violet dusk, the
names of cities
exotic as spices or
words in another
language: Empanedas,
Esterellita, la trisleza
or the words left on
a Persian jar of lilies,
Dear Heart and then,
the way there

-- by David Brooks

This belly is not mine,
not the one I imagined
when I was younger and thought
about how it would be
when I got married.
This belly is a rude intrusion
into those dreams, it bumps
into my wife, who also differs
from that golden vision.
She is grander in ways
I never suspected: like my house,
she is bolder and kinder in dimension:
I used to think I would marry
a blonde and live in a shack,
both of us perpetually, pathetically thin.
I push my belly up against my wife
and admire the warmth of the
afternoon soaking into it.
The sun shines in on us
the way I like it, the sun is
the way I always thought
the sun should be.

June 26, 2007

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

Jenny Holzer, Selection From the Survival Series, 1991

* Harper's online:

"The Siegelman prosecution was commenced as the result of a plan hatched between senior figures in the Alabama Republican Party and Karl Rove. This connection is not coincidental, because Rove was once fired by the first President Bush and then had to rehabilitate himself. Rove did this in spades, and the place where he worked his political magic was in Alabama. He put together a campaign to engineer the Alabama GOP’s capture of the state’s judicial machinery. It worked brilliantly. And Rove has retained tight connections with the Alabama GOP ever since. Rove and the Alabama GOP leaders set out to destroy Siegelman’s political career and thus smooth the path by which the Republican Party could secure and retain political control of the Alabama statehouse. It was crafted in such a way as to retard the ability of Democrats to raise money from campaign donors so that they might contest office in Alabama. Each of these purposes is 'corrupt.' Key to this plan was the use of the machinery of the Department of Justice for its completion – involving the U.S. attorneys offices in Birmingham and Montgomery, and the Department of Justice in Washington. Rove was in a position to make this work and he did so.

"The curtain was pulled back on this plan when Dana Jill Simpson, a Republican lawyer who previously worked on a campaign against Siegelman, decided to blow the whistle. Her affidavit described William Canary, a legendary figure in the Alabama GOP, bragging that 'his girls' would take care of Siegelman. Canary’s wife is Leura Canary, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama. Alice Martin, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama is a close confidante of Canary’s. He referred repeatedly to 'Karl,' assuring that 'Karl' had worked things out with the Justice Department in Washington to assure a criminal investigation and prosecution of Siegelman. Canary is a close friend of Karl Rove, and I have documented their long relationship in another post.

"The response to Simpson’s affidavit has been a series of brusque dismissive statements – all of them unsworn – from others who figured in the discussion and the federal prosecutor in the Siegelman case, who has now made a series of demonstrably false statements concerning the matter. She’s been smeared as 'crazy' and as a 'disgruntled contract bidder.' And something nastier: after her intention to speak became known, Simpson’s house was burned to the ground, and her car was driven off the road and totaled [emphasis added]. Clearly, there are some very powerful people in Alabama who feel threatened. Her case starts to sound like a chapter out of John Grisham’s book The Pelican Brief. However, those who have dismissed Simpson are in for a very rude surprise. Her affidavit stands up on every point, and there is substantial evidence which will corroborate its details.

"This disclosure was treated as explosive news by Time Magazine and the New York Times. However, newspapers inside of Alabama reacted with awkward silence, as if these disclosures were very unpleasant news, best swept immediately under the living room carpet. I will single out the Birmingham News and the Mobile Register. I took some time earlier this week to review their coverage of the Siegelman story from the beginning. It left me wondering whether these publications were really newspapers."

The whole article is no doubt worth your time.

* Twofer Tuesday: The Believer has an in print only article wondering what happened to Cleveland's Bill Fox.Certainly worth an in store read. Here are two songs by Bill Fox:

-- Over And Away She Goes

-- Lonesome Pine

* "The chess pieces are the block alphabet which shapes thoughts; and these thoughts, although making a visual design on the chess-board, express their beauty abstractly, like a poem... I have come to the personal conclusion that while all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists." -- Marcel Duchamp

June 25, 2007

behind the walls of medication I'm free

Hidemi Shimura, ML_5 from the series Silent Invaders, 2006

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"8. Chris Matthews

"Chris Matthews grabs his second slot on the list in two weeks after an unfortunate incident on MSNBC's "Super Tuesday" last week. Matthews apparently didn't realize that he was on the air when the commercials ended, and could clearly be heard berating someone in a manner that the FCC must surely disapprove of. Crooks and Liars has the video, here's the transcript:

"Commercials end, cue Chris Matthews

"MATTHEWS: '... we're all reacting here and putting on shit, we have nothing going ...

"Matthews realizes he is on the air and stares disgustedly into the camera

"MATTHEWS: 'Welcome back to Hardball.

"Come on Chris, putting on shit? That's not fair. Just do another awesome segment on your burning sexual attraction to Fred Thompson's manly stench."

* Art made using cocaine and sugar.

* Baby used in Nirvana's Nevermind cover shot is 17. photo at link.

* "The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution." - Hannah Arendt

June 22, 2007

open up your hands
and let me see
the things you keep in there

Stephen E. Lewis, 2002

Satellite of Love
-- by John Forbes

like unwound toys or the mind of a stone
verbs elude me. I’m willing to change tho’

— if you do too — into a spree or a better
more feeling computer. oh tent of dreams!

where is your tailored lightsail guiding us?
through what used to be the empyrean, but now

is just where satellites go, to stamp like
a giant foot, infotainment & game shows

into the brains beneath? death by stellar
allure or a lack of oxygen might follow,

unless this prayer can save me, the way
damaged glamour seeks out its opposite number

& we move together, draped in the planet’s
tingling aurora, thanks to our huge,
electric shoes.

Speed, a Pastoral
-- by John Forbes

it’s fun to take speed
& stay up all night
not writing those reams of poetry
just thinking about is bad for you
— instead your feelings

follow your career down the drain
& find they like it there
among an anthology of fine ideas, bound together
by a chemical in your blood
that lets you stare the TV in its vacant face
& cheer, consuming yourself like a mortgage
& when Keats comes to dine, or Flaubert,
you can answer their purities
with your own less negative ones — for example
you know Dransfield’s line, that once you become a junkie
you’ll never want to be anything else?

well, I think he died too soon,
as if he thought drugs were an old-fashioned teacher
& he was the teacher’s pet, who just put up his hand
& said quietly, ‘Sir, sir’
& heroin let him leave the room.

