March 31, 2008

What was not but could have been
Was my obsession way back when

Sarah Nesbit, Walking Home, 2006

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"9. Virginia Foxx

"Speaking of GOP politicians with fake names, check out former porn star Rep. Virginia Foxx. What's that? She's not a porn star, it's her real name? Oh.

"Anyway, last week Rep. Foxx decided to stop beating around the bush and just come right out and say why voters should cast their ballots for the GOP this fall.

"Rep. Virginia Foxx says she believes God will judge people for sins of omission as well as commission, so the Banner Elk Republican had a message she couldn't keep to herself.

"'You should fear for your country,' Foxx told a gathering of members of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce.

"The Democratic majority in Congress has become 'bolder and bolder' with tax dollars and the rules of the House, she told the business leaders at their annual Washington meeting.

"'I am trying to scare you to death,' she said.

"Desperation much? Points for honesty I suppose, but someone should probably tell Virginia that her strategy went out with the Republican majority in 2006."

* Ed Sanders on Allen Ginsberg (youtube).

* "In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upwardly mobile—and the rest of us are fucked until we can put our acts together: not necessarily to win, but mainly to keep from losing completely. We owe that to ourselves and our crippled self-image as something better than a nation of panicked sheep." -- Hunter S. Thompson

March 28, 2008

How young are you?
How old am I?
Let’s count the rings around my eyes

Adam Scott, Chocolate Factory, 2002

Man and Camel
-- by Mark Strand

On the eve of my fortieth birthday
I sat on the porch having a smoke
when out of the blue a man and a camel
happened by. Neither uttered a sound
at first, but as they drifted up the street
and out of town the two of them began to sing.
Yet what they sang is still a mystery to me—
the words were indistinct and the tune
too ornamental to recall. Into the desert
they went and as they went their voices
rose as one above the sifting sound
of windblown sand. The wonder of their singing,
its elusive blend of man and camel, seemed
an ideal image for all uncommon couples.
Was this the night that I had waited for
so long? I wanted to believe it was,
but just as they were vanishing, the man
and camel ceased to sing, and galloped
back to town. They stood before my porch,
staring up at me with beady eyes, and said:
"You ruined it. You ruined it forever."

The Remains
-- by Mark Strand

I empty myself of the names of others. I empty my pockets.
I empty my shoes and leave them beside the road.
At night I turn back the clocks;
I open the family album and look at myself as a boy.

What good does it do? The hours have done their job.
I say my own name. I say goodbye.
The words follow each other downwind.
I love my wife but send her away.

My parents rise out of their thrones
into the milky rooms of clouds. How can I sing?
Time tells me what I am. I change and I am the same.
I empty myself of my life and my life remains.

Coming To This
-- by Mark Strand

We have done what we wanted.
We have discarded dreams, preferring the heavy industry
of each other, and we have welcomed grief
and called ruin the impossible habit to break.

And now we are here.
The dinner is ready and we cannot eat.
The meat sits in the white lake of its dish.
The wine waits.

Coming to this
has its rewards: nothing is promised, nothing is taken away.
We have no heart or saving grace,
no place to go, no reason to remain.

March 27, 2008

Sometimes it's more than he can take
He falls in love more everyday
Sometimes it's all he can do to stay awake

Cara Ober, Well Meaning, 2008

* Interview of Dean Wareham. excerpt:

Q: The obvious question, I guess. Why write a memoir?

Dean Wareham: I had been thinking about a book, and already doing some writing, when the editor at Peguin contacted me. Most rock bios aren’t written by the musician, they’re written by critics, people outside the band, from interviews. And there was a story to tell.

Q: What a shift in gears to go from writing primarily as an impressionistic lyricist to taking on a memoir.

DW: Of course. Songs can be lies. This had to be the truth.

Q: How has the reaction been from your former bandmates in Luna, and the rest of the folks in the book? I don’t want to say 'characters,' because these are real people…

DW: I haven’t really heard from most of them yet; it’s still a bit early. It’s tough to read about yourself. and I expect not everyone will like everything I said about them. But it had to be true, and if you take out every little thing that someone might mind, there wouldn’t be any book left. I don’t think I was mean. Well, maybe I was a bit mean about Terry Tolkin, our former A&R guy. He’s a fairly big character in the book, and he wasn’t thrilled with his portrayal. But I do think I was harder on myself than I was on anyone else.

Q: Is it much different reading the book reviews than it is reading what people have to say about your music?

DW: Well, the book is more personal, so I guess I do take the reviews for it more personally as well . It’s not just an album; it’s my life. Everyone seems to have an idea how the book could be different. Some people say there’s too much detail about Galaxie 500, or there’s not enough about this or that area.

Q: When you decided to call it quits with Luna after twelve years and seven albums, one thing you said struck me. To quote you, 'We reached a point where I really thought there were enough Luna albums in existence.' It’s so uncommon to hear a band or songwriter say that.

DW: Some times you can make three and that’s enough (laughs). But many bands just keep on going, making albums with slight variations, because… well, because they can make a living at it. They’re comfortable. I think we had made enough albums, but I also think we ended it with one of our better ones.

Q: Over the weekend I was watching 'Tell Me Do You Miss Me?,' Matthew Buzzell’s documentary of the final Luna tour. There was one sequence where you’re on yet another really long drive between shows, and reading aloud from newspaper that has a review of your previous night’s show. The critic seemed to be offended that you stood still and sang, calling you 'dispassionate' as if what a rock band does isn’t valid unless they leave the stage sweat-soaked and exhausted.

DW: Right. Well, you can’t fake that stuff; at least I can’t. I just play the guitar, I don’t jump up and down, and I’m not a screamer. I’m a quiet singer, not a belter. Maybe 'deadpan' would have been a better word. But that’s ok, you know? It’s not for everyone.

* Little known facts: "The U.S. Congress has the authority to order the U.S. military to shoot the President's plane out of the sky, if the U.S. President becomes a rogue President." —Keith N. Ferreira, Simpletism, 2004, p. 28.

