December 21, 2007

On the twelfth day of Christmas the Bushies gave to me
Twelve investigations
Eleven indictments
Ten subpoenas
Nine closet cases
Eight years a-wasting
Seven scandals stewing
Six rogues resigning
Five trillion spent
Four lawyers lying
Three tax cuts
Two chickenhawks
And a war from the GOP

Edward Corbett, Washington, D.C., October #8, 1964

Christmas Morning Without Presents: The Depression, Granite City, Illinois
-- by Ellery Akers

It is 1929. The moon falls on the floor,
the pantry is empty, beans hardening like rocks in the
No, you did not expect this.
The same cracked wall with its stains,
odor of your mother's cleaning fluid,
curtains with their clean hems,
blowing in and out.
You touch the bones and lumps of the chair,
the broken wireless with its dial, you pick up a spoon,
and it's cold. A clock ticks. The chipped plates
fill up with the moon.
You look back at the window,
tubes and vats of the factories
quiet for once.
The garbage truck rolls up the alley,
the bristles of the streetcleaner's brush rasp on the
Your hand closes on the doorknob, quietly.
You begin to carry the stone of your childhood:
The moon. The empty room. It will be yours.

Anti-War Poem
-- by Ted Berrigan

(for Robert Harris)

It's New Year's Eve, of 1968 & a time
for Resolution.

I don't like Engelbert Humperdink.

I love the incredible String Band.

The War goes on
& war is Shit.

I'll sing you a December song.

It's 5 below zero in Iowa City tonight.

This year I found a warm room
I could go to
be alone in
& never have to fight.

I didn't live in it.

I thought a lot about dying
But I said fuck it.

I Live in the Twentieth Century
-- by Richard Brautigan

I live in the Twentieth Century
and you lie here beside me. You
were unhappy when you fell asleep.
There was nothing I could do about
it. I felt hopeless. Your face
is so beautiful that I cannot stop
to describe it, and there's nothing
I can do to make you happy while
you sleep.

-- by Frank Stanford

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

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

We could tell when strangers were around
From what they drank

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

* Frank Zappa was born today. RIP!

-- # by skimble

-- back in 2008

December 20, 2007

clerks never think
feet never bleed

Laura Owens, Untitled, 2004

* Happy Birthday to Mike Watt and Billy Bragg!

* JFK at the groundbreaking of a library in honor of Robert Frost in Amherst, Massachusetts, on October 26, 1963:

"Robert Frost...saw poetry as the means of saving power from itself. When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area's of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment."

* "anti-semitism, like patriotism, is the last refuge of a scoundrel." -- Lou Reed

December 19, 2007

I still got dreams that
can keep me
from worrying about my age

Amy Sillman, Big Girl, 2006

Self Portrait at Twenty Years
-- by Roberto Bolaño

(translated from the Spanish by Laura Healy)

I set off, I took up the march and never knew
where it might take me. I went full of fear,
my stomach dropped, my head was buzzing:
I think it was the icy wind of the dead.
I don't know. I set off, I thought it was a shame
to leave so soon, but at the same time
I heard that mysterious and convincing call.
You either listen or you don't, and I listened
and almost burst out crying: a terrible sound,
born on the air and in the sea.
A sword and shield. And then,
despite the fear, I set off, I put my cheek
against death's cheek.
And it was impossible to close my eyes and miss seeing
that strange spectacle, slow and strange,
though fixed in such a swift reality:
thousands of guys like me, baby-faced
or bearded, but Latin American, all of us,
brushing cheeks with death.

-- by klipschutz

Death’s cheek he brushed, did he,
the Latin American poet? I brushed
my sleek black cat. Maybe we’re
not as far apart as at first blush.
My cat suffers from cardiomyopathy.
Lucky boy, he doesn’t know it,
my youngest and best friend,
as we brush cheeks, or at any
other time. The Latin American
died, waiting on a transplant,
just as he began to get his due.
My cat is blinking, waiting too,
for me to write a poem about him
as great as Smart’s paean to his cat.
He knows I cannot do it, still he
believes in me. The Latin American
had the same disease as me. I have
his disease but not his passport. He lived
a Latin American literary life, drifting,
roaming, feuding, starting movements,
ending others. My cat looks at me
with unsettling affection in his eyes.
Neither one of us, he thinks, will ever die.

Report to R.S.B.
-- by Leonard Cohen

Peace did not come into my life.
My life escaped
and peace was there.
Often I bump into my life,
trying to catch its breath,
pay a bill,
or tolerate the news,
tripping as usual
over the cables
of someone's beauty --

My little life:
so loyal,
so devoted to its obscure purposes --
And, I hasten to report,
doing fine without me.

