May 30, 2008

You are a book for me to read
Line after line I read on and on
You are a film for me to see
A string of frames that just goes on and on and on

Peter Wegner, Buildings Made of Sky, 2007

Progress Report
-- by Leonard Nathan

The trees won't talk; but we've got instruments
To get the truth. Old omens of the air
Mean birds are hungry, here as everywhere,
And speak, if forced to, in present tense.
This took eternity and some expense
To verify. Gods, never really there,
Reduce to heros dying for a share
In prospects disconnected and immense.

Symbols, like homespun drugs, were handy things,
But facts are good as guns. And then there's you --
No priestess circled by sacramental wings
From Cythea, but a girl well suited to the act;
And what's to be done with nature? Nothing new.
We'll dream in symbols, wake up in cold fact.

-- by James Tate

We were just a couple of drifters
on this planet of
some off billion customers
open all night. She was always
loving and attentive
but made
what I considered
an abnormal number of morbid references,
so that at times I felt like fungus.
Meanwhile, we drank and smoked
and listened to country music.
She died in her room
and I in mine.

-- by José Angel Araguz

I made up a story for myself once,
That each glove I lost
Was sent to my father in prison

That's all it would take for him
To chart my growth without pictures,
Without words or visits,

Only colors and design,
Texture; it was ok then
For skin to chafe and ash,

To imagine him
Trying on a glove,
Stretching it out

My open palm closing
And disappearing
In his fist.

May 29, 2008

The type of memories
that turns your bones to glass

Howard Greenberg, Untitled, 2004

* From a December 21, 1965 interview of Robert Rauschenberg:

Interviewer: Perhaps the word hero slips in there because at this time there was a kind of attitude among a number of the artists of taking a rather heroic stance. Perhaps, this is really something that the critics opposed almost more than the artists, but there was a feeling of the artist having a role outside of society, let's say, and sometimes it could become almost a Messianic role with certain artists. This was not, of course, general. It was part of the attitude that emerged. As you were sitting in club meetings at the Cedar Bar, listening to discussions of that more rebellious attitude, that feeling that the artist has a special role to oppose the demands and the ways of a commercial, materialistic society, can you remember any particular feelings that you had? Or ways in which you expressed them to yourself or to anybody else at that time?

RR: Well, I don't know how accurately I remember. It was certainly a lot more complicated and I felt more involved than probably my generalization about it now. But I was in awe of the painters; I mean I was new in New York, and I thought the painting that was going on here was just unbelievable. I still think that Bill de Kooning is one of the greatest painters in the world. And I liked Jack Tworkov, himself and his work. And Franz Kline. But I found a lot of artists at the Cedar Bar were difficult for me to talk to. It almost seemed as though there were so many more of them sharing some common idea than there was of me, and at that time the people who gave me encouragement in my work weren't so much the painters, even my contemporaries, but a group of musicians that were working: Morton Feldman, and John Cage, and Earl Brown, and the dancers that were around this group. I felt very natural with them. There was something about the self assertion of abstract expressionism that personally always put me off, because at that time my focus was as much in the opposite direction as it could be. I was busy trying to find ways where the imagery and the material and the meanings of the painting would be not an illustration of my will but more like an unbiased documentation of my observations, and by observations I mean that literally of my excitement about the way in the city you have on one lot a forty story building and right next to it you have a little wooden shack. One is a parking lot and one is this maze of offices and closets and windows where everything is so crowded. And I remember I was talking to someone about this one time, and they said well, you know, parking lots are the most valuable real estate in New York City because there's absolutely no overhead. And I thought this is so absurd, all these officious looking buildings and actually, the best business would be not to have a building at all. I'm getting a little off the subject now.

Interviewer: No, I think that's fascinating, Bob.

RR: It was this constant, irrational juxtaposition of things that I think one only finds in the city. One doesn't find that in the
country. I had traveled quite a lot in Europe just previously and I didn't find it there either. There's a kind of an architectural
harmony. Whether it's chauvinism or patriotism anyway, there's something that tended to unite the people. And so everything
abroad that I came in contact with was so much more coherent or cohesive than I found New York. And I think that even today, New York still has more of this unexpected quality around every corner than any place else. It's something quite extraordinary.

Interviewer: Yes. Are there particular sections of the city that appeal to you more than others?