* Saturday March 29 (from 11am until 6pm) at the Randall Scott Gallery (1326 14th Street, NW, WDC), Cara Ober, whose work is on display at the Randall Scott until April 8, will be "babysitting" the gallery while the owners are in New York City. Ober will pass the time talking about her work and playing scrabble with whomever wishes to play. Also, every fifth visitor will get spring rolls, while they last.

* "You can't depend on your judgment when your imagination is out of focus." -- Mark Twain

March 26, 2008

He said the power of metal will never be harnessed
I thought the wages of metal should be heavily garnished

Scott Anderson, Valo Rego, 2005

-- by Franz Wright

You do look a little ill.

But we can do something about that, now.

Can’t we.

The fact is you’re a shocking wreck.

Do you hear me.

You aren’t all alone.

And you could use some help today, packing in the
dark, boarding buses north, putting the seat back and
grinning with terror flowing over your legs through
your fingers and hair . . .

I was always waiting, always here.
Know anyone else who can say that.

My advice to you is think of her for what she is:
one more name cut in the scar of your tongue.

What was it you said, "To rather be harmed than
harm, is not abject."


Can we be leaving now.

We like bus trips, remember. Together

we could watch these winter fields slip past, and
never care again,

think of it.

I don’t have to be anywhere.

-- by Jim Harrison

Nothing quite so wrenches
the universe like time.
It clings obnoxiously
to every atom, not to speak
of the moon, which it weighs
down with invisible wet dust.
I used to think the problem
was space, the million miles
between me and the pretty waitress
across the diner counter stretching
to fill the coffee machine with water,
but now I know it's time
which withers me moment by moment
with her own galactic smile.

Today's News
-- by David Tucker

A slow news day, but I did like the obit about the butcher
who kept the same store for fifty years. People remembered
when his street was sweetly roaring, aproned
with flower stalls and fish stands.
The stock market wandered, spooked by presidential winks,
by micro-winds and the shadows of earnings. News was stationed
around the horizon, ready as summer clouds to thunder—
but it moved off and we covered the committee meeting
at the back of the statehouse, sat around on our desks,
then went home early. The birds were still singing,
the sun just going down. Working these long hours,
you forget how beautiful the early evening can be,
the big houses like ships turning into the night,
their rooms piled high with silence.

March 25, 2008

My fingers kill me as I play my guitar
'Cause I've been chewing down at my nails
My hairline ain't exactly superstar
But there's one thing that never fails

Maria Thereza Alves, Seeds of Change, 2006

* Fromer VP Walter Mondale blasts Cheney. excerpt:

"Former Vice President Walter Mondale today accused the current vice president, Dick Cheney, of a wholesale assault on the Constitution, the balance of powers, and the system that evolved since World War II to coordinate intelligence and defense policy.

"'They wrecked that system,' Mondale said this morning at a University of Minnesota scholarly conference on the vice presidency.

"This isn't some academic difference of opinion over the proper balance between branches of the federal government, Mondale said, during a question and answer session after his prepared remarks:

"'I think this was a brutal, deliberate policy to ignore a wide range of written laws and constitutional principles and the legitimate powers of Congress…It's different than anything we've seen in American history and I think it ought to be seen not as two responsible positions, but ought to be seen as a dramatic challenge to American's system of government.'
"Mondale challenged an occasional theme that arises in interpreting the Cheney vice presidency, holding that because Cheney had no presidential ambitions of his own, he was more useful and faithful to the president. On the contrary, Mondale argued, this freedom from higher political ambition freed Cheney to disrespect the Congress, the American people and the law.

"Mondale said: 'The other morning, Mr. Cheney was on 'Good Morning America.' A reporter asked him: 'Well, polls now show that two thirds of the American people are opposed to this war. Shouldn't that mean something?' And [Cheney] said, 'So?'

"'Y'know, maybe he didn't say it correctly or say it the way he meant it. And I don't say that public opinion should govern everything. But public opinion deserves respect and the president and the vice president ought to be worried about it.

"'I think our vice president ought to wake up every morning, like I did, wondering what he can do to enhance public support and respect. And I believe an election-free unaccountable vice president, clothed with some of the aura and power of the president may, as this vice president has, act as though he were beyond accountability to anybody but the president — beyond the reach of the Congress, the court, the press, the Constitution and the American people."
"Mondale said his criticisms of Cheney had nothing to do with policy differences. He had no fundamental objections to the way other vice presidents have worked. While fielding questions from the audience and from Larry Jacobs, director of the CSPG, Mondale reiterated the criticisms he had made in his prepared remarks.

"When Jacobs asked what the administration could do about the problem, Mondale replied: 'It's not that difficult. If you're doing something that's against the law, stop it…We never thought we had the right to ignore laws that were clearly applicable to the president.'"

* Cunning Realists' Inflation Chronicles.

* Unusual Books.

* "Government is an association of men who do violence to the rest of us." --Leo Tolstoy

March 24, 2008

I would sell my belongings
In the mountains where she's living
Just to be there when she comes every morning

Margherita Manzelli, The City Loves You, 1999

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

7. George W. Bush

"On March 19, 2003, the day he sent troops into Iraq, George W. Bush gave a speech to the world in which he spelled out his goal for the invasion:

"Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly -- yet, our purpose is sure. The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder. We will meet that threat now, with our Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines, so that we do not have to meet it later with armies of fire fighters and police and doctors on the streets of our cities.

"In 2003, 'our purpose' was to prevent Saddam Hussein from attacking America and its allies with weapons of mass destruction.

"Last week, on March 19, 2008, George W. Bush gave another speech. Despite the fact that 'our purpose' turned out to be based entirely on lies and propaganda, he was upbeat. 'Removing Saddam Hussein from power was the right decision -- and this is a fight America can and must win,' he said.

"The rest of the speech was equally insane.

"BUSH: Because we acted, Saddam Hussein no longer fills fields with the remains of innocent men, women and children. Because we acted, Saddam's torture chambers and rape rooms and children's prisons have been closed for good. Because we acted, Saddam's regime is no longer invading its neighbors or attacking them with chemical weapons and ballistic missiles. Because we acted, Saddam's regime is no longer paying the families of suicide bombers in the Holy Land. Because we acted, Saddam's regime is no longer shooting at American and British aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones and defying the will of the United Nations. Because we acted, the world is better and the United States of America is safer.

