November 25, 2008

even the pawn must hold a grudge

William Burroughs, After Dinner Joint, by Stephen Miles

"We must find out what words are and how they function. They become images when written down, but images of words repeated in the mind and not of the image of the thing itself." -- William Burroughs

A Thanksgiving Prayer
-- by William Burroughs

Thanks for the wild turkey and the passenger pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts.

Thanks for a continent to despoil and poison.

Thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger.

Thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin leaving the carcasses to rot.

Thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes.

Thanks for the American dream, To vulgarize and to falsify until the bare lies shine through.

Thanks for the KKK.

For nigger-killin' lawmen, feelin' their notches.

For decent church-goin' women, with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces.

Thanks for "Kill a Queer for Christ" stickers.

Thanks for laboratory AIDS.

Thanks for Prohibition and the war against drugs.

Thanks for a country where nobody's allowed to mind the own business.

Thanks for a nation of finks.

Yes, thanks for all the memories -- all right let's see your arms!

You always were a headache and you always were a bore.

Thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.

-- back Tuesday

November 21, 2008

I wasn't eating granola
I was looking for smoke

Jack Tworkow, Figure, 1954

* Peter Holsapple: The Anatomy of a Flop.

"It’s such an honor to be writing here among the likes of (to name but two) Rosanne Cash and Suzanne Vega: songwriters I’ve admired for years. Their entries in this blog are some fine writing — not surprising, considering the high level of their songwriting. They have Grammy awards and platinum records between them. Who wouldn’t be thrilled to be in such company?

"So . . . what’s my deal? I have never had a hit in my life.

"Once upon a time, though, I think I wrote a hit. It was called 'Love is for Lovers' and the dB’s recorded it for an album called 'Like This' in 1984. It had (and has, I believe) an undeniable hook, the kind you’d find yourself singing in the shower or pounding along to on your steering wheel while driving. The performance, produced by Chris Butler at the old Bearsville Studio in upstate New York, has all the power of the best kind of rock: slamming drums, inventive bass, a solid riff and a fantastic solo.

"Of course, as usual, the glaring problematic element of the equation is the vocals provided by yours truly. I tried, God knows, and it sounds almost all right, but if there’s a weak spot in 'Love is for Lovers,' it would be the singing.

"I wrote the song a couple years before the band got ahold of it. I’m pretty sure that the chord sequence came first, and then I applied some makeshift sentiment to it, to give the singer something to do. The singer at the time was a girl I was dating who wanted to be a rock star really badly, and she and I did a demo of it, presented in part for the first time here.

"At that point, the song was called 'Do You Believe This' and had a bunch of the elements that later showed up in the dB’s version. But that original demo was recorded in our practice space at the Music Building, on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan, using someone’s Boss Dr. Rhythm DR110 pumped through an ancient Roland keyboard (thus allowing me to do my usual compound tracking). As you can hear, it’s a pretty diddy-boppy kind of sound. My then-girlfriend’s recording career was certainly not furthered by this demo, but it gave me some idea of what the song was supposed to become later on.

"Chris Stamey, who had started and led the band from its inception in 1978, had recently left our ranks, after two albums. It was an amicable and gracious parting of the ways, but it left the band drifting and rudderless. The remaining trio of Will Rigby, Gene Holder (who was switching to lead guitar from bass) and me knew that we wanted to continue making music together; but I wasn’t a natural leader like Chris, and that’s what we lacked. I could write an album’s worth of songs and sing them serviceably, and play guitar and mandolin, but I had neither business sense nor type-A chieftain qualities.

"Nevertheless, we rehearsed and recorded demos, which our then-manager shopped dutifully to all the major labels in New York. Most turned him down, being fairly aware of the dB’s notorious reputation for imprecise performances and overspending in the studio. We did have one nibble, provided to us by Karin Berg at Warner Bros. by way of softening her turning us down: a potential offer to use the Warner machine for distribution and promotion.

