January 30, 2009

who's Hollywood now

Lisa M. Robinson, Solo, 2007

Florida Reconsidered
-- by Matt Byars

Your fiction doesn't interest me
I can see where your little stories come from and brother,
It's all quite obvious
That you lack imagination

I called you out on your falsetto
Easily traced to a current hit record
And we both laughed about it

But since we both know that
Miracles have drifted through these leaves
It seems worth pointing out the well-trod paths
Of your inspiration

Everything We Do
-- by Peter Meinke

Everything we do is for our first loves
whom we have lost irrevocably
who have married insurance salesmen
and moved to Topeka
and never think of us at all.

We fly planes & design buildings
and write poems
that all say Sally I love you
I'll never love anyone else
Why didn't you know I was going to be a poet?

The walks to school, the kisses in the snow
gather as we dream backwards, sweetness with age:
our legs are young again, our voices
strong and happy, we're not afraid.
We don't know enough to be afraid.

And now
we hold (hidden, hopeless) the hope
that some day
she may fly in our plane
enter our building read our poem

And that night, deep in her dream,
Sally, far in darkness, in Topeka,
with the salesman lying beside her,
will cry out
our unfamiliar name.

That Poet
-- by Jack Hirschman

That poet you admire so–

in my fifteen years
in the workers movement
I've never seen him
in attendance at
a demonstration against
social injustice, or at
a memorial honoring
a revolutionary hero,
or at a rally in support
of an uprising people–

is not even a fighting
but a bibelot
dribbling over
with obsolete pus.

January 29, 2009

Let's wake up the neighbors, let's turn up our amps
And we know we're used to without a plan
We can play a Stones song, sitting on a fence
And it'll sound pretty good, til I forget how it ends

Shannon Cannings, Trigger Happy, 2008

Cannings work is currently on display (through March 14) at Baltimore's Gallery Imperato.

* From an interview of Ed Ruscha. excerpt:

Question: At one point you mentioned that in the sixties, you were the biggest collector of your own work. What was that like?

Ruscha: There is more than a shred of truth there. It was about 1961 when I really got swinging into my own art. I had it for a few years before I exhibited it, and I didn't sell too much of my early work. Even during exhibits I would only sell one or two things. So I held on to quite a bit of my own work during the early years.

Question: Was there a painting or a drawing in which you felt you finally found your own voice in your work?

Ruscha: Yeah, one of the first things that I did was called Sweetwater. It was a half-abstract and half-figurative painting. The top half of the painting was a washy kind of abstraction, and there was a very clear, clean hairline that was done with ink that ran through the whole thing. The bottom half had the words Sweetwater which was the name of a town that I had hitchhiked through in Tennessee. I was doing those towns that I had visited while I was hitchhiking. I had a little voyage that I was on then.
Question: You have often commented that the diagonal line is an important element of your work. Do you use the diagonal because it automatically implies a sense of space or depth to the canvas, or because of its allusion to a vanishing point?

Ruscha: I always come back to something figurative. I am always reminded of those scenes in the movies that I saw as a kid where there would be a train approaching that would suggest people travelling. The train would start at the lower, right hand corner and then in two or three seconds it would zoom in with the noise of a train and cover the entire area of the screen. That experience seemed to stick with me. The diagonal for me is like the zoom of a train, it has affected me and I have based several paintings on those sensations. I will see where it takes me from here.
Question: Over the years you have made paintings out of both oil paint and acrylic paint. How do you choose your materials for a painting?

Ruscha: I do not use oil paint very much anymore. About twenty years ago, I began to move away from it and starting using acrylics. I consider the medium to be secondary. I could paint my pictures with oil paint if I wanted to, but I somehow found a friend with the acrylic paint. They seem to be easier for me to use. I never thought that I would make the switch. I was committed to oil paint, but now here I find myself using acrylics. (laughs)
Question: I was wondering if you have any advice for younger artists?