"Wow, and just think - all it cost us was our dignity, our moral authority, our standing in the world, the lives of 4,000 troops, and more than half a trillion dollars.

"So far."

-- related -- Death toll in Iraq surpasses 4,000.

* Krugman. excerpt:

"We’re now in the midst of an epic financial crisis, which ought to be at the center of the election debate. But it isn’t.

"Now, I don’t expect presidential campaigns to have all the answers to our current crisis — even financial experts are scrambling to keep up with events. But I do think we’re entitled to more answers, and in particular a clearer commitment to financial reform, than we’re getting so far.

"In truth, I don’t expect much from John McCain, who has both admitted not knowing much about economics and denied having ever said that. Anyway, lately he’s been busy demonstrating that he doesn’t know much about the Middle East, either.

"Yet the McCain campaign’s silence on the financial crisis has disappointed even my low expectations.

"And when Mr. McCain’s economic advisers do speak up about the economy’s problems, they don’t inspire confidence. For example, last week one McCain economic adviser — Kevin Hassett, the co-author of 'Dow 36,000' — insisted that everything would have been fine if state and local governments hadn’t tried to limit urban sprawl. Honest."
"America came out of the Great Depression with a pretty effective financial safety net, based on a fundamental quid pro quo: the government stood ready to rescue banks if they got in trouble, but only on the condition that those banks accept regulation of the risks they were allowed to take.

"Over time, however, many of the roles traditionally filled by regulated banks were taken over by unregulated institutions — the 'shadow banking system,' which relied on complex financial arrangements to bypass those safety regulations.

"Now, the shadow banking system is facing the 21st-century equivalent of the wave of bank runs that swept America in the early 1930s. And the government is rushing in to help, with hundreds of billions from the Federal Reserve, and hundreds of billions more from government-sponsored institutions like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks.

"Given the risks to the economy if the financial system melts down, this rescue mission is justified. But you don’t have to be an economic radical, or even a vocal reformer like Representative Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, to see that what’s happening now is the quid without the quo.

"Last week Robert Rubin, the former Treasury secretary, declared that Mr. Frank is right about the need for expanded regulation. Mr. Rubin put it clearly: If Wall Street companies can count on being rescued like banks, then they need to be regulated like banks."

"But will that logic prevail politically?

"Not if Mr. McCain makes it to the White House. His chief economic adviser is former Senator Phil Gramm, a fervent advocate of financial deregulation. In fact, I’d argue that aside from Alan Greenspan, nobody did as much as Mr. Gramm to make this crisis possible.

"Both Democrats, by contrast, are running more or less populist campaigns. But at least so far, neither Democrat has made a clear commitment to financial reform.

"Is that simply an omission? Or is it an ominous omen? Recent history offers reason to worry.

"In retrospect, it’s clear that the Clinton administration went along too easily with moves to deregulate the financial industry. And it’s hard to avoid the suspicion that big contributions from Wall Street helped grease the rails.

"Last year, there was no question at all about the way Wall Street’s financial contributions to the new Democratic majority in Congress helped preserve, at least for now, the tax loophole that lets hedge fund managers pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries.

"Now, the securities and investment industry is pouring money into both Mr. Obama’s and Mrs. Clinton’s coffers. And these donors surely believe that they’re buying something in return.

"Let’s hope they’re wrong."

* "Artists to my mind are the real architects of change, and not the political legislators who implement change after the fact." -- William S. Burroughs

March 21, 2008

In the crowded streets
In the big hotels
In the mosques and the doors of the old museum
I take a holy vow
To never kill again
Try to remember peace

Melanie Schiff, Neil Young, Neil Young, 2006

The Big Day
-- Tina Celona

Helplessly in the bright air
Dreaming of war
The President wakes. The cameras are ready
And waiting. The President climbs into the cab
Of a big green tractor and
Waves to the angry populace.
He honks the horn and flashes the lights
To applause. "New-cular," he whispers
Happily. America is a great country.
Everyone else had better
Watch out!

We Were The 11 O'clock News
-- Richard Brautigan

we were the 11 o'clock news
because while the rest of the world
was going to hell we made love

Future Structures
-- by William D. Waltz

They will build themselves. We will call them green buildings. They will breathe, they will perspire. Their roofs will be fields of winter wheat. Their windows, semipermeable membranes. They'll grow like coral reefs and resemble hills and mountains, so much so the hills and mountains will forgive our trespass. As these future structures respire the emptiness within will meet the emptiness without. The withered tree will find a spring and a flock of crows will lift from their perch in one great semaphore. This will mark the end of modern architecture as we have come to call our dream.

Killing a Mosquito at Four in the Morning
-- by David Hernandez

From outside my bedroom window
I must've looked holy as I moved
slowly across the room in my robe,

head tilted heavenward,
both hands raised like a priest
in a painting by El Greco.

I must've appeared saintly
in that brief moment when I clapped,
bringing my palms together

as many do when they pray,
asking for good health, for money,
a miracle in a time of hopelessness,

or something less demanding-like sleep.

March 20, 2008

I unplug all the neon
turn the ringer off the phone
throw my thoughts like tomahawks
into this world which I disown

Dan Walsh, untitled, 2006

* From Harper's April 2008 edition:

-- Number of Ohio's five voting-machine systems that had "critical security failures" in a state-commissioned study: 5

-- Number of the systems that have been removed from operation: 0

-- Number of times that U.S. media have called John McCain a "maverick" since 1995: 6,757

-- Percentage change between 2001 and 2007 in the number of instances per year: +76

-- Rank of John McCain among the most conservative-voting senators in 2001 and 2007, respectively: 45, 8

-- Number of Grammys won to date by Barack Obama and Radiohead, respectively: 2, 2

-- Amount that Rudy Giuliani's campaign spent to win a single Republican delegate: $48,000,000

-- Number of copies sold of Barack Obama's two books since January: 94,000

-- Factor by which this exceeds the total sales of the seventeen books by Hilary Clinton, John McCain, and Mike Huckabee: 4

* Patricia Kelly writes to the New York Times:

"Surely it must have been a slip for Maureen Dowd to align the artistry of my late husband, Gene Kelly, with the president’s clumsy performances. To suggest that 'George Bush has turned into Gene Kelly' represents not only an implausible transformation but a considerable slight. If Gene were in a grave, he would have turned over in it.