"The dB’s in Woodstock. (Phil Marino)We took this song up to Woodstock, to Bearsville Records, the label owned by former Dylan/Joplin manager and gray eminence Albert Grossman (who also owned the Bearsville studios). I’d loved Bearsville’s output over the years, since it was distributed by Ampex: Todd Rundgren, flagship Bearsville solo artist and what amounted to house producer for the label, was a huge influence on Will and me as teenagers, and I’d even sewed the Bearsville logo onto my book bag when I was sick at home with mononucleosis in the 10th grade.

"With us came noted songwriter and producer Chris Butler (Tin Huey, the Waitresses), who was to produce our album. I thought Chris was an inspired choice; the wry “Christmas Wrapping,” by the Waitresses, never failed to reduce me to a blubbering simp around the holidays, and I felt that was a good sign he might be a fine match for the difficult and petulant know-it-alls the dB’s could be. He was smart and funny, and we got along splendidly. Chris put us through our paces for a couple weeks of rehearsal and revision at the Music Building, some of the most focused time the group ever spent together.

"Chris Butler: 'In the drive to our digs on Albert’s compound, I gushed about to Albert how hard the band had worked in pre-production: how we had taken Peter’s great songs and worked them and re-worked them, and how we were going to make a great record and how grateful everyone was to get the chance to record in a world-class studio. After listening to me silently for a while, he stopped me mid-sentence and said in a rather nasal baritone, ‘Chris…all I am interested in these days are restaurants and wood.’ It was going to be a long autumn.'

"We picked three songs to record, with 'Love is for Lovers' being the ace in the hole, in our estimation. Studio B was our home for several days, and we’d hauled all our gear (and a lot of Butler’s as well) into the small room. (Studio A was a great cavern down the hall, hung with 'boats' — plywood half-barrels suspended from the ceiling to dissipate some of the natural echo. We used it later when we recorded more of 'Like This,' and a large portion of R.E.M.’s 'Out of Time' record, for which I was a session player, was cut in there as well.) The control room in B was tight quarters, but we’d toured Europe by train, so it was comparatively luxurious by those standards — plus there were no midnight-hour inebriated football hooligans to contend with, just our own complex egos.

"Butler: ‘Love is for Lovers’ had jumped to the head of the line as a potential cut one/side one tune almost at first hearing. Tons of pre-production work had gone into the song — things like adding lots of anticipated beats, which gave the song a constant forward thrust, and adding that skip beat in the drum part at the end of every four bars. The lyrics were very good, and cutting them down was not an option, so we used a trick I had come up when arranging my own hyper-wordy songs for the Waitresses: adding a ‘teaser’ chorus or bridge, which lets the tune get back to another verse instead of going directly to a bridge or chorus as required in the standard pop song format (the ‘do you believe this’ repeats between the first and second verses). The overall structure was methodically tweaked as well, with a restart for the third verse, the guitar breakdown and subsequent rev-up to the finish (a structure shamelessly pinched from the Rolling Stones).'

"I’m sure we recorded the basic track (guitar, bass and drums) many times, as was and is our wont. Nowadays, with digital technology, you can do editing a lot more easily with a mouse and a pointer; in 1982, it involved cutting and splicing two-inch recording tape with a surgeon’s hand and, well, an engineer’s ear (ours was the talented Michael Frondelli). We did a fair amount of that in our recording career, but we didn’t have the kind of time to lavish on something like that during these sessions. So we did version after version, attempting to keep the energy up and the performance in a constant state of improvement, which is not always easy after several hours.

"Butler: 'The hardest part of recording the song was coming up with overdub parts to flesh out the arrangement. Some days the ideas flowed quite nicely. Others, it was like pulling teeth … or rather, like a wrenching psycho-drama of finding a new identity while confronting collective and individual insecurities. With a big chunk of passive resistance and control-freak-versus-control-freak conflicts tossed in.'