RR: Well, I like way downtown near the Battery. I lived down there at this time and for, I guess, the following well, this is where I moved to uptown and I've been here for four years and this is 1965. And this is as far uptown as I've lived except for one period in my life when my wife was carrying my son and under the insistence of my mother in law we got a ground floor apartment and lived sensibly for about a year or a year and a half. But I like that area down there because maybe there the contract is even more emphasized; it's more dramatic. On one side of town you have the largest pet store in New York, with all kinds of wonderful animals. At that time they had the Washington Market; that was the only one in the city where you could get all kinds of fresh vegetables and meat. It was like a farmer's market and imported cheeses. Then, right within the same block they had wholesale plant places. The flower district is up around 26th Street, but this was a different kind of area. And in the next block they had surplus hardware stores galore. And electronic equipment. And then across town, you had the Fulton fish market. The two were separated only by big business. And during the day, the streets would be so filled with people that it looked like an ant hill that had just been kickedtrover. And then Bam at six o'clock you could hear footsteps three blocks away. And the buildings were the tallest there. I always like being close to water if I have the choice. And if the roasting of coffee wasn't too strong, you could always smell the fish market. I think that is a very rich part of town.
Interviewer: Coming back to the other thing that you mentioned that you had been at that time very closely associated with John Cage and with other musicians I know that many people have assumed that because of your association, that accident and a philosophy, an outlook of accident was important to your work, since it had apparently been in Cage's. And I gather that this was not your feeling, that you were once quoted as saying that you didn't believe in accident any more than anything else. Was that a strongly developed attitude?

RR: I was very interested in many of John's chance operations. Each one seemed quite unique to me. I liked the sense of experimentation that he was involved in. But painting is just a different medium and I never could figure out an interesting way to use any kind of programmed activity. And even though chance deals with the unexpected and the unplanned, it still has to be organized before it can exist. I think maybe chance works better in a situation like music because music exists over a period of time, and you don't maintain constantly the you can't refer back from one area to another area. One's familiarity or lack of familiarity with time is very different from, say, the size of a canvas, which is what I would compare it to. One can see that a canvas is six feet by eight feet, say, quite accurately. But you can spend two minutes and think it's five, or thirty seconds and it's just a different bed for activities there. The only thing that I could get with chance, and I never was able to use it, was that I would end up with something quite geometric or the spirit that I was interested in, indulging in, was gone. I felt as though I was carrying out an idea rather than witnessing an unknown idea taking shape. If this is called accident I certainly used accident, and I certainly used the fact that wet paint will run, and lots of other things. It seems to me it's just a kind of friendly relationship with your material where you want them for what they are rather than for what you could make out of them. I did a twenty foot print and John Cage is involved in that because he was the only person I knew in New York who had a car and who would be willing to do this. And I poured paint on one Sunday morning. I glued, it must have been fifty sheets of paper together; it was the largest paper I had, and stretched it out on the street. He had an A Model Ford then and he drove through the paint and on to the paper and he only had the direction to try to stay on the paper. And he did a beautiful job of it. Now I consider that my print. It's just like working with lithography. You may not be a qualified printer but there again, like the driver of the car, someone who does know the press very well collaborates with you and they are part of the machinery just as you are part of another necessary aspect that it takes to make anything. Would you call that accident?

* Twofer Thursday: Charlie Mcalister edition. If you like Jandek, Daniel Johnson, Neutral Milk Hotel or other similar artists, you'll love Charlie Mcalister. This is some of the best previously unknown to me music I've heard in a while. I have no idea what the real song titles are, the song titles below I made up (If anyone knows the actual titles please advise).

-- Fabulous Career

-- Staying Here

* "What this country needs is more free speech worth listening to." -- Hansell B. Duckett

May 28, 2008

the tears on her cheeks are from laughter

Sarah Wilmer, My Brother Max

The New Math
-- by Klipschutz

I never understood the New Math,
and to be honest, I’m still not certain
what it even is (or has it been replaced
by a New to the Second Power Math),
though I’ve always liked the phrase
"cooking the books." There’s
a cartoon in there somewhere,
an author at the stove, wearing mitts,
with a casserole made out of…

Hillary is smarter than me.
She understands both concepts,
inside out, upside down and backwards,
but when her people sit the rules committee down
to explain, they will be explaining
to people like me, who only know
that two plus two is four,
and who will shake their hands
and show them to the door.

- by Pam Brown

every grief
can be traced
in the wind
the gingko trees
in the square.

this city
has a
regressive effect,
my handwriting
begins to resemble
art nouveau.

in late afternoon
the only thing
that’s moving here
is time.

Another Good Sign
-- by Melanie Hubbard

One day your boss
will write an opera. Meanwhile,
les trés riches heures file by—
they give each other

head in the break room, tousle
the fine, sandy-colored hay

they never comb. Welcome home.
At least they’re having fun

in the end zone. The victorious
hours butt heads, their backs against

the louvered closet doors, which cant
off their hinges.

May 27, 2008

The piano has been drinking
My necktie is asleep
And the combo went back to New York
The jukebox has to take a leak

Terry Winters, Field of View, 1993

* New York Times:

"President Bush opposes a new G.I. Bill of Rights. He worries that if the traditional path to college for service members since World War II is improved and expanded for the post-9/11 generation, too many people will take it.

"He is wrong, but at least he is consistent. Having saddled the military with a botched, unwinnable war, having squandered soldiers’ lives and failed them in so many ways, the commander in chief now resists giving the troops a chance at better futures out of uniform. He does this on the ground that the bill is too generous and may discourage re-enlistment, further weakening the military he has done so much to break.

