April 30, 2008

Clean your baby womb, trash that baby boom
Elvis in the ground, there'll ain't no beer tonight
Income tax deduction, what a hell of a function

Nathan Abels, A Boundary, Not a Thing, 2008

Black Night
-- by George Young

Right now
a penguin stands in Antarctica,
its head drooping in the black night,
an egg between its legs—

and a Mayan God, tipped
on its side,
stares with blank eyes
at a pool in the forest covered with leaves—

and you
sit in an airport,
flight delayed, clutching your bag, far, far
from those you love.

The Gravity of Demise
-- by George Young

can be swift
as a phone book sliding off
the table and crashing to the floor

or slow
as a brown, curled leaf
drifting down
to land in a still pond—

(that leaf shaped like a man,

don’t call that number anymore).

The Dinner
-- by Chuck Augello

We are both vegetarians
but that never stops us
from eating each other's heart.

Hers is served in a light vodka creme sauce,
mine arrives without garnish.
We have dined on each other so many times,
it is a quick and joyless meal.

Where once we tenderized and basted
we now eat it raw,
with little conversation,
not even a "pass the salt."

We reach across the table in silence
grabbing whatever we need
as if the other has already gone.

I am tired of this bloody meal,
but I keep eating as long as she does.

The day we said, "I do,"
we never dreamt we'd be such carnivores.

April 29, 2008

After this there will be no more good clean fun

Oskar Fischinger, Optical Poetry, 1936

* Cheney's lawyer says Congress has no authority to conduct oversight over vice president. excerpt:

"In what appears yet another effort to strengthen his position in the executive branch, the attorney for Vice President Dick Cheney said in a letter released by Congress Thursday that the Congress lacks 'lacks the constitutional power' to conduct oversight over his job.

"The letter came in response to requests that Cheney's chief of staff David Addington testify about the his role in approving harsh interrogation tactics -- which some see as torture -- at Guantanamo Bay.

"Cheney has long battled Congress over oversight. In particular, Congress has sought, and failed, to acquire information from his office regarding his meetings with oil company executives to discuss energy policy in 2001. Cheney was also the subject of a Washington Post series which detailed his attempts to strengthen position the position of the vice presidency as a bulwark against inquiry."

"'Congress lacks the constitutional power to regulate by a law what a Vice President communicates in the performance of the Vice President's official duties, or what a Vice President recommends that a President communicate in the President's performance of official duties, and therefore those matters are not within the Committee's power of inquiry,' Wheelbarger added.
"House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers fired back at letter Thursday questioning Wheelbarger's rationale. He quotes a Supreme Court justice's opinion in the case:

"'The power of inquiry has been employed by Congress throughout our history, over the whole range of the national interests concerning which Congress might legislate.... the scope of the power of inquiry, in short, is as penetrating and far-reaching as the potential power to enact and appropriate under the Constitution.'

"Conyers notes later in his reply that numerous White House officials have testified to committees of Congress, including White House counsels and chiefs of staff and the Chief of Staff to the Vice President.

"'On October 17, 1974, I was present when President Ford himself testified before a House Judiciary subcommittee on issues relating to the Nixon pardon,' the Detroit Democrat writes. 'The invitation to appear is thus based on a long tradition of comity between the branches... These principles have served our nation well, and I trust you will not turn your back on them now.'"

"Wheelbarger, however, has more legal weapons in her arsenal.

"She says that Cheney's chief of staff isn't the most appropriate to ask questions of if Congress is looking to get answers regarding the President's opinions. She suggests that Congress seek to ask questions of the Attorney General instead."
"Further, she indicates that even if Cheney's chief of staff were to testify, little of his testimony would be of any use because he would be limited by executive and attorney client privilege. Prior to being appointed Cheney's chief of staff, Addington was Cheney's personal attorney."

* Jeff Johnson interviews Bob Nastanovich mostly about the horse business but sneaks a question in about a possible Pavement reunion:

Q: So how would you navigate a Pavement reunion?

BN: I would call my bosses in horse racing and ask for a six-month leave of absence. And I hope when the smoke cleared I could get some semblance of my job back. I would prioritize a Pavement reunion over any other form of employment at this point. I don’t plan my life like it is going to happen, but I’m hopeful that it will. You know, Gary would be involved. Steve West would be involved. It would be a six-man band. Gary would play on his songs and Westie would play on his.

Q: So it’s been discussed enough to say that Gary would be involved? Like let’s pull out all the stops?

BN: Oh sure… Let’s give them everything we’ve got. There’s a game plan, it’s just a matter of—

Q: When?

BN: Not before 2010… I think Malkmus would consider the idea over 2009… and I’m hoping something would occur between January and August of 2010. I say hopefully cause it would get me out of debt on these horses [laughs]. It’s amazing to me how much interest there still is in Pavement. And among people that were little kids when the band was happening. But ultimately, it’s Steve’s decision, and whatever he decides I’m completely cool with. He’s the one who wrote most of the songs, would have to do most of the singing, a lot of the guitar playing, and most of the talking.

* Twofer Tuesday: From Highland, New York, Community Gun:

-- Before She Goes

-- James Brown

* "Do something, do something to that, and then do something to that." -- Jasper Johns

April 28, 2008

Gabriela Epstein, Centro, 2007

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

John McCain

"Speaking of desperation: it seems that John McCain is now having difficulty wrapping up the "current Republican president's daughter" demographic.

First daughter Jenna Bush isn't as committed to Republican candidate John McCain as her parents are, who are firmly behind the party's expected presidential nominee.

Jenna Bush told CNN's Larry King that she is open to learning about all the candidates - including the Democrats.

King asked Jenna Bush and her mother, Laura Bush, who appeared with her, whether they had a favorite between Democratic candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

"My favorite is the Republican," said Laura Bush.

Her daughter wasn't as sure. "I don't know," Jenna Bush said.
Jenna later added, "Wait, isn't McCain the guy who fathered an illegitimate black baby? I don't like that guy."

* Friend David Ross Smith submitted this piece -- called 'Intervention' as part of the Cheetos TV commercial contest. Check it out.

* Web In Front has posted an excellent new Spiritulized song.