Le Signe (Cygne)
-- by Veronica Forrest-Thomson

Godard, the anthropological swan
floats on the Cam when day is done.
Levi-Strauss stands on a bridge and calls:
Birds love freedom; they build themselves homes;
They often engage in human relations.
Come Godard, come, here, Godard, here. The halls
of Clare and Trinity, John’s and Queens’
echo the sound with scraping of chairs
and cramming of maws. A red-gowned don
floats by the swan. We must try to explain
to the posturing dancers that this is an image
of human existence; this is the barre-work
of verbal behaviour; this knife in the corpse
that they shove through a window to float
down the Cam when day is done
is Godard, the anthropological swan.

Ill-Made Almighty
-- by Heather McHugh

"No man has more assurance than a bad poet." -- Martial

The logos thrives, it is crawling
with bugs. The lecturers, below,

are memorific, futurized, dead-certain
they'll go unsurprised. They don't

know nows as you do, true to no
clear destination. (You can't even act

your age, it's over-understudied.) Steady
as you go. The greatest waves are barely

bearable, alive's ill-read already,
and the Skipper is sick of the terribly lit

graffiti in the head.

* EXTRA: DCB has communicated to the SJBB that the new record is shaping up and will be recorded somewhere in Nashville in August so i can be released in the beginning of 2008. He even provides a list of song titles.

June 21, 2007

Channel into locks, the pilots drunk
The resin in his mouth just means he's hated
The radio is tapped, the bastards drunk

Index 003, Art & Language, 1973

* N+1 Magazine on Whatever Minutes. excerpt:

"Western civilization spent 2,500 years trying to get people to shut up. The armies of Alexander the Great were amazed to see their leader read a letter from his mother silently—because he alone knew how. After the dawn of Christianity, centuries upon centuries admired the ability not to vocalize, not to talk. Silence was an achievement. It is remembered of Saint Ambrose as part of his piety. It signaled an intensifying inwardness of belief, a world of individual privacy, a different mode of thought. Thus humans were gradually quieted—as part of the civilizing process.

"The new etiquette eventually installed the calm of the library, the hush of the museum, the rustling anticipation of the concert hall. First, silence overtook the audiences watching dramas or musical comedies in the gaslit theatres of Paris, Berlin, New York; eventually, the new ways moved into the hinterlands. You could say it helped make the modern self. But then you don’t have to believe in such just-so stories to feel that being quiet around strangers, except when having a conversation with them, does define a certain relation of kindness or respectful attention to them. As a child, when you stood near a stranger, talking loudly but not talking to him, you were taught by your parents to feel self-conscious—as you learned to put yourself in the shoes (or ears) of those accidental listeners, who might want quiet for their own reasons.

"Now we have entered an age where technology has ways of making you talk. Not to anyone present—nor in ways that acknowledge your surroundings. We know now that people will answer cell phones in the library and the museum, and place calls, too. 'I’m at the library!' They’ll talk through whole transactions in a store. It’s rude; it’s insulting; nobody likes it. Then, annoyed, we do it too, phoning our friends and using our free Whenever minutes to complain. Alexander started the silent era of the West; Nokia will finish it.

"Rudeness isn’t the real issue: it’s that we are building a new world, and consequences will follow. On a bus or a train, there is a competitive pressure not to be the only one without a friend to call when snow has caused delays. All of us deplore the yapping, and most of us join in. And the change reinforces truths we may have thought we already knew—but that, in fact, we never knew like this. Everyone may always have cared infinitely more about his friends and relations than about his temporary neighbors on a bus or in a store—just as he should. But he never could show it before. And it is this showing of mutual uncaring, of complete separation even among neighbors in public, that can gradually change your attitude about all sorts of things.

"Civilization takes a turn. Not in the sense that talking on a cell phone while you pay for groceries is uncivilized, as in, uncouth, ignorant of the rules that still exist. The point is that it is decivilizing, undoing practices of civilization as fundamental as using silverware to eat. Or alternatively civilizing, if you like, because it doesn’t send us on a straight path backward (as if we were going to eat with our fingers or read by whale-oil light) but deflects us into something new that no one intended or wanted in advance."
"From literature to advertising, we’ve developed a cultural style of ceaseless babbling. Never mind the endless self-interruptions and elaborations of needlessly footnoted fiction, talking copyright pages, and the rest; we got used to that, and it was sort of in the spirit of a warning. But even Burger King has now stolen the text-happy style of McSweeney’s, so you are fed grease by some whimsical garrulous spirit of the paper sack and the napkin. Talking toys chat to children trying to learn to think silently. Talking heads on twenty-four-hour television say as quickly as possible the first thing that comes to mind, in order to make room for the next first thing. The heads melt into one another, without any quiet for new thoughts, just as the toys start to record what the infant child babbles, to play it back. Even my dinosaur becomes Me. But who the hell is that? When you eavesdrop on cell-phone conversations, you learn who people are by what they are saying to their friends: 'I am now doing one thing. I am now doing another. I will report them all and notice none.' And in effect this mode of constant self-report can be summed up in a single phrase: 'I am on the phone. I am on the phone. I am on the phone.'”

* Jeff Krulik (Heavy Metal Parking Lot and many other wonderful shorts) talks with Larry David.

* The Lost Lennon Tapes are online. The Original Radio Shows, as broadcasted by Westwood One almost 20 years ago.

* "In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with balance and stealth." - Patti Smith

June 20, 2007

Is there justice?
Is there something which resembles pleasure?

Lincoln, Karl Lintvedt, 2007

-- by William Stafford

It is time for all the heroes to go home
if they have any, time for all of us common ones
to locate ourselves by the real things
we live by.

Far to the north, or indeed in any direction,
strange mountains and creatures have always lurked–
elves, goblins, trolls, and spiders:-we
encounter them in dread and wonder,

But once we have tasted far streams, touched the gold,
found some limit beyond the waterfall,
a season changes, and we come back, changed
but safe, quiet, grateful.

Suppose an insane wind holds all the hills
while strange beliefs whine at the traveler’s ears,
we ordinary beings can cling to the earth and love
where we are, sturdy for common things.

The Bicycles and the Apex
-- by George Oppen

How we loved them
once, these mechanisms;
We all did. Light
And miraculous,

They have gone stale, part
Of the platitude, the gadgets,
Part of the platitude
Of our discontent.

Van Gogh went hungry and what shoe salesman
Does not envy him now? Let us agree
Once and for all that neither the slums
Nor the tract houses

Represent the apex
Of the culture.
They are the barracks. Food

Produced, garbage disposed of,
Lotions sold, flat tires
Changed and tellers must handle money

Under supervision but it is a credit to no one
So that slums are made dangerous by the gangs
And suburbs by the John Birch Societies

But we loved them once,
The mechanisms. Light
And miraculous…

A Piece of the Storm
-- by Mark Strand

For Sharon Horvath

From the shadow of domes in the city of domes,
A snowflake, a blizzard of one, weightless, entered your room
And made its way to the arm of the chair where you, looking up
From your book, saw it the moment it landed.
That's all There was to it. No more than a solemn waking
To brevity, to the lifting and falling away of attention, swiftly,
A time between times, a flowerless funeral. No more than that
Except for the feeling that this piece of the storm,
Which turned into nothing before your eyes, would come back,
That someone years hence, sitting as you are now, might say:
"It's time. The air is ready. The sky has an opening."