"So lavish with other people’s sacrifices, so reckless in pouring the national treasure into the sandy pit of Iraq, Mr. Bush remains as cheap as ever when it comes to helping people at home."
"Mr. Bush — and, to his great discredit, Senator John McCain — have argued against a better G.I. Bill, for the worst reasons. They would prefer that college benefits for service members remain just mediocre enough that people in uniform are more likely to stay put."
"Their reasoning is flawed since the C.B.O. has also predicted that the bill would offset the re-enlistment decline by increasing new recruits — by 16 percent. The chance of a real shot at a college education turns out to be as strong a lure as ever. This is good news for our punishingly overburdened volunteer army, which needs all the smart, ambitious strivers it can get.

"This page strongly supports a larger, sturdier military. It opposes throwing ever more money at the Pentagon for defense programs that are wasteful and poorly conceived. But as a long-term investment in human capital, in education and job training, there is no good argument against an expanded, generous G.I. Bill.

"By threatening to veto it, Mr. Bush is showing great consistency of misjudgment. Congress should forcefully show how wrong he is by overriding his opposition and spending the money — an estimated $52 billion over 10 years, a tiniest fraction of the ongoing cost of Mr. Bush’s Iraq misadventure.

"As partial repayment for the sacrifice of soldiers in a time of war, a new, improved G.I. Bill is as wise now as it was in 1944."

* Bobybuiding gone wild.

* From a 2002 article on Will Oldham. excerpt:

"With Oldham, it seems, all that matters are the songs. Which is why it often seems that he is the only person who is doing something new, something now, with the idea of the song - including sometimes stretching it to breaking point. A Will Oldham song - any Will Oldham song you care to choose - will sound both familiar and utterly alien. It will sound both old and new, fully formed and a little bit broken, complete and somehow unfinished. It will intrigue you and maybe even baffle you and it may well annoy you. The titles alone give some indication of his singular approach. Here is a random selection: 'You Will Miss Me When I Burn', 'Be Still And Know God (And Don't Be Shy)', 'I Tried To Stay Healthy For You', 'Rich Wife Full Of Happiness' and, last but not least, 'You Have Cum On Your Hair (And Your Dick Is Hanging Out)' - which, as the title suggests, is a love song for our times.

"Perhaps because of his elusiveness, Oldham has become a cult artist constantly on the cusp of crossover. Next week, without fanfare, he has sold out the Barbican as part of their Further Beyond Nashville festival. Last year, he was acknowledged by the ailing Johnny Cash, who recorded one of Oldham's best and darkest songs, 'I See A Darkness'. Oldham's fans include Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, who has recorded with him, and Harmony Korine, the maverick filmmaker who gave him a cameo in his last film, Julien Donkey-Boy.

"For all that, he remains the most mysterious figure in contemporary American music, someone whose increasingly rare interviews often reveal nothing so much as their interrogators' fumbled attempts to get a handle on him. Oldham hates interviews. 'What are they for?' he asks me. 'They have nothing to do with the music. It's usually people asking a bunch of weird questions like, "Why are the songs so slow?" Well, maybe because they are. Because that's how we play them. Because I wrote them at a less rapid pace. It's always why, why why? Why everything? And the answer to 'why' is because it just is. Things just are.'"

* "This is a nation that has lost the ability to be self-critical, and that makes a lie out of the freedoms." -- Joni Mitchell

May 23, 2008

I'm staying here because of my friends
I'm staying here because of the beer
Because of my friends and the beer
I am staying here

Krista Steinke, the rabbit was in the field, eating all the grass, 2006

Three poems by Frank Stanford:


The moon wanders through my barn
Like a widow heading for the county seat

It's not dark here yet
I'm just waiting for the bow hunters
So I can run them off

They put out licks on my land
Every summer

When it gets cool the animals are tame

I've fallen asleep
In the trees before

I dreamed someone's horse
Had wandered out on the football field
To graze
And I was showing children through a museum

The bow hunters make their boys
Pull the deer's tongue out bare-handed

At dusk when I hear an arrow
Coming through my field like a bird
I wonder what men have learned
From feathers

The animals wade the creek
And eat blackberries
The wind blows through the trees
Like a woman on a raft

Death In The Cool Evening

I move
Like the deer in the forest
I see you before you
See me
We are like the moist rose
Which opens alone
When I'm dreaming
I linger by the pool of many seasons
Suddenly it is night
Time passes like the shadows
That were not
There when you lifted your head
Dreams leave their hind tracks
Something red and warm to go by
So it is the hunters of this world
Close in.


Is a word
That must be
Like a sword
That has worn out
The scabbard

May 22, 2008

I came so far for beauty
I left so much behind
My patience and my family
My masterpiece unsigned

William Eggleston, Top Secret

* The Washington City Paper selected Tuscaloosa by The Foreign Press for this week's One Track Mind column.

* YouTube video of Nico's first single: I'm Not Saying.