Ruscha: Max Ernst said the best thing ever, he said: "Cut off an ear." (laughs) That is his advice to young artists, and I can't do any better than that.

* Recent Independent article on Richard Yates.

* "Always be nice to those younger than you, because they are the ones who will be writing about you." -- Cyril Connolly

January 28, 2009

To grow is not to grind

Katherine Kurtz, Going Back

The Poem You Asked For
-- by Larry Levis

My poem would eat nothing.
I tried giving it water
but it said no,

worrying me.
Day after day,
I held it up to the light,

turning it over,
but it only pressed its lips
more tightly together.

It grew sullen, like a toad
through with being teased.
I offered it money,

my clothes, my car with a full tank.
But the poem stared at the floor.
Finally I cupped it in

my hands, and carried it gently
out into the soft air, into the
evening traffic, wondering how

to end things between us.
For now it had begun breathing,
putting on more and

more hard rings of flesh.
And the poem demanded the food,
it drank up all the water,

beat me and took my money,
tore the faded clothes
off my back,

said Shit,
and walked slowly away,
slicking its hair down.

Said it was going
over to your place.

Joke in a Bank
-- by Matthew Rohrer

When you try to make a joke
in a bank
it falls flat
there's an armed guard
standing there
wearing sunglasses indoors
but no one laughs
in fact my intentions
are misunderstood
no, no, I am just
going to walk out
the door and come back in
to turn my coins
into paper money
fifty-three dollars
in the sunshine
I'm on my way
with my jacket
in my backpack
and the steel
grates over the pubs
early afternoon
my step as high
as the starlings
bickering in the sky
the birdsong
of the city
and the paper lifting off
the sidewalks
goodbye, I wish
the world were different

-- by Tina Celona

There is some rotting fruit on the ground, a melon and some bananas. The men are sated and lie back on the ground naked. They are interested in each other’s athleticism and their interest is not sexual. Where are the women? The women are absent. The colors are green and gold and black (shadow). I want to fight the men who look so tired. I want to revive them and straighten their shoulders. I want to transpose them to another painting and wipe their faces and give them sustenance. I want to give them milk.


The woman has a man’s face. She is staring at her parts. Her breasts denote womanhood. She is in gray. She is naked and she props herself up on her arms. The ground takes up most of the canvas. I want to fight her and hide her belly folds. I want to fight myself with all my arms against all my arms. The pain causes me to become rigid and when I fight myself I know I am not coming back. This is totally fine with me.

January 27, 2009

Well, you know what happens after dark
When rattlesnakes lose their skins and their hearts
And all the missionaries lose their bark

* ClusterfuckNation. excerpt:

"I know it is difficult for Americans at every level to imagine a different way-of-life, but we'd better start tuning up our imaginations, because endless motoring is not our destiny anymore. The message has not moved from the grassroots up, and so at this perilous stage the message had better come from the top down. Mr. Obama needs to go on TV and tell the American public that were done cruisin' for burgers. He could do that by drastically reviving his stimulus proposal as it currently stands.

"Putting aside whether this 'stimulus' represents reckless money-printing in an insolvent society, let's just take it at face-value and ask where the 'money' might be better directed:

"-- We have to rehabilitate thousands of downtowns all over the nation to accommodate the new re-scaled edition of local and regional trade that will follow the death of national chain-store retail of the WalMart ilk. Reactivated town centers and Main Streets are indispensable features of walkable communities. The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU.org) ought to be consulted on the procedures for accomplishing this and for rehabilitating the traditional neighborhoods connected to our Main Streets.

"-- We have to reform food production (a.k.a. "farming"). Petro-dependent agri-biz will go the same way as the chain stores. Its equations will fail, especially in a credit-strapped society. That piece of the picture is so dire right now, as we prepare for the planting season, that many crops may not be put in for lack of front-money. This portends, at least, much higher food prices at the end of the year, if not outright scarcities and shortages. And the new government wants to gold-plate highway off-ramps instead? Earth to Rahm Emanuel: screw your head back on.