December 18, 2007

all I know is that the waves roll in

Karen Liebowitz, Fueling the Fire, 2005

* From Harper's January 2008:

-- Percentage of NYU students who say they would "permanently forfeit" their vote for $1 million: 50

-- Average amount of meat, in pounds, consumed by a wealthy U.S. child each week: 1.7

-- Average consumed by a poor U.S. child: 2.1

-- Percentage of people worldwide who lack access to a toilet or an outhouse: 41

-- Estimated tons of Carbon dioxide released on New Year's Eve from all the champagne bottles uncorked by Americans: 8

-- Number of minutes it takes all 13,000 New York City cabs to release this much: 7

* Dutch cops insist on smoking pot off-duty:

"Police in Amsterdam are complaining over new rules banning them from smoking cannabis while off duty.

"Officers in the Dutch capital, famous for its liberal drugs laws, have been told they must set the public 'a good moral example.' [Daily Mail]

"…Dutch police union chairman Hans van Duijn said: "Many of our members are opposed to this.

"They are not paid for 24-hours a day. What they do in their free time is up to them."

* Ten best live Bob Dylan performances.

* "Civilization will not attain to its perfection until the last stone from the last church falls on the last priest." -- Emile Zola

December 17, 2007

Let's be undecided, let's take our time

Richard Diebenkorn, Untitled (Albuquerque), 1952

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"There was outrage last week as we learned that in 2005 the CIA destroyed tapes of the torture of two suspected terrorists, despite the fact that "federal courts had prohibited the Bush administration from discarding evidence of detainee torture and abuse months before," according to the Associated Press.

"So what did the president know and when did he know it? According to ABC News:

DUBYA: My first recollection of whether the tapes existed or whether they were destroyed was when Michael Hayden briefed me. There is a preliminary inquiry going on, and I think, I think you will find a lot more data. Facts will be coming out in an orderly fashion, and that is good. It will be interesting to know what the true facts are.

"Now why does that ring a bell? Ah yes - here's what Bush said about the Valerie Plame case back in 2005 (see Idiots 219):

"I don't know all the facts. I want to know all the facts. I would like this to end as quickly as possible. If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration."

And we all know how that turned out. In fact, it seems that much like the Valerie Plame case, facts won't be coming out in an orderly fashion. According to the International Herald Tribune:

The Justice Department asked the House Intelligence Committee on Friday to postpone its investigation into the destruction of videotapes by the Central Intelligence Agency in 2005, saying the congressional inquiry presented "significant risks" to its own preliminary investigation into the matter.

The Justice Department and the CIA's inspector general have begun a preliminary inquiry into the destruction of the tapes, and Attorney General Michael Mukasey said the department would not comply with congressional requests for information now because of "our interest in avoiding any perception that our law enforcement decisions are subject to political influence."

"Yes, gee, wouldn't want to give anyone the 'perception that our law enforcement decisions are subject to political influence' now would we?"

* AmericaBlog. excerpt:

"TPMmuckraker has a new article up entitled, 'Reid Chooses Admin-Friendly Measure as Basis for Surveillance Bill.' You can read the article for yourselves, but bottom line is that Harry Reid is being accused of caving to the Bush-enablers in his own party who are pushing for legislation to grant retroactive immunity to AT&T, Verizon and other telecom companies that helped the Bush administration illegally spy on innocent Americans.

"At this point, I don't know who to blame. Harry Reid for not getting firm with his own Democratic caucus? Democratic committee chairs like Patrick Leahy and Jay Rockefeller, either of whom has the power to throw a wrench in Bush's plans? Organizations like the ACLU, who are taking the lead on this issue, but whose "campaign" on this issue, and privacy overall, still remains a mystery?

"I do know that the blogs (including Glenn Greenwald, Christy at FireDogLake, and our gang, to name a few) have been going nuts on this issue, and the issue of privacy overall. But the blogs aren't enough. We don't have election certificates. We don't have multi-million dollar advocacy budgets. And those who do don't seem to understand anymore how to win, or how to even fight back.
(After the jump: Where was the non-profit advocacy?)

"And before anyone says that lots of money and time was spent on advocacy on this issue, I'm sorry, but what do we have to show for it? Where is the nationwide buzz about privacy (hell, where is the nationwide campaign about privacy?) Where are the Harry and Louise TV ads? Where is the discussion about how this issue affects every American who has ever had phone sex, committed adultery, or had a bit too much fun explicitly chatting with someone online? You better believe our current crop of politicians, and our current crop of non-profits advocates, wouldn't touch that side of these issues with a ten foot pole (no pun intended). But they're the very issues that affect real Americans, and they're the issues that would get America's attention and make them understand that what Bush did, what AT&T and Verizon did, and what Congress is about to do, have actual real-life impacts on their lives. But launching a campaign like that might embarrass our politicians and our board members and our donors. So, better to lose with our heads held high while our country falls apart around us.

"Once again, push comes to shove and liberals are caught unprepared. The politicians on the Hill and the big-money non-profits failed to lay the groundwork that would enable everyone to do the right thing on yet another core progressive issue. It's the Alito nomination all over again. After months of inadequate hearings and inadequate non-profit advocacy, the vote was a foregone conclusion because our side kind of sucked.