A Mystery Story
-- by Richard Brautigan

Every time I leave my hotel room
here in tokyo
I do the same four things:
I make sure I have my passport
my notebook
a pen
and my English --
Japanese dictionary.
The rest of life is a total mystery.

June 19, 2007

the grounded fireflies are little stars that are dying

Maggie Michael, Worse for the Better 7 (anchor), 2005

* From Harper's July 2007 edition:

-- Estimated amount in state taxes Wal-Mart avoided last year by renting stores from shell companies it created: $403,000,000

-- Percentage change since 1994 in Barry Bond's shoe and jersey size, respectively: +24, +18

-- Price from an Illinois company to turn the cremated ashes of a loved one into a 1.5-carat diamond: $24,999

-- Amount that a Colorado state prisoner is paid to work a day as a field hand at a local farm: 60 cents

-- Amount the prisons are paid by farmers for each inmate's daily work: $77.20

* Bob Dylan stamps.

* From a 2004 Index interview of Werner Herzog. excerpt:

DOUG: What is your starting point for making a film?

WERNER: If I don't have something physical to work with, then I don't feel comfortable. That's still how I work today. Only thirty hours ago, I was twelve feet away from a bear while filming in Alaska. You have to physically assess the situation to be in the right place at the right time. It's like holding an outpost. You have to be the good soldier. You have to be unafraid — even physically — in order to make films that touch a deep truth inside us.
DOUG: Perhaps the distinction between documentary and fiction in filmmaking no longer exists. It is all fiction now.

WERNER: For me, the border between feature films and documentaries has always been blurred. Fitzcarraldo is my best documentary and Little Dieter Needs to Fly is my best fiction film. I don't make such a clear distinction between them — they're all movies.

DOUG: Does that mean that anything that's filmed becomes fiction?

WERNER: Well, you're touching on a very deep question. Probably the only non-subjective cameras are the surveillance cameras in supermarkets. Even then, you're filming from a certain perspective. In the film Incident at Loch Ness by Zak Penn, there's a scene in which I describe the most frightening film footage from the last decade.

DOUG: Incident, in which you play yourself, is a pseudo-documentary about the hunt for a mythical monster. What footage do you talk about?

WERNER: The footage was recorded with a surveillance camera in a shopping mall in England. You see shoppers strolling around. And then, in the middle of everyone you see two ten-year-old boys leading a toddler by the hand. At that moment, they're abducting the child, who they ended up murdering in the most unbelievable way. They are about to commit the most gruesome murder in recent English criminal history. But the image caught on camera is the most unobtrusive, most unstaged, most average shot you could possibly take with a surveillance camera in a shopping mall. And all of a sudden, it becomes the greatest of all horrors — the horror lurking in our everyday environment.
DOUG: I see a similarity between Russ Meyer's Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and your 1970 film Even Dwarves Started Small. In both films there's a sense of anarchy, a feeling that the tension and volatility in front of the camera is also really happening behind the camera. The camera seems to join the dance of madness. Scenes are fired off like bullets and fill the screen with anarchy and violence. These films have no relationship to staged drama.

WERNER: Theater is dead. It's lived off its own substance for two hundred years at least. Forget about it.

DOUG: I thought you directed a few theater pieces?

WERNER: Only one, Woyzeck, written by Georg Büchner. I worked with a fragment of the play. It's probably the most intense use of German, my own language, that you can find. I was fascinated by it. And having Klaus Kinski and Eva Mattes on stage together gave it a texture that went beyond theater. But forget about theater. There is something not right about it. It's had its day and it's night now. You see, I like to read plays but I don't like to watch them onstage. I can't stand actors on a stage. It just makes me cringe. Whether they're good or bad, it just makes me cringe.

* "Even if you're improvising, the fact that beforehand you know certain things will work helps you make those improvisations successful. It really helps to have a certain amount of knowledge about musical structure." -- John Cale

June 18, 2007

Across the street they've nailed the curtains

Derek Boshier, The Identi-Kit Man 1962

This painting expresses Boshier's concern with the manipulation of the viewer by advertising media. A man is represented as nothing more than a depersonalised piece in a semi-abstract jigsaw, literally fused with toothpaste, a typical mass consumer product. According to the artist, 'it represents me (us), the spectator, participant, player, or cog-in-the-wheel - the amorphous'.

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"8. Bradley Schlozmann

"The massive politicization of the Justice Department undertaken on George W. Bush's watch wasn't simply restricted to the small circle of Justice Department and White House officials surrounding Alberto Gonzales and Karl Rove - last week Bradley Schlozman, the former senior political appointee in the Civil Rights Division, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee and, well, took a beating.

"According to a complaint sent to the Justice Department's inspector general in 2005 by a Department lawyer, Schlozman allegedly attempted to rid the Civil Rights Division of 'minority women lawyers' and replace them with 'white, invariably Christian men.'

"Replacing the Civil Rights Division's minority women lawyers with white Christian men? On the Bush administration's watch? Surely not!

"But you see, Schlozman had a good reason. According to the complaint, he 'told one recently hired attorney that it was his intention to drive these attorneys out of the Appellate Section so that he could replace them with 'good Americans.''

"Pretty much says everything you need to know about the Bush adminstration, doesn't it?"

* Bukowski: poetry is like a good beer shit.

* Syd Barrett poem up for auction [follow the link for the poem]. excerpt:

"It is a few scribbled lines of poetry and a simple sketch in black ink on a piece of paper, composed in Cambridge in the mid-1960s by an aspiring painter and musician for his girlfriend of the time. But it is no simple doodle. Its author was the late Roger 'Syd' Barrett, who became a founder of Pink Floyd and enjoyed massive success before suffering a drug-induced mental breakdown.

"Barrett died last year at 60 after spending decades as a semi-recluse in his home town, but is still revered as one of the most influential figures in rock music.

"The poem was written for 19-year-old Viv Brans, who in 1965 had a relationship lasting several months with Barrett. Now a 61-year-old grandmother, she is auctioning the poem, which has been dear to her for four decades. 'Now Roger's gone, I can let it go because it's just sitting around doing nothing,' she said. 'I've still got the words and sentiments.' In its minimalist descriptions of Ms Brans's clothes and dancing, the small figures of the guitar-toting pop group playing under the glitter ball, the poem and the sketch capture the mid-1960s era before the Summer of Love.