"Will Rigby: 'I remember throwing a metal garbage can around in the echo room for quite a while to get that perfect sound at the beginning of the guitar solo, which Frondelli then processed so much that it’s impossible to tell what it is making the noise. One of my few keyboard performances on a dB’s record is the single-note ‘telegraph’ part on the choruses.'

"Gene spent the better part of a day working on the gut-wrenching guitar solo’s tone, well-spent in retrospect but nerve-wracking at the time, as we thought we saw time slipping away before us.

"I finally finished the lyrics the night before I cut the vocals, including the 'no one’s a lover/just ‘cause they love it' line, still probably one of my favorites in my catalog.

"We mixed the song, and everyone was dancing giddily around the control room, patting one another on the back and referring to it as our 'grandchildren’s college education fund.' Then we submitted it to the powers-that-be at Bearsville.

"Butler: 'Todd Rundgren had emerged as head of Bearsville’s A & R department. He was not pleased with some of the tunes, and though every record he ever made (up until then, and including ‘Bat Out of Hell’ by Meat Loaf) had been remixed (sometimes without his knowledge), he was not a fan of the first mixes that Mike Frondelli and I had submitted.'

"Rather than allow Butler and Frondelli to remix, which would have probably been the righteous thing to do, Bearsville canned them from the project and had Gene Holder and Mark McKenna, the studio’s chief engineer, do mixes from Rundgren’s directives, which ended up on the released album. I know it was rotten treatment of Chris Butler, who’d put so much energy into making the record come to life, but that’s how it got handled, unfortunately.

"Butler: 'I can’t think of a more miserable position to be in than to be stuck between a rock band and a record company. But if you are a record producer (and even if you are a major fan of the band you’re working with), that’s just the way it is — that’s The Gig. Hopefully, the band are your pals, and they are counting on you to listen to them and to preserve their integrity, but the record company is the entity which actually hires you, and they would like to hear a hit (or three), and for you to finish the project on time and within (or better still) under budget.'

"About six weeks before 'Like This' was to hit the streets, our big American debut album faced a new and horrendous snag: Bearsville’s distribution by Warner Bros. had come to an end. (The situation was far worse for Randy VanWarmer, whose song 'Just When I Needed You Most' was cruising up the charts, only to be sideswiped by unavailability just when he needed it most.) In true-to-form dB’s lack-of-business-acumen fashion, we considered trying to take the record away from Albert’s clutches, but decided that it would 'take too long' or 'cost too much,' and that 'we’d already told so many people it was coming out' — among other random and idiotic reasons.

"So, as the music business punch line goes, 'Like This' wasn’t released, it escaped. And then it disappeared. Without the muscle of Warner behind us, the band would find itself doing hastily arranged signings where there were no copies of the record. Promo copies went out to journalists across the country who discovered the new Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes album inside, due to a screw-up at the pressing plant. The dB’s history is riddled with those kind of bad breaks, many our own doing but just as many at the hands of record companies who were having their own bad days that became ours.

"There was a single of 'Love is for Lovers,' but you couldn’t get it without special ordering. Then you couldn’t get it at all. It made no impact on radio, and the song did not receive a video treatment for the fledgling MTV. ('Amplifier' did have one, directed by Walter Williams of “Mr. Bill” fame; but the song’s chipper take on suicide and the literal images throughout the video did not pass muster with the tastemakers at MTV.)

"I’ve always hoped someone would come along and say 'Gee, that ‘Love is for Lovers’ would be a natural for [insert singer’s name/movie soundtrack/TV show theme/ad for beer etc. here],' but it hasn’t happened. Yet. Fortunately, 'Like This' got reissued in 2006 and is available again. I keep my hopes up because I still believe the song is a good one. Apparently, I’m not the only one.

"Butler: 'Listening to the song now some 25 years later, there is much to be proud of. It swings and struts, and it’s as pretty damn pure a piece of pop craft as was ever recorded. Yeah, I wince when I hear the dated handclaps, and what’s with the BOOM! before the giddy-up/surf guitar solo? But then I hear the high guitar feedback note at the outro, and remember that this came from a late punch from an earlier take — a happy accident that was kept in — and ya just gotta smile. Because the song works.'"

