February 27, 2008

we'll have to pay for
all the love that we stole

Agnes Martin, untitled, 1959

-- by Allen Ginsberg

Homage Kenneth Koch

If I were doing my Laundry I'd wash my dirty Iran
I'd throw in my United States, and pour on the Ivory Soap,
scrub up Africa, put all the birds and elephants back in
the jungle,
I'd wash the Amazon river and clean the oily Carib & Gulf of Mexico,
Rub that smog off the North Pole, wipe up all the pipelines in Alaska,
Rub a dub dub for Rocky Flats and Los Alamos, Flush that sparkly
Cesium out of Love Canal
Rinse down the Acid Rain over the Parthenon & Sphinx, Drain the Sludge
out of the Mediterranean basin & make it azure again,
Put some blueing back into the sky over the Rhine, bleach the little
Clouds so snow return white as snow,
Cleanse the Hudson Thames & Neckar, Drain the Suds out of Lake Erie
Then I'd throw big Asia in one giant Load & wash out the blood &
Agent Orange,
Dump the whole mess of Russia and China in the wringer, squeeze out
the tattletail Gray of U.S. Central American police state,
& put the planet in the drier & let it sit 20 minutes or an
Aeon till it came out clean

The Room
-- by Mark Strand

It is an old story, the way it happens
sometimes in winter, sometimes not.
The listener falls to sleep,
the doors to the closets of his unhappiness open

and into his room the misfortunes come --
death by daybreak, death by nightfall,
their wooden wings bruising the air,
their shadows the spilled milk the world cries over.

There is a need for surprise endings;
the green field where cows burn like newsprint,
where the farmer sits and stares,
where nothing, when it happens, is never terrible enough.

Drunk As Drunk
-- by Pablo Neruda

Drunk as drunk on turpentine
From your open kisses,
Your wet body wedged
Between my wet body and the strake
Of our boat that is made of flowers,
Feasted, we guide it - our fingers
Like tallows adorned with yellow metal -
Over the sky's hot rim,
The day's last breath in our sails.

Pinned by the sun between solstice
And equinox, drowsy and tangled together
We drifted for months and woke
With the bitter taste of land on our lips,
Eyelids all sticky, and we longed for lime
And the sound of a rope
Lowering a bucket down its well. Then,
We came by night to the Fortunate Isles,
And lay like fish
Under the net of our kisses.

[back monday]

February 25, 2008

It's a fox hunt, it's a f-stop
It's a ten acre wood

Jeremy Blake, Freedom (a phone call away), 2005

* Additional excerpts from Crystal Zevon's oral history bio of Warren Zevon:

-- Richard Edlund: "Warren was very closely associated with my invention of the Pignose amplifier. For the first model, I build one inside an English Leather box. Warren was recording "An Emblem for the Devil" [recorded for, but not used on, his first, relitively unknown record Wanted Dead of Alive] and he had these Marshall amps turned up to 12, and he was incurring the wrath of all the other session because his sound went through the walls. I said, 'try this.' It had a particular sound that Warren loved, and he was the first to use a Pignose on an album. Eventually, I made seventy of these amps and gave them to Mick Jagger, Keith Richards...everybody. Warren got the 'Jukin' Dedication Model,' which was the first one.

-- Burt Stein on the genesis of Lawyers, Guns and Money: "Warren would sit on the balcony till all hours of the morning reading Raymond Chandler novels, sipping Stolichnaya. I'd get up in the morning and invariably he was ready to carry on. It would be time for breakfast, and Warren would stop at the refriderator, and he'd say, 'I can't have breakfast on an empty stomach.' He'd down more vodka and we'd go have breakfast."

"Of course, every afternoon we spent hours in the cocktail lounge -- to the point where Warren got friendly with the waitress. One day he says, 'A friend of the waitress has a cabin in the mountains. She's off tomorrow and she'll take us there. We can get a little mountain experience.' The three of us get in my rental car. We're going to spend the night up in the mountains and come back the next day. So, we're driving through a sugarcane field and Warren's sitting next to me. The girl is in the backseat. I ask how long before we get up there. She says, 'oh, ninety minutes.' She goes on to say, 'I'm sure my friend won't mind if we break in. I say, 'Oh, shit. Warren, I can see it now. A telegram to Joe Smith: Dear Joe, please send lawyers, guns and money.' And, Warren says, "Joe, send lawyers, guns and money.' And then I say, 'Warren, we're not going up there.' He says, 'You're right, back to the bar.' So, we go back to the cocktail lounge. On two cocktail napkins, he wrote 'Lawyers, Guns and Money."

* Watch this NOW.

* Wednesday: The Foreign Press at the Velvet Lounge (915 U Street, NW, wdc, 9 pm).

* Thursday:An Evening with David Berman at the Corcoran Gallery of Art (7pm):

From the Corcoran website:

"David Berman is the subject of Sodium Fox, one of the two complete portraits featured in the Corcoran's exhibition Wild Choir: Cinematic Portraits by Jeremy Blake. An American songwriter, and the man behind the beloved rock band, Silver Jews, David Berman has until recently avoided the spotlight (waiting 15 years and five albums before taking the Silver Jews on tour in 2006), and yet his tragicomic bearing and influential works continue to capture critical acclaim and attention all around the world. The Corcoran is honored to have Mr. Berman on our stage for a rare and intimate evening as he honors the memory of Jeremy Blake."

* "Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage." -- H. L. Mencken
I want to live alone in the desert
I want to be like Georgia O'Keefe
I want to live on the Upper East Side
And never go down in the street

unknown, roller coaster, glen echo park, Maryland, 1926

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

9. Roger Stone

"Tiniest Penis

"Meanwhile, Roger Stone - the famed GOP operative who was last featured on this list after he left obscene voice mails for Elliot Spitzer's 83-year-old father (see Idiots 305) - was back in the news last week with a new 527 organization intended 'to educate the American public about what Hillary Clinton really is.'

