September 28, 2007

Tied to the Puritan Ethic
Nonsympathetic to spastics
After all this, still a lonely bastard

Jeff Brouws, West Motel Drive, Lordsburg, New Mexico, 2001

What the Therapist Said
by Nin Andrews

Just because you think a man is dead
doesn’t mean you should leave him.
Really, the dead have a lot of advantages
over the living. Think about your dad.
How much better you get along with him
now that he’s passed. It’s time’s way.
And why in the end everything turns out okay.
A lot of women would envy you. The dead,
let’s be honest, they’re pretty stiff fellows.
And you don’t have to worry about talking to them.
You can if you want to of course. You said
the one thing you do talk about
is how you both hate George Bush.
I imagine all the dead hate Bush. Too bad
they don’t vote anymore. But that’s something.
It’s a start. Besides, in these parts
most of the living men are Republicans.
Really, I’d think twice about this.
Whether you’d like to spend your life
with a man who’s dead or alive. It’s a tough choice.

In the Gift Shop at the Lunatic Asylum
-- by Paul Violi

Always on sale, the figurines
of infants are made out of tar
and are produced by inmates,
former apprentices
of Imbrolgione mostly.
On visiting days family
and friends purchase them
as presents for the inmates.

-- by Jonathan Galassi

Chaotic sun on asphalt camouflages
the order of the shadows that the trees
throw down in mulled, multivalent mirages:
wheels within wheels -- I've had my share of these.

The clouds upstairs, too, seem to move by magic;
their hectic travels never look the same.
I can't see their wildness has a logic
and I don't know my wildness has a name.

September 27, 2007

her skin so white and her forehead so high
I could not kiss my ballerina goodbye

Piet Mondrian, Composition, 1921

* Oxford American article on the making of Blonde on Blonde. excerpt:

"Blonde on Blonde borrows from several musical styles, including ’40s Memphis and Chicago blues, turn-of-the-century vintage New Orleans processionals, contemporary pop, and blast-furnace rock & roll. And with every appropriation, Dylan moved closer to a sound of his own. Years later, he famously commended some of the album’s tracks for 'that thin, that wild mercury sound,' which he had begun to capture on his previous albums Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited—a sound achieved from whorls of harmonica, organ, and guitar. Dylan’s organist and musical go-between Al Kooper has said that 'nobody has ever captured the sound of three a.m. better than that album. Nobody, even Sinatra, gets it as good.' These descriptions are accurate, but neither of them applies to all the songs, nor to all of the sounds in most of the songs. Nor do they offer clues about the album’s origins and evolution—including how its being recorded mostly in the wee, small hours may have contributed to its three A.M. aura."
"Dylan became frustrated and angry at the next Blonde on Blonde date, held three weeks into the new year during an extended break from touring. In nine hours of recording, through nineteen listed takes, only one song was attempted, for which Dylan supplied the instantly improvised title, 'Just a Little Glass of Water.' Eventually renamed 'She’s Your Lover Now,' it’s a lengthy, cinematic vignette of a hurt, confused man lashing out at his ex-girlfriend and her new lover. Nobody expected it would be recorded easily. (Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman, interjects on the tape, just before the recording starts, that there is a supply of 'raw meat for everybody in the band.") The first take rolls at a stately pace, but Dylan is restless and the day has just begun.

"On successive takes, the tempo speeds, then slows a bit, then speeds up again. Dylan tries singing a line in each verse accompanied only by Garth Hudson’s organ, shifting the song’s dynamics, but the idea survives for only two takes. After some false starts, Dylan exclaims, 'It’s not right…it’s not right,' and soon he despairs, 'No, fuck it, I’m losing the whole fucking song.' He again changes tempos and fiddles with some chords and periodically scolds himself as well as the band: 'I don’t give a fuck if it’s good or not, just play it together…you don’t have to play anything fancy or nothing, just…just together.' A strong, nearly complete version ensues, but Dylan flubs the last verse. 'I can’t hear the song anymore,' he finally confesses. He wants the song back, so he plays it alone, slowly, on his tack piano, and nails every verse. He reacts to his own performance with a little 'huh' that could have been registering puzzlement or rediscovery. But Dylan would end up discarding 'She’s Your Lover Now,' just as he would abandon a later, interesting take of an older song, 'I’ll Keep It with Mine.'"
"Blonde on Blonde was, and remains, a gigantic peak in Dylan’s career. From more than a dozen angles, it describes basic, not always flattering, human desire and the inner movements of an individual being in the world. The lyric manuscripts from the Nashville sessions show Dylan working in a ’60s mode of what T.S. Eliot had called, regretfully, the dissociation of sensibility—cutting off discursive thought or wit from poetic value, substituting emotion for coherence. The less finished lyrics-in-formation that survive in manuscript—like the archipelago of flashing images that lead, finally, to intimations of 'Memphis Blues Again'—would never completely lose their delirious quality on the album. Yet even with its ruptures between image and meaning, even with its Rimbaud-like symbolism and Beat generation cut-up images, Blonde on Blonde also evokes William Blake’s song cycle of innocence and experience, when it depicts how innocence and experience can mingle, as in 'Just Like a Woman,' but also when it depicts the gulf that lies between them. Many of the album’s songs, for all of their self-involved temptations and frustrations, express a kind of solidarity in the struggle to live inside that gulf. Although the songs are sometimes mordant, even accusatory, they are not at all hard or cynical. Blonde on Blonde never degrades or mocks primary experience. Its doomed, hurtful love affairs do not negate love, or abandon efforts to remake love, to liberate it: quite the opposite, as is shown in the litanies of its concluding psalm to the mysteriously wise Sad-Eyed Lady. Blonde on Blonde, as finally assembled, is a disillusioned but seriously hopeful work of art."
"The album changed how listeners and ambitious writers and performers thought about Bob Dylan and about the possibilities of rock & roll. It also affected its makers. A year later, after the breakup of the group he was in, the Blues Project, Al Kooper headed a new band that fused jazz with rock & roll and pop but took its name from an album of Johnny Cash’s released in 1963, Blood, Sweat, and Tears. Soon after they finished Blonde on Blonde, several of the Nashville musicians reassembled as the Mystic Knights Band and Street Singers. Under producer Bob Johnston (renamed, for the occasion, 'Colonel Jubilation B. Johnston'), they recorded and released on Columbia one of the most obscure rock albums of the 1960s, Moldy Goldies—'as goofy as we could be,' Charlie McCoy remembers—sending up hits from the Young Rascals’ 'Good Lovin’' to Sonny and Cher’s 'Bang Bang.' Each takeoff sounds a lot like a hit of their own, namely 'Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,' except with one 'Luscious Norma Jean Owen' singing instead of Bob Dylan, her Southern voice hovering between coyness and confusion."