* "Nothing is poorer than a truth expressed as it was thought. Committed to writing in such cases, it is not even a bad photograph. Truth wants to be startled abruptly, at one stroke, from her self-immersion, whether by uproar, music or cries for help." -- Walter Benjamin

April 25, 2008

I've got a hurricane inside my veins
and I want to stay forever

Amy Stein, Howl

Three poems by Jorge Luis Borges:

The Accomplice

They crucify me. I have to be the cross, the nails.
They hand me the cup. I have to be the hemlock.
They trick me. I have to be the lie.
They burn me alive. I have to be the hell.
I have to praise and thank every instant of time.
My food is all things.
The precise weight of the universe. The humiliation, the rejoicing.
I have to justify what wounds me.
My fortune or misfortune does not matter.
I am the poet.

trans. by Hoyt Rogers

To Johannes Brahms

A mere intruder in the lavish gardens
You planted in the plural memory
Of times to come, I tried to sing the bliss
Your violins erect into the blue.
But now I've given up. To honor you.
That misery which people give the empty
Name of art does not suffice.
Whomever would honor you must be bright and brave.
I am a coward. I am a sad man. Nothing.
Can justify this audacity
Of singing the magnificent happiness
--Fire and crystal--of your soul in love.
My servitude is in the impure word,
Offspring of a concept and a sound;
No symbol, not a mirror, not a moan,
Yours is the river that flows and endures.

trans. by Stephen Kessler

The Moon

for Maria Kodama

There is such loneliness in that gold.
The moon of the nights is not the moon
Whom the first Adam saw. The long centuries
Of human vigil have filled her
With ancient lament. Look at her. She is you mirror.

trans. by Willis Barnstone

April 24, 2008

so tired, I did it again
the trucks are on strike and I slept on the train
there's evil in Sweeden
there's evil in Spain
drinking my lunch
all over again

Bob Dylan, Man on Bridge, 2007

* Interview of Dean Warham. excerpt:

SS: You’ve had the experience of releasing music on indie labels, then on a major like Elektra. Given today’s climate, would you have approached who you signed with differently?

DW: When Luna started being described as 'indie rock,' it became this thing then, but like Modest Mouse is considered indie rock now? I don’t know quite what it means anymore. I mention this in the book. Back then, it’s like all the bands I looked up to, all in the late Eighties, all of them were on indie labels. There was no option — major labels did not sign groups like that in late Eighties. They had been burned by punk rock, none of which sold, and that all changed with the Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins explosion. Then they had priority meetings, and they had a list of priority albums at alt-radio this week, and you were competing against bands on your own label. Elektra can get play on one or two [outlets], but not everywhere.

Our experience at Elektra wasn’t bad. There were people there who cared about Luna, who worked on it, and we were there for eight or nine years making a bunch of albums for them. We all made a living in music, but we were also digging ourselves a hole of record-company debt, so obviously there’s a downside. But you can also sign to indie labels, and they can go bankrupt and they can own you masters, but you do what makes sense at that time. If someone’s offering you a bunch of money and giving you enough to live on, it’s not so bad.

SS: You wrote, 'Now there were too many bands and too many records — but it would soon get much worse.' Are you mostly talking about file-sharing?

DW: I don’t think we quite realized until quite afterward. I mean, you’d read Madonna and Metallica suing people — they were being hit in a big way — but it kind of snuck up on us. I think two important events were the appearance of the iPod and also the tech-stock collapse, and it had a direct impact on us. You can see it statistically. I think the year the iPod came out, you saw sales plummet, you’d see people carrying CDs onto planes, and they’re all burned. The recording industry got huge in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties based on the affluent spending power of Western teenagers. Well, the teenagers are still there and have money, but they’re not spending it on music anymore.

SS: You disclose a lot of uncomfortable details, especially later on in the book, about drugs, infidelities. How did it feel seeing those accounts written down on paper?

DW: Again, sometimes it was painful. It was painful writing about my separation and divorce, and, I’d write about leaving them again, and it’d make me cry to write about leaving them again. But in the end, it was a good exercise. There’d be days I’d be like, 'Why am I doing this?' But I’m glad I did it. If I didn’t go into that stuff, the book would be dull. I could pick out the things that made me look good and not the things that made me look bad. Most rock bios I’ve read don’t go into this stuff. Most are ghostwritten anyway. I hope this is different than other books out there. Some of it that makes the touring come to life, detailing what was going on, revealing what’s it really like to be out there in a van driving around, the dangers of the lifestyle, the ways in which it’s difficult, how it leads you into a double life. On our final tour, someone came up to us in Seattle and asked, “Why are you quitting?” They don’t realize that the show is one part of the day, but that’s not the whole part of the story.

SS: After Luna disbanded, what made you want to get out and do it again?

DW: I’m touring again, but not as much, and I’m not under pressure from the band to go out constantly. The pressure from Luna started grating on me. They’d go, 'No, we need to tour again,' and I was like, 'Arrr….' Now, I’ll go out for three weeks and then wait longer in-between, but it’s less touring and organizing when I want to do it.

* Long, though interesting thread on a website devoted to card playing, in which Steve Albini answers all sorts of questions relating to recordings his been a part of and recording in general. Worth a look.

* Cartoon: David Foster Wallace stranded on a desert island.

* "A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night, and in between does what he wants to do" -- Bob Dylan

April 23, 2008

I've been set free and I've been bound
To the memories of yesterday's clouds

Zak Smith, Full-Spectrum Dominance in All Theaters, 2007

Standing Together
-- by Klipschutz (1993)

President and Pontiff
Have a private chat
Then one takes a jog
One takes a long nap

One vowed not to touch
One said yes to sex
Two men at two helms
Differed in these respects

One wakes, early evening
A shower, a rubdown
They huddle with one aide apiece
The sky turns piebald, brindled, brown

In the fire sale of western civ
A ray of beggar’s hope
In Denver on a Thursday
A Prez stands with a Pope

Devotio Moderna
-- by Graham Foust

Who but us
could know wisdom's cut,

the pain of pain's
leaving, same as you?

Who would smooth us to
a circle? You would. You would.

You and your planet. You
and your fragrant blue room.

On New Terms
-- by Deborah Garrison

I'd like to begin again. Not touch my
own face, not tremble in the dark before
an intruder who never arrives. Not
apologize. No scurry, not pace. Not
refuse to keep notes of what means the most.
Not skirt my father's ghost. Not abandon
piano, or a book before the end.
Not count, count, count and wait, poised -- the control,
the agony controlled -- for the loss of
the one, having borne, I can't be, won't breathe
without: the foregone conclusion, the pain
not yet met, the preemptive mourning
about which
nothing left of me but smoke.

-- by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company!
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

April 22, 2008

Between thought and expression lies a lifetime

Gary Godfrey, Anti-Vietnam War Demonstration, Washington, DC, 1969

* Thomas Frank in the WSJ. excerpt:

"'Elitism' is thus a crime not of society's actual elite, but of its intellectuals. Mr. Obama has "a dash of Harvard disease," proclaims the Weekly Standard. Mr. Obama reminds columnist George Will of Adlai Stevenson, rolled together with the sinister historian Richard Hofstadter and the diabolical economist J.K. Galbraith, contemptuous eggheads all. Mr. Obama strikes Bill Kristol as some kind of 'supercilious' Marxist. Mr. Obama reminds Maureen Dowd of an . . . anthropologist.

"Ah, but Hillary Clinton: Here's a woman who drinks shots of Crown Royal, a luxury brand that at least one confused pundit believes to be another name for Old Prole Rotgut Rye. And when the former first lady talks about her marksmanship as a youth, who cares about the cool hundred million she and her husband have mysteriously piled up since he left office? Or her years of loyal service to Sam Walton, that crusher of small towns and enemy of workers' organizations? And who really cares about Sam Walton's own sins, when these are our standards? Didn't he have a funky Southern accent of some kind? Surely such a mellifluous drawl cancels any possibility of elitism.
"But suppose we read on, and we find the news item about the hedge fund managers who made $2 billion and $3 billion last year, or the story about the vaporizing of our home equity. Suppose we become a little . . . bitter about this. What do our pundits and politicians tell us then?