"The name of Stone's organization is Citizens United Not Timid. Get it? Here, allow me to spell it out for you. Citizens United Not Timid.

"Clever stuff, huh?

"Curiously, Stone continues to be invited to give his opinion on national television, which you have to admit is a little strange. I mean, how does that phone call go? 'Hi, Mr. Stone? Mr. Roger Stone? The guy who leaves obscene voice mails for the elderly and runs an organization that describes Hillary Clinton as a 'cunt?' Yes, do you have ten minutes to spare this afternoon for a bit of political analysis with Tucker Carlson?'

"Bizarre. But anyway, it seems that the conservative strategy for 2008 is pretty clear - black people who are deemed sufficiently unpatriotic by Bill O'Reilly should be lynched, and women are cunts. Sounds like a winning election year message to me!"

* Excerpts from Crystal Zevon's excellent oral history/bio of her ex-husband:
I'll Sleep When I'm Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon:

On meeting Keith Richard in June 1992 (from Zevon's diary): "When [Waddy Wachtel] introducted me to Keith Richards, I said 'Maestro. What can I say?' And he hugged me. Keith was wonderful. Complimentary, very funny, modest. We sat together smoking & joking while [Waddy] and Steve Jordan worked up a comp. Keith said he was working on his 'vowel movements,' I said I wrote too many consonants, and he said 'I write the consonants last.'"

Zevon brought back to certain friends the advice Keith's father had on women: "Remember son...it's the second hole down the back of the neck."

Bruce Springsteen on meeting Zevon in the mid-1970s: "The first time I met Warren, he came to New York. I saw him in a club in the city, and my main recollection was he did a version of Muddy Waters' 'I Am a Man" and instead of spelling out M-A-N, he spelled out his own name, Warren -- which was very funny. It was one of those classic things that told you everything you needed to know about him."

"Warren was a bit of an unusual character coming out of California because his tone was not typical California unless you went back to maybe Nathanael West or something. He had the cynical edge, which was really not a part of what was coming out of California at the time. Outside of the songs being great, he was just an interesting character. My recollection is that after the show, we went out. I seem to remember spending most of the night and well into the morning of the next day together. We talked and hit it off."

* George Bush in his own words.

* "The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry." -- Ernest Hemingway

February 22, 2008

Every war that's waged make me cry
Every bird that goes by gets me high

Don Van Vliet, Lion Colored Fish, 1991

What I'm Doing Here
-- by Leonard Cohen

I do not know if the world has lied
I have lied
I do not know if the world has conspired against love
I have conspired against love
The atmosphere of torture is no comfort
I have tortured
Even without the mushroom cloud
still I would have hated
I would have done the same things
even if there were no death
I will not be held like a drunkard
under the cold tap of facts
I refuse the universal alibi

Like an empty telephone booth passed at night
and remembered
like mirrors in a movie palace lobby consulted
only on the way out
like a nymphomaniac who binds a thousand
into strange brotherhood
I wait
for each one of you to confess

-- by James Schuyler

The mint bed is in
bloom: lavender haze
day. The grass is
more than green and
throws up sharp and
cutting lights to
slice through the
plane tree leaves. And
on the cloudless blue
I scribble your name.

Things I Learned Last Week
-- by William Stafford

Ants, when they meet each other,
usually pass on the right.

Sometimes you can open a sticky
door with your elbow.

A man in Boston has dedicated himself
to telling about injustice.
For three thousand dollars he will
come to your town and tell you about it.

Schopenhauer was a pessimist but
he played the flute.

Yeats, Pound, and Eliot saw art as
growing from other art. They studied that.

If I ever die, I’d like it to be
in the evening. That way, I’ll have
all the dark to go with me, and no one
will see how I begin to hobble along.

In the Pentagon one person’s job is to
take pins out of towns, hills, and fields,
and then save the pins for later.

February 21, 2008

He's just a hero in a long line of heroes
Looking for some lonely billboard to grace

Leila Cartier, Unearthed, 2005

* FISA battle more politics than policy. excerpt:

"Call it a game of political chicken: Four days after the Bush administration lost its authority to sidestep the courts when eavesdropping on some U.S. residents, House Democrats and the White House remain embroiled in a high-profile rhetorical battle over what the change means for the nation’s security. But even as Republicans and intelligence officials warn of an imminent Apocalypse—and Democrats warn of an executive branch gone wild—some of the nation’s top legal experts say that neither side has got it right.

"'It’s mostly a political game,' said Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University specializing in electronic surveillance. 'Both sides are exaggerating dramatically.'

"At issue is legislation to expand a federal spying law—the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act—to allow the National Security Agency to intercept foreign-to-domestic communications without court approval when the target is the foreign party. In August, Congress passed the Protect America Act, which provided that authority. The law also granted amnesty to the phone companies that cooperated with the White House under the program. Earlier this month, the Senate passed a bill to make those provisions permanent, but House leaders left Washington last week without acting on the legislation. As a result, the Protect America Act expired on Feb. 16.

"The outcry from the White House was immediate. National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell told Fox News Feb. 17 that the nation is in 'increased danger, and it will increase more and more as time goes on.' Intelligence officials, he said, 'do not have the agility and the speed that we had before to be able to move and try to capture [terrorists’] communications to thwart their planning.'"
"Another topic of contention remains how the new surveillance law should approach the telecommunications companies that cooperated in the administration’s unwarranted wiretapping program. The Senate bill offers immunity—critics say amnesty—to those companies, reasoning that the private sector would refuse to participate in future surveillance activities if they thought they might be sued as a result. On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told CNN’s 'Late Edition' that House Democrats are 'more interested in seeing companies in court than they are seeing terrorists in jail.'