"The manuscript is to be auctioned by Cheffins in Cambridge later this month. Barrett always considered himself an artist, rather than a musician, although in his later years he destroyed many of his works. A sale by his family of some of his surviving paintings and possessions raised more than £120,000 last year to fund a bursary for art students."

* "I guess the majority of people who want to ban certain musicians are the ones who are so proud of everything America stands for." -- Stephen Malkmus

June 15, 2007

In 1984 I was hospitalized
For approaching perfection

Victor Brauner (1903-1966) - Przybór Księżyca, 1946.

-- by Pris Campbell

I expected my father's death
to draw the sea to my feet,
the water threatening to bear me
away with it--not mother's.
Our voices were constant coils
of disagreement; my hair was too long.
I was too thin. My clothes were too tight.
My mish-mash of dishes would never do
if the relatives came down for Christmas.
I lived 'in sin' with a man, traveled with him,
tossed away my bra to her mortification.
After my knees buckled
and illness pinned me to my bed of thorns,
the core of metal between us softened,
became a pillow to rest our heads upon, but
she slipped quietly into that undertow
and I was left alone on the beach, a girl again,

from his bed in the capital city
-- by david berman

the highway commissioner dreams of us.
we are driving by christmas tree farms
wearing wedding rings with on / off switches,
composing essays on leg room in our heads.

we know there is a policy like ice sculpture,
policy that invisibly dictates the shape
of the freeway forests and the design
of the tollbooths that passing children
send their minds into.

Photography's reminder is sound and momentum,
which were we looking to pare off the edges
of the past anyway, so snapshots of mom
with a kitchen table hill of cocaine
or the dog frozen in the attitude
of eating raw hamberger
get filed under "misc. americana,"
though only partially contained there,
as beads of sap are always leaking
from the columns of the bar graph.

the voices of the bumperstickers tangle in our heads
like cafeteria noise and we can't help but aware
that by making this trip, by driving home for christmas,
we are assuming some classic role.
it is the role he has cast us in: "holiday travelers."

he dreams us safely into our driveways
and leaves us at the flickering doors.

Everything Real Imagined
-- by Kate Irving

It's impossible to miss the nestling
hooked in the hawk's claw, the ache
reviewed against each rejuvenated sky.

Bridges in flames, abandoned cities gone to ash,
milkweed rising on a scorched wind.

Everywhere the shrike,
the shriek, the monarch on a lavender spike, faith
leaking its mystery from the painter's box.

Then your heart gets caught on a chortle
and, bent low to the grass, it asks
for the wild turkey's flimsy trust, knowing that

on the way you'll pass by the churches
inside you, their silence
countered by the hard, familiar rusk of static.

Death is what makes this a garden.

-- by John Brehm

It is to the small satisfactions
we must return, for surely
the great ones fail us.
The unexpected face, the way
evening's slow descent, when
everything is poised for her
arrival, astonishes the day.
And then the steady, familiar
things, houses and trees, suddenly
precise, alive and themselves.
These will do for us now,
now that we have given up on
matters of brooding consequence,
now that such a leisure
of wind, studying the leaves
more closely, lifts them up,
bright in the pure, black air.

June 14, 2007

night falls on city skin

Joanne Greenbaum, Untitled, 2007

* Bob Dylan's Mr. Tambourine Man was written about Bruce Langhorne, the man who developed what some call the world's greatest chili sauce, Brother BruBru, and who played guitar on many of Dylans' early hits. excerpt:

"On the morning of the explosion, Bruce Langhorne recalls, he had been pondering the question of what percentage of powdered magnesium could safely be included in a home-made mix of rocket propellant.

"'I realise now that I had one or two gaps in my knowledge of chemistry,' he says. 'I was 12.'

"His mother Dorothy was downstairs in the kitchen, working on her own, less hazardous, recipes.

"'I made the rocket using a steel jacket, packed with magnesium and plaster of Paris...'

"'With a view to what?'

"'I was going to launch it out of my bedroom window to see how far it would get across the park. We were living in New York City, in Spanish Harlem, at that time. I hadn't realised quite how fast magnesium burns. The rocket exploded before it took off. My mother heard this 'boom'. When she came into my (omega) room, she saw I had blown my hand off basically, and my face was all covered in blood. It looked for a while as though I might lose an eye.'

"Langhorne, 68, is talking to me at the kitchen table in his house at Venice Beach, Los Angeles. He raises his right hand. Its fourth and fifth fingers are intact; the thumb, index and middle fingers are reduced to short stumps.

"'My mom told me afterwards that I looked at her and said: 'Well, at least I won't have to play that stupid violin any more.' As a child,' he adds, 'you are very adaptable.'

"Bruce Langhorne had already been identified as versatile and highly gifted, but nobody could have foreseen just how successfully he would overcome this early trauma. The inspiration for the song 'Mr Tambourine Man,' he played guitar on many of Bob Dylan's greatest recordings, including the 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home. He played the electric solo on "Knockin' On Heaven's Door", and percussion on 'Like a Rolling Stone.'

"'If you had Bruce playing with you,' Dylan wrote, in his 2004 autobiography, Chronicles, 'that's all you would need to do just about anything.'

"Bruce Langhorne's career as a cinema composer has included three soundtracks for Jonathan Demme, director of films such as The Silence Of The Lambs, Philadelphia, and his recent documentary on Haiti, The Agronomist. Demme describes the musician simply as 'a master.' When Peter Fonda first commissioned Langhorne's unforgettable score for his classic 1971 western The Hired Hand, he encountered fierce opposition from the film company. 'I reminded them,' Fonda recalled, 'that, in the world of music, the word 'virtuoso' still means something.'

"I tell Bruce Langhorne that I have no trouble recalling the day I decided to try and track him down: it was last July, in a warehouse on an industrial estate just outside Stroud, in Gloucestershire, where I was visiting Stuart McAllister, the UK's leading chilli sauce connoisseur. McAllister, who manufactures and distributes hot sauce from all over the world, had offered me a challenging series of tastings of products with names like 'Rectum Ripper,' 'Blair's After Death,' and 'Holy Shit!' This last bottle bore the words: 'Incinerate Your Body. Adios.' He apologised for having run out of 'So Sue Me,' 'Screaming Sphincter' and 'Wimp Retardant.'