* From the Vault:

Treble Kickers (friends and I) performed Pavement songs at Run For Cover @ The Warehouse Nextdoor in Washington, D.C. May 24, 2003. Finally, some video:

-- Gold Soundz

-- Two States

-- Box Elder

* "There will be a time when loud-mouthed, incompetent people seem to be getting the best of you. When that happens, you only have to be patient and wait for them to self destruct. It never fails." -- Richard Rybolt
Bicycles have drifted through these leaves

unknown, Dylan and Ginsberg at Kerouac's Grave

Three poems by Weldon Kees:

The Cats

What the cats do
To amuse themselves
When we are gone
I do not know.
They have the yard
And the fences
Of the neighbors,
And, occasionally,
May arrive at the door, miaowing.
With drops of milk
On their chins,
Waving their shining tails
And exhibiting signs of alarm
When the light inside
The refrigerator
Goes on. But what
They do all day
Remains a mystery.
It is a dull neighborhood.
Children scream
From the playground.
The cars go by in a bluish light.
at six o'clock the cats run out
When we come home from work
To greet us, crying, dancing,
After the long day.

To A Noisy Contemporary

Your ego's bad dream drums that vision
Encountered on page one, pages three to eighty-nine.
Count the wound-up places where we went aground.
As an entertainment, zero. Hero horror. Try the line

Of incestuous relations, hearty friendship, or the cult.
Of the ectoplasmic navel and the ravishments of guilt.

Page two was delightful. And the margins were wide;
One was tempted by the imagery of bloody wrists,
Your hysterogetic spasms and italicized reproofs.
You may well supplant the tuba if the music lasts.

The City As Hero

For those whose voice cry from ruins
For those who die in the dark alone
For those who walk in the ruined streets

Here in your evening

The chimneys are empty of smoke
These squares of darkness are windows
The soundless wire stretch across the sky
Stillness of air
Under cold stars
And near the dry river
An old man without shadow walks alone

Upon pillows of darkness
Here is your evening

What words What answers now
What memories What ruined harbors?

November 20, 2008

I said 'hey'
she said 'hey'
that's the way
it is today

Klipschutz, farewell piece of poly sci snidery until…I change my mind, 2008

klipschutz reads! Tonight Thursday, November 20, he’ll be part of "Gratitude Is in the Air," a group event at the Peace Café, 1665 Haight Street, San Francisco. Reading starts at 7 p.m. klipschutz performs at 7:50.

* Eugene Robinson. excerpt:

"We will look back on the Bush years and find it incredible, and disgraceful, that individuals were captured in battle or 'purchased' from self-interested tribal warlords, whisked to Guantanamo, classified as 'enemy combatants' but not accorded the rights that status should have accorded, held for years without charges—and denied the right to prove that they were victims of mistaken identity and never should have been taken into custody.

"A new study by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, based on interviews with 62 men who were held for an average of three years at Guantanamo before being released without ever being accused of a crime, found that more than a third said they were turned over to their American captors by warlords for a bounty. Those who reported physical abuse said most of it occurred at the U.S.’s Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, where about half the men were initially held before being taken to Guantanamo."
"Years from now, we will be shocked to see those pictures of naked prisoners being humiliated and abused at Abu Ghraib—and we will be ashamed of a U.S. government that punished low-level troops for their sadism but exonerated the higher-ups who made such sadism possible.

"Years from now, we will know the full truth of the clandestine CIA-run prisons where 'high-value' terrorism suspects were interrogated with techniques, including waterboarding, that both civilized norms and international law have long defined as torture. From what we already know, it’s hard to say which is more appalling—the torture itself, or the tortured legal rationalizations that Bush administration lawyers came up with to “justify” making barbarity the official policy of the United States government.

"Obama’s clarity on the issues of Guantanamo and torture stands in contrast to his necessary vagueness about how he will deal with the economic crisis. Torture is wrong today and will still be wrong tomorrow, whereas today’s economic panacea can be tomorrow’s drop in the bucket. Who would have thought that these 'war on terror' issues would be the easy part for the new president?