"That there is no place for such sentiment in the Party of the People. That 'bitterness' is an ugly and inadmissible emotion. That 'divisiveness' is a thing to be shunned at all costs.

"Conservatism, on the other hand, has no problem with bitterness; as the champion strategist Howard Phillips said almost three decades ago, the movement's job is to 'organize discontent.' And organize they have. They have welcomed it, they have flattered it, they have invited it in with millions of treason-screaming direct-mail letters, they have given it a nice warm home on angry radio shows situated up and down the AM dial. There is not only bitterness out there; there is a bitterness industry.
"If Barack Obama or anyone else really cares to know what I think, I will simplify it all down to this. The landmark political fact of our time is the replacement of our middle-class republic by a plutocracy. If some candidate has a scheme to reverse this trend, they've got my vote, whether they prefer Courvoisier or beer bongs spiked with cough syrup. I don't care whether they enjoy my books, or would rather have every scrap of paper bearing my writing loaded into a C-47 and dumped into Lake Michigan. If it will help restore the land of relative equality I was born in, I'll fly the plane myself." [Emphasis added]

* Twofer Tuesday (lou reed in dc version):

-- I'm Sticking With You.

-- That's The Story of My Life.

* "Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness– and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe. The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they’re selling– their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability. Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them. Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -- Arundhati Roy

April 21, 2008

War is hell, when will it end?
When will people start gettin’ together again?
Are things really gettin’ better Like the newspaper said?…
Can’t find no work, can’t find no job, my friend.
Money is tighter than it’s ever been.
Hey, man, I just don’t understand What’s goin’ on across this land.

Seton Smith, Red Tree

* Top ten conservativie idiots. excerpt:

1. John McCain

"Stop the presses! John McCain has an economic plan, and, well, wow, it's just great. You know how George W. Bush drove the American economy directly into a ditch and then jumped out and watched it burst into flames with everyone trapped inside? Don't fret, because John McCain is here to save the day!

"Some highlights from McCain's plan:

"Extend George W. Bush's excellent "Tax Cuts For Multi-Millionaires" program.

"Decrease taxes on big corporations.

"Mention to big corporations that it would be really great if they could perhaps think about being a bit more responsible.

"Freeze domestic spending. (Because clearly this country is spending far too much money on health care and child care and education.)

"Stay in Iraq for another 100 years.

"I know what you're thinking - isn't this plan just like what George W. Bush is already doing, only somehow even more misguided and unfair to the average Joe? Well yes, that may be true, but think about this logically. How are we ever going to be able to continue to afford to spend $340 million dollars a day in Iraq if we don't crack down on free school lunches and cheap prescription drugs for the elderly?"

* A suit you can wash in the shower. excerpt:

"The suit, made under licence in Japan, is the first to pull off a long-sought coup that could spell the end of dry-cleaning bills for white-collar workers.

"It is billed as the first two-piece that can be washed in the shower each evening and be ready to wear again in the morning – with no ironing required. And amazingly, after a rigorous road test, it appears to fulfil that pledge.

"Konaka, a Japanese menswear retailer, and Australian Wool Innovation Ltd devised the suit as a solution to the problem of long, hot, sticky summers during which salarymen have to remain fully suited and booted. The lightweight woollen suit, made using a fabric blend that includes polyester, has two special finishes that help it to maintain its shape.

"Our tester, IoS reporter Andrew Johnson, said: 'The suit is surprisingly light and comfortable, although probably not too warm in winter. Nor is it very waterproof. It only takes moments for it to become soaked once in the shower. It's definitely a summer suit.'

"'Once hung up to dry, however, the miracle begins. The suit quickly drips to a damp state and the next day is bone dry with only one crease – where it should be, down the front of the trousers.'

"A spokeswoman for John Pearse, who has dressed clients ranging from Sir Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan to Jack Nicholson, George Clooney and Brad Pitt, stressed that the shower-proof suit was a world away from the company's usual 'bespoke' offerings."

* YouTube: the last flight from Da Nang.

"This CBS report was in March 1975. Edward J.Daly,owner of World Airways, sent a Boeing 727 aircraft to Da Nang Vietnam to pick up stranded woman and children. Instead the aircraft was swamped by military personnel climbing on the aircraft. There were 260 people aboard a plane which is designed to carry 105. The plane was overloaded by 20,000 pounds. The baggage compartments were loaded with people. Some of the problems during the flight included, the rear stairway remained partially extended for the entire flight, the main wheels would not retract, a hand grenade damage to one of the wings causing fuel loss, and the lower cargo doors were open. The plane had to fly at 10,000 feet because of lack of pressurization thus fuel consumption was three times greater than normal."

* "Art is long, life short; judgement difficult, opportunity transient." - Goethe

April 18, 2008

why is there something
instead of nothing

Jane Smaldone, St. Lucy's Mountain Dream, 2006

To A Cat
-- by Jorge Luis Borges

Mirrors are not more silent
nor the creeping dawn more secretive;
in the moonlight, you are that panther
we catch sight of from afar.
By the inexplicable workings of a divine law,
we look for you in vain;
More remote, even, than the Ganges or the setting sun,
yours is the solitude, yours the secret.
Your haunch allows the lingering
caress of my hand. You have accepted,
since that long forgotten past,
the love of the distrustful hand.
You belong to another time. You are lord
of a place bounded like a dream.

Funeral Blues
-- by W.H. Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

-- by Beth Woodcome

The shame in the church crawls out of each human. A mild sin grows first behind the ears.

The wind: it comes without thought or any use of my hands. My hair grows the same color as the red scarf covering a lamp. I’ve heard of women who lead men into a chamber that is stained like the pit of a cherry. Place something upon the tongue. Go in peace.

Pretending there is no time to stop and look at the old gravestones that lean south, my father keeps driving. The common is cold and blown clear of leaves. This is near Chocksett School playground where a German shepherd tore up my soft back. My father took me to the dog that night to let it smell me. I held it in my arms. We’re all bound to something.

The strain of the body in trauma stresses the heart muscle. When I come up for air, the wind fills my throat before I realize I want it to.

When I think of what I am, I think of this small town. The dog, my back, the women, my dog.

April 17, 2008

don't you know the past is broken
don't you know there's no more scene

William Eggleston, from the Los Alamos Portfolio

* The Village Voice interviews David Berman. excerpt:

VV: Well, one second though, if you’re going to say that. I got some crib notes, that are about your lyrics on Lookout. And there are some obscure references. I definitely agree with you; if you’re not really listening to it—it does stand up as a whole, and you don’t need to 'get it.' But at the same time, this material that you’re drawing on, is so random. Speeches that Roosevelt did to young boys clubs. That Roger Miller-ism, 'country-restroom.' It’s a quick, quick reference…

David: Yeah, that’s the thing. There is a lot of content, and within the content, there is a way of reading the record just as a history of me and Cassie. There is a way to read it, and just like the year 1913—it brings up a lot of stuff, in terms of what I am saying about this time, and comparing it to 1913, before the world changed forever. This album is kind of me speaking to people born after 1980, people that are younger than me. It’s me saying that 'things are not going to be like this.' With Silver Jews music, you have to listen to it, and you have to make connections later down the line. Because you’re so used to making music that doesn’t have any meaning, that it’s really easy to listen to without that. And it should be able to do that, song by song. I try and make it narrative and pretty straight.