* Bill Callahan and Joanna Newsom playing Rock Bottom Riser @ sxsw 2007.

* "No one knows where the business ends and the government begins and vice versa and I think that it should take some time before Russian people could recognise the virtues of liberal democracy and market economy but we need first to make sure that political system will be based on those principles." -- Gary Kasparov

September 26, 2007

Wowie zowie
Your loves a treat
Wowie zowie
You cant be beat

Joan Snyder, Oratorio, 1997

the suburban prophets
-- d.a. levy

for R.D.D.

oh its an easy cool
that roling of long grass lawn tranquility
and long grass philosophy
sounds almost as absurd
as suburban hipsters
smoking long grass
like panama red while subtly discussing
plato ouspensky sartre or zen
putting it down
its easy
from the long grass lands &
from the long grass lands
'everything is good'

"everything is good"
in the land of shad trees
"Everything is God"
"the universe is one"
walking in the long grass lands with flowers
within reach of quiet hands

"You bet motherfucker,
let me tell you about
the satori i had last week!"
in the suburbs
its easy
to remember
golden rules & golden days
& god is good even tho non-existent
its a good world in the suburban long grass
you can watch the grass grow
& smell progress in the open sky
and its easy to forget
across the city
are streets of hunger
and that suburban tranquility
doesnt feed those hungry streets
and that suburban tranquility
doesnt mean a good fuck
on suburban lawns

its easy to think there
are jobs for everyone
when youve got one

its easy to quote lau tzu
when yr wife inst on the streets
and dont have to dodge the
welfare children

its an easy cool
laying on the quiet suburban lawn grass
"in tune with the universe"

and its like smoking long grass
panama red
you just slip into
an easy forgetting
and its easy to forget
some men are starving
and some men with guns…

A Book Full of Pictures
-- Charles Simic

Father studied theology through the mail
And this was exam time.
Mother knitted. I sat quietly with a book
Full of pictures. Night fell.
My hands grew cold touching the faces
Of dead kings and queens.

There was a black raincoat
in the upstairs bedroom
Swaying from the ceiling,
But what was it doing there?
Mother's long needles made quick crosses.
They were black
Like the inside of my head just then.

The pages I turned sounded like wings.
"The soul is a bird," he once said.
In my book full of pictures
A battle raged: lances and swords
Made a kind of wintry forest
With my heart spiked and bleeding in its branches.

for a rainy day
-- d.a. levy

we tried to save
pressed in books
like flowers from
a sun warmed day
years later to
open yellowing pages
to find those same
kisses - wilted and dry.

September 25, 2007

If you don't want America
to play second fiddle,
Kill, kill, kill for peace
Kill, kill, kill for peace

Florence Riefle Bahr, Peace, 1968, Color woodcut

* The Ugly Side of the GOP. excerpt:

"The G.O.P. has spent the last 40 years insulting, disenfranchising and otherwise stomping on the interests of black Americans. Last week, the residents of Washington, D.C., with its majority black population, came remarkably close to realizing a goal they have sought for decades — a voting member of Congress to represent them.

"A majority in Congress favored the move, and the House had already approved it. But the Republican minority in the Senate — with the enthusiastic support of President Bush — rose up on Tuesday and said: 'No way, baby.'

"At least 57 senators favored the bill, a solid majority. But the Republicans prevented a key motion on the measure from receiving the 60 votes necessary to move it forward in the Senate. The bill died.

"At the same time that the Republicans were killing Congressional representation for D.C. residents, the major G.O.P. candidates for president were offering a collective slap in the face to black voters nationally by refusing to participate in a long-scheduled, nationally televised debate focusing on issues important to minorities.

"The radio and television personality Tavis Smiley worked for a year to have a pair of these debates televised on PBS, one for the Democratic candidates and the other for the Republicans. The Democratic debate was held in June, and all the major candidates participated.

The Republican debate is scheduled for Thursday. But Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson have all told Mr. Smiley: 'No way, baby.'

They won’t be there. They can’t be bothered debating issues that might be of interest to black Americans. After all, they’re Republicans."
"In 1991, the first President Bush poked a finger in the eye of black America by selecting the egregious Clarence Thomas for the seat on the Supreme Court that had been held by the revered Thurgood Marshall. The fact that there is a rigid quota on the court, permitting one black and one black only to serve at a time, is itself racist.

"Mr. Bush seemed to be saying, 'All right, you want your black on the court? Boy, have I got one for you.'

"Republicans improperly threw black voters off the rolls in Florida in the contested presidential election of 2000, and sent Florida state troopers into the homes of black voters to intimidate them in 2004.

"Blacks have been remarkably quiet about this sustained mistreatment by the Republican Party, which says a great deal about the quality of black leadership in the U.S. It’s time for that passive, masochistic posture to end."

* The wife of the new Chelsea manager is a touch odd. In a recent TV appearance she:

1. Knocked back a whisky tumbler of her own urine live on air to explore whether or not it had any health benefits.

2. She appeared with a sadomasochist, allowing herself to be spanked and then accepted his invitation to punch him hard in the face.