"When Gene was compared to the grace and agility of Jack Dempsey, Wayne Gretzky and Willie Mays, he was delighted. But to be linked with a clunker — particularly one he would consider inept and demoralizing — would have sent him reeling.

"Graduated with a degree in economics from Pitt, Gene was not only a gifted dancer, director and choreographer, he was also a most civilized man. He spoke multiple languages; wrote poetry; studied history; understood the projections of Adam Smith and John Maynard Keynes. He did the Sunday Times crossword in ink. Exceedingly articulate, Gene often conveyed more through movement than others manage with words.

"Sadly, President Bush fails to communicate meaningfully with either. For George Bush to become Gene Kelly would require impossible leaps in creativity, erudition and humility."

Patricia Ward Kelly
Los Angeles, March 16, 2008

* Photo essay: five years of war.

* "Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia." -- Charles M. Schulz

March 18, 2008

what looks like sleep is really hot pursuit

Paul-Émile Borduas, Gateway Pylons

Paradise Motel
-- by Charles Simic

Millions were dead; everybody was innocent.
I stayed in my room. The President
Spoke of war as of a magic love potion.
My eyes were opened in astonishment.
In a mirror my face appeared to me
Like a twice-canceled postage stamp.

I lived well, but life was awful.
there were so many soldiers that day,
So many refugees crowding the roads.
Naturally, they all vanished
With a touch of the hand.
History licked the corners of its bloody mouth.

On the pay channel, a man and a woman
Were trading hungry kisses and tearing off
Each other's clothes while I looked on
With the sound off and the room dark
Except for the screen where the color
Had too much red in it, too much pink.

Dearest Reader
-- by Michael Palmer

He painted the mountain over and over again
from his place in the cave, agape
at the light, its absence, the mantled
skull with blue-tinted hollows, wren-
like bird plucking berries from the fire
her hair alight and so on
lemon grass in cafe in clear glass.
Dearest reader there were trees
formed of wire, broad entryways
beneath balconies beneath spires
youthful head come to rest in meadow
beside bend in gravel road, still
body of milky liquid
her hair alight and so on
successive halls, flowered carpets and doors
or the photograph of nothing but pigeons
and grackles by the shadow of a fountain.

-- by Rae Armantrout

We love our cat
for her self
regard is assiduous
and bland,

for she sits in the small
patch of sun on our rug
and licks her claws
from all angles

and it is far
to "balanced reporting"

though, of course,
it is also
the very same thing.
You'd think these guys would have something to salute by now.
Something that'd make the government so proud.

Morris Louis, Numbers 1-81, 1961

* Kareem Abdul-Jabbar corresponds with and asks questions of Barack Obama. excerpt:

"Q. You have made an appeal to lead all of America. What were the obstacles to conveying that message?

"A. One of the biggest obstacles we've faced is the cynicism many Americans have about politics. And I understand it. Year after year, politicians make promises on the campaign trail but then go back to Washington and nothing changes. Because the lobbyists write another check or partisan bickering stands in the way or politicians don’t say what they mean or mean what they say. But I'm hopeful because all across this country, I'm meeting Americans who are willing to stop settling for what the cynics tell us we must accept and reach for the kind of real change we know is possible. And that's what this campaign is all about.

"The tarnished image that has become the fare of America in many parts of the world is a great concern for many people who will vote this fall. The Iraq War has changed many aspects of how we are seen in the world.

"Q. What should our approach be to diplomatic relations with the world at large?

"A. I'm running for president not just to end the Iraq War -- a war I opposed from the start -- but to end the mindset that got us into war. And that includes the Bush-McCain-Clinton policy of not talking with leaders we don't like. I don’t think that approach makes us look tough; I think it makes us look arrogant. I agree with President Kennedy, who once said, 'Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.' And that's the kind of diplomacy we will re-establish when I am President.

"Sen. Obama feels that the time he spent as a community organizer in Chicago gave him an insight as to how to shape his tactics in the political world.

"Q. How did community organizing affect your political outlook?

"A. What I learned as a community organizer on the streets of Chicago is that together, ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things. That's a lesson I carried with me in the Illinois state Senate, when I brought Democrats and Republicans together and passed the most sweeping lobbying reform in 25 years. It's a lesson I've carried with me on this campaign by reaching out to Americans of every race, region, and political party. And it's a lesson I'll carry with me to the White House to enact a middle-class tax cut, pass universal health care, and bring about real change in this country.

Finally, I mentioned to him that I've seen several pictures of him playing basketball. He told me that basketball was a passion for him throughout his lifetime and should he get to reside in the White House there would absolutely be a hoop on the White House grounds.

* Twofer Tuesday: Jim Ford:

-- I'm Gonna Make Her Love Me

-- Happy Songs Sell Records Sad Songs Sell Beer

* "It is precisely the purpose of the public opinion generated by the press to make the public incapable of judging, to insinuate into it the attitude of someone irresponsible, uninformed." -- Walter Benjamin

March 17, 2008

Her face is cracked from smiling

Eddie Kramer, Led Zeppelin recording at Star Groves, London, 1972

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"1. George W. Bush

"War is hell. Unless you're George W. Bush, in which case it's a fantastic, romantic experience that we should all be envious of.

"I'm not kidding. Here he is taking part in a teleconference with military personnel in Afghanistan last week:

"'I must say, I'm a little envious,' Bush said. 'If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed.'

"'It must be exciting for you ... in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You're really making history, and thanks,' Bush said.

"Of course, when George was slightly younger and not employed as President of the United States, he did have an opportunity to confront danger and have a fantastic romantic experience on the front lines in Vietnam. Yet, for some reason, he chose not to go. Funny how that works.