VV: Well the problem with someone like me, is that I listen to music while doing other things. Especially while writing, or even reading about other bands. Which is probably the worst thing you can do.

David: I know what you mean.

VV: Read about why a band is good, or sucks. And that’s how I listened to Lookout the first several times. I did listen to it on my CD player, while I was doing household chores. And that’s a different type of experience. But when I was on the subway, and no one was around to bother me, and my eyes weren’t fixating on anything. That’s how for me, with everyone of your records, you have to get, and realize they are so accessible. And then there’s the words, in which you start talking about Swedish Fish—which I have to buy for my wife every week.

David: So it builds a connection.

VV: Definitely with your tunes, it’s something you can’t be a background listener to. You’re not going to get it.

David: It’s inferior background music.

VV: It totally is!

David: My music has the ability to depend on that attention. Movies still demand that attention. You can’t watch a movie and do those kind of things. And a director is sure that these things will be examined, and compared to. In music, you’re pretty sure that these things won’t be paid attention to. Except to guys like you, who finally get alone with it.

VV: Can you imagine going into a movie, and reading a magazine, or watching another movie? It doesn’t make sense, in consuming another art form. Or like your thing the other day, I guess people could listen to tunes while they’re looking at your pictures.

David: Well I started to foresee something in the late 90’s, when instrumental music started becoming really popular, that started saying something to me…

VV: Like who?

David: Well, in general techno and the electronic movement that is less lyric oriented. That to me really became a part of the shopping culture that’s really come up. Because music like that really makes you the star, you’re in the forefront, and it’s the soundtrack to your life. That’s kind of the Night of the Roxbury guys. And that music means something else. And I think that is what music got to me. And that’s why the band, if they have the right style and the right form, then they are a lot closer to being finished. I think the background is the big issue now. When bands are doing lots of harmonies and reverb, I think it’s a drawing back from the foreground from having to say anything. The Flaming Lips sound was always about individuals, but they created a way out of putting mortal feeling into their songs, while seeming to still embrace the good. Which is all about the 'ahhhhhhh.' It’s like My Morning Jacket—love the way it sounds, until you have the opposite experience. Until you’re on the subway, and you can concentrate on what he’s saying, and all of a sudden, you’re like 'Oh my God, this guy had no idea what he was doing, and he was just hoping to get this stuff by without anyone really noticing.'” And he’s done a wonderful job of it, because if you don’t pay attention, you don’t notice these terribly embarrassing things. If my music doesn’t get heard or concentrated on, then its below the standards of regular people. If you put on a Silver Jews record at a regular office, this sort of dislike that is expressed, is not that this is egghead music. That this is other music performed with a more rudimentary singer, with not as thrilling of hooks or something. But if you put it in another context, and treat it like something that is throwing its weight, and needs to be listened to, and more interpreted . . . I need people to raise their standards, so I can have a chance. If you don’t raise your standards, then I lose. Left alone with regular people and the mainstream, then I fail, in that Venn diagram.

* Tom Shales. excerpt:

"When Barack Obama met Hillary Clinton for another televised Democratic candidates' debate last night, it was more than a step forward in the 2008 presidential election. It was another step downward for network news -- in particular ABC News, which hosted the debate from Philadelphia and whose usually dependable anchors, Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, turned in shoddy, despicable performances.

"For the first 52 minutes of the two-hour, commercial-crammed show, Gibson and Stephanopoulos dwelled entirely on specious and gossipy trivia that already has been hashed and rehashed, in the hope of getting the candidates to claw at one another over disputes that are no longer news. Some were barely news to begin with.

"The fact is, cable networks CNN and MSNBC both did better jobs with earlier candidate debates. Also, neither of those cable networks, if memory serves, rushed to a commercial break just five minutes into the proceedings, after giving each candidate a tiny, token moment to make an opening statement. Cable news is indeed taking over from network news, and merely by being competent.

"Gibson sat there peering down at the candidates over glasses perched on the end of his nose, looking prosecutorial and at times portraying himself as a spokesman for the working class. Blunderingly he addressed an early question, about whether each would be willing to serve as the other's running mate, 'to both of you,' which is simple ineptitude or bad manners. It was his job to indicate which candidate should answer first. When, understandably, both waited politely for the other to talk, Gibson said snidely, 'Don't all speak at once.'
"The boyish Stephanopoulos, who has done wonders with the network's Sunday morning hour, 'This Week' (as, indeed, has Gibson with the nightly 'World News'), looked like an overly ambitious intern helping out at a subcommittee hearing, digging through notes for something smart-alecky and slimy. He came up with such tired tripe as a charge that Obama once associated with a nutty bomb-throwing anarchist. That was '40 years ago, when I was 8 years old,' Obama said with exasperation.

"Obama was right on the money when he complained about the campaign being bogged down in media-driven inanities and obsessiveness over any misstatement a candidate might make along the way, whether in a speech or while being eavesdropped upon by the opposition. The tactic has been to 'take one statement and beat it to death,' he said.

"No sooner was that said than Gibson brought up, yet again, the controversial ravings of the pastor at a church attended by Obama. 'Charlie, I've discussed this,' he said, and indeed he has, ad infinitum. If he tried to avoid repeating himself when clarifying his position, the networks would accuse him of changing his story, or changing his tune, or some other baloney.

This is precisely what has happened with widely reported comments that Obama made about working-class people "clinging" to religion and guns during these times of cynicism about their federal government.

"It's not the first time I made a misstatement that was mangled up, and it won't be the last," said Obama, with refreshing candor. But candor is dangerous in a national campaign, what with network newsniks waiting for mistakes or foul-ups like dogs panting for treats after performing a trick. The networks' trick is covering an election with as little emphasis on issues as possible, then blaming everyone else for failing to focus on 'the issues.'"
"To this observer, ABC's coverage seemed slanted against Obama. The director cut several times to reaction shots of such Clinton supporters as her daughter, Chelsea, who sat in the audience at the Kimmel Theater in Philly's National Constitution Center. Obama supporters did not get equal screen time, giving the impression that there weren't any in the hall. The director also clumsily chose to pan the audience at the very start of the debate, when the candidates made their opening statements, so Obama and Clinton were barely seen before the first commercial break.

"At the end, Gibson pompously thanked the candidates -- or was he really patting himself on the back? -- for 'what I think has been a fascinating debate.' He's entitled to his opinion, but the most fascinating aspect was waiting to see how low he and Stephanopoulos would go, and then being appalled at the answer."

* "Things are not as bad as they seem. They are worse." -- Bill Press

April 16, 2008

If you're tired and you're sick of the city
Remember that it's just a flower
made out of clay

Jenny Holzer, Living: With Bleeding Inside the Head, 1980-1982

Surreptitious Kissing
-- by Denis Johnson

I want to say that
forgiveness keeps on

dividing, that hope
gives issue to hope,

and more, but of course I
am saying what is

said when in this dark
hallway one encounters

you, and paws and
assaults you—love

affairs, fast lies—and you
say it back and we

blunder deeper, as would
any pair of loosed

marionettess, any couple
of cadavers cut lately

from the scaffold,
in the secluded hallways

of whatever is
holding us up now.