3. She sat with a male companion in a bath of spaghetti and tomato sauce while wearing a bathing suit, and they toasted each other with red wine.

-- More on the "Ruby Wax of Israeli television" here.

* "The media in America has become so cowed and compromised." -- John Sayles

September 24, 2007

my story is so long
I can't remember the beginning

Carter Mull, Shutter, 2007

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"7. The Bush Administration and Blackwater

"Last week Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki called for U.S. security firm Blackwater to be kicked out of Iraq after Blackwater guards killed at least 10 civilians and wounded 13 during a shootout in Baghdad.

"According to the Associated Press:

'Lawyer Hassan Jabir was stuck in traffic when he heard Blackwater USA security contractors shout "Go, Go, Go." Moments later bullets pierced his back, he said Thursday from his hospital bed.

'Jabir was among about a dozen people wounded Sunday during the shooting in west Baghdad's Mansour neighborhood. Iraqi police say at least 11 people were killed.

'Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki described the shooting as a 'crime' by Blackwater, a N.C.-based company that guards American diplomats and civilian officials in Iraq.

'No one fired at them,' Jabir said of the Blackwater guards. 'No one attacked them but they randomly fired at people. So many people died in the street.'

"Apparently this is the seventh incident in which Blackwater guards have massacred Iraqi civilians, and it prompted the Iraqi government to revoke Blackwater's license.

"But not so fast, so-called prime minister! Just because you're the elected leader of Iraq, it doesn't mean that you can tell Americans what to do. Soon after the attack, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced that she would be getting on the phone with al-Maliki to 'express regret' for the incident. And wouldn't you know it? Four days later...

'Despite opposition from Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, US security company Blackwater was back on the streets of Baghdad on Friday, four days after being grounded over a fatal shooting incident.

'Maliki, meanwhile, was in the firing line over a damning report by the US embassy made public Friday detailing corruption plaguing his government, which called his office's attitude to tackling the problem 'openly hostile.'

'Blackwater guards, whom a furious Maliki wanted replaced after they opened fire in Baghdad killing 10 people, were on Friday protecting US personnel on limited missions, US spokeswoman Mirembe Nantongo told AFP.

'We have resumed limited movement today. It is very limited and all missions need to be pre-approved,' she said.

'The decision was taken by us in consultation with the Iraqi government. All convoys will be protected by PSDs (private security details). Yes, it is Blackwater.'"

"So there you have it. 'Message to Iraqis: our war profiteering is more important than your civilians.' Mission accomplished, I think.

"Oh yes... it was also reported last week that 'Federal prosecutors are investigating whether employees of the private security firm Blackwater USA illegally smuggled into Iraq weapons that may have been sold on the black market and ended up in the hands of a U.S.-designated terrorist organization.'

"But not to worry. I'm sure it will all be cleared up and Blackwater will be found to have done nothing wrong. Again."

"(Incidentally, don't expect Mitt Romney to have much to say about this. The vice chairman of Blackwater is Romney's senior adviser for national security issues.)"

* From a 1999 interview of poet Mark Doty. excerpt:

Question: I'd like to talk a little more about the notion of the political in poetry. In what ways is a poem a suitable vessel for a political subject? What is it that a poem can do with a political subject that another form of writing or discourse can't? I suspect it may have something to do with the way in which poetry engages the reader...

Doty: I've been talking about this a lot in print lately—in an essay in the Boston Review this summer, which responds to Harold Bloom's introduction to the Best of the Best American Poetry anthology, and in an argument-in-print with my friend J.D. McClatchy, which will appear in the new incarnation of the James White Review this winter. It occurs to me that my sense of what political poetry consists of is to some degree generational; I'm young enough (or old enough, depending on your point of view) to have been shaped by the notion that the personal is political. When I talk about political poetry, I mean that work which is attentive to the way an individual sense of identity is shaped by collision with the collective, how one's sense of self is defined through encounter with the social world. Such a poem doesn't necessarily deal with, say, the crisis in Bosnia or America's brutal mishandling of the AIDS epidemic, though it might be concerned with these things. Though it does do more than occupy the space of the lyric 'I;' it is interested, however subtly, in the encounter between self and history.
Question: I am curious to hear why you think poetry survives as an art form today. It seems to me that the most perfect art form would probably be film making: You get to use visual images, sound, music, the spoken voice, actors, etc. Why when we have so many choices of kinds of art-making, do people still keep returning to poetry?

Doty: Poetry certainly doesn't have the 'totalizing' quality that film does, a medium which just surrounds one and hostages the viewer's attention. It lacks painting's immediacy, or photography's odd marriage of the esthetic and the palpable sense of the 'real.' One would think that our late-century engagement with arts which combine media, which seek a sort of seamless experience for the viewer, would supplant poetry. But far from it. My sense is that, while still a minority preference, poetry is thriving. Audiences for readings increase, a great deal of poetry is published, and it seems that among young people especially there is genuine interest in and respect for the art.

"Who knows why? My guess is that somehow poetry is a vessel for the expression of subjectivity unlike any other; a good poem bears the stamp of individual character in a way that seems to usher us into the unmistakably idiosyncratic perceptual style of the writer. I think we're hungry for singularity, for those aspects of self that aren't commodifiable, can't be marketed. In an age marked by homogenization, by the manipulation of desire on a global level (the Gap in Houston is just like the Gap in Kuala Lumpur, it seems), poetry may represent the resolutely specific experience. The dominant art forms of our day—film, video, architecture—are collaborative arts; they require a team of makers. Poems are always made alone, somewhere out on the edge of things, and if they succeed they are saturated with the texture of the uniquely felt life."