"-- As mentioned above, we have to get passenger rail going again because the airlines are going to die the next time there is an uptick in oil prices, or a spot shortage of oil. Let's not be too grandiose and attempt to build expensive high-speed or mag-lev networks -- certainly not right now -- because they require entirely new track systems. Let's fix those regular tracks already out there, rusting in the rain, or temporarily replaced by bike trails.

"Those are three biggies for moment and enough to keep this society busy for a couple of years. But more to the point of this blog, observers of all stripes are having trouble imagining any way out of our multiple predicaments. All the possible actions tried so far have have seemed absurd. Why even try to prop up inflated house values when the single most crucial need in this sector is for house prices to return to parity with incomes so the shrinking pool of ordinary people still employed can begin to think about buying one? Well, the obvious explanation is that politicians can't bear the pain of watching mass foreclosures and the ruination of families. This is pretty understandable, and it is tragic indeed. Frankly, I don't know of any political narcotic that can mitigate the pain that results from having made poor choices in life -- even if those choices were promoted and reinforced by the mighty ideology of "American Dreaming." Anyway, the foreclosures are well underway now, and perhaps the salient question is how long will the public's fury remain constrained while they hear about Wall Street executives buying $80,000 area rugs? Surely there is a tipping point of collective distress that is not too far from where we're at now."

* Excellent new song from the upcoming Clem Snide album: Me No. give it a listen. album out February 24, 2008.

* Malkmus discusses fantasy basketball.

* "It is hard enough to remember my opinions, without also remembering my reasons for them!" -- Friedrich Nietzsche

January 26, 2009

When I was younger I was a cobra
in every case I wanted to be cool
Now that I'm older and sub-space is colder
I just want to say something true

* Berman ends the joos. excerpt:

"I guess I am moving over to another category. Screenwriting or Muckraking.
I've got to move on. Can't be like all the careerists doncha know.
I'm forty two and I know what to do.
I'm a writer, see? "

then talks about his dad. excerpt:

"Now that the Joos are over I can tell you my gravest secret. Worse than suicide, worse than crack addiction:
My father.
You might be surprised to know he is famous, for terrible reasons.
My father is a despicable man. My father is a sort of human molestor.
An exploiter. A scoundrel. A world historical motherfucking son of a bitch. (sorry grandma)
You can read about him here.
My life is so wierd. It's allegorical to the nth. My father went to college at Transylvania University.
You see what I'm saying.
A couple of years ago I demanded he stop his work. Close down his company or I would sever our relationship.
He refused. He has just gotten worse. More evil. More powerful. We've been "estranged" for over three years.
Even as a child I disliked him. We were opposites. I wanted to read. He wanted to play games.
He is a union buster.
When I got out of college I joined the Teamsters (the guards were union organized at the Whitney).
I went off to hide in art and academia.
I fled through this art portal for twenty years. In the mean time my Dad started a very very bad
company called Berman and Company.
He props up fast food/soda/factory farming/childhood obesity and diabetes/drunk driving/secondhand smoke.
He attacks animal lovers, ecologists, civil action attorneys, scientists, dieticians, doctors, teachers.
His clients include everyone from the makers of Agent Orange to the Tanning Salon Owners of America.
He helped ensure the minimum wage did not move a penny from 1997-2007!
The worst part for me as a writer is what he does with the english language.
Though vicious he is a doltish thinker
and his spurious editorials rely on doublethink and always with the Lashon Hara.
As I studied Judaism over the years, the shame and the shanda,
grew almost too much. my heart was constantly on fire for justice. I could find no relief.
This winter I decided that the SJs were too small of a force to ever come close to undoing
a millionth of all the harm he has caused. To you and everyone you know.
Literally, if you eat food or have a job, he is reaching you.
I've always hid this terrible shame from you, the fan. The SJs have always stood autonomous and clear.
Hopefully it won't contaminate your feelings about the work. "