Devotio Moderna
-- by Graham Foust

Who but us
could know wisdom's cut,

the pain of pain's
leaving, same as you?

Who would smooth us to
a circle? You would. You would.

You and your planet. You
and your fragrant blue room.

for no clear reason
-- by Robert Creeley

I dreamt last night
the fright was over, that
the dust came, and then the water,
and the women and men, together
again, and all was quiet
in the dim moon's light.

a paean of such patience --
laughing, laughing at me,
and the days extend over
the earth's great cover,
grass, trees, and flower-
ing season, for no clear reason.

April 15, 2008

It takes two to make one
Lord, it sounds like fun to me

Billy Name, Warhol with Baby Ruth

* From Harper's May 2008:

-- Number of U.S. presidential elections so far in which the two major-party nominees were both sitting Senators: 0

-- Percentage, in a recent study, by which the average weight gain of rats eating saccharin exceeded that of rats eating sugar: 25

-- Changes that a story in a British newspaper is a reprinted or rewritten press release: 3 in 5

-- Current annual deficit of the International Monetary Fund: $140,000,000

-- Length, in miles, of Beijing's newest airport terminal: 2

-- Amount that a businessman in the United Arab Emirates paid this year for the nation's license plate number "1": $14,000,000

-- Ratio of the estimated number of fake doctors practicing in Delhi, India, to the number of real ones: 1:1

* Bush ok's torture meetings:

"President Bush says he was aware that his top aides met in the White House basement to micromanage the application of waterboarding and other widely-condemned interrogation techniques. And he says it was no big deal.

"'I'm aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved,' Bush told ABC News' Martha Raddatz on Friday. 'I don't know what's new about that; I'm not so sure what's so startling about that.'

"It's true that it has been widely assumed and occasionally reported that the CIA's use of brutal interrogation techniques could be traced back to the White House on a general level. But it was most definitely new last week when ABC News reported that a group of Bush's top aides, including Vice President Cheney, took part in meetings where they explicitly discussed and approved -- literally blow by blow -- tactics such as waterboarding. And while Bush has previously defended these tactics -- vaguely, and insisting against all evidence that they did not amount to torture -- he had not, until now, acknowledged that he personally OK'd them beforehand.

"If you consider what the government did to be torture, which is a crime according to U.S. and international law, Bush's statement shifts his role from being an accessory after the fact to being part of a conspiracy to commit."

* Happy Birthday: William Burrough's Junky is 55.

* "You're not to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it." -- Malcolm X

April 14, 2008

My temperature's rising, my fingers are tingling
I'm starting to shake
I look in the mirror and everything's funny
I think you're a fake

Rob Pruitt, No Blood for OIl, 2003

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

3. John McCain

"George W. Bush isn't the only one seeing Iraq with 'success' written all over it - step forward John McSame, the guy who's supposed to be super-experienced but somehow hasn't yet realized that the Pro-War Express is on a non-stop one-way trip to Losertown.

"Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, said that success in Iraq was 'within reach' at the beginning of the high-profile hearing on Iraq involving Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. general in Iraq, and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, the top American diplomat in Baghdad.

"Success is 'within reach!' Oh yes, McCain can sense it, taste it, almost grasp it in his withered and arthritic fingers.

"Now some might say, 'Hold on a minute. Haven't I just read that 'violence swells' in Iraq and more than 20 U.S. troops have been killed this month already?'

"Those people might then go on to say, 'Furthermore, haven't I also just read that Iraq Sudy Group experts have concluded that 'political progress is so slow, halting and superficial and political fragmentation so pronounced that the United States is no closer to being able to leave Iraq than it was a year ago,' and that 'The new report predicts that lasting political development could take five to 10 years of full, unconditional commitment to Iraq, but also cautions that future progress may not be worth the massive human and financial costs to the United States.'?'

"But pay no attention to them. You see, just because starting a pre-emptive war turned out to be a really bad idea, don't expect John McCain to rule out the possibility of trying it again.

"Sen. John McCain, facing criticism from Democratic opponents that his election as president represents a third term for President Bush, said today that he could not rule out a pre-emptive military strike against enemies such as the one that Bush launched against Iraq.

"Well I guess they don't call him Senator Crazylegs McBatshitinsane for nothing."

* Human Statue of Liberty, formed by 18,000 soldiers in July 1918.

* Lee and Nancy: Some Velvet Morning.

* "The defeats and victories of the fellows at the top aren't always defeats and victories for the fellows at the bottom." -- Bertolt Brecht

April 11, 2008

the only thing I'd change would be the ending

Michael Phelan, The Best Way Out Is Through (No. 6), 2006

Buying The Whore
-- by Anne Sexton

You are the roast beef I have purchased
and I stuff you with my very own onion.

You are a boat I have rented by the hour
and I steer you with my rage until you run aground.

You are a glass that I have paid to shatter
and I swallow the pieces down with my spit.

You are the grate I warm my trembling hands on,
searing the flesh until it's nice and juicy.

You stink like my Mama under your bra
and I vomit into your hand like a jackpot
its cold hard quarters.

-- by Jack Gilbert

Suddenly this defeat.
This rain.
The blues gone gray
And the browns gone gray
And yellow
A terrible amber.
In the cold streets
Your warm body.
In whatever room
Your warm body.
Among all the people
Your absence
The people who are always
Not you.

I have been easy with trees
Too long.
Too familiar with mountains.
Joy has been a habit.
This rain.

History Of The Night
-- by Jorge Luis Borges

Throughout the course of the generations
men constructed the night.
At first she was blindness;
thorns raking bare feet,
fear of wolves.
We shall never know who forged the word
for the interval of shadow
dividing the two twilights;
we shall never know in what age it came to mean
the starry hours.
Others created the myth.
They made her the mother of the unruffled Fates
that spin our destiny,
they sacrificed black ewes to her, and the cock
who crows his own death.
The Chaldeans assigned to her twelve houses;
to Zeno, infinite words.
She took shape from Latin hexameters
and the terror of Pascal.
Luis de Leon saw in her the homeland
of his stricken soul.
Now we feel her to be inexhaustible
like an ancient wine
and no one can gaze on her without vertigo
and time has charged her with eternity.

And to think that she wouldn't exist
except for those fragile instruments, the eyes.

April 10, 2008

bad luck comes in from Tampa

Peter Doig, Orange Sunshine, 1995-6

* Interview of Pete Townshend, from the April 1980 edition of Sound International. excerpt:

Question: Do you remember the first time you smashed a guitar?