"After a while, McAllister's conversation turned away from these so-called 'Untouchables' - brutal preparations popular with a masochistic UK clientèle - and he started to discuss less absurdly spiced condiments, of real culinary interest. If he couldn't choose one of his own line of 'Hot-Headz' products, he told me, he'd have no hesitation in choosing one all-time favourite from the several thousand brands he has tasted. He handed me my first bottle of Brother Bru-Bru's, a subtle, yet highly flavoured sauce. 'This one really is extraordinary,' McAllister said. 'It's unique, delicious, and not dominated by the flavour of vinegar, like some of the better-known sauces.' I have never bought a bottle of Encona or Tabasco since.

"The face on Brother Bru-Bru's eye-catching label is Bruce Langhorne's. He devised the formula in 1992 - here, at his home in Venice. The musician and master chef hands me a bottle from a display stand he keeps in the kitchen."
"The health problems that prompted Bruce Langhorne to invent one of the world's great sauces intensified gruesomely last year. In the space of a few months he suffered a stroke, developed a digestive disorder which left him temporarily unable to swallow, and was diagnosed with a tumour in the pituitary gland. Each condition has responded to treatment, and his only visible symptoms, on the day I meet him, are a certain frailty and a slight unsteadiness when he walks.

"Langhorne had no medical insurance when he fell ill. At one point, he tells me, he was contemplating selling the Martin guitar that strikes up the first chord on 'Subterranean Homesick Blues,' and was used for the solos on songs such as 'Don't Think Twice, It's Alright,' and 'Love Minus Zero/No Limit.' Last Christmas Jonathan Demme launched an appeal fund on counterpunch.com, with an open letter entitled 'A Great Musician Needs Your Help.'
"He didn't start playing the guitar till he was 17, busking in the company of a caricaturist who would sketch people who stopped to listen.

"'I was playing basically with two fingers and the nub of a third,' he says. 'That meant I had to play two notes with one finger, or else strum. So I developed a technique that used each of my fingers to generate a harmonic line. I couldn't be taught by classical techniques. I had to rely on communication and empathy. Which is why I really liked working with Bob Dylan.'

"The two met in 1961 in New York, at the folk club Gerde's Folk City, where Langhorne was accompanist to the MC, a gospel singer named Brother John Sellers.

"'When I first heard Bobby,' Langhorne says, 'I have to be truthful; I was not impressed by his voice. But he turned into such a wonderful writer, such a wonderful artist.'

"'In Scorsese's documentary, you describe the intuitive rapport you developed with Dylan.'

"'The connection I had with Bobby was telepathic, and when I use that word, I mean it. Telepathic. Between the two of us, that level of communication was always very strong. I played on every song on Bringing It All Back Home. Some of those numbers were barely rehearsed. Some were done in one or two takes.'

"'And Dylan said that you inspired him to write 'Mr Tambourine Man.''

"'He did write that song about me. I used to have this drum - a kind of huge Turkish tambourine that made a sound like a whole percussion section. He saw me playing it at a party. It's in a museum now.'"

* Nice little Frank Zappa interview (from a tv show called "the cutting edge").

* "They've already proved Einstein. I mean, all you have to do is look at the way the sun shines on a leaf, and it's round. They proved that light goes in a circle. So, I imagine as long as I'm light, I'm in a circle. Everything is in a circle. When people try to roll a square they get a lot of bumps. Spontaneous things are true things. Society is so anti-spontaneity because they can't get past the idea of The Switch. Some people think they can throw switches on other people. They switch them on when they want to hear them and switch them off when they don't. You know as well as I do that if you turn off a switch you couldn't turn a light back on if the electricity wasn't moving. See, electricity never stops moving. That's the *spark of life*. How can you turn life on or off?" -- Captain Beefheart

June 13, 2007

all around your every curve

Pauline Boty, The Only Blonde in the World, 1963

Near the Champs d'Elysees, Paris
-- by Melinda Thomsen

There was a noticeable lack of honking.
(Ok, so I'm from New York and noiseless
traffic is like Steinbrenner at a loss for words.)

Look how patiently they wait at the light
and elegantly they walk the Rue de Kleber
to the restaurant in lovely cinched coats,

occasionally chatting on their mobiles.
Take for example, the French couple
at the table next to me — speaking low,

cutting lamb curry with precision
and listening intently to each other
even courteous of a pause in thought.

They hold their glass as holding a glance.

Oh, to be an un-poised American.
I can't rein in this enthusiasm, throbbing
in my blood like a swarm of bees.

In the back, my compatriot is yapping
on his cell and ordering dinner with a twang
until the French woman drowns him out

by blowing her nose into the linen
napkin with the ferocity of a cab driver
grid-locked on Second Avenue.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pop Corpse
-- by Tina Celona

for Stephanie

When I’m older I write only once a week. The rest of the time I heal and drink juice cocktails and read and talk to people. This method seems to work for me and over time I even start to fart poems. The Corcoran asks me to do an exhibit of poems associated with infrared photographs of farts. I spend days matching poems to the right farts, finishing in just enough time to drive to Florida and see my great-uncle, my separated cousin, and her two babies.

A boy can be your boyfriend without actually being your boyfriend. On the way you stop to wander through Glen Echo Park. The ancient cries of fun echo and re-echo. Years later I remember holding your hand. My memory is unreliable.

Favorable notice in another paper. On the fire escape the man asked me if I had hyperthyroid condition. Offended, I insisted my thyroid was normal.

I realize that I have been as repressed in my poetry as I have been foolish in real life. When my writing goes well I attribute it to God. When I kissed you in the car I blamed myself. We were in the church for hours discussing our favorite cathedrals. There is always something I have not bothered to remember.

You are my secret best friend. I am a gas station attendant. When someone gives me a tip it is like I have done something great. I feel great as I pump gas.

June 12, 2007

Like a mile without a friend

William Abranowicz, Boat, Santorini, 1995

* Salon's Glenn Greenwald reacts to Joe Klien's thoughts on Scooter Libby and the perjury charge. excerpt:

"It is difficult to recall a single episode which has been more revealing of our political culture than the collective Beltway horror over the plight of the poor, maltreated and persecuted (and convicted felon) Lewis Libby. It is hardly surprising that the right-wing movement of which he is a part operates from the premise that their comrades ought to be exempt from criminal prosecution even when they commit felonies. That "principle" is a central and defining one for that movement, applied religiously to the Leader and everyone on down the right-wing food chain.

"But what the Libby case demonstrates is that so many establishment journalists believe this just as religiously. To our media stars, 'Beltway crime' is an oxymoron, at least when it is committed by a high-level political official. In exactly the way they treated all prior acts of lawbreaking by Bush officials as innocuous political controversies, the Beltway press speaks of Lewis Libby's felonies as being something other than a "real crime," all so plainly based on the premise that Libby -- as a dignified member in good standing of the elevated and all-important Beltway court -- ought to be exempt from the type of punishment doled out to 'real criminals' who commit 'real crimes.'