"Other legal experts warned of the precedent that might be set if Congress succeeds in scaring private companies from cooperating with the government in times of national emergency. Robert Turner, associate director at the Center for National Security Law at the University of Virginia, said Americans should be prepared to sacrifice some privacy and civil rights for purposes of security. 'You have to be able to act with speed and dispatch,' he said, 'even if it means there’s some collateral damage. There’s no solution to that. It’s just a part of war.'

"Added Turner, who was a senior White House lawyer under Ronald Reagan: 'I think we ought to be grateful to the companies that cooperated.'"
"Looking forward, legal experts predict that some compromise will emerge in the coming days. Based on Congress’ record battling the White House on national security issues, some add, it will probably resemble something much closer to the Senate bill. 'If past is prologue, the Democrats will cave, Saltzburg said. "They just don’t seem to be able to hold out for the long fight.'"

* Record covers by R. Crumb.

* Baltimore artist (and propriator of bmoreart) Cara Ober has a show opening March 8, 2008 at DC's Randall Scott Gallery. The show runs until April 12, 2008.

* The Caribbean play DC's Velvet Lounge Saturday February 23, 2008.

* "Always speak the truth, think before you speak, and write it down afterwards." -- Lewis Carroll

February 19, 2008

I love them hot nights when a T-shirt feels right

Blinky Palermo, Rot/Rosa (Red/Pink), 1966–67

-- by Robert Creeley

As I was walking
I came upon
chance walking
the same road upon.

As I sat down
by chance to move
if and as I might,

light the wood was,
light and green,
and what I saw
before I had not seen.

It was a lady
by goat men
leading her.

Her hair held earth.
Her eyes were dark.
A double flute
made her move.

"O love,
where are you
me now?"

Country-Western Singer
-- by Alan Shapiro

I used to feel like a new man
After the day's first brew.
But then the new man I became
Would need a tall one too.
As would the new man he became,
And the new one after him,
And so on and so forth till the new men made
The dizzy room go dim.
And each one said, I'll be your muse,
I'll trade you song for beer.
He said, I'll be your salt lick, honey,
If you will be my deer.
He said, I'll be your happy hour,
And you, boy, you'll be mine.
And mine won't end at six or seven
Or even at closing time.
Yes, son, I'll be your spirit guide,
I'll lead you to Absolut,
To Dewar's, Bushmills, and Jamison,
Then down to Old Tanglefoot.
And there I'll drain the pretense from you
That propped you up so high;
I'll teach you how salvation's just
Salivation without the I.
To hear his sweet talk was to think
You'd gone from rags to riches,
Till going from drink to drink became
Like going from hags to bitches,
Like going from bed to barroom stool,
From stool to bathroom stall,
From stall to sink, from sink to stool,
From stool to hospital.
The monitors beep like pinball machines,
And coldly the IV drips,
And a nurse runs a moistened washcloth over
My parched and bleeding lips.
And the blood I taste, the blood I swallow
Is as far away from wine
As 5:10 is for the one who dies
At 5:09.

American History
-- by Michael S. Harper

Those four black girls blown up
in that Alabama church
remind me of five hundred
middle passage blacks,
in a net, under water
in Charleston harbor
so redcoats wouldn't find them.
Can't find what you can't see
can you?
I break horses
Doesn't take me long
Just a few well-placed words
And their wandering hearts are gone

John Chiara, untitled, 2004

* from Harper's Index March 2008:

-- Percentage change since 2005 in the worldwide price of food, as tracked by The Economist: +77

-- Estimated amount that Ike Turner spent on cocaine during his lifetime, according to Turner: $11,000,000

-- Percentage of full-time university faculty in 1992 who taught less than four hours per week: 15

-- Percentage today: 30

-- Percentage increase since 2001 in the amount the U.S. Government has spent on paper shredding: +587

-- Number of South Koreans who work as on-call "replacement drivers" for customers too drunk to drive home: 83,000

-- Estimated number of customers they serve each day: 700,000

* Willie Nelson says Impeach Bush. excerpt:

"American icon Willie Nelson says he supports efforts to impeach President Bush and 'throw the bastards out,' adding that the administration will do anything to stay in power, including staging an event to cancel the election.

"In his second appearance this month, Nelson told The Alex Jones Show today that he supported Dennis Kucinich's attempt to impeach Bush, adding, 'If you break the law you have to pay for it one way or another and if these guys haven't broke the law nobody has.'

"'The deck's been stacked and we need to figure out a way to get a new fresh deck in there in the deal and I don't know how else to do it except throw the bastards out,' said Nelson."
"'I really believe that George Bush believes he's right, he believes what he's saying and that makes it even more pathetic because to have someone that wrong think they're right and have him be the leader of our country - that's a scary thought,' he added.

"The star also re-iterated a warning made during his last appearance on the show, that the Bush administration could potentially stage an event to postpone or cancel the presidential election.

"'It could be anything and anything will work because they have everyone scared to death, I just think there are people out there who will do anything to stay in power, anything to keep what they have, they've already proven they'll do anything to keep it,' he said."

* "My language is the common prostitute that I turn into a virgin." -- Karl Kraus

February 18, 2008

the news is solid gold
god loves rock and roll

First Dust Congress YouTube embed:
God Loves Rock and Roll, by Lionel Goldbart
From the 1969 film, Dynamite Chicken
which, if you haven't seen, watch as soon as possible

Wikipedia says "Dynamite Chicken is a 1972 [Netflix says 1969] film involving Richard Pryor, and partly funded by and featuring John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It is a collection of subversive comedy sketches and routines relating to the peace movement. Many famous figures appear as themselves in the film, including Joan Baez, Lenny Bruce, Leonard Cohen, Allen Ginsberg, Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, Malcolm X (from archival footage), Andy Warhol, and Yoko herself [Fred Willard is featured as well]."

* Hunter S. Thompson's seminal, gonzo-defining article: The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved.