PT: First I got into feedback. Jim Marshall started manufacturing amplifiers and somebody in his store came up with the idea of building a 4 x 12 cabinet for bass. And John Entwistle bought one and I looked at it and suddenly John Entwistle doubled in volume. And so I bought one and then later on I bought another one and I stacked it on top of the other one. I was using a Rickenbacker at the time and because the pickup was right in line with the speakers I was instantly troubled by feedback. But I really used to like to hear the sound in my ears. I didn’t like it coming out down there (below ear level) because I felt it was coming in my ear I could get it louder for me but it wasn’t necessarily going to be louder out front. And I started to get quite interested in feedback, but I was very frustrated at first. There were a lot of brilliant young players around - Beck was around. I think Roger first saw him when he was in a band called The Triads or The Tridents or something and he came back and said there was this incredible young guitar player. And Clapton was around and various other people who could really play and I was very frustrated because I couldn’t do all that flash stuff. So I just started getting into feedback and expressed myself physically. And it just led to when, one day, I was banging my guitar around making noises and I banged it on this ceiling in this club and the neck broke off, because Rickenbackers are made out of cardboard. And everybody started to laugh and they went, ‘Hah, that’ll teach you to be flash.’ So I thought what I was going to do, and I had no other recourse but to make it look like I had meant to do it. So I smashed this guitar and jumped all over the bits and then picked up the 12-tring and carried on as though nothing had happened. And the next day the place was packed. It turned into another form of expression for me: it was a gimmick of course. It is a very physical thing to be a stand up guitar player - and the way you feel and the way you move and the way you move your body is a big part of it; the fact that to sometimes pull a string up by the right amount you have to give it some momentum, so that you can’t play sitting down in the way you can play standing up. And so for me all that macho stuff became and expression.
I’ve never had any respect really for the guitar. I’ve respected guitar players of course and I understand their need for a good instrument but for years and years I didn’t care what the guitar was like.

Question: Do you still feel that way?

PT: A little less now. I’ve got a couple of really nice instruments and I enjoy playing them. I would never take them anywhere near a stage.

Question: To your knowledge were you the first to use controlled feedback?

PT: To tell the truth, Dave Davies, Jeff (Beck) and me have got a tacit agreement that we will all squabble ‘til the day we die that we invented it. I think possibly the truth is that it was happening in a lot of places at once. As the level went up, as people started to use bigger amps, and we were all still using semi-acoustic instruments, it started to happen quite naturally. I think the development of it was the word was around the street and then Lennon used it at the beginning of that record I Feel Fine and then it became quite common and a lot of people started to use it.

Question: How did you happen to choose a Rickenbacker?

PT: I liked the look of it, I think because The Beatles were using them. They picked theirs up in Germany, they were real German ones. I stayed with Rickenbackers for a long time and then I started to use Fenders. I never liked Gibsons at all - I still don’t very much (laughs). Then I started to get interested in a wide variety of guitars. I just tried anything that was around. I tried a Grimshaw for a while which is an English guitar. I tried a semi-acoustic Gibson ES335, I flitted around a lot and then Hendrix came along and I started to use Strats again. But that didn’t last long because the sound of them wasn’t quite right for what I wanted. And then Henry at Manny’s (music store in New York) introduced me to a guitar which had just come out. I don’t know what you call them; it was a thin crimson-coloured guitar…
Question: Would you say your guitar work on the Live At Leeds album was as good as anything you had done to that point?

PT: There was some nice stuff there. I don’t know what possessed me to actually start to play like that. I suppose it just must have been the influence of Hendrix. Because up to that point I just wasn’t interested in single-note work. It seemed mad for me to even try to compete with the likes of Beck and Clapton and Jimmy Page. I first saw Jimmy Page when I was 14 or 15 and he was already in a professional band. He was one year older than me and he was in a professional band at 16 and he was earning 30 pounds a week when I was just still in school. He was playing really fast stuff and Ritchie Blackmore was in a heavy pop band like a Ventures-type outfit. You would just listen to records like that open-mouthed at the time. But at one particular time after Hendrix I decided it was worth trying to express myself through single note work. I think a lot of the help was when Henry introduced me to the SG. It fitted my sound and had a lyrical quality to it because the neck was so uncluttered at the top you could play high.
Question: Is there anyone you haven’t worked with you’d like to?

PT: For along time I wanted to work with Todd Rundgren and I asked him to produce my solo album which he agreed to do. And then I suddenly realised it probably wasn’t a good idea because we’re so alike in a lot of ways. I would like to work with him. I think he’s a better guitar player than me and a better singer but I think what really worried me about the prospect of him producing my solo album was that I’m influenced by him enough as it is. Do you understand? And I like the way I’m influenced by him at the moment.

I think on Sister Disco there are some influences. And I listen to his music all the time and enjoy his production work. I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing or not but I decided it probably wouldn’t be a good thing to work with him.
I like working with The Who. On the Tommy soundtrack album which I directed I worked with all kinds of people. And I do a lot of production work on every level - documentary level, demo level, finished production.

* Top 50 comedy sketches of all time, as picked by Nerve and IFC.

* "Man gets tired of himself. Man is obsessed with himself. I would like some day to capture a moment of life in its full violence, its full beauty. That would be the ultimate painting." -- Francis Bacon

April 9, 2008

Cut out the struggle and strife
It's such a complicated life

Howard Hodgkin, Hello, 2008

Four Poems by Klipschutz:

The Odds

Randomness is full of patterns - Keith Devlin (The Math Guy)

Hillary can’t win
Obama can’t win
McCain can’t win

Richardson couldn’t win
Edwards couldn’t win or lose
Dodd couldn’t even show

Kucinich couldn’t win
Huckabee couldn’t win
Brownback – there’s low and then there’s low

[We don’t traffic in malarkey
8 to 5 2 out of 3 divided by
Either you can win or you can’t]

Romney couldn’t win
Brownback tried to sneak back in
Gore won but acted like he lost

Nader can’t win
Gravel can’t win
Schwarzenegger can’t even run

Even Duncan Hunter
couldn’t tell himself
from Duncan Hines

Hubert Humphrey’s dead
The O’Donnell/Trump ticket polled okay
till she suctioned off then swallowed his toupee

Guilliani can’t dance
Bloomberg won’t commit
George Clooney has to put that Fabio thing behind him first before...

P.Diddy can’t win
Vanilla Ice melted years ago
Mary K. Blige won a Grammy, that’s a start

Is Robert Downey, Jr. out of jail these days?
He can’t win
but he might know who could

The Tax Cut Chain Store Massacre

He may not be right but he’s in charge,
working, and not for food. Is anybody right?
Everybody thinks they are (right),
only not everybody is (in charge).

A man should use his elbows, serve his flag,
grow spherical, and though she came out wrong
stand beside his daughter and her “friend.”

He doesn’t have to be right, only think he is,
and be in charge, not nice, while staying alive.

He doesn’t have to be a Bee Gee, or roll with 50, just alive.

Upon Reading that the Project for the New American Century's
Ten-Point Plan is Now Available in Chinese

Those frail and ancient leaders
of the People’s Republic,

how they wither ornamentally,
how like the moon they wane,

before our senators
can recognize their names.

In Defense of Plagiarism

Without it there would be no
"My Sweet Lord."