* "Even a purely moral act that has no hope of any immediate and visible political effect can gradually and indirectly, over time, gain in political significance." -- Vaclav Havel

September 21, 2007

Art is Denser than a Hockey Puck

Stephen Shore, Natural Bridge, New York, July 1974

As Planned
-- by Frank O'Hara

After the first glass of vodka
you can accept just about anything
of life even you own mysteriousness
you think it is nice that a box
of matches is purple and brown and is called
La Petite and comes from Sweeden
for they are words that you know and that
is all you know words not their feelings
or what they mean and you write because
you know them not because you understand them
because you don't you are stupid and lazy
and will never be great but you do
what you know becausse what else is there?

In Response to a Rumor That the Oldest Whorehouse in Wheeling, West Virginia, Has Been Condemned
-- by James Wright

I will grieve alone,
As I strolled alone, years ago, down along
The Ohio shore.
I hid in the hobo jungle weeds
Upstream from the sewer main,
Pondering, gazing.

I saw, down river,
At Twenty-third and Water Streets
By the vinegar works,
The doors open in early evening.
Swinging their purses, the women
Poured down the long street to the river
And into the river.

I do not know how it was
They could drown every evening.
What time near dawn did they climb up the other shore,
Drying their wings?

For the river at Wheeling, West Virginia,
Has only two shores:
The one in hell, the other
In Bridgeport, Ohio.

And nobody would commit suicide, only
To find beyond death
Bridgeport, Ohio.

Dear Reader
-- by Kim Addonizio

Tonight I am amazed by all the people making love
while I sit alone in my pajamas in a foreign country
with my dinner of cookies and vodka. And I am amazed
that my own country still exists, though I am not in it
to speak its language or break its drug laws. How astonishing

to realize that I am not the glass being shattered
on the street below, or the laughter that follows it;
I'm not even one of the congregation on my small TV,
getting the Lord's good news, though I can reach
the screen by leaning forward, and touch

the wavering line of each transfigured face. I tell you
I can't get over it sometimes, I still have trouble
believing that an egg deep inside my own body
went and turned into someone else, who right now
is on a tour boat on the river, having forgotten

how she used to hold on to my legs whenever I tried
to leave the room. Right now, somewhere I am not,
the history of the world is being decided,
and the terrible things I'd rather not think of
go on and on without stopping, while I separate

the two halves of another cookie and lick
the creem filling, and pour myself one more
and drink to you, dear reader, amazed
that you are somewhere in the world without me,
listening, trying to hold me in your hands.

-- by Adrienne Rich

Living in the earth-deposits of our history

Today a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earth
one bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-old
cure for fever or melancholy a tonic
for living on this earth in the winters of this climate.

Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years by the element
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil

She died a famous woman denying
her wounds
her wounds came from the same source as her power.

September 20, 2007

I know why you stare East, it's where your man's run off
And I know why your trash bin is brimming with his art
'Cause when he was abroad
I read his last postcard
He met some brit named Cass and it broke your heart
I'm the postman
I'm the postman

William Eggleston, Mailbox, Mildred Phillips, 1971

* Congress asks the DEA to Stop Obstructing Medical Marijuana Research. excerpt:

"A letter signed by 45 members of the U.S. House of Representatives will be delivered today to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) demanding an end to the obstruction of scientific research aimed at developing marijuana as a legal prescription medicine.

"The bipartisan letter, co-sponsored by Reps. John Olver (D-MA) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), urges DEA Administrator Karen Tandy to follow the February 2007 ruling of Department of Justice-appointed administrative law judge Mary Ellen Bittner, which found that it would be “in the public interest” for the DEA to grant a license to University of Massachusetts professor Lyle Craker to cultivate research-grade marijuana to be used in Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved studies. Judge Bittner’s ruling is non-binding and DEA has no deadline to decide whether to accept or reject it."

"'The DEA is ignoring the vast scientific evidence that clearly shows medicinal use of marijuana benefits patients who are extremely ill,” said Congressman Nadler today. 'When it comes to providing the best treatment options to sick Americans, we should trust doctors and medical researchers and not federal bureaucrats.'
"In contrast, all other controlled substances, including LSD, heroin and MDMA (Ecstasy), are available to researchers from multiple private manufacturers. NIDA's marijuana monopoly persists despite the fact that federal law requires adequate competition in the production of Schedule I drugs, such as marijuana, to ensure an adequate and uninterrupted supply for legal research. DEA protects NIDA's monopoly by refusing to license other suppliers, such as Professor Craker, according to the ACLU.

"'Patients, scientists, and researchers are caught in a Catch-22,' said Professor Craker, who is the director of the Medicinal Plant Program in the Department of Plant, Insect and Soil Sciences at University of Massachusetts, Amherst. 'DEA continues to arrest patients on the basis that marijuana is not approved by FDA, while simultaneously obstructing the very research that would be required for FDA to approve marijuana as a medicine.'

"In addition to Congress, a broad array of organizations has also written to DEA in support of Craker's application. These organizations include the National Association for Public Health Policy, the National Lawyers Guild, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Lymphoma Foundation of America, the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, and several religious denominations such as the United Methodist Church and the U.S. Presbyterian Church. In addition, Massachusetts Senators John Kerry and Edward Kennedy have previously written to DEA in support of Craker's application."

* Two kids singing pavement. must see youtube.

* Last Call: Tonight, The Caribbean open for Super Furry Animal Gruff Rhys, and former Grandaddy Jim Fairchild. The Caribbean start promptly at 8:30 pm. Rock and Roll Hotel, H Street, NE, Washington, DC. $12.

* DC's Plums seethe from the Arlington basement to release their first Sockets cd-r. "Split Release" captures this DC stalwart at one of its many live shows, mastered for maximum freakrock effect. Driving, heavy, and the soundtrack to a city completely devoid of comparable outfits. Buy it here.