"I really don't know what to say any more. Our side, on the Hill and in the non-profit sector, honestly believes that there is no other option than failure. They honestly believe that no matter what they do they'll lose. So they give it the old college try, 'knowing' that failure is the only option."

* "Ask forgiveness, not permission" -- Will Oldham

December 14, 2007

By the time that I'm done singing
The bells from the school of war will be ringing

Yves Klein, Leap Into the Void, 1960

The Important Looking Men
-- by Mairéad Byrne

The important looking men are not always the important looking men. Sometimes the important looking men are women. Sometimes the important looking men are the woman with the brown helmet of hair, head tilted attentively. Sometimes the important looking men are not the important looking men but visitors from out-of-town where they are not important either. The tortured artist is not always the tortured artist. The tortured artist is not always the guy in the thin cardigan smoking a cigarette outside the studio. That might be the electrician. The tortured artist is sometimes the small priest who stands in the corner of the salon balancing his cup of tea. Or the woman nobody sees. The lover is not always the lover. The lover can be a liar, refracting images of himself back into infinity. The lover might be this beagle, this couch, this slipper, this child who shouts out to me this morning late for school — tumbling from his father's car & again from the side-walk — Clio's Mom! Or this other child, this evening, alone, walking home, who tosses his glorious hello across Camp Street to land at my feet.

-- by Ted Kooser

It's like so many other things in life
to which you must say no or yes.
So you take your car to the new mechanic.
Sometimes the best thing to do is trust.

The package left with the disreputable-looking
clerk, the check gulped by the night deposit,
the envelope passed by dozens of strangers—
all show up at their intended destinations.

The theft that could have happened doesn't.
Wind finally gets where it was going
through the snowy trees, and the river, even
when frozen, arrives at the right place.

And sometimes you sense how faithfully your life
is delivered, even though you can't read the address.

The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
-- by Rod Smith

two airplanes meet
and fall in love.


& is not true

& is not this right.
I am a turnip.


if it all went up in smoke
all perception would be by smell

"you don't trust many people
& the ones you do trust leave"

a poem is a fracas
with a poem is a stew

Poem for Girls
-- by Tina Celona

You can read all about yourself in this poem
And that’s why it’s fun.
Everyone wants to be in this poem
But this poem is only for girls.

December 13, 2007

Nothing frightens me more than religion at my door

Jack Delano, train near Chicago, December 1942

* Bukowski poems to be translated into Persian.

"For the first time ever in Iran, poems by US poet and novelist Charles Bukowski are to be translated into Persian, ISNA news agency reported Friday. Ahmad Pouri, a renowned Iranian translator, has selected several poems by Bukowski which he is to publish soon, ISNA said.

"The novels and poems by Bukowski, who died in March 1994 at the age of 73, mainly dealt in an autobiographical manner with prostitutes, sex and alcohol, all items which have been totally taboo in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

"It is therefore not clear whether the ultra-conservative Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, in charge of checking the biography of writers and the contents of local as well as translated books, is familiar with Bukowski's rather controversial background.

"The ministry had a similar problem last month with a novel by Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

"The translation of the novel Memories of My Melancholy Whores - although the term whores was changed in the title to 'sweethearts' - was first approved and the book even published but then the ministry realized that the book was 'promoting prostitution.'

"The book was immediately banned, but the ban just provoked more interest among Iranians and boomed on the black market where the book was and is sold at more than twice the initial price.

"Although the selected poems might have no sexual content, the first Bukowski book in Persian might have the same destiny as that of Garcia Marquez once the culture ministry is informed about the complete works and private life of the Los Angeles writer."

* Must see save from an international soccer match.

* The Caribbean's Populations makes Popmatters list of best indie pop of 2007:

"With their fourth album, Populations, Washington DC’s the Caribbean has further refined their unique style of mystery-pop, where melodies yield secrets and instruments are arranged into stunning minimalist architecture. For perhaps the first time, they’ve written a few songs that stand out as pop singles (especially the dynamite 'The Go from Tactical'), yet the album as a whole is a clarification of their vision. Within its framework lie not just catchy tunes, but ideas and questions, in the music as much as the lyrics. Surfaces that at first seem calm contain stretches of wildness and turmoil, making this a provocative experience."

* "The freedom of the press works in such a way that there is not much freedom from it." -- Grace Kelly

December 12, 2007

a vacation
not unlike your very own

Shigeru Oyatani, Splendor of Fixation, 2006

The Coming of Light
-- by Mark Strand

Even this late it happens:
the coming of love, the coming of light.
You wake and the candles are lit as if by themselves,
stars gather, dreams pour into your pillows,
sending up warm bouquets of air.
Even this late the bones of the body shine
and tomorrow's dust flares into breath.

Sixtieth Birthday Dinner
-- by Michael Ryan

If in the men's room of our favorite restaurant
while blissfully pissing riserva spumante
I punch the wall because I am so old,
I promise not to punch too carelessly.