* "He had come to that moment in his age when there occured to him, with increasing intensity, a question of such overwhelming simplicity that he had no means to face it. He found himself wondering if his life were worth the living; if it had ever been. It was a question, he suspected, that came to all men at one time or another; he wondered if it came to them with such impersonal force as it came to him. The question brought with it a sadness, but it was a general sadness which (he thought) had little to do with himself or with his particular fate; he was not even sure that the question sprang from the most immediate and obvious causes, from what his own life had become. It came, he believed, from the accretion of his years, from the density of accident and circumstance, and from what he had come to understand of them. He took a grim and ironic pleasure from the possibility that what little learning he had managed to acquire had led him to this knowledge: that in the long run all things, even the learning that let him know this, were futile and empty, and at last diminished into a nothingness they did not alter." -- from Stoner, by John Williams

February 15, 2008

Don't let the sun go down on your grievances
Respect love of the heart over lust of the flesh

Ruth Channing, I Am Beautiful

Jacks With Creeley
-- by Dennis Mahagin

A sweaty lanyard strap
held his eye patch fast. "For you, a handicap,"
Bob laughed, tossing 10 Flintstones Chewables
on the tarmac; then four full vitamin bottles spilled
from his knapsack like perfectly cylindrical knobs
of stallion spoor.

"Supplements," said
Creeley, and with the ball in the air
he deftly popped two-- a purple Dino, and Barney
all Robin’s Egg blue. When it was my turn to roll,

I ended up with only one Wilma in
my rhino plastic nostril hole, and the ball
was as a sliver of Lava soap in a tub
full of dun suds. Creeley's one eye, watering
with mirth, winked at me; then of a sudden
he was ripping off two, three,

four, five,
six pills at a clip, vitamins were vibrating
on the tips of his lips like veritable Neal
Cassaday Jumping Beans… … .. . .. ...

"OK, I give! - I give! - I give! - I
give!" I said, picking up a shell-speckled
Betty Rubble, desperately licking her little
will-o'-the-wisp head, which flared
candy apple red.

"You just weren't
ready for me," said Robert
Creeley, "and I doubt you
ever will be!"

Then he spit out
all those fucking pills
like hurricane hailstones
on the frozen Bering Sea.

"Maybe," I said reverently, "but you're still
the sickest hipster who ever sucked some
Centrum Silver from a bleach cap..."

"Aye, boy," replied Bob, yanking off
that redundant black patch, "AYE."

-- by Richard Brautigan

she tries to get things
out of men
that she can't get
because she's not
15% prettier

From the Death Cell
-- by André Chénier (1762-94)

translated by Tom Paulin

We live – dishonoured, in the shit. So what? It had to be.
This is the pits and yet we feed and sleep.
Even here – penned in, watered and waiting for the chop
(just place your bets) – affairs take off,
there’s gossip, bitching and a pecking-order.
Songs, jokes, card-school: she lifts her skirts; someone
bops a tight balloon against the windowpanes.
It’s like the speeches of those seven hundred eejits
(Barrère’s the shiftiest of the lot) – a comic fart
we whoop and cheer and then forget.
One jumps, another skips; that greasy pack
of gut and gullet politicians raps and hoots
until, dead quick, the door scrakes open
and our tiger-master’s wee pimp struts in.
Who’s getting it today? We freeze and listen,
then all but one of us knows it isn’t him . . .

André Chénier was arrested on suspicion of "crimes against the state" in France on March 7, 1794, and guillotined on July 25 on the orders of Robespierre. The poet would indeed have been sitting in the shit when he wrote the poem, as hygiene in the prisons of the 1700s must have been rudimentary. And they surely wouldn’t have wasted water. Chénier’s poems – which he now had ample time to work on because there’s nothing like a little incarceration to focus the mind – were smuggled out of the prison and given to his family by a jailer who could be bribed.

-- additional background.

February 14, 2008

No bad dream fucker’s gonna boss me around

Jill Torberson, Happy Home, 2007

* Washington Independent: The Credit Crisis Only Begins with Mortgages. excerpt:

"One can pity Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke. No other federal reserve chairman ever cut interest rates by a full 1.25% within just eight days, as Bernanke has done. But the monetary skies remain as leaden and thunder-clouded as ever. The stock market keeps quivering downward, crowds thin at the malls, jobless queues grow. Wal-Mart reports that customers are using their Christmas gift cards for groceries.

"The hard reality is that the economy is facing a one-two knockout blow from a collapse in consumer spending, plus a shock-and-awe wave of asset write-downs that is wreaking havoc in the financial sector. The more Bernanke floods the economy with easy money, the worse the final reckoning is likely to be.

"First the consumer. For decades, personal consumption’s share of GDP averaged in the 66 percent-67 percent range. In 2000, however, it moved up sharply, hitting 72 percent in early 2007, the highest rate of consumption in any modern country ever.

"How did consumers pay for it? Well, not with their wage packet—median household incomes were roughly flat in the 2000s. Instead, households doubled their debt load, and personal savings rates dropped to zero.

"Almost all the new borrowing was against houses. Very low interest rates and super-easy mortgage rules drove house prices up 50 percent between 2000 and 2005, one of the fastest jumps in history. As prices soared, consumers refinanced again and again, rolling over the proceeds into pricier houses and more consumption. Wall Street’s economists looked on happily, and constructed elaborate theories proving that the debt spiral could continue indefinitely."
"The truly bad news is that the credit crisis is not just about home mortgages. The same problems infect almost every important asset class. Commercial mortgages had a drunken spree of their own in 2006 and 2007. A sign of the times: the big New York developer, Harry Macklowe, is unable to pay $7 billion in debt on seven prime Manhattan office buildings he bought less than a year ago. The takeover loans that fueled the 2006-2007 stock market boom are also faltering badly. Trading markets are now pricing prime takeover loans and commercial mortgages as if they were junk bonds.