September 19, 2007

I'm a bit like the freelance fence painter

Dana Ellyn, War: As American As Apple Pie, 2007

This Was Once a Love Poem
-- by Jane Hirshfield

This was once a love poem, before its haunches thickened, its breath grew short, before it found itself sitting, perplexed and a little embarrassed, on the fender of a parked car, while many people passed by without turning their heads. It remembers itself dressing as if for a great engagement. It remembers choosing these shoes, this scarf or tie. Once, it drank beer for breakfast, drifted its feet in a river side by side with the feet of another. Once it pretended shyness, then grew truly shy, dropping its head so the hair would fall forward, so the eyes would not be seen. IT spoke with passion of history, of art. It was lovely then, this poem. Under its chin, no fold of skin softened. Behind the knees, no pad of yellow fat. What it knew in the morning it still believed at nightfall. An unconjured confidence lifted its eyebrows, its cheeks. The longing has not diminished. Still it understands. It is time to consider a cat, the cultivation of African violets or flowering cactus. Yes, it decides: Many miniature cacti, in blue and red painted pots. When it finds itself disquieted by the pure and unfamiliar silence of its new life, it will touch them—one, then another— with a single finger outstretched like a tiny flame.

-- by Jane Hirshfield

A hand is not four fingers and a thumb.

Nor is it palm and knuckles,
not ligaments or the fat's yellow pillow,
not tendons, star of the wristbone, meander of veins.

A hand is not the thick thatch of its lines
with their infinite dramas,
nor what it has written,
not on the page,
not on the ecstatic body.

Nor is the hand its meadows of holding, of shaping—
not sponge of rising yeast-bread,
not rotor pin's smoothness,
not ink.

The maple's green hands do not cup
the proliferant rain.
What empties itself falls into the place that is open.

A hand turned upward holds only a single, transparent question.

Unanswerable, humming like bees, it rises, swarms, departs.

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.

-- by Klipschutz

I want all the women
all the money
all the fun

I want every rainbow
all the marbles
and a personalized introduction to God

I want a death list
transparent skin
and a cat with no fur

I want everything
I have nothing
I will negotiate

September 17, 2007

on the moon nothing grows
or ever dies

Rudolf Stingel, Untitled, 2000

* From Harper's October 2007:

-- Percentage change since 1990 on the average size of an American master bathroom: +50

-- Percentage change since 1980 in the average amount of solid waste generated by an American: +24

-- Number of Wal-Mart employees on whom the company secretly took out life insurance policies from 1993 to 1995: 350,000

-- Head of cattle that Fidelity Investments keeps on a portion of its corporate campus near Fort Worth: 25

-- Amount in taxes it thereby saves each year through a Texas "agricultural" exemption: $328,000

-- Minimum number of books about the Iraq war published in the United States so far: 835

-- Number of these that are children's books: 32

-- Number of copies a book of poems must sell per week to make the Poetry Foundation's bestseller list: 50

-- Number of different reasons for having sex, as identified this year in a University of Tesas study: 237

-- Number of escort services and McDonald's restaurants, respectively, in Washington, DC: 26, 23

* Andy Warhol in a Japanese ad for TDK tapes.

* "The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all." -- H. L. Mencken
why you complaining, talk!

Elyce Adams, Lapse, 2007

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"2. George W. Bush

"So here's the plan: at the time of the November election we had 130,000 troops in Iraq. Then we had the mighty surge, which added around 30,000 more troops. And now, thanks to Gen. Petraeus's testimony, George W. Bush has rather magnanimously decided to wait one year and then withdraw the 30,000 extra troops, bringing us back to where we started.

"Essentially, this is because Bush thinks that the occupation of Iraq is like Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

"We're not losing the war on terror, because week after week we kill dozens of 'Al Qaeda members,' Anbar province is oh-so-peaceful again, (pay no attention to the assassination of that important sheik last week) and, er, that's it.

"But we're not winning the war on terror, because that would mean we'd be able to pull our troops out of the meatgrinder and bring them home.

"In fact the war on terror is just right. We're winning, and victory is around the corner, but it's a long hard slog and we can't pull the troops out because if we don't fight them over there we'll have to fight them over here. So we'll just have to keep the troops in Iraq and throw ten billion dollars a month down the toilet until we a) kill every last terrorist, or b) get Raptured, whichever comes first.

"Just one slight problem - at last week's Senate hearing, even General The Sun Shines Out Of My Butt Petraeus couldn't work up a gleam on this turd, no matter how hard he polished. Here's Sen. John Warner (a Republican, by the way), trying to find out whether the war in Iraq is making America safer.

"SEN. WARNER: Are you able to say at this time, if we continue what you have laid before the Congress, this strategy, that if you continue, you are making America safer?

"GEN. PETRAEUS: Sir, I believe that this is indeed the best course of action to achieve our objectives in Iraq.

"SEN WARNER: Does that make America safer?

"GEN. PETRAEUS: Sir, I don't know actually. I have not sat down and sorted out in my own mind.

"Hmm. If he couldn't fudge a 'yes' out of that, we really are in deep shit."

* Howard Zinn: Can We Handle the Truth? excerpt:

"Even less likely to enter the history books are the atrocities the United States commits overseas. High school and college texts usually deal at length with the three-month Spanish-American War, portraying the United States as liberating Cuba from Spain and admiring Theodore Roosevelt's exploits with the "Rough Riders." They rarely pay attention to the eight-year war to conquer the Philippines, a bloody affair that in many ways resembled the war in Vietnam. The United States killed hundreds of thousands of Filipinos in the war, but U.S. casualties were under 5,000. In 1906, an American military detachment attacked a village of Filipino Muslims ('Moros') on one of the southern islands, killing 600 men, women, and children. This was the Moro Massacre, which drew an angry response from Mark Twain and other Americans.

"In his capacity as vice president of the Anti-Imperialist League, Twain wrote:

"We have pacified thousands of the islanders and buried them, destroyed their fields, burned their villages, turned their widows and orphans out-of-doors, furnished heartbreak by exile to dozens of disagreeable patriots, and subjugated the remaining ten million by Benevolent Assimilation.