Our friend Franco cooks all night and day
to transform blood and bones to osso buco.
He shouldn't have to clean them off his wall
or worry that a customer gone cuckoo

has mashed his knuckles like a slugger
whose steroid dosage needs a little tweaking.
My life with you has been beyond beyond
and there's nothing beyond it I'm seeking.

I just don't want to leave it, and I am
with every silken bite of tiramisu.
I wouldn't mind being dead
if I could still be with you.

-- by Noah Falck

Those people
who gather
your empty
Coke cans
in the alley
are the same
people sleeping
without pillows
beneath the highway
and they have parked
their shopping carts
before the green light
of Main Street
as a kind of fuck you.

-- by Noah Falck

A tiny hand reaches out

from a pile of roadside leaves

think of the next American body in song

the sound and its trenchcoat flashing

the hills, clouds carving their way

out of morning and later

sprouting from inside a buckeye

with the patience of a camp councilor

December 11, 2007

we're special in other ways
ways our mothers appreciate

Lynne Cohen, Untitled, 2007

* Testimony of Ed Sanders from the Chicago 7 trial. excerpt:

"MR. WEINGLASS: Do you recall what it was that brought you from Jackson County, Missouri to New York?

Sanders: Reading Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" in shop class in high school in 1957.

MR. WEINGLASS: Mr. Sanders, could you indicate to the Court and to the jury what your present occupation is?
Sanders: I am a poet, songwriter, leader of a rock and roll band, publisher, editor, recording artist, peace-creep"

MR. WEINGLASS: Now, directing your attention to the evening of January 4, 1968, do you recall where you were on that evening?

Sanders: Yes. I went to Jerry Rubin's house in New York City to get briefed on a meeting that had taken place.

MR. WEINGLASS: What took place at that meeting you had with Jerry Rubin?

Sanders: Well, first we had a period of meditation in front of his picture of Chi on the wall for a half hour.

THE COURT: Picture of whom?

Sanders: Che, Che Guevara. Che, the great revolutionary leader.

THE COURT: Oh. Would you spell it for the reporter.

Sanders: C-H-E. Then we practiced for about a half hour toughening up our feet walking around in Baggies full of ice, and then Jerry informed me about the circumstances of the meeting that had taken place, forming the Youth International Party, and that it was decided to hold a free rock festival in Chicago during the time of the Democratic National Convention, and that the convening would be a convening of all people interested in the new politics, guerilla theater, rock and roll, the convening of the hemp horde from all over the various tribes in the United States. I was asked by Jerry if I would help coordinate, since I knew the major rock groups in the United States, if I would contact them and ask them if they would play. I said I would be happy to and that I would proceed forthwith in contacting these major rock groups, and that I did.
"MR. SCHULTZ: In Mr. Stahl's office on August 7, did you hear Hoffman say that the Festival of Life that you were discussing with Deputy Mayor Stahl and Al Baugher would include nude-ins at the beaches, public fornications, body painting, and discussions of draft and draft evasion? Did you hear that?

Sanders: Nudism, draft counseling, the beach thing, but he didn't use the word 'public fornication.'

MR. SCHULTZ: He didn't use that word. What word did he use in its place?

Sanders: Probably fuck-in."
"MR. SCHULTZ: While you were writing this document, you were also listening to what was going on at the meeting, weren't you?

Sanders: I was keeping an ear into it.

MR. SCHULTZ: Will you read number four of that document, please.

Sanders: Psychedelic long-haired mutant-jissomed peace leftists will consort with known dope fiends, spilling out onto the sidewalks in pornape disarray each afternoon."

MR. SCHULTZ: Would you read eight, please?

Sanders: 'Universal syrup day will be held on Wednesday when a movie will be shown at Soldiers Field in which Hubert Humphrey confesses to Allen Ginsberg of his secret approval of anal intercourse.'

MR. SCHULTZ: Will you read nine, please.

Sanders: 'There will be public fornication whenever and wherever there is an aroused appendage and willing apertures'

MR. SCHULTZ: Did you read thirteen?

Sanders: You want thirteen read? 'Two-hundred thirty rebel cocksmen under secret vows are on 24-hour alert to get the pants of the daughters and wives and kept women of the convention delegates.'"

* Clusterfuck Nation. excerpt:

"The clowns in charge of things understandably feel that they have to do something -- or pretend to -- in the face of what is shaping up to be not just a credit 'crunch,' but a potentially lethal illness in the credit system per se -- that is, in the very process of trading in paper that claims to represent faith in the future creation of wealth. That process underlies all of modern finance. Investments, currencies, economies, and nations hang in the balance.

"President Bush, seeming very much the clown-in-chief, led the way last week by proposing a mortgage crisis bail-out that would appear to have no chance whatsoever of working as advertised. He called it, arrestingly, the Hope Now Alliance. It blithely assumed that those 'servicing' mortgages -- that is, collecting the monthly payments -- have the ability to suspend scheduled upward re-sets of adjustable mortgages for five years for certain select homeowner payees -- so that theoretically said homeowners could avoid foreclosure.