"On quite reasonable assumptions, total market losses from defaults and writedowns on mortgages of all kinds, and from junk bonds, leveraged takeover loans, credit cards, and auto loans, will be in the range of $1 trillion.

* Kareem Abdul Jabbar has a blog, and its good! check it out.

* Excerpt from Janice Dickinson's memoir: Everything About Me Is Fake . . . And I'm Perfect:

"Okay, enough about my youth (for now, anyway). Let's pick things up in the backseat of a limo, circa 1980, after a Harper's Bazaar shoot for Gucci. I was making out with rocker Frank Zappa before we stepped out for dinner at the fabulous Russian Tea Room in New York City.

"As the two of us strutted inside the place, all eyes were on my hot white jeans, which left little to the imagination. Somewhere between the antipasto and the second bottle of vino, I looked down and noticed something clammy between my legs -- something that had nothing to do with Frank. Perfect, hot, model-babe Janice had all of a sudden turned into just-got-her-period-all-over-her-Calvins Janice.

"What to do?

"Before Frank got a load of the problem and decided I needed a transfusion (yep, it was that bad), my brain went into overdrive. Suddenly my hand was spilling half a bottle of wine into my nether regions.

"'Oh my God, Frank, you had me so hot I wasn't paying attention,' I purred as $200 worth of booze soaked into my crotch. I could always get hold of another bottle of wine -- but at least this way I knew I wouldn't end up as the bleeding girl on one of his anthology albums!"

* "After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." --Aldous Huxley

February 13, 2008

every hair on your head is counted
you are worth hundreds of sparrows
the tree you planted has become fecund
with kamikaze hummingbirds

Frank Stefanko, Avenging Angel, New York City, 1976

Raiders' Dawn
-- by Alun Lewis

Softly the civilized
Centuries fall,
Paper on paper,
Peter on Paul.

And lovers walking
From the night -
Eternity’s masters,
Slaves of Time -
Recognize only
The drifting white
Fall of small faces
In pits of lime.

Blue necklace left
On a charred chair
Tells that Beauty
Was startled there.

When I'm Killed
-- Robert Graves

When I'm killed, don't think of me
Buried there in Cambrin Wood,
Nor as in Zion think of me
With the Intolerable Good.
And there's one thing that I know well,
I'm damned if I'll be damned to Hell!

So when I'm killed, don't wait for me,
Walking the dim corridor;
In Heaven or Hell, don't wait for me,
Or you must wait for evermore.
You'll find me buried, living-dead
In these verses that you've read.

So when I'm killed, don't mourn for me,
Shot, poor lad, so bold and young,
Killed and gone - don't mourn for me.
On your lips my life is hung:
O friends and lovers, you can save
Your playfellow from the grave.

-- Beth Woodcome

Lean in like babies. Lean in like paranoids. Our eyes go to the left,
and quickly to the right. Can you hear it? Can you tell me when it’ll happen?

The sound of someone plotting. A deep breath.
All those fatigues. Those boys.

Let me tell you something. Come closer so my lips. So my lips.
Last I checked you should run.

Jazz Fan Looks Back
-- by Jayne Cortez

I crisscrossed with Monk
Wailed with Bud
Counted every star with Stitt
Sang "Don't Blame Me" with Sarah
Wore a flower like Billie
Screamed in the range of Dinah
& scatted "How High the Moon" with Ella Fitzgerald
as she blew roof off the Shrine Auditorium
Jazz at the Philharmonic

I cut my hair into a permanent tam
Made my feet rebellious metronomes
Embedded record needles in paint on paper
Talked bopology talk
Laughed in high-pitched saxophone phrases
Became keeper of every Bird riff
every Lester lick
as Hawk melodicized my ear of infatuated tongues
& Blakey drummed militant messages in
soul of my applauding teeth
& Ray hit bass notes to the last love seat in my bones
I moved in triple time with Max
Grooved high with Diz
Perdidoed with Pettiford
Flew home with Hamp
Shuffled in Dexter's Deck
Squatty-rooed with Peterson
Dreamed a "52nd Street Theme" with Fats
& scatted "Lady Be Good" with Ella Fitzgerald
as she blew roof off the Shrine Auditorium
Jazz at the Philharmonic

February 11, 2008

into that secret place where no one dares to go

Hervé Saint-Hélier, One Soul Studio, New York, 1997

* Mukasey's false fear. excerpt:

"Last year, the U.S. Sentencing Commission passed and Congress let stand new sentencing guidelines lowering the draconian penalties for crack cocaine. In December, without need of congressional approval, the commission made those changes retroactive. As a result, nearly 20,000 inmates behind bars for crack cocaine violations -- the majority of them African Americans -- will be eligible for early release over the next three decades. These are welcome and much-needed adjustments to a skewed system that imposes a five-year mandatory prison sentence on someone caught with five grams of crack; a defendant would have to be caught with 500 grams of powder cocaine to trigger the same sentence.

"Yet in an appearance last week before the House Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey asked lawmakers to undo the sentencing commission's retroactive application of the new guidelines. The commission's ruling takes effect March 3. And he did so with an appeal to fear. 'Unless Congress acts . . . nearly 1,600 convicted crack dealers, many of them violent gang members, will be eligible for immediate release into communities nationwide,' Mr. Mukasey testified. The early release 'at a time when violent crime is rising,' he claimed, 'will produce tragic but predictable results.'

"Lawmakers should reject Mr. Mukasey's appeal. The attorney general failed to mention that not a single prisoner will be released before a probation report is produced, a federal prosecutor has a chance to weigh in and a federal judge signs off on the reduced sentence. The judge may take into account a host of factors in making his determination, including a prisoner's criminal history, his conduct while in prison, and whether he has completed pre-release programs meant to help with assimilation into a community. Moreover, a prosecutor who objects to early release will probably be able to appeal a judge's decision to a federal appeals court, adding yet another layer of protection for society.