"Those of us who were of age during the Vietnam War remember the My Lai Massacre of 1968, in which a company of American soldiers fired into groups of unarmed villagers, killing perhaps 500 people, many of them women and children. When I spoke recently to a group of a hundred high school honors students in history and asked who knew about the My Lai Massacre, no one raised a hand.

"My Lai was not a unique event. A U.S. Army colonel charged with covering up the My Lai incident told reporters: 'Every unit of brigade size has its My Lai hidden someplace.'

"And if the word massacre means indiscriminate mass slaughter of innocent people, is it not reasonable to call the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki massacres, as well as the firebombing of Tokyo and the destruction of Dresden and other German cities?

"In Ignazio Silone's novel Fontamara, about peasants living under Italian fascism, an underground resistance movement produces leaflets in order to disseminate information that had been suppressed and then simply to ask: 'Che fare?'-'What shall we do?' ('They have killed Berardo Viola. What shall we do? They have taken away our water. What shall we do? They violate our women in the name of the law. What shall we do?')

"When our government, our media, and our institutions of higher learning select certain events for remembering and ignore others, we have the responsibility to supply the missing information. Just telling untold truths has a powerful effect, for people with ordinary common sense may then begin asking themselves and others: What shall we do?"

* Picture of the only known public statute of Frank Zappa. Created by sculptor Konstantinas Bogdanas, well known for his massive sculptures of Communist figures. Zappa covering stairway to heaven.

* First Call: the caribbean open for Super Furry Animal gruff Rhys, and former Grandaddy Jim Fairchild. The Caribbean start promptly at 8:30 pm. Rock and Roll Hotel, H Street, NE, Washington, DC. $12.

* "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.

While in Brussels last week, had drinks at Greenwich Bar, a chess bar (with old falling apart but still wonderful art deco bathrooms) where Duchamp was twice defeated by an 11-year-old named Bobby Fischer.

September 7, 2007

say a prayer
for you and me
say a prayer
tell me do you miss me

Otto Dix, The Nun, 1914

-- Deborah Ager

Over the fence, the dead settle in
for a journey. Nine o'clock.
You are alone for the first time
today. Boys asleep. Husband out.

A beer bottle sweats in your hand,
and sea lavender clogs the air
with perfume. Think of yourself.
Your arms rest with nothing to do

after weeks spent attending to others.
Your thoughts turn to whether
butter will last the week, how much
longer the car can run on its partial tank of gas.

The Tortoise In Keystone Heights
-- Deborah Ager

When I knew, it was raining.
Winter in decline. I was tired.
You in your soaked shirt diffused
into the western sky bulging with clouds,
speeding cars a few feet away—
why would they not slow down?

Though afternoon, a slip of moon
busied itself with rising,
and it had to mean something.
If only the moon were not out.
You shoveled the crushed tortoise
and her eggs off the highway into the dirt.

Those soft, white eggs.
This is how I love you:
drenched with Florida rain
and looking like hell,
Florida itself a hell,
the moonlit rain a rain of fire.

-- Anne Sexton

What can I do with this bayonet?
Make a rose bush of it?
Poke it into the moon?
Shave my legs with its silver?
Spear a goldfish?
No. No.

It was made
in my dream
for you.
My eyes were closed.
I was curled fetally
and yet I held a bayonet
that was for the earth of your stomach.
The belly button singing its puzzle.
The intestines winding like alpine roads.
It was made to enter you
as you have entered me
and to cut the daylight into you
and let out your buried heartland,
to let out the spoon you have fed me with,
to let out the bird that said fuck you,
to carve him onto a sculpture until he is white
and I could put him on a shelf,
an object unthinking as a stone,
but with all the vibrations
of a crucifix.

-- off to Amsterdam and Brussels, back September 17.

September 6, 2007

she does just like Sister Ray said

Christine Kesler, The Peace Process, 2005. mixed media on photo paper

* Stan Goff: The End Begins. excerpt:

"Many who opposed the war in Iraq, and the many more who just disliked the Bush administration, certainly had different expectations of what forms the end of that war might take. And this is certainly the beginning of some kind of end. That is not a call to complacency. Fight against this warlike lives depend on it. They still do. I just feel compelled to counter-spin it.

"With El Presidente on this 'surprise' trip, as it happened, were the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense. Meeting them on this remote base between Baghdad and the Syrian border was none other than Bagwan Petraeus, the current Vivekananda of counter-insurgency doctrine and the latest in a long line of Generals who will be dragged into historical ignominy by this Commander-in-Chief.
"How this war will end has never been a decision that can or would be made by the leadership of either American political party, any more than the defeat in Vietnam was the result of politicians and protesters. The occupied people made the decision. It was not revoked in Vietnam. It will not be revoked in Iraq.

"The puzzle that will preoccupy both parties now, since neither knows who will inherit this dilemma, is how to salvage what is left of waning American imperial power. You won't be able to slide shim-stock between Rudy or Hillary on this question... and neither of them will have the power to stand before the historical macrotrend of US power dissolution.

"The first that acknowledges and learns to deal with the fact of Iranian ascendancy will be the one that will suffer least... but that's about it. In less than a decade, we will see Russia, China, and Iran at the head of a re-set Central Asian chessboard, and they will contend with a descendant American empire.

"The end of all empires is inevitable. The Great City always exhausts the rural soils and eats the seed-corn, and its debilitated, dependent rulers will always be usurped by "the barbarians" who were formerly bent before the Great City's plunder. As Dr. King -- once himself called one a barbarian -- said, "the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice."

"History will record that a decisive misstep in the crash of the American Empire was taken on March 19, 2003. September 3, 2007 will be a historical place-holder for a kind of death-gasp of empire ... former guerrillas sitting the Prez down as an equal across the table at Al Asad.

"We haven't reckoned the body count yet, because it is still rising. That's the sinful part.

"It's over. Admit it. Get over it. Get out."