"Time's Joe Klein yesterday became but the latest in a long series of Beltway pundits expressing righteous anger over the grave injustice of One of Them being sent to something as low and common as a prison. In a post entitled 'Thoughts on Sentencing,' Klein actually argues -- seriously -- that it is imperative for the public interest that Paris Hilton receive jail time because 'it is exemplary: It sends the message . . .that even rich twits can't avoid the law,' but:

"I have a different feeling about Libby. His "perjury"--not telling the truth about which reporters he talked to--would never be considered significant enough to reach trial, much less sentencing, much less time in stir if he weren't Dick Cheney's hatchet man. . . .

"But jail time? Do we really want to spend our tax dollars keeping Scooter Libby behind bars? I don't think so. This "perjury" case only exists because of his celebrity--just as the ridiculous "perjury" case against Bill Clinton, which ballooned into the fantastically stupid and destructive impeachment proceedings.

There are so many fallacious and misleading assertions packed within just these few sentences that it is difficult to know where to begin.
"But the most glaring falsehood in Klein's Libby defense is also the most easily disproven: namely, Klein's claim that 'perjury' is something for which people are not convicted and imprisoned unless they are 'celebrities' or 'Dick Cheney's hatchet man.' A very quick and basic Google search (which so many Beltway pundits like Klein, and his boss Rick Stengel, have repeatedly proven themselves too slothful to perform), or even a casual perusal of Klein's own comment section, quickly turns up the following, demonstrating just how false is Klein's assertion that Libby is the unfair victim of 'celebrity' prosecution."
"And this Time Magazine article from January 13, 1975, details that the majority of Watergate criminals served jail time for perjury and obstruction of justice. When prosecutors conclude that someone is deliberately attempting to conceal the truth in an investigation of public importance, it is common -- and has been for quite some time -- for them to pursue perjury and obstruction of justice charges for reasons that are self-evident. But Klein here is interested only in defending Lewis Libby and the license of Beltway power, and is willing to make any assertions, no matter how fact-free, in service of that ignoble mission.

"The reason Bush officials have believed they can simply break the law with complete impunity is because the Beltway culture in which they operate believes that. Most importantly, our media stars absolutely believe that, that lawbreaking by the most powerful political officials who rule their world is not real lawbreaking, even when they are convicted in a court of law -- after ample due process and with the best legal defense team which Marty Peretz and Fred Thompson could help pay for -- of committing multiple felonies."
"It is so painfully revealing, though equally unsurprising, to read one of our most prestigious pundits, the Leading Liberal in Time Magazine, argue that Paris Hilton should be imprisoned as an example of the stern rule of law that prevails in our country but convicted felon Lewis Libby -- who deliberately lied under oath to the Grand Jury and as part of an FBI investigation -- should be set free. Or that George Bush's spying on Americans in violation of the criminal law is a matter of mere political controversy which Democrats ought steadfastly to avoid. There is no class of people more defensive of the prerogatives of political power than our 'journalist' class, even though, in a healthy and functioning democracy, the exact opposite would be true."

* The relationship between Bob Dylan and Neil Young.

* "Studios are passe for me. I'd rather play in a garage, in a truck, or a rehearsal hall, a club, or a basement." -- Neil Young

June 11, 2007

and I guess that I just don't know

Gerhard Richter, Station, 1985

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"2. Roger Ailes

"Still think Fox News is legit? Last week the company's head, Roger Ailes, blasted the Democratic presidential candidates for their refusal to participate in a show trial, er, I mean, debate, on his so-called news channel.

"'The candidates that can't face Fox, can't face Al Qaeda,' he said.

"Fair point. After all:

"-- They're both run by ideological extremists

"--They both have a radical following

"--They're both bent on striking fear into the hearts of the American people

"--They're both well-versed in the art of propaganda

"--They both desperately want Republicans in power

"--They both desperately want the U.S. to stay in Iraq forever

"...you get the picture."

* Bad News Hughes' book is out! Get your copy today.

* Children of Marx and Coca-Cola on Werner Herzog. excerpt:

"I watched Little Dieter Needs to Fly in part as preparation for the upcoming release of Herzog’s Rescue Dawn, a dramatic reworking of Dieter’s tale that will star Christian Bale as the resilient German-American pilot. What I found in this film, beyond the elements of its structure ripe for adaptation, was a message as profound as that contained in another Herzog documentary:Grizzly Man – a film that borrows many of the same themes and styles of this one. But while many of Herzog’s protagonists, both fictional and real, represent different degrees of madness and isolation, Dieter for much of the film appears more as an unwitting victim of a world riddled with madness and isolation. Perched just outside the insanity, he desperately attempts to remain focused and resolute in his quest to escape from it.

"At least, for a while, that is. Typical Herzogian hero that he is, Dieter cannot truly escape the madness of the world as we find him now getting on in his years and living in a pleasant, secure house, but still stockpiling rations and hiding extra supplies in hollowed out sections of his floor. He tests the doors to his abode repeatedly, because, as he points out, in prison he had no doors and the mere task of being able to open and close these gives him great joy. It’s a touching, understandable sort of madness. Certainly not in line with the zealous lust for power embodied by Aguirre, or the deep obsessive love of Opera that drives Brian Fitzgerald in Fitzcarraldo or even that same naivety and slightly conceited obsession buried deep within Timothy Treadwell’s love of bears. It has an innocence uncharacteristic in Herzog films.

"Hearing Dieter recount the details of his capture – the gruesome torture inflicted upon him and his improbable escape from the clutches of death – I can see how such a narrative could work as a dramatic film. It has a definite structure to be exploited. That puts a terrible burden on Herzog and his decision to remake it in a different context, so let’s hope he practices some cautious reserve in how he frames his film and uses his insight to shape it as authentically as possible. It has the potential to be either the best film of the year, or one of the worst. I put my faith, as always, in Herzog’s ability to overcome quotidian convention. He’ll make something out of it."

* "It was not a significant bullet. I am not afraid" -- Werner Herzog on the bullet (from an air rifle) that grazed his arm during a 2006 interview.

June 8, 2007

he asked her please stop quotin' rod mc kuen in your post cards
can't understand it anymore
and if your gonna read your poetry aloud to me
i'll have to show you to the door

Heidi Neff, Iraq

Faure's Second Piano Quartet
-- by James Schuyler

On a day like this the rain comes
down in fat and random drops among
the ailanthus leaves---"the tree
of Heaven"---the leaves that on moon-
lit nights shimmer black and blade-
shaped at this third-floor window.
And there are bunches of small green
knobs, buds, crowded together. The
rapid music fills in the spaces of
the leaves. And the piano comes in,
like an extra heartbeat, dangerous
and lovely. Slower now, less like
the leaves, more like the rain which
almost isn't rain, more like thawed-
out hail. All this beauty in the
mess of this small apartment on
West 20th in Chelsea, New York.
Slowly the notes pour out, slowly,
more slowly still, fat rain falls.