"Mr. Mukasey should be praised for being open to additional reforms to crack sentences; a Senate subcommittee is taking up the question today. Tackling future reforms is a worthy endeavor and a much better use of the attorney general's and lawmakers' efforts."

* Jack Nicholson looks back on 50 years in film. excerpt:

"Jack Nicholson likes a party but he has no plans for a knees-up to celebrate the biggest anniversary of his star-studded career.

"The 70-year-old Oscar-winning Hollywood star, who has just notched up his latest hit with The Bucket List, marks 50 years in the industry this year.
"He has made film history by receiving 12 Oscar nominations - more than any male actor - and has walked off with the coveted gold statue three times - for One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Terms Of Endearment and As Good As It Gets.

"He smiles as he recalls his 1958 big-screen debut, a long-forgotten, low-budget B-movie called The Cry Baby Killer
"But no one expected him to break into song on set.

"Then he hit the high notes in the film version of The Who's rock opera, Tommy, and his voice won him yet more plaudits.

"'Pete Townshend was great. He was very suspicious of actors singing his stuff when he heard me sing - the reason it sounds effortless is because of him. He rearranged it within my range,' said Jack.

"'One of my greatest birthdays was when I wandered into a hotel and Pete Townshend and Joe Walsh (of The Eagles) were sitting there with their guitars.'

"'The three of us sat there and they played and pretty soon I joined in. By the time we had had a few drinks I was rewriting their songs.'"

* Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is ten.

* "I went through a period, after Aeroplane, when a lot of the basic assumptions I held about reality started crumbling. I think that before then, I had an intuitive innocence that guided me and that was a very good thing to a certain point. But then I realized that, to a large degree, I had kept my rational mind at bay my whole life. I just accted on intuition in terms of how I related to life. At some point, my rational mind started creeping in, and it would not shut up. I finally had to address it and confront it. I think most intelligent people, at a younger age than I have, begin to question some of the fundamental assumptions our society promotes. But me, I rejected it without even considering it." --Jeff Magnum
I laughed before you breathed

Francis Picabia, Dessins pour 'Littérature', 1921–22

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

7. Ann Coulter

"Ann Coulter has previously been a CPAC stalwart, giving incredibly popular speeches there in previous years which variously referred to Muslims as "ragheads" and John Edwards as a "faggot." So it was something of a shock this year when the organizers announced that she had been cut from the conference's list of speakers. It almost makes one wonder what a girl has to say to get invited to CPAC these days.

"Now Ann Coulter may be a lot of things, but a quitter she is not. (Which, let's face it, is rather unfortunate.) She had no intention of giving up on the opportunity to spew some hatred in public, and so some of her supporters at the Young America's Foundation (one of CPAC's sponsors) decided to smuggle her into the conference by inviting her to speak at an unofficial Q&A session.

"Hooray for the Young America's Foundation! Without their enthusiasm and resourcefulness, the know-nothings at CPAC would never have been treated to such gems as:

COULTER: ...the only Democrat who can stop her now is B. Hussein Obama. His strongest selling point is that he is one of the least dangerous people I know named Hussein. Other than that, Barack's really been kind of coasting on his record, since his first big accomplishment of being born half-black. I keep hearing people say, 'Oh, Obama could never be elected because he's half-black. You know, 'cause we're just such a racist country.' What are they talking about? He wouldn't be running for president if he weren't half-black. He'd be Dick Durbin with less experience.

"Well done, Ann. It's about time someone stuck it to those lucky-duck half-blacks! They've been treading on our necks for far too long!"

* "For a while, Criticism travels side by side with the Work, then Criticism vanishes and it's the Readers who keep pace. The journey may be long or short. Then the Readers die one by one and the Work continues alone, although a new Criticism and new Readers gradually fall into step with it along its path. Then Criticism dies again and the Readers die again and the Work passes over a trail of bones on its journey toward solitude. To come near the work, to sail in her wake, is a sign of certain death, but new Criticism and new Readers approach her tirelessly and relentlessly and are devoured by time and speed. Finally the Work journeys irremediably alone in the Great Vastness. And one day the Work dies, as all things must die and come to an end: the Sun and the Earth and the Solar System and the Galaxy and the farthest reaches reaches of man's memory. Every thing that begins as comedy ends as tragedy. -- Roberto Bolano The Savage Detectives

February 8, 2008

From the digital fountains to the analog mountains,
let the mirror express the room

Jitka Hanzlova, Dancing, 2002

Sad for an unbrave world
-- by Jack Micheline

I never wanted to be a poet.
I just wanted to be a human being.
Anyone who wants to be a poet is out of his mind.
Either you are one or you're not.
Most poets are not poets.
To be a real artist is a unique and valuable asset to this planet.

Over Coffee
-- by Carlos Martinez

Here is the best of everything – you sitting in a chair
at a table in a café at the back of a bookstore where

the dust motes glide through the air as easily as wrens
and crowds bustle up and down the aisles looking for

the latest self-help books, the most recent diet guide
while you and I sip coffee and tea and eat

freshly-baked scones and the children
suburban mothers tow along behind them

make noise as their rubber-soled shoes drag across
scuffed linoleum. In front of me, the leather-bound anthology of

contemporary poetry you bought for me, my hands
resting on its front cover, which is as warm as flesh.

Your hair is so blond it sheds light, this dim corner
illumined by it and I am so much dazzled, I cast

my eyes down to where the scratched tabletop reflects it.
Wrong is what people say, those who have never sat

at a table in a café at the back of a bookstore where
rain’s driven crowds inside to browse

rows of books, where I am
a tongue-tied middle-aged man

whose gray-haired head
plays moon to yours.

If Death is Kind
-- by Sara Teasdale

Perhaps if Death is kind, and there can be returning,
We will come back to earth some fragrant night,
And take these lanes to find the sea, and bending
Breathe the same honeysuckle, low and white.