* Humorous discussion of videos by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown band, Nirvana and mmore. excerpt:

"Zack: I always thought that Nirvana was vastly overrated, and this song pretty much typifies my complaint. Nonsensical lyrics, lurid colors, disturbing images, and having your bangs hang across your eyes doesn’t make you into a great songwriter. Neither does dying young. To me it seemed like Nirvana gained a whole lot new fans with Kurt’s passing. I wonder if the same thing will happen with Pete Doherty.

"Gary: Okay, can anybody explain the meaning of this song to me?

She eyes me like a Pisces when i am weak
I’ve been locked inside your Heart-Shaped box for weeks
I was drawn into your magnet tar pit trap
I wish i could eat your cancer when you turn black

Meat-eating orchids forgivee no one just yet
Cut myself on angel’s hair and bab’s breath
Broken hymen of you highness I’m left black
Throw down your umbilical noose so I can climb right back

"What exactly does cancer taste like, and what wine would you pair it with?

"Zack: An imported Shiraz, of course. Anything from an early bloom year. Duh.

"Dunphy: The original title, 'Oh, Why Don’t Courtney Like Summer’s Eve,' just seemed too on the mark, I suppose.

Kurt: Dude, it’s a love song to Courtney!

She eyes me like a Pisces when i am weak

She is an angry sea bass when I shoot up because I won’t share.

I’ve been locked inside your Heart-Shaped box for weeks

I’m too drugged out to remember how to open a door

I was drawn into your magnet tar pit trap

I was attracted to your unwashed genitalia

I wish i could eat your cancer when you turn black

And obviously I would like to eat said genitalia when it gets stinky

Meat-eating orchids forgive no one just yet

Be patient, I can’t get it up because of the heroin

Cut myself on angel’s hair and bab’s breath

Uh, um…?

Broken hymen of you highness I’m left black

It’s so dirty it’s like your hymen is still intact

Throw down your umbilical noose so i can climb right back

Something from your vagina just attacked me!

Robert: Uh, Taylor…where are you? We need you back.

David: That’s awesome.

I always thought the unofficial title of 'Heart Shaped Box' was 'My Wife and Daughter Are Slowly Killing Me.'

* Pot smokers of the month. past winners include: Hunter Thompson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Merle Haggard, and Margaret Mead, who testified before Congress in favor of the legalization of marijuana on October 27, 1969.

* "But you have to understand, my beard is so nasty. I mean, it's the only beard in the history of Western civilization that makes Bob Dylan's beard look good." -- Bill Walton

September 5, 2007

Soft silly music is meaningful magical

Piet Mondrian, Trafalgar Square, 1939–43

Time Forks Perpetually Toward Innumerable Futures In One of Them I Am Your Enemy
-- Frank Stanford

I am going to die.

Friends who made good,
Friends who did not,
I am going
Down into the Egypt of your sex,
The lands of your mystery and death.

Do you still want me
To find you
Somebody to love?

I cruise through the delta of your love,
Paradise on Sunday,
Cold as ice on Monday.
A hundred pounds of it on the tongs,
A butterfly at the center.

Going home I cross the bridge
And throw a bottle out the window,
Hit all my friends in the head.

The crickets under the straw
Like old folks spitting in a paper sack

Now my life the Sphinx
Laid by slaves,
My death the promised land.

A light rain falling, a split tongue
And sad eyes, no lie,
Itve got you by the tongue.

I park my Cadillac outside your temple of madness.
You are worshiped there.

Look at your face, swollen from sleep.
Are you waiting for me
To unwind you from your last clothes,
Do you want me
To bury my long ship in your heart?

Your lineage like gravesites for the stars,
Way stations for great dreamers.

There is a six foot rattlesnake
Asleep in the birdhouse.
Are you taking crumbs to the warblers tonight?

Death is an isthmus, you can get there on foot
But love had made its island.

What of the young?
I hunt them down,
Good winds in the desert,
Blue eggs in the junipers.

Tell it:

There is a fear without age or Christ
That goes through us
Like moonshine in a coil.

There is a stranger
You see more and more of
Every year, he is silt in the riverbed.
And the water tables of your mystery
Rise to their final levels,
The spitting image of your death.

If you leave a girl of your own,
Tell her to run off with your enemy's son.
If you have a son
Tell him to run off with your enemy's daughter.
And if you have no enemies, inquire of me,
Your troubles are just beginning.

Fair Trial
-- Frank Stanford

The undertaker went his bail
And the chauffeur lent him
A jacket to wear
A sea blue tuxedo
It was all he had that would
Fit him
And all his friends
Showed up
Not that they carried any weight
In the town
But they came
To give him soul support
Because they knew
He didn't have a whore's chance
In heaven
You can't touch
The wife of the Law
And expect to get away
With it hell
The paper's bound to be against you

Antidote for Popculturemania
-- Ed Sanders

from America: A History in Verse, Part 2

Clement Greenberg's essay
"Avant-garde and Kitsch"
came out in the Partisan Review that fall [1939]

in which he almost chants his disrespect for
Kitsch "the epitome of all that is spurious
in the life of our times"

Kitsch which "changes according to style but
remains all the same"

Kitsch which "lies to the minds of artists"
so that they will bend under Kitsch's
profit-batty pressure

(not to mention Stalin's official Kitsch
which ate the soul of mad Odessa's paintbrush)

Go read it.

September 4, 2007

you've got bills to pay
but you shrug them off
you've got no time to play
with what you've bought

JoAnn Verburg, Underground, 2006

* Rove reportedly advised Bush against having Cheney as VP. excerpt:

"Recently-departed White House adviser Karl Rove warned George W. Bush ahead of the 2000 election that picking Dick Cheney as his vice president would be a mistake, according to a new book set to hit bookstores Tuesday.

"The Washington Post reported Monday that in the book -- 'Dead Certain: The Presidency of George Bush' -- journalist Robert Draper reveals that Bush was intent on picking Cheney as his running mate, despite his warnings against it.

"'Selecting Daddy's top foreign-policy guru ran counter to message. It was worse than a safe pick -- it was needy,' Draper quotes Rove as saying.