* Marc Masters, author of No Wave, will be reading in San Francisco this week:

-- Saturday May 24, 2pm - FREE
@ Amoeba Music, 1855 Haight St., S.F.
NO WAVE book signing and DJ set w/Marc Masters & Weasel Walter

-- Saturday May 24, 9pm - $6-10 donation
@ 21 Grand, 416 25th St, Oakland
NO WAVE reading, discussion, and music w/Marc Masters & Weasel Walter
plus performances by DEATH SENTENCE: PANDA and ETTRICK

-- Sunday May 25, 5pm - 7pm, $6
@ ATA, 992 Valencia St at 21st., S.F.
NO WAVE reading and videos w/Marc Masters & Weasel Walter

* "Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible." -- Frank Zappa

May 21, 2008

You say it's your birthday
It's my birthday too

Alice Neel, Kenneth Fearing, 1935

The World War Speaks
-- by Sandra Beasley

When I was born, two incisors
had already come through the gum.
They gave me a silver bell to chew on,
brought me home in a wicker basket,
and kept me by the stove's coal heat.
Every morning my mother boiled
a huge vat of mustard greens,
steam drifting over to my crib and
after a few hours, souring into a gas.
I breathed it all in. I began to walk
so they fitted me with braces.
I began to run, so they fitted me
with books: Mars, hydrogen, Mongolia.
I learned to dig a deeper kind of ditch.
I learned to start a fire in three minutes.
I learned to sharpen a pencil into
a bayonet. Sometimes at night
I'd sneak into the house of our neighbors,
into the hall outside their bedroom,
and watch as they moved over each
other like slow, moonlit fish.
Sometimes my mother would comb
my father's hair with her fingertips,
but that was it. They wanted an only
child: the child to end all children.

Love Poem for College
-- by Sandra Beasley

You hit on me. You hit on everyone.
You pour gallons of lightning punch
into a trash bag, explaining that sobriety
is just a 2 AM Waffle House away.
You are always under construction.
The earth shall be inherited by your trucks.
Every semester brings new commandments.
Your blackboards are suspiciously green.
You pop your collar. You roll your skirt.
You tell me you don’t care, then you
sneak off to the stall on the third floor
and throw up. You hit me, once.
You hit everyone, once. You
streak the Chancellor’s house.
You steal beakers from Chem class.
When you say you are sorry,
you mean you’ve left your heart out
on the train tracks again. Later
we will all wonder if you were
the best of us, but you were probably
just the most frantic. We swarmed
like fireflies in our jar before someone
lifted the lid off. We pierced the sky
with our panting, involuntary light.

-- by Sandra Beasley

I woke and you were weeping
as a child does, hot and senseless
from the dream. You refused
to be touched, shielding your face
from a bad sun, which was me,
or the camera, which was me.
You hate the body’s sweat
and hangnails, its pump and fade,
rubbing at your turnpike veins
as if to stop their thick traffic.
The first time we touched I felt
horses penned under your skin—
their restless breath, the push
of their hooves. I love you
for not running but understand,
I would love you for running.

May 20, 2008

Everything changed nothing
The children dressed in dreams
Culture craves corruption
Sunlight likes to scream

Adrienne Funk, Recycle, 2008

* Drag City has posted scans of David Berman's drawings/lyrics relating to Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea. [via]

* From Harper's June 2008:

-- Minimum number of U.S. Army generals fired or replaced for cause during World War II: 23

-- Number during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined: 1

-- Pages of ads that a company must buy each year in Good Housekeeping in order to win its seal of approval: 1

-- Chance that a French man aged 18 to 24 is "uninterested in sex," according to a government study: 1 in 5

-- Percentage of Republicans and Democrats, respectively, who believe in Hell: 69, 52

-- Percentage of independents who do: 45

* Check out this fantastic short film by Blu: "an ambiguous animation painted on public walls. Made in Buenos Aires and in Baden."

* On June 7 I will be running in the Kormen National Race for the Cure as part of Team Martha. Whether you know Martha or not, please consider donating to this excellent cause. You can donate here. Thanks.

* "I dream a lot. I do more painting when I'm not painting. It's in the subconscious." -- Andrew Wyeth

May 19, 2008

I'm looking back and I can't see the past
Anymore so, hazy

Happy Birthday Pete!

Special: Monday Poetry:

The Nikean Creed
-- by Klipschutz

Everybody knows (all hail Leonard Cohen) that outrage is extinct. We wake up polysaturated, inhaling irony, perspiring bad news.

Still, when an ordained Southern Baptist minister, a seasoned public speaker, and a bass player in the rock band Capitol Offense – all the same accomplished fellow – to boot, a recent Candidate for All the Marbles, while addressing his flock of Weaponry Enthusos, hears a noise off-stage and ad libs, "That was Barack Obama. He just tripped off a chair….Somebody aimed a gun at him and he dove for the floor," unpacking the Huckabee unconscious is an embarrassment to embarrassment itself:

♦ The assumption that faced with an aimed gun, a Republican would stand proud and proclaim, "Bring it on?"

♣ The assumption that faced with an aimed gun, any self-respecting American would Open Fire?

♠ The Über-Ugly subtext of a racial-based whispering campaign of deadly harm, on behalf of the Sore Loser Caucus of the G.O.P.?