-- by Anne Sexton

Be careful of words,
even the miraculous ones.
For the miraculous ones we do our best,
sometimes they swarm like insects
and leave not a sting but a kiss.
They can be good as fingers.
They can be trusty as the rock
you stick your bottom on.
But they can be both daisies and bruises.

Yet I am in love with words.
They are doves falling out of the ceiling.
They are six holy oranges sitting in my lap.
They are the trees, the legs of summer,
and the sun, its passionate face.

Yet often they fail me.
I have so much I want to say,
so many stories, images, proverbs, etc.
But the words aren’t good enough,
the wrong ones kiss me.
Sometimes I fly like an eagle
but with the wings of a wren.

But I try to take care
and be gentle to them.
Words and eggs must be handled with care.
Once broken they are impossible
things to repair.

-- by James Tate

When I drink
I am the only man
in New York City.
There are no lights,
but I am used to that.
There are staircases
that go forever upward
like twisted branches

of a cemetery willow.
No one has climbed them
since prohibition.
and the overturned automobiles
stripped to their skeletons,
chewed clean
by the darkness.

Then I see the ember of
a cigarette in an alley,
and I know that I am no longer
alone. One of us is still shaking.
And has led the other
into some huddle of extinction.

* "One should judge a man mainly from his depravities. Virtues can be faked. Depravities are real." -- Klaus Kinski

June 7, 2007

I played video games in a drunken haze
I was seventeen years young.
hurt my knuckles punching the machines
the taste of scotch rich on my tongue

Theodor Jung, Young fellows in front of pool hall, Jackson, Ohio, 1936

* Clusterfuck Nation. excerpt:

"Our current military adventures in the Middle East, are predicated largely on keeping the old arrangements going. We're in Iraq because we built Dallas, Atlanta, Orlando, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Long Island the way we did, and the only way we can hope to keep these organisms going even a little while longer is to keep open our oil supply line to the Persian Gulf. The truth is, these organisms will not survive the oil-scarcer future in the form they're in. The American people need to come to grips with this. No amount of chest-thumping around the globe will change it. In any case, sooner or later we'll exhaust our military and bankrupt ourselves trying to project our influence into these places overseas -- meaning, sooner or later we will withdraw back into our own hemisphere. I wonder if Wolf Blitzer of CNN will ask any of the candidates, what happens then?

"A basic rule of reality is that you can't get something for nothing. Sooner or later the financial sector will have to come to grips with this rule, meaning that that debt is not wealth and the revolving reallocation of debt in the form of credit does not amount to wealth creation. The US will arrive at a magic moment when the full force of this reality reasserts itself, and it is likely to make itself manifest in the collapse of the entity most closely associated the idea of wealth: the dollar. Assets vested in the dollar's legitimacy will follow its fate. The implication is that an awful lot of the presumed wealth held by Americans could vanish into thin air. Do any of the candidates for president recognize how this works, or have any idea how much disorder this phase change will send thundering through our sociopolitical infrastructure?

"With the election campaign revving up so prematurely, it is very possible that all the candidates now in the arena will exhaust, bankrupt, and even disgrace their campaigns as they desperately pirouette around these painful truths, and that none of them will survive the process with their political legitimacy intact. In the meantime, unsettling events on the outside will intrude on the protective bubble in which the public has taken shelter -- more bloody disturbances around the Middle East, dangerous shenanigans in the financial markets, untoward weather events in vulnerable places.

"The premature election campaign, with all its reassuring televised ceremonies of pre-cooked debate and formal posturing, may end up having the opposite of its intended effect. It may expose the more frightening reality that our political system is not up to the challenges before us. And then what will we do?"

* The New Yorker on the University of Texas' rare book collection, and the man in charge Tom Staley. long, but worth a read. excerpt:

"The current director of the center is Thomas Staley. Seventy-one, and a modernist scholar by training, he is mercurial and hard-driving. Amid the silence of the center’s Reading Room, he often greets visiting scholars with a resonant slap on the back. In college, at a Jesuit school in Colorado, Staley pitched in a summer baseball league, specializing in a slow, sinking curve. His 'crafty pitch,' as he calls it, was good enough to attract the attention of professional scouts. The Ransom Center, under Staley’s leadership, easily outmaneuvers rivals such as Yale, Harvard, and the British Library. It operates more like a college sports team, with Staley as the coach—an approach that fits the temperament of Texas. 'People take a special pride here in winners,' Staley says. 'They like success.' (After the Ransom bought its Gutenberg Bible, the center sent the Bible on a victory lap, displaying it at libraries, museums, and universities around the state.)

"Staley works from behind an oak desk in a large office on the Ransom’s third floor. A bronze bust of Joyce, by Milton Hebald, is in the foyer. The bookshelves hold copies of Staley’s many scholarly publications; before becoming an archivist, he wrote studies of Dorothy Richardson, the first writer to use stream-of-consciousness narration in English, and of Jean Rhys, the author of 'Wide Sargasso Sea.' He was a founder of the James Joyce Quarterly, and was its editor for twenty-six years. As you walk down the corridor leading to Staley’s office, you hear his cackling laugh.

"He has coined several maxims about the acquisition of archives, including what he calls Staley’s Law: 'Ten per cent of an archive represents ninety per cent of its value.' When he tells you about an archive that he is hoping to buy, he stops and purrs, 'Oooh, it’s good, it’s very gooood,' his hill-country accent making him sound like a feline Lyndon Johnson. I recently went with him to a penthouse apartment in Miami, to look at a large archive of experimental poetry that had been collected by a pulmonologist, Marvin Sackner, and his wife, Ruth. Shortly after arriving, Staley pronounced it a 'solid collection.' Upon examining some work in detail—the collection included the 1897 journal in which Stéphane Mallarmé’s poem 'A Throw of the Dice' first appeared—he began to snuffle with excitement. After spending an hour with the archive, Staley declared it to be 'one hell of a collection.' He told me this outside, so that the Sackners wouldn’t raise the price."

* The Iraq quagmire chess set.