"Once he took office, the president 'saw no harm in giving his VP unprecedented run of the place,' Draper wrote.

"The revelations about the inner workings of the Bush White House comes with just 18 months remaining in his presidency, and with the US leader widely deemed by the Washington political establishment to be a lame duck.

"The book is said to show a Bush administration wracked by internal dissent and infighting, contrary to the popular image of a tightly-run administration which moves in lock-step."

* From a 1978 interview of Keith Moon:

Q: How much of the interplay between yourself and John Entwistle is worked out and how much is spontaneous?

Moon: Well, we rehearse the length of the song, whether it's verse, solo, middle-eight, verse, solo and then ad lib ending or whatever. We don't sit down and work out fills. Each of us works out own part and then, when we put it all together and start to play, it comes out extremely powerful. You can't really work things out too much. We do certain things, certain build-ups and things but you can run into a danger of becoming an automaton if you do everything exactly the same each night. You just stop thinking and it ends up the same every bloody night but, with us, it's different. Sometimes I'll build up with timpani, sometimes I'll build up on cymbal or with a roll around the kit. There are so many variations on each effect.

Q: Your use of cymbals has always interested me. Quite often you will start a break on cymbals alone without the bass drum behind it, which is something alien to most drummers.

Moon: That gives me absolute top. If you hit the bass drum as well, you bring in some bottom; the cymbal gives you top and with both, you get something in between which is neither fully cymbal nor fully bass drum. Sometimes I do a single-stroke roll on cymbals for a 'whoosh' effect. Again, we get back to colour. I believe very positively in colour in drumming. You know, there's so many drummers that can go through the routine but they donÕt add colour anywhere. They don't paint with the kit. That's what I like doing. I like painting, adding colour and effects and shocking people. Constantly, while I'm playing, I'm thinking two bars ahead. That gives me a chance to, if I'm in the middle of a roll, to do something I've already thought out so I can get out of the roll and into whatever I was already thinking about. Then when I'm there, I'm thinking another two bars ahead.

Q: Having played certain songs for 14 years, do you find it difficult to actually think of new fills and breaks?

Moon: No, if I thought about it, I'd be in trouble. There are some parts that just naturally happen and I'll think of a figure that I'll put in at a particular point. A lot of them are very unconscious. Sometimes I'll think of a pattern and immediately forget it and store it subconsciously and then two bars later, I find myself playing it. Sometimes when we go on tour, there might be a number where there is just a guitar and drum pattern or fill and it would be very easy to do the same thing every night but it doesn't work that way because the atmosphere is different at every place you play and the atmosphere on stage is different so you get different fills happening. I'm very adventurous with things like that. I don't like to remain static. I know when I've played a certain figure before so I try something else.

Q: How much do you rehearse?

Moon: Well, as you know, I don't practice on my own. When we're going out on tour, we usually rehearse for three or four weeks and that's about three days a week, so we probably have about eight or nine rehearsals spread over a period. If you rehearse every day, you start getting clichéd and you end up like an automaton, you can rehearse it to death. As far as we go, as long as we have the bare bones of a song, that's the way we rehearse. It's just to get the bones, the verses, solos and the general framework of the song. Then, within that framework, we're free to experiment. It's rather like plasticine, you've got the thing there but it's malleable. You can actually shape it and stretch it but youÕre still left with what you started out with.
Q: What's in the future for you and The Who?

Moon: Well, films basically. We've just finished 'The Kids Are Alright,' thank God! We've been working on that for two years. We've already started pre-production of 'Quadrophenia,' the casting and that kind of thing and we've got the money for it at last. That's the biggest headache - getting the money to do the picture. Roger's doing the McVicar film which will be done down at Shepperton and Pete's been working on the Lifehouse project for quite a while. There will also be soundtrack albums from these plus the studio albums. I often get asked about when The Who will be going on the road and the simple answer is, I just don't know.

Q: Do you miss going on the road?

Moon: Not really, because I'm still involved in so much Who. Everything I do is still all to do with The Who. I enjoy going out on the road. I still get up now and again and sit in with bands and play but as to putting together another road show and going out on a big tour weÕve been doing that for 15 years and you can get a bit bored, especially when there are so many new directions opening up for us. We've toured and we've done our bit as regards live tours. I mean, let's not count it out but let's not put it too high on the agenda. There are no plans at the moment for a live gig. You have to look at it very carefully. If we do one here, we get insulting letters from America saying, 'You do one in London but you won't come to New York. We're just as big fans here as they are there!' You've got to be fair and go to New York, you can't just do one-offs.

The Who, unfortunately or fortunately, once you decide to go on the road, you're committed to doing everywhere. If we were to do it, it would mean rehearsals, a new act, and we've got such a lot on our plate at the moment, it's impossible. For years, all we did was tour and now we've got the opportunity to turn Shepperton into a real working project with films, commercials, video theatres, rehearsal stages, our own production companies and all of that. That's as exciting for me as being on the road. I love playing drums but there is more that I can do. Playing drums got me in the position where I can now do other things but to go on the road again, I don't see it as being viable for quite a while.

Q: Can The Who exist without live gigs?

Moon: Oh, yes. Very much so. The Who are still working but we're working in a different way. It's very difficult. You spend a lot of time on the road and people start screaming for a tour - you just can't win. You asked me last time about couldn't The Who do small clubs unannounced and the fact remains that it wouldn't work for us; if we went back on the road, we'd go back as THE WHO. It wouldn't be fair to the fans to do a small gig. I think you should do a gig in a venue where everyone can see you. You should give all the Who fans the same chance and not go to some out of the way place. You'd get people saying, 'Bastards, what's so special about that place?' I don't want that kind of criticism. You can see why it's so difficult. We've just got so much to do first.

* Pop music is about saying 'fuck me.' Rock and roll is about saying 'fuck you'.
- Chrissie Hynde