"This isn't the first time Our Great Leader has succumbed to his little macho fantasy - back in Idiots 307, I noted how disappointed he was that he couldn't go fight in Iraq. According to the Washington Post:

"'Responding to one of the bloggers in Iraq he expressed envy that they could be there, and said he'd like to be there but 'One, I'm too old to be out there, and two, they would notice me.'

"Well, yeah, they probably would notice a chimp in wet pants running away from the fighting at top speed, waving his arms and screaming, 'Daddy! Daddy! Get me out of here!'"

* Jimi Hendrix and George Frideric Handel lived in adjoining houses in London 210 years apart.

* "War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength." -- George Orwell

March 13, 2008

I'm not your Chesnutt,
I'm not your Mould,
I'm not your DJ on late night radio,
I'll be the first one to ask where you were,
I'll be your bird

David Turnley, McClellan Street, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1972-3

* Kansas City woman stays seated in boyfriend's bathroom for two years stuck to the toilet seat. excerpt:

"A 35-year-old woman who apparently spent two years in her boyfriend's bathroom in Ness City had become stuck to the toilet seat, authorities said Wednesday.

"'She was not glued. She was not tied. She was just physically stuck by her body. It is hard to imagine. ... I still have a hard time imagining it myself,' Ness County Sheriff Bryan Whipple said in a telephone interview, adding that it appeared her body fat had grown attached to the seat.
"The boyfriend called police on Feb. 27 to report that 'there was something wrong with his girlfriend,' Whipple said, adding he never explained why it took him two years to call.

"He said the boyfriend had brought the woman food and water during the two years and told investigators he asked her daily to come out of the bathroom.
"Police found the clothed woman sitting on the toilet, her sweat pants down to her mid-thigh as if she was using the toilet. Her legs looked like they had atrophied, he said.

"'She was sitting on the toilet and was somewhat disoriented," Whipple said. 'She said that she didn't need any help, that she was OK and did not want to leave.'

"She refused emergency medical services but was finally convinced by responders and her boyfriend that she needed to be checked out. She was taken to Via Christi Regional Medical Center-St. Francis Campus in Wichita, where she is listed in fair condition. Whipple said she has refused to cooperate with medical providers or law enforcement investigators."

"'We pried the toilet seat off with a prybar and the seat went with her to the hospital,' Whipple said. 'The hospital removed it.'"

* Olbermann on Hillary Clinton. Strong stuff.

* In DC? The Foreign Press plays The Red and The Black Sunday evening with MITN, John Miller and the Two Steps, and Sun Committee. Doors at 8:30pm. $8.

* "All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up." -- James Baldwin

March 12, 2008

Preserving the old ways from being abused
Protecting the new ways for me and for you

Maggi Brown, Void of Course, 1999

A Newspaper Is a Collection of Half-Injustices
-- by Stephen Crane

A newspaper is a collection of half-injustices
Which, bawled by boys from mile to mile,
Spreads its curious opinion
To a million merciful and sneering men,
While families cuddle the joys of the fireside
When spurred by tale of dire lone agony.
A newspaper is a court
Where every one is kindly and unfairly tried
By a squalor of honest men.
A newspaper is a market
Where wisdom sells its freedom
And melons are crowned by the crowd.
A newspaper is a game
Where his error scores the player victory
While another's skill wins death.
A newspaper is a symbol;
It is feckless life's chronicle,
A collection of loud tales
Concentrating eternal stupidities,
That in remote ages lived unhaltered,
Roaming through a fenceless world.

-- by C. D. Wright

Some nights I sleep with my dress on. My teeth
are small and even. I don't get headaches.
Since 1971 or before, I have hunted a bench
where I could eat my pimento cheese in peace.
If this were Tennessee and across that river, Arkansas,
I'd meet you in West Memphis tonight. We could
have a big time. Danger, shoulder soft.
Do not lie or lean on me. I'm still trying to find a job
for which a simple machine isn't better suited.
I've seen people die of money. Look at Admiral Benbow. I wish
like certain fishes, we came equipped with light organs.
Which reminds me of a little known fact:
if we were going the speed of light, this dome
would be shrinking while we were gaining weight.
Isn't the road crooked and steep.
In this humidity, I make repairs by night. I'm not one
among millions who saw Monroe's face
in the moon. I go blank looking at that face.
If I could afford it I'd live in hotels. I won awards
in spelling and the Australian crawl. Long long ago.
Grandmother married a man named Ivan. The men called him
Eve. Stranger, to tell the truth, in dog years I am up there.

At Thirty
-- by Lynda Hull

Whole years I knew only nights: automats
& damp streets, the Lower East Side steep

with narrow rooms where sleepers turn beneath
alien skies. I ran when doorways spoke

rife with smoke & zippers. But it was only the heart's
racketing flywheel stuttering I want, I want

until exhaustion, until I was a guest in the yoke
of my body by the last margin of land where the river

mingles with the sea & far off daylight whitens,
a rending & yielding I must kneel before, as

barges loose glittering mineral freight
& behind me façades gleam with pigeons

folding iridescent wings. Their voices echo
in my voice naming what is lost, what remains.

March 11, 2008

room 871, where to begin
you preached the pure
but lived the sin

Mike Rollins, Daydreams

* New York Times. excerpt:

"New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer could not have been more wrong in his brief public appearance after the world learned that he was suspected of patronizing a prostitution ring. He did not just betray his family in a private matter. He betrayed the public, and it is hard to see how he will recover from this mess and go on to lead the reformist agenda on which he was elected to office."
"It is likely that every aspect of Mr. Spitzer’s other life as Client 9 for the Emperor’s Club V.I.P. — as he has been identified by law enforcement officials — every text message and other secretive communication will be made public. Any politician would have a full-time job just dealing with such revelations. There have been elected officials, over the years, who have survived scandals of this sort. But for Mr. Spitzer, who runs a large and complex state, the burden is especially heavy to show that he has not lost the credibility to push for change, a sound budget and good government, as he promised so confidently a year ago.