"Not that easy, though. More reports like the UC Berkeley study will come out, but this is not a task that can be left to academic researchers alone. The new Obama administration has a duty to conduct its own investigation and tell us exactly what was done in our name. Realistically, some facts are going to be redacted. Realistically, some officials who may deserve to face criminal charges will not. But to restore our national honor and heal our national soul, at least we need to know."

* Alex Balk is right, this is likely the dumbest political analysis of the year: "Our incoming president’s very short tenure in the public eye is brought home to me every day as I write on my not-so-old computer, which continues to underline Obama’s name in red. It’s not a misspelling, it just hasn’t been part of the national vocabulary very long."

* Drug czar finally does something constructive.

* The Bat and The Bird has posted Bill Callahan playing Diamond Dancer, from a May 16, 2007 recording for Austin's Kut radio.

* "It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge." -- Enrico Fermi

November 19, 2008

There will be no end soon

Frencesca Woodman, Providence, Rhode Island 1976, printed 1997

The Mysterious Human Heart
-- by Matthew Dickman

The produce in New York is really just produce, oranges
and cabbage, celery and beets, pomegranates
with their hundred seeds, carrots and honey,
walnuts and thirteen varieties of apples.
On Monday morning I will walk down
to the market with my heart inside me, mysterious,
something I will never get to hold
in my hands, something I will never understand.
Not like the apricots and potatoes, the albino
asparagus wrapped in damp paper towels, their tips
like the spark of a match, the bunches of daisies, almost more
a weed than a flower, the clementine,
the sausage links and chicken hung
in the window, facing the street where my heart is president
of the Association for Random Desire, a series
of complex yeas and nays,
where I pick up the plantain, the ginger root, the sprig
of cilantro that makes me human, makes me
a citizen with the right to vote, to bear arms, the right
to assemble and fall in love.

Bad Year
-- by Jane Hirshfield

Even in this bad year,
the apples grow heavy and round.
Three friends and I trade stories:
biopsy, miscarriage, solitude,
a parent's unravelling body or mind.
"What is reliable? What do you hold?"
I demand of the future, later.
The future -- whose discretion is perfect --
says nothing, but rolls another
apple loose from its grip.
A hopeful yellow jacket comes to hunt
the crack, the point of easy entry.

Sad Advice
-- by Robert Creeley

If it isn't fun, don't do it.
You'll have to do enough that isn't.

Such is life, like they say,
no one gets away without paying

and since you don't get to keep it
anyhow, who needs it.

November 18, 2008

Some people think being a man is unmanly
Some people think that the whole concept's a joke
But some people think being a man is the whole point
And then some people wish they'd never awoke

Vik Muniz, What Is Painting, after John Baldessari, 2007

* From Harper's December 2008:

-- Percentage of Americans who say they live "paycheck to paycheck": 47

-- Percentage of those making over $100,000 per year who say this: 21

-- Percentage of Fortune 500 companies that own a Web address in which their name is followed by "": 26

-- Number of appearances that a Thai prime minister made this year as a TV chef: 4

-- Amount he was paid, leading to his ouster in September for receiving outside income: $2,300

-- Number of credit-card solicitations sent to Americans last year: 5,200,000,000

-- Percentage that were responded to: 0.5

* Are there unknown Auden poems out there? excerpt:

"The search is on for missing verse from one of the greatest 20th-century poets – with Helensburgh the focal point of the hunt.

"A small Scottish prep school, a pile of fading magazines, records mysteriously destroyed: it's a literary Cluedo that might lead to the discovery of vanished verses by one of the 20th century's greatest poets. The world's leading authority on WH Auden has launched a hunt for missing early poems by the writer, centred on Helensburgh, where he worked as a young schoolmaster.