♦ The public pandering our eyes no longer see, by a Man of God to an Association that puts The Right to Bear Arms on even terms with The Sermon on the Mount?

Where have you gone, Hunter Thompson, you Kosmos, complete with contradictions (viz., the guns!), your legacy now shattered into a million little upload-happy pieces?

Take heart anyway, on borrowed faith. If the Berlin Wall can fall, the G.O.P. can face its shame, scan a page from Phil Knight’s playbook, and disband. The Whigs did. Just Do It.

* Top ten conservative idiots.

* "I've never believed in God, but I believe in Picasso." -- Diego Rivera

May 16, 2008

Meaningless like when two fireflies fluoresce

James Lofton, Confetti

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.

Tombstone as a Lonely Charm, Part 2
--by d.a. levy

you had the deepest eyes
as a child
when you cautiously looked
up at the sun
and restlessly wrote
the world's greatest poem
and your brothers
drinking in the clear water
of the universe
wrote their words with
gold on sacred blue
later they sat back
in the soft fat of their
glutted egos
& talked into eternity
about the mysteries

after the poetic-orgasm
you were still haunted
by some young girl's face

It Was Like a Date
-- by Ellen Maybe

he held doors open for me
he carried my books
he let me order first
I looked into his eyes
my stomach was a butterfly museum
we got to know each other better
I wondered if I'd see him again
a calendar shed history onto the carpet
we talked about music
silence sat atop the napkin dispensers to absorb
the shy ingredients
we sat by a window
we finished each other's exclamations
we walked through centuries to get there
the trees changed seasons
vulnerability - the soup of the minute
we found sunflowers in each other's ears
we crossed the streets our heroes lived on and
sung their eternity
there were angels in the salt and pepper shakers
I felt like upside down dancing
more a Chagall bride than a woman
more a woman than usual
of this I realized it resembled love.

May 15, 2008

Magically bored
On a quiet street corner
Free frustration
In our minds and our toes

Bradford Brenner, Lollis

* Clusterfuck Nation. excerpt:

"I was pretty disturbed eight years ago when Hillary Clinton up and announced she was running for a New York seat in the US Senate. Say what? She didn't even live here after she quit Arkansas. Why didn't she run for the single non-voting District of Columbia House of Representatives seat (in a primary against Eleanor Holmes Norton)? Why? Because Hillary is a monster of ambition.

"So, Hillary and Bill bought a piece of real estate in Westchester County, NY, and that theoretically qualified her to run for that senate seat. Of course, her move was a huge slap in the face to the 15 million or so adult native New York staters who were also theoretically entitled to run for that office -- including especially the smaller but still substantial number of New Yorkers with serious qualifications. They all rolled over for Hillary, allowing the Clintons to maintain a major power base in American government when the Big Show of Bill's White House tenure was up.

"Her run for president took off on schedule with a disturbing sense of inevitability. It was clear that she had internalized the arc of the women's movement to the the degree that the nation owed her a turn in the White House, since this was the logical symbolic destination of the Boomer political ethos: absolute equality above all other considerations -- Hillary gets to play, too! The American public seemed willing to go along with this national psychodrama. It satisfied a certain school days sense of morality. Then Barack Obama had to come along and spoil it all. The nerve of that... uppity Negro!

"Or so, apparently, Hillary would have us believe, now that her campaign has run off the rails. In awful desperation she has so much as said that the Democratic party has to nominate her because non-white people are unelectable -- forgetting for a moment that Barack Obama is as much white as he is black.

"The spectacle of Hillary's un-making has been pretty horrible to witness, the efforts to stage her as a lumpenprole Nascar mom drinking boilermakers while celebrating her latest hunting exploits. (How worried is Hillary about making her mortgage payments, or filling her gas tank?) Naturally, the final act of this nauseating play takes place in Hillbilly Heaven, the states of West Virginia and Kentucky, where Hillary expects to make a big 'statement' about exactly whom voters will go for. She'll win big and the effort will symbolically disgrace her.
"Back around the year 2000, I used to joke with my friends that Bill Clinton would return (despite the two-term limit) as Emperor Bill the 1st. He almost made it. I voted for him twice in the 1990s, but the new script addition wasn't so appetizing. It would have been one of the stranger occurrences in all of modern world history. The political 'death' of Hillary and Bill is a story of Shakespearean dimensions. It seems to be ending as farce, though. Who knows, before the day is over, Hillary may yet put on a pair of overalls with one suspender and have her picture taken sucking on a jug of moonshine likker. Of course, irony has been the Boomer's intellectual stock-in-trade.

"Whatever America's fate may be in these very trying times of peak oil and climate change, a consensus seems to have formed that we can't afford to leave the same old cast of characters running things."

* Instant rimshot.

* Tom Waits holds a press conference to announce his summer tour stops.