We will come down at night to these resounding beaches
And the long gentle thunder of the sea,
Here for a single hour in the wide starlight
We shall be happy, for the dead are free.

Somewhere there is a simple life
-- by Anna Akhmatova

translated from Russian by Judith Hemschemeyer

Somewhere there is a simple life and a world,
Transparent, warm and joyful. . .
There at evening a neighbor talks with a girl
Across the fence, and only the bees can hear
This most tender murmuring of all.

But we live ceremoniously and with difficulty
And we observe the rites of our bitter meetings,
When suddenly the reckless wind
Breaks off a sentence just begun --

But not for anything would we exchange this splendid
Granite city of fame and calamity,
The wide rivers of glistening ice,
The sunless, gloomy gardens,
And, barely audible, the Muse's voice.

February 7, 2008

none of the money we spend
seems to do as much good in the end

Lisette Model, Femme au Voile, San Francisco 1949

* White House insists on Confirmation of Torture Memo Author. excerpt:

"Yesterday, administration officials publicly acknowledged that CIA agents, with Justice Department authorization, had waterboarded three detainees. And the administration is eager to prevent that authorization from being threatened. According to Senate Dems, the White House has refused to strike a deal on pending nominees until the Senate deals with the Justice Department official who's authorized the use of enhanced interrogation techniques including waterboarding.

For more than three years, Steven Bradbury has been the acting head of the Office of Legal Counsel, the crucial Justice Department office that has the power to issue "advance pardons," as former OLC head Jack Goldsmith put it. But Senate Democrats, because of Bradbury's role in approving the warrantless wiretapping program and enhanced interrogation techniques that include waterboarding, have opposed White House efforts to have him confirmed and remove his acting status.

That hasn't kept him from the job, however. It is, after all, a position that is supposed to require Senate confirmation. While Democrats, especially Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) have held firm, Bradbury has simply acted as the head of OLC. The Dems say that the administration has broken the law to keep him in the spot.

Dems have returned Bradbury's nomination four times, and over and over again, the White House has renominated him, most recently last month. And today Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Durbin, the Senate whip, revealed that, in negotiations with the White House late last year before the Christmas holiday, the President refused to strike a deal on nominees unless Reid allowed him to recess appoint Bradbury. Reid said he'd offered to confirm 84 of the pending nominees, but the White House said no dice.
On a conference call with journalists earlier this afternoon, Durbin said that White House chief of staff Josh Bolten has made it clear that until Bradbury is approved, no deal will be cut on nominees.

The White House apparently plans a kind of public relations push on the set of unconfirmed nominees, with the president himself expected to speak tomorrow. Today in the White House press briefing, spokesman Tony Fratto claimed that it was Senate Dems who were causing the problem: "It seems to me that the Senate only cares about one nominee, because they are willing to not fill over 200 positions in the federal government over the one position that they claim to have a problem with." (In the call, Durbin said he had no idea where Fratto got the 200 number from.)

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called the administration's all-or-nothing stance on Bradbury "the most bogus issue they've found yet."

* Marc Masters' book No Wave, (of which the Village Voice said "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") is now available. Pick it up.

The Express has a short article on the book in today's edition.

In DC? Masters' will be reading from the book this Saturday at 9pm at Velvet Lounge (9th and U). DC improv psych group Kohoutek will also be performing.

* YouTube: muddy recording of Archers of Loaf performing Freezing Point live.

* "A poet can endure anything. Which amounts to saying that a human being can endure anything. But that's not true: there are obviously limits to what a human being can endure. Really endure. A poet, on the other hand, can endure anything. We grew up with this conviction. The opening assertion is true, but that way lie ruin, madness, and death." --Robert Bolaño

February 6, 2008

Hate was just a legend
And war was never known

Gilbert and George, England, 1980

Late Fragment
-- by Raymond Carver

And did you get what

you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself

beloved on the earth.

-- by Charles Bukowski

the short poem
like the short life
may not be the best thing
but generally

this is a short
poem at the end
of a

sitting here
looking at


As Planned
-- by Frank O'Hara

After the first glass of vodka
you can accept just about anything
of life even your own mysteriousness
you think it is nice that a box
of matches is purple and brown and is called
La Petite and comes from Sweden
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 know you are stupid and lazy
and will never be great but you do
what you know because what else is there?

February 5, 2008

I see the states, across this big nation
I see the laws made in Washington, D.C.
I think of the ones I consider my favorites
I think of the people that are working for me

Markus Veter, Together We Can Defeat Capitalism, 2006

* Bush inaction guts privacy board. excerpt:

"As President Bush continues to spar with Congress over his demand that pending litigation that would examine his warrantless wiretapping program be thrown out of court, he seems to be furthering what critics see as his contempt for Americans' privacy rights by failing to staff a civil liberties oversight commission.

"The 9/11 Commission recommended creating the five-member Privacy & Civil Liberties Oversight Board in its 2004 report, and it began work in March 2006 as a subsidiary of the Executive Office of the President. Last year, Congress further implemented 9/11 Commission recommendations and reconfigured the board to make it more independent and bipartisan -- no more than three members can be of the same party -- after the previous board was accused of being little more than a White House whitewash commission; now Bush seemingly has no interest in letting the board continue.

"'We want them to be more than just the privacy version of Congressional Research Service,' Timothy Sparapani, an ACLU lawyer told Wired's Ryan Singel. 'They need to be able to slap hands and force people to consider privacy in the initial creation of programs, and then whack people into line when privacy violations occur.'

"Although terms of its current members expired Jan. 30, Bush has made no effort to nominate any new members to the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which would have first crack at approving any appointments. The committee's chairman and ranking member say this failure on Bush's part has created a gap in oversight aimed at protecting Americans' rights."