"In the early 1930s Auden taught at Larchfield Academy prep, also known as Larchfield School. In 1931, it appears, he published a school magazine, The Larchfieldier. No copies of it have ever surfaced. But the US scholar Edward Mendelson, Auden's literary executor and editor, is convinced Auden would have included poems of his own among the schoolboys' writings, as he later did at two other schools.

"Professor Mendelson is appealing to readers of The Scotsman to help him solve a mystery that has frustrated him for two decades, by tracking down the missing editions, a few hundred copies of which he thinks might have been printed for pupils and parents. 'My guess is someone has one on a shelf somewhere, in a stack of their grandfather's old school papers. At some point it will turn up, or maybe it won't, but I keep hoping,' he says.

"The records of Larchfield were mysteriously destroyed in 1977, when it merged with a girl's school, St Bride's, to form the current Lomond School, including pupil lists from Auden's time there.
"Auden, born in York in 1907, died aged 66. From Oxford University he travelled to Berlin and then returned to Britain, to teach for two and a half years at Larchfield. At Helensburgh he produced a book of poems, The Orators, which made his reputation. It paved the way for his place alongside WB Yeats and TS Eliot as one of the greatest modern poets.

"For Mendelson, the trail begins with a report in the local Helensburgh and Gareloch Times about a new school magazine published by Larchfield pupils.

"'It was obviously Auden, he was always founding school magazines,' he says. 'He always wrote a couple of his own comic poems in it, mixed with the students work.'

"Auden moved on to The Downs School in Herefordshire in 1932, and later to an American school, St Mark's, in 1939. Both schools' magazines featured comic poems by Auden, later tracked down by Mendelson and other scholars in the 1970s. But in Helensburgh the trail goes cold. Mendelson has even advertised locally for copies, with no result.

"One piece of verse Auden wrote at Larchfield has turned up – a few lines of doggerel written for schoolboy Norman Wright on his jotter: it was auctioned at Christie's in 1988, but a play Auden was known to have written for his pupils in 1933, Sherlock Holmes Chez Duhamel, has disappeared.

"According to the 'Helensburgh – Home of Heroes' website, the gay poet described Helensburgh as 'a snob town' and had an affair with the son of an ironfounder. In 1967, Auden was approached by Larchfield in a funding drive. He sent a check for $50 from his then home in Austria, with a note that said: 'I trust your staff are better fed than they were in my day.'

"Larchfield was a boys' prep school with about 180 pupils, mostly from the surrounding area, with illustrious alumni including John Logie Baird. There are rumours that staff angry about its amalgamation with the girls' school might have been responsible for destroying the records.

"Lomond's headmaster, Angus Macdonald, says: 'There have been people getting in touch now and then with an interest in Auden, but I'm afraid I have had to disappoint them. It is frustrating. The Larchfield main building where Auden taught was converted into flats.'

"Mendelson adds: 'I can't prove this magazine had something in it, but it's very, very likely. It would be unknown work by a major writer.'

"He asks anyone with a clue or a copy to contact The Scotsman. 'It would be worth hundreds of pounds, but I hope the owner might say: 'The National Library of Scotland should have this'. Or I would buy it myself and present it to the National Library of Scotland.'"

* "The things we know best are the things we haven't been taught." -- Marquis de Vauvenargues

November 17, 2008

There's a rendezvous of strangers
Around the coffee urn tonight

Grace Hartigan

* ONE WEEK ONLY -- Pitchfork is streaming Silver Jew, the movie.

* Jonathan Lethem reviews Roberto Bolano's 2666.

* MTV has made every video ever shown on the channel available for your viewing pleasure.

* Ten unusual food combinations.

* "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." -- Arthur Schopenhauer

November 11, 2008

would you stand
a little closer to the horses

The Cut Ups second release, Jusserand, is available now from Dust Congress Records, Amazon and iTunes. Send an email to for a cd version, or head over to Amazon or iTunes for a downloadable version.

Two songs from Jusserand:

-- beautiful dead to be

-- new year's eve

(other songs at the cut ups myspace page, link on the sidebar)

bonus: Live version of going to brussels, recorded at solly's november 8, 2008 by youtuber bbqn1.