"What might have worked in 1934, when the originators of mortgages were local banks that also "serviced" them (i.e. collected the monthly payments) is unlikely to avail today since the mortgages have been sold off in bunches to pension funds, hedge funds, money markets, and foreign investment funds -- none of which have an interest or the ability to renegotiate loans with millions of schlemiels from Cleveland to Denver to Fresno -- while the companies 'servicing' these contacts are mere errand boys, with no say over the terms of anything they collect on."
"Anyway, this argument is academic because the Hope Now Alliance is just a political sham. The purpose of it is not to save the hapless occupants of over-leveraged houses, but first to buy a little more time so that the worker bees in the financial industry can justify awarding each other multi-million-dollar Christmas bonus packages, and second, to postpone the 'workout' of all this bad investment as far into the future as possible.

"I have been wrong in the past about timing things, but I don't see any way on God's green earth that such a workout of mis-investment can be put off until somebody else is sworn in to lead the government in January 2009. The capital allocation system is already listing and groaning like a leaky ship in a hurricane.

"Maybe all the players really know that keeping the ship afloat until Christmas is really the best they can hope for. Christmas means a lot in this country. It represents all Americans' old hope that miracles can happen. Bums turn out to be Santa Claus. Old curmudgeons are transformed overnight into loving uncles. Angels save us when we jump despairingly into icey torrents. And Goldman Sachs executives pass out multi-million-dollar checks to the wizards who 'innovated' an ingenious way for the rest of their country to commit financial suicide."

* Dylan Stubs: one fan's collection of Dylan ticket stubs, from the early 1960s to now.

* "I don’t know where jazz is going. Maybe it’s going to hell. You can’t make anything go anywhere. It just happens." -- Thelonious Monk

December 10, 2007

I used to be disgusted
And now I try to be amused

Gus Powell, Statue of Liberty

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

7. Mitt Romney

"Mitt Romney didn't seem particularly bothered about the NIE last week - but that's probably because he was too busy trying to convince Christian conservatives (and I use the term "Christian" loosely in this context) that he's not going to take the country on some crazy Mormon rollercoaster ride to Outer Hades.

"Romney gave a speech last week at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library which was intended to conjure up the spirit of John F. Kennedy's famous 1960 address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association. The only difference of course being that in Kennedy's case the purpose was to put religion where it belongs in a presidential campaign - off the table - whereas in Romney's case the purpose was to put a big flashing neon sign over his head which read "HOT FRESH RELIGION RIGHT HERE!! COME AND GET IT!!"

"Romney's line of attack appeared to be to avoid much discussion of his own particular faith and instead talk about 'a topic which I believe is fundamental to America's greatness: our religious liberty.' As such Romney managed to use the word 'Mormon' just once: 'I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it.' So come on fundamentalists, pay no attention to the magic underpants.

"But really, who cares? Who cares if the president is a Mormon, or a Jew, or a Muslim, or a Wiccan, or a Pastafarian? That is one of the things that makes America great - that people can believe what they want without persecution. That's freedom, baby! And as long as the president understands that his (or her) job is to defend the Constitution, that religion should not be injected into public policy, and that the separation of church and state is of utmost importance, then it's all good.

"Which is why, when it comes to Mitt Romney, it's all bad. Here are a few more excerpts from his oh-so-inclusive speech:

"'Americans do not respect believers of convenience. Americans tire of those who would jettison their beliefs, even to gain the world.'


"' recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America - the religion of secularism. They are wrong.'

"And perhaps most egregious of all...

"'Freedom requires religion.'

"So there you have it: Mitt's plan to win over the fundies involves deflecting their attention from his own beliefs by holding up people who aren't religious as the common enemy. Disgusting."

* Rock Groupies of the 1970s: where they are now.

* "One has to believe in what one is doing, one has to commit oneself inwardly, in order to do painting. Once obsessed, one ultimately carries it to the point of believing that one might change human beings through painting. But if one lacks this passionate commitment, there is nothing left to do. Then it is best to leave it alone. For basically painting is idiocy." -- Gerhard Richter

December 7, 2007

I'm gonna make her love me
till the rock ain't stone

Daniel Mendel-Black, #69, 2006

More Poems by Nicanor Parra
-- translated by Miller Williams

I Don't Believe In the Peaceful Way

I don't believe in the violent way
I'd like to believe
in something--but I don't
to believe means to believe in God
all I can do is
shrug my shoulders
forgive me for being blunt
I don't even believe in the Milky Way.

I'm Not a Sentimental Old Man

a baby leaves me absolutely cold
I wouldn't take a baby in my arms
even if the world were caving in
every man scratches his own itch
I can't stand a family get-together
I'd rather be stuck in the eye with a sharp stick
than play with my nephews
my grandchildren don't move me very much either
what I mean is they set my nerves on edge
the second they see me come back from the coast
they come running at me with open arms
as if I were Santa Claus
little sons of bitches!
who the hell do they imagine I am

These Idyllic Lovers

could be two ants
two eyes in the same face
two nostrils in the same nose

these motherfucking lovers
could be the sea the way they go up and down
could be the sun if those were sun spots.