April 8, 2008

in the perfect water
she never felt so free

Frank Lavelle, Budapest Swimmer

* DCB chimes in at the Joos message board (excerpt):

let me turn to some jooish shoes:

1. Tom Sugden at the Corduroy Suit webpage. He informs me that he would like to hand the reins over to someone in the world. Anyone? I'm not sure what to do about this. Perhaps there is a young web archivist out there whose destiny is to see this and contact him.

2. I'd like to thank Robbie Clark of Lexington, KY for assuming command of the myspace page.

3. There is an Arizona Record t-shirt coming out soon that's designed to replace sound with stitching.

4. Cassie's solo album...is something.

5. That's what I'm talking about when i'm talking about google purity.

6. Imagine speaking in pure "no results". past-future tense

7. I have a list of things to do just like you. Mine says "call mom" and "mow yard", too.

8. I am so psyched to have the Monotonix open for us in England and Germany.
This seems to prove that we are not a real rock band. A real rock band would never
arrange to follow the Monotonix..

9.I placed a glass building on a hill in Tennessee.

10. I hope you are springing to life on april 7th 2008-

11. eleven is the wierdest number.

* Video of Mike Wallace's January 4, 1958 interview of Jean Seberg from the collection at the University of Texas' Harry Ransom Center.

* Excellent read: Brad Pitt Whipped Me Into Shape, by Mikel Jollett, of The Airborne Toxic Event.

* "A lie hides the truth. A story tries to find it." -- Paula Fox

April 7, 2008

You can walk, you can talk just like me
You can look, tell me what you see

Peter Hujar, Girl in My Hallway, 1976

* Los Angeles Times:

"This week, the Pentagon declassified a 2003 memo in which a Justice Department lawyer essentially told the U.S. military that it could subject suspected terrorists to harsh treatment as long as it didn't cause 'death, organ failure or permanent damage.' If that bloodless phraseology seems familiar, it's because this memo from then-Deputy Assistant Atty. Gen. John C. Yoo echoed an earlier document he drafted for the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel that came to be known as the 'torture memo.'

"Both memos were later rescinded, but their poisonous legacy lives on in the Bush administration's continuing insistence that CIA interrogators may use 'enhanced' interrogation methods that are off limits to their military counterparts. Only last month, President Bush vetoed legislation that would require the intelligence agency to abide by the Army Field Manual, which prohibits military interrogators from using waterboarding and other techniques that most reasonable people would consider torture. The manual was revised after the scandal at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, where inmates were brutalized by U.S. personnel.

"In the 2003 memo, Yoo suggested that because the United States was at war with terrorists, military interrogators could subject suspected terrorists to mistreatment that might be criminal if engaged in by a civilian. He wrote that 'we do not believe that Congress enacted general criminal provisions such as the prohibitions against assault, maiming, interstate stalking and torture pursuant to any express authority that would allow it to infringe on the president's constitutional control over the operation of the armed forces in wartime.' Or as another constitutional lawyer, Richard Nixon, put it in a post-Watergate interview: 'Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.'

"Anticipating Bush's statement about the need for unspecified enhanced interrogation techniques, Yoo's memo recounts the horrible events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the inhuman acts of the 9/11 conspirators. But as Arizona Sen. John McCain eloquently argued during his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, this country shouldn't descend to the depravity of its enemies. 'It's not about the terrorists,' McCain said, 'it's about us.'

"Indefensibly, McCain voted against the legislation to require the CIA to abide by the Army Field Manual. Although Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) weren't present for the vote, they endorsed the legislation. If nothing else, the belated outcry over the Yoo memo should strengthen the resolve of Congress to force the president to make good on his promise that 'we do not torture' by sending this legislation back to him again until he signs it or it is approved over his veto."

* 20 'creative' ways people have smuggled drugs and have been caught.

* An essay on indie rock guitars.

* "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." -- Jimi Hendrix

April 4, 2008

a shot rang out in the Memphis sky

Robert Shetterly, MLK

The Sound
-- by kim addonizio

Marc says the suffering that we don't see
still makes a sort of sound -- a subtle, soft
noise, nothing like the cries of screams that we
might think of -- more the slight scrape of a hat doffed
by a quiet man, ignored as he stands back
to let a lovely woman pass, her dress
just brushing his coat. Or else it's like a crack
in an old foundation, slowly widening, the stress
and slippage going on unnoticed by
the family upstairs, the daughter leaving
for a date, her mother's resigned sigh
when she sees her. It's like the heaving
of a stone into a lake, before it drops.
It's shy, it's barely there. It never stops.

-- by Gregory Corso

is Life
It flows thru
the death of me
like a river
of becoming
the sea

Current Events
-- by Jim Harrison

I'm a brownish American who wonders
if civilization can be glued together with blood.
The written word is no longer understood.
We've had dogs longer than governments.
Millions of us must travel to Washington
and not talk but bark like dogs.
We must practice our barking and in unison
raise a mighty bark. The sun turns amber
and they're opening the well-oiled gates of hell.

-- by Robert Lowell

History has to live with what was here,
clutching and close to fumbling all we had--
it is so dull and gruesome how we die,
unlike writing, life never finishes.
Abel was finished; death is not remote,
a flash-in-the-pan electrifies the skeptic,
his cows crowding like skulls against high-voltage wire,
his baby crying all night like a new machine.
As in our Bibles, white-faced, predatory,
the beautiful, mist-drunken hunter's moon ascends--
a child could give it a face: two holes, two holes,
my eyes, my mouth, between them a skull's no-nose--
O there's a terrifying innocence in my face
drenched with the silver salvage of the mornfrost.

April 3, 2008

I bought a first class ticket on Malaysian Air
And landed in Sri Lanka none the worse for wear
I'm thinking of retiring from all my dirty deals
I'll see you in the next life, wake me up for meals

Armen Eloyan, Smoking Boy, 2008

* Understatement of the Year: Bush appears out of touch on U.S. economic woes. excerpt:

"The first hint that President George W. Bush might be detached from the nation's economic woes was in February, when he conceded that he had not heard about predictions of $4-a-gallon gasoline.

"Then Bush went to Wall Street to warn against 'massive government intervention in the housing markets,' two days before his administration helped broker the takeover of the investment bank Bear Stearns.

"Now Bush is in Eastern Europe, one of eight foreign trips he is taking this year. As he delivered his farewell address to NATO on Wednesday, Senate Democrats and Republicans were scrambling to produce a bill to help struggling homeowners, the kind of government intervention Bush had cautioned against.

"For a man who came into office as America's first MBA president, Bush has sometimes seemed invisible during the housing and credit crunch. As the economy eclipses Iraq as the top issue on most voters' minds, even some Republican allies of the president say Bush is being eclipsed and is in danger of looking out of touch."

* Interesting exhibit opens in New York. Included are works by:

With works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Leonard Cohen, David Berman, Ted Berrigan, Joe Brainard, R. Crumb, Henry Darger, Marcel Duchamp, Kenneth Koch, David Mamet, Quenton Miller, Alice Notley, Ron Padgett, Raymond Pettibon, Dan Perjovschi, Amy Jean Porter, Steve Powers, Royal Art Lodge, Peter Saul, George Schneeman, Olga Scholten, David Shrigley, Shel Silverstein, Nedko Solakov, Ralph Steadman, William Steig, Saul Steinberg, and Kurt Vonnegut, and many others. April 2 though May 10, 2008 @ Apexart, 291 Church Street (near White).