* Mark Hosler of Negativland, from a recent interview:

"It’s a great irony that if you follow the history of the compact disc, the compact disc did not become popular because that’s what the public was clamoring for. That’s a lie. The compact disc became popular because the industry wanted it to be, they forced it upon people. What actually happened was that the big record distributors would sell vinyl to record stores and you always had a return policy so if you didn’t sell your records you could return them to the record distributor. And that allowed record stores to try out things, right, to carry a larger back catalogue of stuff. Well somewhere in ’89-’90, somewhere in there, maybe ’88-’89, the record labels all simultaneously, almost as if they all planned it, they all announced that they would no longer accept returns on vinyl but they would accept returns on CD. So, if you’re a record store, what choice do you have? You can’t afford to take that financial risk. And so, really, with that change in the return policy, that really forced CDs into the market place. But what I think is incredibly, fantastically, delicious and hilariously ironic is that what the record labels' greed inadvertently created their own undoing. Because what they were doing was giving all of us digital master copies of all of their records. It’s like, 'Oops.'"

* "If you develop an ear for sounds that are musical it is like developing an ego. You begin to refuse sounds that are not musical and that way cut yourself off from a good deal of experience." -- John Cage

November 10, 2008

Blimps go 90 on with the show

Joy Feasley, You Made Me Very Happy, 2008

* Booman:

"I want to be clear that I do not expect, or even want, Barack Obama to govern as I would govern. However, if I were president-elect, I would be planning quite an operation on inauguration day. As soon as I was sworn in, I would demand that Robert Mueller submit his resignation. Then I would instruct the FBI to lock down FBI Headquarters, the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency offices, the executive suites at the CIA, the National Security Agency's offices, the National Intelligence Agency's offices, and management's offices at the Department of Justice. I would tell them to put yellow police tape around all of these buildings and offices, and I would treat each as a crime scene. I'd have them preserve evidence from every safe, every email cache, every hard-drive. And then I would prosecute every violation to the fullest extent of the law.

"My number one priority would be exposing the truth about the anthrax attacks, the White House Iraq Group, and the mass firings of U.S. attorneys in the lead-up to the 2006 midterm elections. But, I'm a hardass that has no interest in pretending continuity in government is preferable to justice and the rule of law. Obama has a more difficult road. Mueller is appointed to a term that doesn't end until 2010. I think Mueller should be in the docket. The last thing I think is acceptable is to have him continue on as head of the FBI, when I consider it the job of the FBI to investigate and imprison most of Washington's elite Establishment.

"But I didn't get elected, and Washington covers its own ass. Don't let it get you too down."

-- related: check out

* Interesting back and forth beginning with this piece by Bob Lefsetz in which is denouces the decision on the part of The Doors' estate to market The Doors' name for a Converse commercial.

Here are the last few paragraphs from the thoughful, and lengthly response by Doors manager Jeff Jampol. excerpt:

"My task, then, my question, is: how am I going to expose these coming generations to The Doors if I don’t have terrestrial radio, new music coming from my artist(s), record stores OR touring? One of the (but not the only) answers is that I have to expose these generations to The Doors as an idea, as an institution, as a certain way of seeing the world, as well as a band, in a way that each different generation can relate to. As a NAME that’s cool to them and to their peers. There are SIX distinct generations, all of whom behave and respond differently, that we market and promote The Doors to: Baby Boomers, Post-Baby Boomers,Gen X, Gen Y, Millenials…and soon, Post-Millenials.