"While few clients of prostitutes face criminal charges, law-enforcement affidavits raise at least the possibility of criminal charges based on transporting a woman across state lines for prostitution. Mr. Spitzer’s own record of prosecuting such cases gives him scant breathing room. As state attorney general, he prosecuted prostitution rings with enthusiasm — pointing out that they are often involved in human trafficking, drug trafficking and money laundering. In 2004 on Staten Island, Mr. Spitzer was vehement in his outrage over 16 people arrested in a high-end prostitution ring."
"Sadly, this was not the first time that Mr. Spitzer has been caught up in his own arrogance. For all his promise as governor, Mr. Spitzer’s first year was unnecessarily rocky and full of the kinds of mistakes that come as much from hubris as from being new on the job. After succeeding with a few reforms, the governor’s ill-fated attempts to smear his Republican opponent lost him months of progress. Only recently had he seemed to be tempering his abrasive style.

"Mr. Spitzer did not seem to understand on Monday what he owed the public — a strong argument for why he should be trusted again. The longer he hesitates, it becomes a harder case to make."

* Random facts from female pornstars.

* Funeral Pudding has a 1994 John Spencer Blues Explosion show from Holland available for your listening pleasure.

* "It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious." -- Oscar Wilde

March 10, 2008

I was gambling in Havana
I took a little risk

Komar & Melamid, Double Self-Portrait as Lenin and Stalin, 1972

* Top ten conservativie idiots. excerpt:

"6. George W. Bush

"Congress recently passed a law which would force U.S. intelligence services to follow United States Army Field Manual rules on the treatment of prisoners. According to the New York Times, the Manual specifically prohibits:

"Forcing a prisoner to be naked, perform sexual acts or pose in a sexual manner.

"Placing hoods or sacks over the head of a prisoner, and using duct tape over the eyes.

"Applying beatings, electric shocks, burns or other forms of physical pain.


"Using military working dogs.

"Inducing hypothermia or heat injury.

"Conducting mock executions.

"Depriving a prisoner of necessary food, water or medical care."

"Sounds pretty reasonable. After all, according to the Times, even Gen. David Get Out Of My Dreams Get Into My Car Petraeus has said, 'Some may argue that we would be more effective if we sanctioned torture or other expedient methods to obtain information from the enemy. They would be wrong. Beyond the basic fact that such actions are illegal, history shows that they also are frequently neither useful nor necessary.'

"Wise words. Which is why nobody was surprised to learn that:

"U.S. President George W. Bush on Saturday vetoed legislation passed by Congress that would have banned the CIA from using waterboarding and other controversial interrogation techniques."


* "George Bernard Shaw once came across one of his own books in a used bookstore in London. He was surprised to find his own inscription inside — he had presented the book 'with esteem' to a friend. He immediately bought the book and had it wrapped and delivered again, after adding a second inscription: 'With renewed esteem, George Bernard Shaw.'"

* In DC?

Tonight at The Red and The Black (1212 H Street, NE), Plums, with Insect Factory and Sightings. 9pm

Thursday The Caribbean will be performing in DC next Thursday night, March 13th as part of the DC Independent Film/Music Festival. The show will be from 6-7 PM [EARLY!] at Pangea Cafe [2121 Pennsylvania Avenue NW] in the George Washington University area. Oh yeah and it's FREE!

* "The poetry of heroism appeals irresitably to those who don't go to a war, and even more so to those whom the war is making enormously wealthy" -- Louis Ferdinand Celine

March 7, 2008

we're gonna find the meaning
of feeling good
and we're gonna stay there as long as we think we should

Paul Fusco, RFK Funeral Train, 1968

A Vision for the People of America
-- by Kenneth Patchen

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

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

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

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

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

The Luxury of Sitting
-- by Chris Stroffolino

As if life is the box at the wharf
for those who need surgery to feel--become splendid
and grateful as the wave's happy sacrifice.
Ah, the power we have when the water recedes!
No more the voyeur borrowing moon
now that the jackhammers have peeled our clothes
and the rooster's caught redhanded
by the sun that seconds its smile
if you stoop to think about it
near the grass factory where invitations incubate.
On the other side, no one can see you.
The reason: they think it's their duty to be attentive
and cannot live the lie of laziness.
We are animals in search of whiffs or flames.
The precise ants and out of tune bulls.
Dualism sends urgent warnings, reminders.
A fool is a formletter but there's a still hill somewhere
and it takes two or time to find it.

Publication Date
-- by Franz Wright

One of the few pleasures of writing
is the thought of one’s book in the hands of a kind-hearted
intelligent person somewhere. I can’t remember what the
others are right now.
I just noticed that it is my own private

National I Hate Myself and Want to Die Day
(which means the next day I will love my life
and want to live forever). The forecast calls
for a cold night in Boston all morning

and all afternoon. They say
tomorrow will be just like today,
only different. I’m in the cemetery now
at the edge of town, how did I get here?

A sparrow limps past on its little bone crutch saying
I am Frederico Garcia Lorca
risen from the dead–
literature will lose, sunlight will win, don’t worry.

Rabbit of Lil
-- by Will Oldham

I drew you
from a pile of rabbits
your face framed in
rotting rabbits
like a saintly giant
buried to her neck
in the earth

you had freckles
and a wide face
light hair
and mottled hills
were crumbled in the sun
behind you

you looked
terribly innocent
so much
that i wanted
to eliminate you
from everyone’s memory

little little thing
made by the same
hands as me

March 6, 2008

We live as we dream, alone

Dave Muller, Cassettestack (eighties, eclectic), 2006

* Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on Sonny Rollins:

"I received an inquiry in February from Jacques who wanted to know if Sonny Rollins plays the saxophone on the Rolling Stones' Tattoo You album. The answer is yes.

"It is always a pleasure to have a reason to reach out to Sonny and have a chat. Sonny is a major figure in the evolution of modern jazz. He was inspired to play the sax by the seminal figures Coleman Hawkins and Charlie Parker. Sonny's talents were obvious very early in his career. He recorded very important works with Bud Powell and Fats Navarro in 1949 when he was still 18 years old. Sonny remembers waiting outside of Coleman Bean Hawkins' home in Harlem to get his autograph, and Bean was inspirational in Sonny's life. This is evident in Sonny's choice of the tenor sax as his instrument.