* Stephen Malkmus makes the best of an interview on Fox News.

* "Religion can never reform mankind because religion is slavery." -- Robert Ingersoll

April 2, 2008

I gotta get away from this day-to-day running around

Lisa Oppenheim, The Sun Is Always Setting Somewhere Else, 2006

This Life
-- by Grace Paley

My friend tells me
a man in my house jumped off the roof
the roof is the eighth floor of this building
the roof door was locked how did he manage?
his girlfriend had said goodbye I'm leaving
he was 22
his mother and father were hurrying
at that very moment
from upstate to help him move out of Brooklyn
they had heard about the girl

the people who usually look up
and call jump jump did not see him
the life savers who creep around the back staircases
and reach the roof's edge just in time
never got their chance he meant it he wanted
only one person to know

did he imagine that she would grieve
all her young life away tell everyone
this boy I kind of lived with last year
he died on account of me

my friend was not interested he said you're always
inventing stuff what I want to know how could he throw
his life away how do these guys do it
just like that and here I am fighting this
ferocious insane vindictive virus day and
night day and night and for what? for only
one thing this life this life

-- by Grace Paley

Here I am in the garden laughing
an old woman with heavy breasts
and a nicely mapped face

how did this happen
well that's who I wanted to be

at last a woman
in the old style sitting
stout thighs apart under
a big skirt grandchild sliding
on off my lap a pleasant
summer perspiration

that's my old man across the yard
he's talking to the meter reader
he's telling him the world's sad story
how electricity is oil or uranium
and so forth I tell my grandson
run over to your grandpa ask him
to sit beside me for a minute I
am suddenly exhausted by my desire
to kiss his sweet explaining lips.

-- by Gregory Corso

What simple profundities
What profound simplicities
To sit down among the trees
and breathe with them
in murmur brool and breeze —

And how can I trust them
who pollute the sky
with heavens
the below with hells

Well, humankind,
I’m part of you
and so my son

but neither of us
will believe
your big sad lie

April 1, 2008

At 4am, a wrong answer hovers right outside the door

artist unknown, via neoist impulse

* Found in the Margins interviews Will Oldham. excerpt:

Q: Growing up, how did reading play into your life? How did these books help you grow?

WO: I believe that reading has always been integral to my thinking and living. Only books and writing give God validity; it's much easier for there to be one God in the written language. More fun to have multiple gods if we are only speaking.

When you say growing up, I must guess that you mean as a small child? I remember most the books of Ezra Jack Keats and Maurice Sendak, then Ellen Raskin and Roald Dahl. There was a book I liked called The Witches Of Worm. My fifth-grade teacher read to us, from Bram Stoker and Agatha Christie. I liked Harold and the Purple Crayon. I liked the covers and titles of the Hardy Boys books, but the stories were dull. Then in high school I remember reading books like On The Road, Interview With The Vampire, Crime and Punishment, One Hundred Years of Solitude. I read the James Bond books, the Kurt Vonnegut books, and All the King’s Men. I'm sure I forget many of the books that our culture does not remind me of in the passing years.

Q: What are your favorite books? What are the books you re-read?

WO: In the past decade I think my favorite writers are probably Charles Willeford, Ian MacMillan, Mohammed Mrabet and Knut Hamsun. I feel very very at-home when I read their language. I am not sure that I have ever re-read a book; at least I cannot think of one now that I have re-read.

Q: What are you reading now?

WO: In the morning I am reading an account of the lives of a family from Kentucky who traveled to Hawaii and the Marquesas in the 1830's as missionaries. This book is from a limited printing, and was distributed primarily or exclusively to family members. I found it in my grandparents' collection. The main subject of the book, William Patterson Alexander, was my great grandmother's great-uncle!

In the afternoon I am reading a book called Fig Tree John by Edwin Corle. The book is fiction, about an Apache in desert California around what we used to call the turn of the century.

And at night I am reading Teach Yourself: Islam. In between, I am trying to read snippets of a sailing instruction manual, a book about local (Northern California) plant life, and a book about food that pushes the eating of animal products, specifically fats and organs.

Q: What is it that you most enjoy about these books? Is it the characters, the plot, the authors' writing styles?

WO: Maybe style is the most important, or most appealing, part of the equation. But structure and character are essential as well. If it is an instructional book, the assumed protagonist is myself and if the author can't keep me interested in THAT, they're fucked.

Q: Do the characters or resonating themes from the books you read ever make their way into your songs?

WO: I am sure in the past they have...or really that style has. I can't say that themes from what I read make their way into songs, at least not as much as from themes distilled by other songs or movies. I only stick with a book if it resonates, and it only resonates if the themes are bubbling inside me in some way to begin with.

Q: As a lyricist, do you enjoy reading poetry?

WO: As a rule, with the accompanying exceptions, no.

Q: Do you find your writing style and storytelling is inspired by books you read?

WO: Yes. I love to read writers with a style my brain can catch up with, because it helps me get up to speed when I try to flesh out an idea. The big beacons from my now distant past would be hammerheads like Kerouac (On The Road, Tristessa, The Subterraneans), Cormac McCarthy (Blood Meridian), Faulkner (Intruder in the Dust and Sanctuary). These are writers that I find I have had to painfully, at times, bend my thinking patterns to get the most out of the work; once the patterns are bent, new ways of expressing come forward. As I get older and more practiced, I hope that I can read someone along the lines of Truman Capote and somehow access his incredible way of getting an image or idea across. Or Mark Twain. I am using big obvious examples, because it would not be helpful to a reader for me to reference the more perverse or obscure in order to make a point.

Q: What type of non-fiction do you read?

WO: I grew up imagining that I would always be an actor. When I got to be about 18, I started to really know that acting was not what I had imagined it to be. And yet there are some few actors who personify, against odds, some of the potential I saw in that life. I like to read books about these people. Warren Beatty, Burt Lancaster, Humphrey Bogart, Marlon Brando, Harvey Keitel. If there was a book by or about Holly Hunter, I would read it. If I could find the Living Theater book by Julian Beck, I would read it. I like to read books by or about certain musicians whose lives I hold up as example. Merle Haggard, Peggy Lee, Elvis Presley, Roky Erikson. Life has been a long time, even so far, and it is so hard to remember all of the books. The Harpo Marx autobiography was a huge favorite. I liked Mikal Gilmore's book about his family (Shot in the Heart). I like to read books about Hawaii, and by extension Polynesia. I think this is because my mother was born in Honolulu and also because the Mekons (1950’s British comics) and Bugs Bunny got me into the Bounty story (a history of the true mutiny of the HMS Bounty in 1789).

* Twofer Tuesday: Red Kitchen, hailing from Quebec City, via Los Angeles. According to their myspace page, Red Kitchen sounds like "A Verbatim Recital of Herbert Hoover's 1929 Presidential Acceptance Speech."

Two songs from their upcoming album, The Second Person:

-- 4 am

-- Still Life From Courtroom

* "By definition, a government has no conscience. Sometimes it has a policy, but nothing more." -- Albert Camus