* Onion AV club asks Dean Wareham about his upcoming book. excerpt:

AVC: Is your book going to be mostly about your bands, or will it be more of a personal thing?

DW: Well, it's both. It's a look at what it's like to be in a band, and the business, and what was going on in the record industry as a whole through the '90s. The grunge years, and then the Britney and 'N Sync years. And then rock came back again, and all of a sudden, CD sales began to plummet. There's that story—it's cultural, like urban anthropology—but it's also deeply personal.

AVC: Do you talk at all about your favorite music by other artists?

DW: Definitely. I talk about when I first heard certain bands, certain songs. There's stuff from my early childhood, like The Seekers doing 'Georgy Girl,' or seeing Elvis Presley on TV when I was 10 years old. There's also a bit about being in New York City in the late '70s for the punk explosion. I was a big Clash fan. I remember seeing The Clash at Bond's; it's a bit of a legendary series of shows. More legendary because the fire department came in after the first night and declared that the show was dangerously oversold. So The Clash tripled the amount of shows they were doing there. This was the Sandinista! tour, by the way, so some group was handing out literature about Nicaragua in the lobby. Grandmaster Flash were opening, and they got booed off the stage with chants of 'disco sucks' and 'nigger.' It was really horrible. It was strange to see the difference between The Clash and their meathead fans.

AVC: What did you think of Grandmaster Flash at the time?

DW: Oh, I liked it. What was it, 'The Message?' That was a great song. I wasn't deep into that stuff, but I liked it.

* Letters from Richard Nixon to Kevin Loughery shortly after the Washington Bullets lost in the 1971 Finals to the Bucks. take a look!

* "I listen to jazz mainly. Mainstream jazz." -- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

February 4, 2008

Because you know what they say about honey bears

Jasper Johns, Device, 1961-1962

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

4. George W. Bush

"Big news everyone - the State of the Union is STRONG! Why, just last week Bush's FCC took a firm stance on naked buttocks. But despite this smashing success, things aren't looking so hot in other important areas. We're still stuck in a quagmire in Iraq, Afghanistan is looking shaky, Osama bin Laden is still on the loose, the U.S. military is so broken that America can't defend itself against an attack (more on that in a minute), the economy is on the verge of recession, employment is declining, home ownership is plunging, energy costs are rising, the nation's infrastructure is collapsing, the federal government is bankrupt, and climate change is out of control.

"Don't worry though - at his annual address last week Our Great Leader announced bold new solutions to these pressing problems. Ha ha! Yeah right. What he actually did was mumble his way through a laundry list of non-accomplishments and then make some half-baked demands for Congress to get to work cleaning up the Olympic-sized swimming pool of shit in which he's left us all floating.

"You could almost see the relief on George's face - he knows he's going to crawl to the finish line without being impeached or imprisoned, and soon he'll be free to retire and live out the rest of his life as America's Suckiest Ex-President. (But he won't care about that - he'll be too busy working for daddy at the Carlyle group, selling arms to the Saudis.)

"Honestly, Bush might as well have stood up in front of Congress and farted for an hour. It couldn't have stunk any worse, and at least it would have been funny."

* George Saunders on writing a sonnet.

* Lou Reed Sweet Jane, Paris, 1974.

* "A metaphor is like a simile." -- Steven Wright

February 1, 2008

And what will happen in the morning
When the world it gets so crowded
That you can’t look out the window in the morning

John Storrs, Politics, 1931

Living the Good Life
-- by Frank Stanford

There is only one locale for the heart
And that's somewhere between the dick and the brain.
I don't believe love is for chickenshits.
It's low, dark, and cold-blooded, like a cottonmouth.
Children are often involved. They stink
When they sprout in the garden of light,
And they stink mulching their way back down.
Cold-hearted women, work, madness, and death
Are the things separating the nuts from the shells.
Everything else is strictly a pile of shit-
Except for childhood, which we moon over
Because it smells to high heaven. So, go it
Alone. Solitude is a constellation:
People can't connect light anymore,
The only code they can break is darkness.
You can get a file in the heart
But you can't jimmy love -a woman once said
It'd take a shotgun to open my heart.
All the time I was on my knees in the bathroom
Crying like a fool. No one knows
How to love anybody's trouble, nothing will
Deaden the chiggers of pain sucking
Blood in your sleep -oh beautiful tree frogs,
Sonic in the nasty oil of evening, I love you,
Sounds by yourselves a star's life away.
But it doesn't mean a goddamn thing.
Death isn't cold, dark, and quiet.
It is a love letter written on an X-ray.
Better still, it's a manta ray
Squealing in your wife's drawers.
Is this where your will is kept?
What sleek doing is she dreaming of tonight?
How much money do you have in the bank?
Are your early years filed away
In another bureau under another name?
Ask me no questions, I'll still tell you lies,
My father would sing like a bull frog.
I thought my father was a flat-out wonder,
A faraway and constant stranger in my midst.
He wasn't even my father, the cuckold.
So do Lord help the bucket mouth son
Doing a job on doom and eating banana flips.
I for one leave the transcendence of language
To the auctioneers on the widows' steps,
And to the truck drivers with ears
Looking for the smoke on the road.
As for the snow that drifts ever
So silently into the eyes of children,
It is all full of shit from the north
And radiation from the west.

Soaking Wet
-- by Frank Stanford

A hawk lived in the chinkapin

At night he flew
Up in the cockeyed light of our truck
And curled around the moon
When we saw it
Like virginia creeper

I would lie in the white dust of the road
And rip out nails
From the waterlogged boards

The sounds we make of an evening
Like bulls having nightmares
Chinese geese eating minnows

When the heat of the day
Is dark and quiet
And on its haunches
I let out my nurse's thread

What titties she has
Soft as sacks of sand on the levee

A bird puts a hole in the radiator
With his beak
When we hit him at night

One morning a snake sucks the eggs
And one evening I climb the tree
Set fire to the nest