"And how do we get to them? Not to YOU, per se - you already HAVE a relationship with The Doors, and you expect that relationship to go a certain way and have The Doors treated in a certain manner. But to the NEW generation(s)? How do I reach THEM? They are used to different things than we are, and they accept certain things that WE (you and, to a certain extent, I) may find repugnant or undesirable. They are influenced by, and in turn want to influence, their peers, just like I did when I was a kid, and just like I am betting you did, too. But make no mistake - IF YOU ARE BEYOND YOUR TEENS, YOU ARE NOT THEIR PEER (nor am I). How YOU think is very different than how THEY think. I appreciate the differences. I abhor many of them. But in the end, I respect them, and I deal with them, because it IS reality. These differences are clearly not something I am making up - I’m merely reporting them, as you have yourself many times.

"We can continue to do things exactly as we would have a generation or so ago, keep The Doors all to ourselves, and go on about our lives. I think a certain number of new fans would never discover The Doors if that were to happen, though. Still, we can try to avoid the occasional missteps and overreaches that sometimes occur as we continue to try and insure that new kids will discover my heroes - whether that’s through a peer, a parent, a videogame, or a Doors sneaker. I am just trying to illustrate, again, HOW and WHY we decided to move forward with a Doors shoe in addition to our other Doors apparel. The only possible exception is that, in this case, there was not much of a money consideration here - it was purely an exercise in marketing.

"We all discussed this move, and we all approved it. The question that remains is, did we misstep? Did we cross some invisible line? Were we wrong in our ideas? Have we missed something? We KNOW that not everyone will agree. We’re not trying to get everyone’s approval. The Doors NEVER did that. But we ARE trying to look at HOW we do things, and why, and make sure, to the best of our limited human ability, that we stay as true as possible.

"I know that I will never convince anyone that is firmly to one side or the other of any particular ideology, or idea. And I am not even going to try to take on THAT 'fool’s task.' You have your opinions, you are entitled to them, and I respect them. All of them.

"You have made your feelings known. I have now exposed mine here. I have tried to explain how we came to this conclusion (and others). I hope we can both respect each other enough to take what each side has said and chew on it. I know I’M chewing on some of the things YOU brought up.

"In the end, I do truly feel it’s a Doors sneaker, just like we have Doors t-shirts or a Doors messenger bags (and NOT a Doors Christmas ornament). In the end, Bob, it’s only rock ‘n roll, as I’ve oft-quoted Mick ‘n Keith - but I LOVE it."

* "There are two motives for reading a book: one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it." -- Bertrand Russell

November 7, 2008

I wish I went to bed with Julie Christie
woke up with Jane Birkin

-- 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.

Beyond Pleasure
-- by Jack Gilbert

Gradually we realize what is felt is not so important
(however lonely or cruel) as what the feeling contains.
Not what happens to us in childhood, but what was
inside what happened. Ken Kesey sitting in the woods,
beyond the fence of whitewashed motorcycles, said when
he was writing on acid he was not writing about it.
He used what he wrote as blazes to find his way back
to what he knew then. Poetry registers
feelings, delights, and passion, but the best searches
out what is beyond pleasure, is outside process.
Not the passion so much as what the fervor can be
an ingress to. Poetry fishes us to find a world
part by part, as the photograph interrupts the flux
to give us time to see each thing separate and enough.
The poem chooses part of out endless flowing forward
to know its merit with attention.

Covering Two Years
-- by Weldon Kees

This nothingness that feeds upon itself:
Pencils that turn to water in the hand,
Parts of a sentence, hanging in the air,
Thoughts breaking in the mind like glass,
Blank sheets of paper that reflect the world
Whitened the world that I was silenced by.

There were two years of that. Slowly,
Whatever splits, dissevers, cuts, cracks, ravels, or divides
To bring me to that diet of corrosion, burned
And flickered to its terminal.--Now in an older hand
I write my name. Now with a voice grown unfamiliar,
I speak to silences of altered rooms,
Shaken by knowledge of recurrence and return.

-- just realized Wednesday was the 6th anniversary of The Dust Congress........

November 5, 2008

It's a brand new era

flyer by stereogab

Yes We Did!

* Text of President-Elect Barack Obama's acceptance speech. excerpt:

"America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves – if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

"This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

"Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America."

* Cool Silver Jews poster by Nick Butcher.

* "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -- George Orwell