* "What America is, to me, is a guy doesn't want to buy, you let him not buy, you respect his not buying. A guy has a crazy notion different from your crazy notion, you pat him on the back and say hey, pal, nice crazy notion, let's go have a beer. America to me should be shouting all the time, a bunch of shouting voices, most of them wrong, some of them nuts, but, please, not just one droning glamorous reasonable voice." -- George Saunders, from the short story My Flamboyant Grandson

May 14, 2008

making false hopes rhyme

Mel Bochner, Criticize, 2007–2008

The Just
-- by Jorge Luis Borges

~ trans. by Alastair Reid

A man who cultivates his garden, as Voltaire wished.
He who is grateful for the existence of music.
He who takes pleasure in tracing an etymology.
Two workmen playing, in a cafe in the South, a silent game of chess.
The potter, contemplating a color and a form.
The typographer who sets this page well, though it may not please him.
A woman and a man, who read the last tercets of a certain canto.
He who strokes a sleeping animal.
He who justifies, or wishes to, a wrong done to him.
He who is grateful for the existence of Stevenson.
He who prefers others to be right.
These people, unaware, are saving the world.

Poem in the Manner of Paul Blackburn
-- by Gerard Malanga

Hitching up trousers
from just having gone to the can,
leaving the door purposely ajar --
beautiful young girl
suddenly rushes in without knocking --
whataya 'spect -- shocked at her surprise to find me there,
excuses herself "That's all right" I say --
in one lifetime of separate realities,
an erotic aftertaste.

In another phantasy,
she wd've stayed,
got on her knees and sucked me off.
Her head held in my hands,
My hands running through her hair

.............shows what a cup of coffee can do in the morning.

Tough Cookies
-- by Ted Berrigan

You took a wrong turn in
1938. Don't worry about it.

The sun shines brightest when
the others are sleeping.

There is a Briss in your
immediate future.

Take heart. Shakespeare was
probably an asshole too.

Your life is rare and precious
& it has no mud. Stay with it.

You have strange friends, but
they are going to be strangers.

Everything is Maya, but you
will never know it.

Your gaiety is not cowardice,
but it may be hepatitis.

May 13, 2008

mighty shredding machine
eating its meals of dirty deals

William DeBilizan, Coming to Fruition

* From a 1972 interview of Cannonball Adderley. excerpt:

Interviewer: What is your feeling about helping to continue jazz, by getting it to the kids - which I'm convinced is the only way it's going to continue?

Adderley: We're just organizing something in Los Angeles that we call the L.A. Bandwagon. We've got a committee of folks together who agree that music - not just jazz, but all kinds of artistic music should be made available to people who are not able to or old enough to go to night clubs or to colleges and universities - because of course they won't hear it anywhere else, the radio scene is a total disaster

Interviewer: Yes, the government is so sticky about who and what is on the radio, but they never screen people for good taste when it comes to music, or whatever they present.

Adderley: Well, the government doesn't have any taste. Who is going to screen it : President Nixon? Martha Mitchell? Because that's exactly who it would be if there were a screening committee. That would be the worst kind of censorship, I would never want to see a government agency designed to screen what was going out.

I wanted to set up some kind of amalgamation with the LA Bandwagon and Jazzmobile in New York, but Jazzmobile's employees seemed to think I was trying to take over, which was far from my intent, I don't want to be any kind of businessman, I don't want to be responsible for any community's music tastes; but I do feel that since I have some influence in the community where I live, so we formed a committee of which I am not a member, to organize, the LA Bandwagon, to take music all over the city.

As for jazz education, I do think it could be more comprehensive, to say the least, I've seen things such as: "Jazz Artist In Residence: Pete Fountain" which is criminal under the circumstances, I don't mean to cast aspersions on the musicianship of people like that: their technique, their knowledgeability or "the wonderfulness of their minds," to steal something from Bill Cosby. But to masquerade a program as "jazz" and then not have jazz people doing it there appears to me something sinful about that, It's like saying "we're going to have string quartet," and then putting in four guitar.
Interviewer: That approaches the question of today's free players; their music may be an extension of Ornette Coleman, and their music may be something new and important; but a lot of people wonder if they can really play, or are simply shocking.

Adderley: I don't know; I enjoy a lot of things that are being said by people who are so-called "free" players or "avantgarde" or whatever you want to call it, and I approach them like I approach any other art. You see a painting and it can be by Michelangelo; but if you don't dig it, it doesn't make any difference who did it. My point is, cults of personality have long been one of the problems of playing music. That is, once you become as important to the creative world as a Duke Ellington, the cult of personality says that because you are Ellington, whatever you have to say is credible. And it is not necessarily so. Duke is my all-time favorite musician, he's the person for whom I have probably the most respect in the history of our art form - but I don't like everything he does, and I don't think that I'm supposed to. Because if I did, I wouldn't have any discretion myself. The same thing goes for, for example, Joseph Jarman or Archie Shepp; Archie's done some things that I like very much, and some things I thought were horrendous. But that's just me. I'm sure there are people who like some of the things I do and cannot understand why I do some other things. I don't want everybody to like me because it wouldn't give me any dimension. I like to be able to have my beginnings and my endings and I'd like my listeners to have the same privilege, and if they don't like something, don't give up to it!