Somebody Behind Me

reads every word I write
looking over my left shoulder
he laughs at my problems with no shame
a man with a swagger stick and tails

I look but there's nobody
still I know someone is watching me


Enough of this foolishness
Nothing is swept under the rug here.

God made the world in a week
I destroy it in a moment.

Enough of your naked women!
Enough Egyptian priest
Spitting all over the place
I kneel down and kiss the earth
With a hamburger in my mouth.

I'm neither leftist or rightist
I just break the molds.

What the hell am i writing for?
I write to make you love and respect me
To satisfy God and the devil
To record everything.

To cry and laugh at the same time
Verily verily
I don't know what the hell I'm writing for.
I guess I do it out of envy.

December 6, 2007

we should be whispering all the time

Max Protetch, Winter, 2003

* Long, excellent article on How America Lost the War on Drugs concludes:

"The drug war, in the end, has been undone in no small part by the sweeping and inflexible nature of its own metaphor. At the beginning...the campaign was a war as seen from the situation room, a complicated assault that spanned multiple fronts, but one which had identifiable enemies and a goal. Today, the government's anti-drug effort resembles a war as seen from the trenches, an eternal slog, where victory seems not only unattainable but somehow beside the point. For the drug agents and veterans who busted Escobar, the last decade and a half have been a slow, agonizing history of defeat after defeat, the enemy shifting but never retreating. 'You get frustrated,' Joe Toft, a former DEA country attache in Colombia, tells me. 'We've never had a true effort where the U.S. as a whole says, 'We're never going to crack this problem without a real demand-reduction program.' That's something that's just never happened.'

"Toft, now a private security consultant, thinks back to the heady days after the fall of Escobar, the days when winning the War on Drugs seemed only a matter of dispatching more American helicopters to the Andes. 'The first couple years, I had this very naive idea that I was really going to make a huge impact,' he says. 'But after a while, you start realizing that without a concerted effort to reduce demand, it's not going to happen. Over the years, I came to see my job as basically keeping the lid on the garbage can trying to sit on that lid and prevent that garbage can from overflowing. If you talk to a hundred agents, that's what almost all of them would say. We're just being realistic.'"

* From a 1996 interview of Patti Smith by Thurston Moore. excerpt:

THURSTON MOORE: How would Lester Bangs have conducted this interview?

PATTI SMITH: Lester wrote a really nice article about us a long time ago called "Stagger Lee Was A Woman." But then he turned against us because he felt we sold out with Radio Ethiopia. Everybody thought we sold out. They thought we had turned heavy metal. They found lyrics like "pissing in a river" offensive, they found experimentation offensive, definitely too sonic.

TM: It was for its time. It seemed like a very MC5 influenced record. There was nothing like it at the time.

PS: Lenny introduced me to their music. I had never heard of the MC5. Radio Ethiopia was influenced by "Black To Comm." When Lenny introduced me to Fred, it was March 9, 1976, almost twenty years ago. Fred was standing in front of a white elevator in a navy blue coat -- the coat which appears in Godspeed. "Walking in your blue coat, weeping admiral," that's Fred.
TM: What's the first record you ever bought?

PS: Shrimp Boats by Harry Belafonte, Patience and Prudence doing The Money Tree, and, embarrassingly enough, Neil Sedaka's Climb Up. My mother bought me a box set of Madame Butterfly when I was sick. I got Coltrane's My Favorite Things. My mother was a counter waitress in a drugstore where they had a bargain bin of used records. One day she brought this record home and said, "I never heard of the fellow but he looks like somebody you'd like," and it was Another Side of Bob Dylan. I loved him. You see, I had devoted so much of my girlish daydreams to Rimbaud. Rimbaud was like my boyfriend. If you're 15 or 16 and you can't get the boy you want, and you have to daydream about him all the time, what's the difference if he's a dead poet or a senior? At least Bob Dylan... it was a relief to daydream about somebody who was alive.

TM: Did you ever see John Coltrane?

PS: Yes. Once in Philly in '63 when My Favorite Things came out. There were two jazz clubs right next to each other, Pep's and the Showboat. You had to be eighteen, so these people helped me get dressed up, trying to look older. I was basically a pigtails and sweatshirt kind of kid. So I got in for fifteen minutes and saw him and then they carded me and kicked me out. He did "Nature Boy." I was in such heaven seeing them, Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner, that I wasn't even disturbed that I got thrown out.
TM: When did you first meet Bob Dylan?

PS: Backstage at the Bitter End. We didn't have a drummer yet. It was just the four of us, we hadn't been signed yet.

TM: Did you see him in the audience?