"Sonny always worked with the best performers, starting with Babs Gonzalez and including Clifford Brown and Thelonious Monk. Earlier in his career he had worked in George Hall's band, a distinction he shares with my dad. Sonny became disillusioned with his art for a while and took time off to reconsider his direction. During this time, he would practice at odd hours on one of the bridges connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn. His first disc after his hiatus is entitled The Bridge and is some of his best work. He was someone I looked up to for his professionalism and inventive curiosity. I was inspired to be at my best after witnessing his performances while I was in high school.

"Even saxophone icon John Coltrane was inspired by Sonny, writing a song entitled 'Like Sonny.' Sonny's exemplary courage and leadership have inspired people in all walks of life. Michael Caine had him write and perform the music for the movie Alfie. That soundtrack has become standard in the jazz vocabulary. The remake of that movie released a couple of years ago omitted the best part of the first film - its original score by Sonny Rollins. Shame on them! But Sonny marches on. He still performs at jazz venues around the world - a colossus striding the world stage."

* Skimble nails it.

* "Somebody once said we never know what is enough until we know what's more than enough." -- Billie Holiday

March 5, 2008

I eat an oyster and I feel the contact
But more than one would be a waste

Rudy Burckhardt, A View from Brooklyn II, 1953

Hand With Jar
-- by Tina Celona

There was a hand. There was a jar, the hand was lifting the lid off the jar and nearby there was a big red fruit. To the left and in the distance were ferns. To the bottom center and right the sun was coming up. A blue Egyptian flower sprouted from the branch on which the red fruit was growing. It looked like the jar was standing on a table. The important thing was the circle of light around the jar. You could not look away from it, you could not look at the painting without looking at the jar, because the painting was so small part of it could not fill up your whole eye.

The three objects were evolving. One was a collection of safety pins. One was some kind of tropical fruit. The three were like weapons with sharp, knifelike edges and you could not tell if they were the same size on either side.

I was certain you were a genius. Your paintings were the size of your ego. Your notebooks were a place to hide them.

Near Field
-- by W.S. Merwin

This is not something new or kept secret
the tilled ground unsown in late spring
the dead are not separate from the living
each has one foot in the unknown
and cannot speak for the other
the field tells none of its turned story
it lies under its low cloud like a waiting river
the dead made this out of their hunger
out of what they had been told
out of the pains and shadows
and bowels of animals
out of turning and
coming back singing
about another time

Two Winters
-- by Cassie Lewis

Dark night. I dreamed of a competitor
in the Winter Olympics
who won the event called ‘running
through constant drizzle’
then gave up the sport,
changed her name to ‘moral wife’
and vowed to become a poet.
I woke up guilty, as though I’d kissed
my best friend’s man. Your photo
on the dresser, your planes in the sky,
your clothes in the dryer on this
rare, rainy Californian day. Snow
like a penchant for loss, falls
white over distant hills.
Blankets of future images
just out of grasp. You’re the one
who knows what I’m wanting
before I move my hand. They say
it’s still cold in Melbourne and I’ll be there
next time storms become the official season.
I’ll be there drinking and thinking
of what I can never tell you,
light just past caring
or ownership. Two winters
on opposite sides of the globe:
two winters to discover
how this love got so far
from home. I’m sentimental
and mostly I don’t care
metaphysically speaking:
I trust in a gentle world,
I trust in you.

March 4, 2008

We made mad love
Shadow love
Random love
And abandoned love

Jan De Cock, Temps Mort XII. Long Island, May 2007, 'Lands' End' on Browns River Road, Sayville, 2007

* Clusterfucknation. excerpt:

While it's gratifying to watch Hillary Clinton melt back into her senate seat -- in the process foiling the ascent of Emperor Bill the 1st -- one can't help but feel that that the contest for president is taking place in a different "world-line" (shall we say) than the melt-down of the US financial sector, and with it, the US economy.

"Whoever wins on November 5 will wake up to preside over a different America than the schematic one he was debating about during the primaries and the election. The long campaign will beat a path straight into the long emergency. The new president will inherit a wrecked banking system, an economy in freefall, a wobbling world oil market, and an American public extremely ticked off by its startling, sudden impoverishment. (This is apart from whatever melodramas spool out on the geopolitical scene.)

"The president-elect will quickly realize that the number one problem is not that Americans can't afford health care -- it's that they can't afford anything, because their income is evaporating in terms of both lost jobs and a dollar that is racing toward worthlessness. They'll be hard put to pay for food and gasoline, nevermind Grandma's emphysema treatments. They will be walking away from home ownership -- or yanked kicking and screaming by default-and-repo -- and any government scheme devised to abridge their mortgage contracts will only undermine basic contract law that has made mortgage lending a credible thing in the first place. And that too, of course, would redound straight to a real estate sector already in price free-fall, with no one willing or able to think about buying a house."
"Whoever wakes up as the next president on November 5 will have to preside over the comprehensive reorganization of American life. The big question is whether he can persuade the public to let go of its sunk costs, and all the sheer stuff that represents, and move ahead in a unified way that doesn't end up tearing the nation apart. The danger is that the public will want to mount a kind of last stand effort to defend a way of life that has no future under any circumstances, and they will ask the president to lead that last stand.

"To avoid that deadly outcome, the new president will have to be equipped with a realistic vision of what this society can actually do to survive the discontinuities that circumstances present. This will require him to confront the prevailing delusion that the US can become 'energy independent' in the sense that we can run WalMart on something other than oil from foreign lands. The new president would have to carefully restate American expectations and goals -- for instance, not to keep all the cars running at all costs, but to get us living in places where driving is not mandatory. I'm concerned that the American people will hate the new president if he tells them the truth: that an old way of life is over and a new one has to begin now. We're about to find out how much 'change' the public can really stand."