Interviewer: Do you think what Miles is doing now is important in breaking new ground in music?

Adderley: I don't know - but at the same time: I don't care. Miles is a lifestyle unto himself. There are people who emulate everything he does, so "breaking new ground" will mean that there are people who will emulate what he does, and maybe they'll get into other things. I don't care if a person is a revolutionary force, or whether he's perceived as so important that everything he's got to say automatically will be acceptable. I don't like everything he's doing now, but I think there are some great things in "Bitches Brew," and there are some other things that don't move me - but there again, that's me. There are people who love everything in it, and people who hate everything in it. My attitude to Miles is this: I like to hear him play his horn. I don't think he's particularly a great composer, but I like to hear him play anything, because he has a vitality and another dimension of communication in his instrument. And I'm going to like him even If I hate his band!

* Twofer Tuesday: Ed Sanders

-- Henry Kissinger

-- Shredding Machine

* "I define nothing. Not beauty, not patriotism. I take each thing as it is, without prior rules about what it should be." -- Bob Dylan

May 12, 2008

the transformation of waste
is perhaps the oldest pre-occupation of man

Christopher Merlyn, Clockwork, 2007

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

9. John McCain

"Burma's ruling military junta has come under intense scrutiny in the past week, after Cyclone Nargis ravaged the country and killed tens of thousands of people. First the government refused outside aid, then they went ahead with a dubious referendum, then, after deciding to take some aid shipments after all, they were 'quickly relabeled to say that the goods had been donated courtesy of the junta,' according to Time magazine.

"Even Laura Bush slammed the junta last week at a rare press conference (before moving on to more important matters.) Indeed, Burma's dictatorship is 'widely criticized as one of the world's most oppressive and corrupt regimes,' according to Dan Froomkin of the Washington Post.

"So what does this have to do with John McCain?

"Last week we learned that the McCain campaign has selected Doug Goodyear to manage this year's Republican National Convention. Goodyear is described as a 'veteran operative and Arizonan' by Newsweek, who was picked for his 'management experience and expertise.' Oh yes, and I should probably also mention that Goodyear is 'CEO of DCI Group, a consulting firm that earned $3 million last year lobbying for ExxonMobil, General Motors and other clients.'

"So what? Well it turns out that not only is Doug Goodyear a veteran GOP operative, expert manager, and fatcat oil industry lobbyist...

"Potentially more problematic: the firm was paid $348,000 in 2002 to represent Burma's military junta, which had been strongly condemned by the State Department for its human-rights record and remains in power today. Justice Department lobbying records show DCI pushed to 'begin a dialogue of political reconciliation' with the regime. It also led a PR campaign to burnish the junta's image, drafting releases praising Burma's efforts to curb the drug trade and denouncing 'falsehoods' by the Bush administration that the regime engaged in rape and other abuses."

"Yikes. So does the man who John McCain handpicked to run this year's Republican National Convention have anything to say about his association with the Burmese junta?

"'It was our only foreign representation, it was for a short tenure, and it was six years ago,' Goodyear told NEWSWEEK.

"With an explanation that good, I'm surprised Goodyear felt the need to quit."

* Bizarre/inventive bongs.

* David Berman's footnotes to Strange Victory, Strange Defeat.


from Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea DC358

-Title and chorus derived from:
"Strange Victory" by Sara Teasdale, Mac Millan (1933)
"Strange Victory" a film by Leo Hurwitz (1948)
"Strange Victory: Hitler’s Conquest of France" by Ernest R. May (2000)
"Strange Defeat:A Statement of Evidence Written in 1940" by Marc Bloch

-"in other words, don’t flinch, don’t foul, and hit the line hard"
taken from Theodore Roosevelt’s Address to the Boy’s Progressive League,
New York City, recorded July 3, 1913:

"In this way I desire to greet the Boy's Progressive League at their meeting in the Hotel Manhattan. I feel that the Progressive Party should appeal peculiarly to the young men--and therefore to the boys--who ought to be the next generation of voters. The principles for which we stand are the principles of fair play and a square deal for every man and every woman in the United States. A square deal politically, a square deal in matters social and industrial. I wish to see you boys join the Progressive Party, and act in that party and as good citizens in the same way I'd expect any one of you to act in a football game. In other words, don't flinch, don't foul, and hit the line hard."

-"virtue gone to seed" is found in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Essay on Manners (1841):
"Fashion… virtue gone to seed: it is a kind of posthumous honor. It does not often caress the great, but the children of the great: it is a hall of the Past. It usually sets its face against the great of this hour. Great men are not commonly in its halls: they are absent in the field: they are working, not triumphing. Fashion is made up of their children; of those, who, through the value and virtue of somebody, have acquired lustre to their name, marks of distinction, means of cultivation and generosity, and, in their physical organization, a certain health and excellence, which secures to them, if not the highest power to work, yet high power to enjoy. The class of power, the working heroes, the Cortez, the Nelson, the Napoleon, see that this is the festivity and permanent celebration of such as they; that fashion is funded talent; is Mexico, Marengo, and Trafalgar beaten out thin; that the brilliant names of fashion run back to just such busy names as their own, fifty or sixty years ago. They are the sowers, their sons shall be the reapers, and their sons, in the ordinary course of things, must yield the possession of the harvest to new competitors with keener eyes and stronger frames. The city is recruited from the country. In the year 1805, it is said, every legitimate monarch in Europe was imbecile. The city would have died out, rotted, and exploded, long ago, but that it was reinforced from the fields. It is only country which came to town day before yesterday, that is city and court today."