PS: No. Somebody told us he was there. My heart was pounding. I got instantly rebellious. I made a couple of references, a couple of oblique things to show I knew he was there. And then he came backstage which was really quite gentlemanly of him. He came over to me and I kept moving around. We were like two pitbulls circling. I was a snotnose. I had a very high concentration of adrenaline. He said to me, "Any poets around here?" And I said, "I don't like poetry anymore. Poetry sucks!" I really acted like a jerk. I thought, that guy will never talk to me again. And the day after there was this picture on the cover of the Village Voice. The photographer had Dylan put his arms around me. It was a really cool picture. It was a dream come true, but it reminded me of how I had acted like a jerk. And then a few days later I was walking down 4th Street by the Bottom Line and I saw him coming. He put his hand in his jacket -- he was still wearing the same clothes he had on in the picture, which I liked -- and he takes out the Village Voice picture and says, "Who are these two people? You know who these people are?" Then he smiled at me and I knew it was alright. The first time I ever heard him was way back in 1964. I went to see Joan Baez. She had this fellow with her, Bobby Dylan. His voice was like a motorcycle through a cornfield...

* Short bios of various 20th century Heroes and Killers.

* The Evens playing Cut From the Cloth in Chile.

* "Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see." --
Mark Twain

December 5, 2007

there's no imagination in the blues

Bridget Sue Lambert, The Road To Satisfaction, 2001

Poems by Nicanor Parra
-- translated by Miller Williams

The Situation is Getting Delicate

You only have to look at the sun
through a smoked glass
to know things are bad:
or maybe you think everything is fine.

I say we ought to go back
to cars pulled by horses
to steam-driven planes
to TV sets cut from stone

The old folks were right:
We have to go back and cook with wood again.


Bread goes up so bread goes up again
Rents go up
This brings an instant doubling of all rents
The cost of clothes goes up
So the cost of clothes goes up again.
We're caught in a vicious circle.
In the cage there is food.
Not much, but there is food.
Outside are only great stretches of freedom.


No praying allowed, no sneezing.
No spitting, eulogizing, kneeling
Worshipping, howling, expectorating.

No sleeping permitted in this precinct
No inoculating, talking, excommunicating
Harmonizing, escaping, catching.

Running is absolutely forbidden.

No smoking. No fucking.


Let's not fool ourselves
The automobile is a wheelchair
A lion is made of lambs
Poets have no biographies
Death is a collective habit
Children are born to be happy
Reality has a tendency to fade away
Fucking is a diabolical act
God is a good friend of the poor

December 4, 2007

maybe they found their voice while out shopping
the price was hard to beat

Enrico David, Bubble Protest, 2005

* New York Times. excerpt:

"Most of the time we pretend it’s not there: The staggering financial cost of the war in Iraq, which continues to soar, unchecked, like a rocket headed toward the moon and beyond."
"A report prepared for the Democratic majority on the Joint Economic Committee of the House and Senate warns that without a significant change of course in Iraq, the long-term cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could head into the vicinity of $3.5 trillion. The vast majority of those expenses would be for Iraq.

"Priorities don’t get much more twisted. A country that can’t find the money to provide health coverage for its children, or to rebuild the city of New Orleans, or to create a first-class public school system, is flushing whole generations worth of cash into the bottomless pit of a failed and endless war."
"President Bush’s formal funding requests for Iraq have already exceeded $600 billion. In addition to that, the report offers estimates of the war’s 'hidden costs' from its beginning to 2017: the long-term costs of treating the wounded and disabled; interest and other costs associated with borrowing to finance the war; the money needed to repair or replace military equipment; the increased costs of military recruitment and retention; and such difficult to gauge but very real costs as the loss of productivity from those who have been killed or wounded.

"What matters more than the precision of these estimates (Republicans are not happy with them) is the undeniable fact that the costs associated with the Iraq war are huge and carry with them enormous societal consequences.

"Far from seeking a halt to the war, the Bush administration has been considering a significant U.S. military presence in Iraq that would last for many years, if not decades. There has been very little public discussion and no thorough analysis of the overall implications of such a policy.

"What is indisputable, however, is that everything associated with the Iraq war has cost vastly more than the administration’s absurdly sunny forecasts. The direct appropriations are already roughly 10 times the amount of the administration’s original estimates of the entire cost of the war."
"Youngsters who were just starting high school when the U.S. invaded Iraq are in college now. Their children, yet unborn, will be called on to fork over tax money to continue paying for the war.

"Seriously. How long do we want this madness to last?"

* Village Voice review of buddy Marc Master's new book: No Wave. excerpt:

"[While] No Wave, Marc Masters's history of the punk offshoot (due out in late December), shares some thematic territory with Court's book—the cast of characters has a great deal of overlap—his book is more tightly focused. It's hardly narrow, however, given how stylistically slippery No Wave is to define. While New York City's contributions to punk have been endlessly dissected, the No Wave scene has never gotten the overview it deserved—until now.