* Oral sex-related cancer at 30-year high. excerpt:

"The incidence of oral cancer due to a virus transmitted during oral sex has increased steeply over the last 30 years, according to research in the US. And scientists relate this trend to changes in people's sexual behaviour.

"The number of tongue, mouth and throat cancers due to the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV), which can also cause cervical cancer in women, rose by about a third from 1973 to 2004, say researchers.

"The team led by Maura Gillison at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, US, studied trends in oral cancers recorded by US National Cancer Institute registries."

* David Berman (who forgot what he had been reading at his Corcoran Museum appearance last week), checks in on the Joos board:

How do I have the audacity to even show my fingertips here?

what a shanda.

i'm going to float a little pontoon bridge out here.

i took a carriage to the capital.

and a fellow there, who knew me not,

kindly asked for some ideas for reading.

More specifically he asked me what I had been reading,


( )

( )


My mind went 'thwock!.' And that whole area

of the brain busted, and I was unable to remember

a single title.

So here I go, listing some books

old and new but all new to me,

i would recommend to anyone

who has at least one other reason to read them:

Thomas Beers "The Mauve Decade"
Lewis Mumford "The Brown Decade"
Mallarme's Collected Poems on U of California press
Bertolt Brecht Collected Poems
"A Canticle for Leibowitz" Walter M. Miller jr.
William Matthews "selected poems"
"Working IX to V: Professions of the Ancient World" by Vicki Leon.
"the Un-Tv and the 10 MPH car" Bernard McGrane
"Off Center" by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson
"the Republican War on Science" Chris Mooney
"Emotional Vampires" Albert J. Bernstein

Tales of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov
"Yiddishe Kop" and "Our Immoral Soul" by Nilton Bonder
"Jesus and Yahweh" Harold Bloom
" A Map Of Misreading" Harold Bloom
"American Scoundrel" Thomas Keneally
"Barbary Coast" Herbert Asbury
"Punk '77: San Francisco" James Stark
"The Gangs of Chicago" , Herbert Asbury
"The Clumsiest People in Europe" by Mrs. Mortimer
"Strange Defeat" Marc Bloch
"Strange Victory" Ernest R. May
"The Storyteller's Nashville" Tom T. Hall
"The Autumn of the Middle Ages" Johan Huizinga

Emily Dickinson "Selected Letters"
"Generals In Bronze " William B. Stype
"Stardust Lost" Stefan Kanfer
"The Gate " Francois Bizot
"The String Bean Murders" by Warren B. Causey
"I Never Told Anybody" Kenneth Koch
"Turned On" by James Parker
"Arkansas" by J ohn Brandon
"Cheese Primer" Steven Jenkins
"A Guide To Silent Westerns"
"Presidential Sheet Music"
"The Idiot's Guide to the Sun"

* "I'm no linguist, but I believe Warren Zevon may be the only man in the history of human communication to use the word brucellosis in a song." -- Dave Letterman

March 3, 2008

he was a rebel jew
let him in

Raul Zahir De Leon, David Berman, Corcoran Museum of Art, February 28, 2008

-- Additional Photos

* At the Corcoran last Thursday, David Berman strolled out on the stage (after a short introduction where the introducer called him "Dave") and played about eight songs from the silver jews' upcoming record Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea. The songs -- performed on acoustic guitar with his wife Cassie joining him with backing vocals on a couple -- sketetons of what they will sound like with a full band, were great (I wish I took notes and wrote down some of the new lyrics, but I did not), and what we have come to expect from Silver Jews songs. He dedicated one (which is not titled but contains the Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea line) to Jeremy Blake's mother (Berman was speaking at the Corcoran as part of its exhibit of Blakes' work.)

Following the presentation of the songs, Berman left the stage while Blake's Sodium Fox (excerpts here) was screened. If you have not seen the whole thing, search out a screening, its really fantastic. While most press on the film states this was a colaboration between Blake and Berman, Berman distanced himself from that idea, stating in the post-screening Q&A that he just went through old notebooks and pulled various lines out, presented them to Blake, then they went into a recording studio where Berman said the lines in a few different cadences, and left Blake to decide which to use and how (in an interview with the Washington Post the day before Berman put it like this: "I would say it was raw, uncooked writing. I assumed the heat of Jeremy's art was going to cook it.")

The rest of the Q&A consisted of Berman pontificating on a variety of topics from what he's been reading (had to ask his wife Cassie, who noted Berman reads about 10 hours a day), how he arrived at the title for the upcoming album, what's he's been listening to, and where the name Silver Jews came from. Berman, who had a lot of his own family in the audience, was noticably choked up at a couple of points when discussing his relationship with Blake. Towards the end, Blakes step-father told Berman that "If Jeremy's art came out as words instead of images, this is it..." and Berman responded (quoted from this Jeff Johnson piece):

"I feel the last few days being here in Washington has really filled out a lot of the questions or empty space I had about what happened to Jeremy. I feel that just to be with someone's art... You know when I worked at the Whitney, sometimes I'd be the late night guard and I'd be the only one in the museum. And you'd walk around the galleries in the dark, in this place with David Smith and Jackson Pollock who all died these violent deaths, and the older guards would say watch out when you're on the third floor! I wanted to come to be with Jeremy. You know we just shared a lot of the same reference points. We shared a lot of the same dislikes. And, uh, it's hard."

All in all an interesting and moving evening. Can't wait for the release of Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea.

-- DC website Brightest Young Things reviews the show here.

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"6. John McCain

"What with all this confusion on national security and the economy - not to mention having to walk a fine line to figure out which mad-eyed racists it's okay to be supported by - McCain doesn't seem to know where he is or what he's doing any more.

"'I will conduct a respectful debate,' McCain told the crowd at Texas Instruments, per ABC News' Bret Hovell. 'Now, it will be spirited because there are stark differences. I am a proud conservative, liberal Republica -- conservative Republican,' he said, catching himself. "Hello?" he said as the crowd laughed. 'Easy there.'

"A proud conservative liberal Republican, eh? Well I guess that should cover all the bases."

* In DC -- Tonight at The Red and The Black: The Muggabears.

* "An empty stomach is not a good political adviser." -- Albert Einstein