* "Our only idea was to get rid of the dross as soon as possible, but at the same time have as much pleasure and enjoyment as the country would afford." -- Kit Carson

May 2, 2008

battlescars from childhood
there's no one to believe

Joel Didrikson, Michael Kentoff and Deborah Anger, 2008

Above is a promo photo for an evening of poetry and music sponsored by 32 Poems Friday May 9, 2008 at The Writer's Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Readings by Sandra Beasley and Bernadette Geyer. Music by The Caribbean. The fun is free and starts at 8pm.

-- by Grace Paley

Life is as risky
as it is branchy

treetop and twigtip
are only the beginning

then comes the westwind to lean
and the northwind to turn

then the sunshine implores
and up all of us go

we are like any
greengrowing machinery

riding the daylight route
to darkness

City Afternoon
-- John Ashbery

A veil of haze protects this
Long-ago afternoon forgotten by everybody
In this photograph, most of them now
Sucked screaming through old age and death.

If one could seize America
Or at least a fine forgetfullness
That seeps into our outline
Defining our volumes with a stain
That is fleeting too

But commemorates
Because it does define, after all:
Gray garlands, that threesome
Waiting for the light to change.
Air lifting the hair of one
Upside down in the reflecting pool.

The End Of The Library
-- by Weldon Kees
When the coal
Gave out, we began
Burning the books, one by one;
First the set
Of Bulwer-Lytton
And then the Walter Scott.
They gave a lot of warmth.
Toward the end, in
February, flames
Consumed the Greek
Tragedians and Baudelaire,
Proust, Robert Burton
And the Po-Chu-i. Ice
Thickened on the sills.
More for the sake of the cat,
We said, than for ourselves,
Who huddled, shivering,
Against the stove
All winter long.

-- back May 12ish.

May 1, 2008

Everyone’s their own producer
With exclusive right to the script
And their own director
Catch you when you slip

Deena Templeton, Kool-Aid

* Mission Accomplished, five years later. excerpt:

"The White House said Wednesday that President Bush has paid a price for the 'Mission Accomplished' banner that was flown in triumph five years ago but later became a symbol of U.S. misjudgments and mistakes in the long and costly war in Iraq.

"Thursday is the fifth anniversary of Bush's dramatic landing in a Navy jet on an aircraft carrier homebound from the war. The USS Abraham Lincoln had launched thousands of airstrikes on Iraq.

"'Major combat operations in Iraq have ended,' Bush said at the time. 'The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on Sept. 11, 2001, and still goes on.' The 'Mission Accomplished' banner was prominently displayed above him - a move the White House came to regret as the display was mocked and became a source of controversy.

"After shifting explanations, the White House eventually said the 'Mission Accomplished' phrase referred to the carrier's crew completing its 10-month mission, not the military completing its mission in Iraq. Bush, in October 2003, disavowed any connection with the 'Mission Accomplished' message. He said the White House had nothing to do with the banner; a spokesman later said the ship's crew asked for the sign and the White House staff had it made by a private vendor.

"'President Bush is well aware that the banner should have been much more specific and said `mission accomplished' for these sailors who are on this ship on their mission,' White House press secretary Dana Perino said Wednesday. 'And we have certainly paid a price for not being more specific on that banner. And I recognize that the media is going to play this up again tomorrow, as they do every single year.'

"She said what is important now is 'how the president would describe the fight today. It's been a very tough month in Iraq, but we are taking the fight to the enemy.'

"At least 49 U.S. troops died in Iraq in April, making it the deadliest month since September when 65 U.S. troops died.

"Now in its sixth year, the war in Iraq has claimed the lives of at least 4,061 members of the U.S. military. Only the Vietnam War (August 1964 to January 1973), the war in Afghanistan (October 2001 to present) and the Revolutionary War (July 1776to April 1783) have engaged America longer."

* Friday in DC: No Wave author Marc Master head out to support his book:

-- At 7pm he will be reading and signing books at Crooked Beat records on 18th Street in Adams Morgan; and

-- From 10pm to 3am he will be spinning No Wave music (and selling and signing books) at Rick Taylor's monthly DJ night "We Fought The Big One" at Marx Cafe on Mt. Pleasant Street in Mt. Pleasant.

- related: Brightest Young Things Interviews Masters.

* Ten most vulgar ticker symbols.

* "Most modern calendars mar the sweet simplicity of our lives by reminding us that each day that passes is the anniversary of some perfectly uninteresting event." -- Oscar Wilde