"From the beginning, No Wave was an anti-movement set up in stark opposition to punk's tired reliance on conventional three-chord riffs. Stylistically exploiting the frisson between crudity and sophistication, groups like Suicide, DNA, and Ut reflected the city's moral chaos back on itself, turning art into shock therapy. (TV Party's Glenn O'Brien once quipped that No Wave was "a Gong Show for geniuses.")

"From such assaultive beginnings, No Wave proved to be a complicated, elastic, genre-hopping beast. Masters, who writes for U.K. magazine The Wire, traces its wayward experiments and stylistic switchbacks with critical engagement and thoughtfulness. Drawing on detailed interviews with many of the scene's key players (Lydia Lunch, Arto Lindsay, and Glenn Branca, among others), as well as an exhaustive amount of archival material, Masters brings this secret history to vivid life. Even if your interest in punk history is merely casual, the treasure trove of rare ephemera reprinted here—club flyers, ticket stubs, band photos, yellowing 'zines—is fascinating; much of it has a bracing rawness that hasn't faded one iota.

"No Wave's influence has proven more long-lasting than the movement itself: Its blend of twitchy disco, corrosive noise, and lo-fi recording techniques is very au courant. (Groups as diverse as Erase Errata, LCD Soundsystem, and Lightning Bolt all owe fealty.) Thanks to reissues, however, much of No Wave's discography is newly available. Ahead of its time? Looks like that time is now."

* "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources." --Albert Einstein

December 3, 2007

Now the courtroom is quiet, but who will confess.
Is it true you betrayed us? The answer is Yes.
Then read me the list of the crimes that are mine,
I will ask for the mercy that you love to decline.
And all the ladies go moist, and the judge has no choice,
a singer must die for the lie in his voice.

Todd Hebert, Sparkler, 2003

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

6. Scott J. Bloch

"Meanwhile, it turns out that Scott J. Bloch, the special counsel who according to the Register is "investigating whether Rove and other White House officials improperly used government agencies to help re-elect Republicans running from Congressional seats," is using a rather curious approach.

"It was revealed last week that Bloch 'hired a private computer-help company to erase all the hard drives belonging to him and two deputies.' The firm then performed a 'seven-level wipe, all but guaranteeing the files could never be restored.'

"But don't worry, there's nothing to see here. It turns out that Bloch was merely trying to get rid of a nasty virus. Even though, er, 'a manager with the private firm said a wipe that thorough is an unusual way to treat a malware infection' and 'The receipt for the work performed makes no mention of a virus.'

"To be honest I'm surprised he didn't use the traditional method of getting rid of a virus, which is to take your computer outside and smash it with a hammer before feeding it into a woodchipper and then throwing the remains into a furnace. But I guess that might have looked a bit fishy."

* From a 1974 interview of Leonard Cohen. excerpt:

J.S. - When you talk about people, do you see individual faces, or is it a concept of the masses?

L.C. - People are a complex of everyday heroes, at least that's what I feel. There are millions of faces and personalities, but all together they form a people. Then, within each group, there emerges a value system that makes some into leaders and others into followers, that makes some into celebrities, and others into unknown people. All of them are heroes, but each with a different destiny.
J.S. - With this tour, and with the bad treatment you have received from the English and American critics, how are you feeling about this international exposure?

L.C. - I don't consider myself a great singer. I just play the guitar and interpret my lyrics. I do what I do because I have a need to do it, to express what I know, and to show people what I do. It's true that this tour has had some rough moments, especially in the U.S. and England, but the unpleasant times have not come from the public, just from the critics, and I really don't pay attention to critics. Critics view things with a certain coldness, they focus on the sound, whether it's good or bad, whether one plays the guitar well, on whether there is a large audience, and sometimes they can't see real success, because they don't look into the soul of the audience nor into the soul of the singer. I've seen the people applauding from their hearts, and that is what is truly important for me. And that's the way it was today, here in Barcelona, so this tour, in my opinion, has gone well indeed. I am content, happy.
.S. - Nonetheless, "Lover, Lover, Lover" is dedicated to your "brothers" in the Arab-Israeli war, and besides, you were there, singing for them. This indicates you're taking a side, and in a way, fighting for it.

L.C. - Personal process is one thing, it's blood, it's the identification one feels with their roots and their origins. The militarism I practice as a person and a writer is another thing.

J.S. - But you worry about war, and for that reason it would be logical that you would be concerned about both sides.

L.C. - I don't want to talk about war.

J.S. - Do you feel commercialized when a million copies of your albums are sold?

L.C. - That isn't the problem, that feeling doesn't happen at the time a million albums are sold, it happens afterwards, when I accept the fact that my songs are being recorded and entered into the commercial games. I feel neither guilty nor happy, but I could add that the system uses me as much as I use it, so we would have to speak in terms of collaboration. What concerns me is reaching the people, so I have to submit to the rules of the game, because this system is the only means I have, to do what I have to do.

* Robert Crumb: The No Hope diagram.

* "I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me." --Winston Churchill