* "Around 1967 I began backing away from dogmatic Leninism, not so much because I thought it was false, I just decided there was nothing utopian about it." -- Henry Flynt

June 6, 2007

yesterday was spent down in the trenches

Arthur Lavine, Playground, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York, 1970

The Fear of Death Disturbs Me
-- by William Meredith (RIP)

Now it is almost certain that we will be going.
The place is thought to be foul, whether defiled
By ourselves (Who are variously seen as knowing
Or unknowing offenders) or befouled
Like a public lavatory by no one knows whom-
The mucker we all agree about, whose nick-name
Is all he ever scrawls in the filthy room.
But whoever the vandal is, it is all the same:

We will have to quit the ambient sweet air
For dankness and stench where, mustered one by one
By bullies, some of us they say will give
A poor account, a worse even than here.
With this much notice something should be done,
Yet what is there to do but try to live?

The Return
-- by Gu Cheng

(translated by Aaron Crippen)

don’t go to sleep, don’t
Dear, the road is long yet
don’t go too near
the forest’s enticements, don’t lose hope

write the address
in snowmelt on your hand
or lean on my shoulder
as we pass the hazy morning

lifting the transparent storm curtain
we’ll arrive at where we are from
a green disk of land
around an old pagoda

there I will guard
your weary dreams
and drive off the flocks of nights
leaving only bronze drums, and the sun

as beyond the pagoda
tiny waves quietly
crawl up the beach
and draw back trembling

Never Again the Same
-- by James Tate

Speaking of sunsets,
last night's was shocking.
I mean, sunsets aren't supposed to frighten you, are they?
Well, this one was terrifying.
Sure, it was beautiful, but far too beautiful.
It wasn't natural.
One climax followed another and then another
until your knees went weak
and you couldn't breathe.
The colors were definitely not of this world,
peaches dripping opium,
pandemonium of tangerines,
inferno of irises,
Plutonian emeralds,
all swirling and churning, swabbing,
like it was playing with us,
like we were nothing,
as if our whole lives were a preparation for this,
this for which nothing could have prepared us
and for which we could not have been less prepared.
The mockery of it all stung us bitterly.
And when it was finally over
we whimpered and cried and howled.
And then the streetlights came on as always
and we looked into one another's eyes--
ancient caves with still pools
and those little transparent fish
who have never seen even one ray of light.
And the calm that returned to us
was not even our own.

* Tuli KupferbergI Am An Artist for Art's Sake.

June 5, 2007

everyday will break by itself

Tina Newberry, Sitting Duck

* How does George Bush sleep at night. excerpt:

"Iraq has become a case study in anarchy. I don't know how George Bush sleeps at night. You'd have to be a monster to rest easy, knowing what he's done. I'm not sure one man's sloth has ever caused so much harm. My God man, if you didn't want to be president, why did you apply for the job?

"What a hideous combination of conceits Bush has. He has the ego that drives him to want to be the top man. He has the arrogance to think that he his qualified. But he has the laziness that makes him not want to actually do the job. He has the insecurity that makes him want to cover up his faults. He has the smallness of character that will not concede his weaknesses and seek out help. He has the hubris to think that he could cover up all this, run the world into the ground and think that people won't notice. How has the world fallen into the grasp of this tiny, tiny man?

"George W. Bush is the perfect storm of character flaws. Not only does he bring all of these horrible traits together at once, but he does at the worst possible time in the worst possible position. The president of the United States of America has to be the most competent person on earth. And somehow the exact opposite has snuck in to that role.

"For the love of all that is holy and important, let us please pick the most competent person next time for this position. I don't want to have a beer with our next president. I want him or her to be intellectually superior to me. They should be the best among us, not appeal to the worst in us. They have to be smart, hard working, full of character and perhaps, above all, be someone that cares about the job."
"What we did to Iraq is inexcusable. Yet there is one simple, blithe man up top who gaily walks about as if he doesn't have a care in the world. If George Bush can sleep at night, he really must be a monster."

-- related: A love story told in three pictures.

* Printed Matter has an exhibition on The Fugs. It runs until September 8, 2007.

"Printed Matter is pleased to announce an exhibition on the legendary sixties folk rock group The Fugs. On view throughout the summer, FUCK FOR PEACE: A History of The Fugs will showcase the band’s records and ephemera as well as the dozens of publications published by The Fugs' founding members Tuli Kupferberg and Ed Sanders. Please join us for the opening reception on June 2, 2007. Printed Matter is located at 195 Tenth Avenue (at 22nd Street) in New York City.

"Formed in 1965 by Tuli Kupferberg and Ed Sanders, The Fugs were the latest brush stroke by the two poets, who already held a prominent position in the milieu of New York City’s downtown literary, art, and music culture. Both were practicing writers and publishers and were well known as luminaries in New York’s thriving underground.
"Fuck for Peace: A History of The Fugs focuses on The Fugs as a band that was both the result and extension of Kupferberg and Sander’s creative and publishing endeavors. The exhibition will showcase records and ephemera, including posters, flyers, hand-written lyric sheets, songbooks, and fan letters as well as publications by both Kupferberg and Sanders. This is the first exhibition to focus solely on The Fugs, and certainly the first time that all this work has been presented together."

* "When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge." -- Tuli Kupferberg

June 1, 2007

A cloud crossed the moon, a child cried for food
We knew the war could not be won

Jean Dubuffet, Typewriter III, 1964

There Is One Who Watches
-- by Kenneth Patchen

The heavens sway at his touch,
Dropping blue pennies
Into the hand of summer.
The ears of the lark alone hear his singing.
Those who love have his waking
When their bodies are fed.
On the edge of the world
Stands his unending house.
All who have waited in the darkness
Are there shone a flowering light.
Manifest in his pattern are the crowns of destiny,
And he has speech direct with God.
Dressed in the white hoods of his anger,
terrible soldiers empty winter on the earth.
Beneath him the wells of hair
Cloud with the warm juice of suicides;
And the splendor of all creatures is polished
By the tinkling ghoast whom men call death.
All beside him nestle the eternal Guardians,
Whose kingdom is the shading of a leaf
Of the clanging open of a grave.

The Colors Are Off This Season
-- by Sarah Hannah

I don't want any more of this mumble—
Orange fireside hues,
Fading sun, autumnal tumble,
Stricken, inimitable—Rose.

I want Pink, unthinking, true.
Foam pink, cream and coddle,
Miniskirt, Lolita, pompom, tutu,
Milkshake. Pink without the mottle

Or the dying fall. Pink adored, a thrall
So pale it's practically white.
A tinted room beneath a gable—
Ice pink, powder, feather-light—

Untried corner of the treble.
I want the lift, not the lower.
Bloodless pink stalled at girl,
No weight, no care, no hour.

Miss Brevity
-- by Laura Kasischke

I made the gown myself from minutes
held together with safety pins, and

wore it as I wafted through the nursery
pouring light all over the crowns
of their heads. All

those ghostly babies in their rows. Oh,

you swear you'll remember us forever,
but you won't.

-- back Tuesday.