* "Art is not purity: it is purification. Art is not liberty: it is liberation." -- Clarice Lispector

January 23, 2009

instead of a cocktail
I drank the cool green of her eyes

Romare Bearden, Return of the Prodigal Son, 1967

No Surrender
-- by Dobby Gibson

Now that my poetry is finished
and I’m once again grateful
for what passes as real
in this version of my life, my favorite one,
the one in which, in late evening,
the lake appears
to hold another, more beautiful sky,
never again will any time
so quietly pass.
These perceptions soon lost,
if only because everyone’s first wish
has always been to see
himself through another’s eyes.
By merely looking we make casts
of these shadows, the ones that forever
point back to ourselves
by mimicking the very holes
we punch in the moonlight,
mugging for the camera,
chatting about this and that
even as the bird flies
into the glass door and dies.
There is a precision to absurdity
that illuminates the immeasurability of the truth,
and we’ll never know one another
more intimately than when we share
precisely these kinds of misunderstandings.
Place your hand on my shoulder.
Empty your pockets into mine.
Now you’ve caught your thief.

The Film
-- by Kate Northrop

Come, let’s go in.
The ticket-taker
has shyly grinned
and it’s almost time,
Lovely One.
Let’s go in.

The wind tonight’s too wild.
The sky too deep,
too thin. Already it’s time.
The lights have dimmed.
Come, Loveliest.
Let’s go in

and know these bodies
we do not have to own, passing
quietly as dreams, as snow.
Already leaves are falling
and music begins.
Lovely One,

It’s time.
Let’s go in.

-- by John Tranter

Another fuckwit drops into the dustbin
of history, just as we're finishing our coffee.
Some of us are meant to burn out, is that
right? Like roman candles, across the night sky.

I want to go up like a tree, not a rocket.
I'd like to get drunk disgracefully
with a favorite neice, and grow old
among an amplitude of footnotes.

Pour me another Pernod, Famous Poet, and
tell me again about the doomstruck literati,
those dropouts immortalized in ink -- your
thirst, your secret greed, your mausoleum.

January 22, 2009

You've heard of trainwrecks in the mountains
Sometimes there's shipwrecks on the sea

Olive Ayhen, Aesthetics of Pollution, 1996

* From Harper's February 2009:

-- Year that the U.S. stock market first regained its 1929 pre-crash peak: 1954

-- Percentage of U.S. school districts that have banned bake sales due to anti-obesity regulations: 29

-- Estimated total value in December 2007 of the family fortune of Thomas Friedman's wife: $3,500,000,000

-- Percentage change in the value of that fortune since then: -97

-- Percentage of unfaithful female multimillionaires who say they plan to spend less on their paramours this year: 15

-- Percentage of unfaithful male multimillionaires who say this: 82

-- Standard hourly rate at Manhattan's Liberty Inn, whose slogan is "Your Rendezvous for Romance": $30

-- Percentage discount it was offering first-time visitors last December: 50

* Inaugural newspaper covers.

* Charles Potts discusses and writes a poem about Merle Haggard.

* New blog to keep an eye on: klimbalan.

* The Caribbean play Solly's (11th & U, wdc) Friday. Early show: doors @ 6:30 (the caribbean likely to hit the stage around 8). with Mittenfields and Mariage Blanc (from Pittsburgh, opening).

* "Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency." -- Barack Obama, January 21, 2009

January 21, 2009

It's A Brand New Era

Let America Be America Again
-- by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

January 14, 2009

na na na na na na na na
hey hey hey

Cara Ober, Collie, 2008

-- by anon

I set your house on fire,
robbed your neighbors in broad daylight
with your clothes on, in a mask of your face,
and left behind only their bills, their booze, their guns,

then I dusted your menagerie with flakes of DDT,
dumping selenium in the river that runs through it,
all to undermine your marriage, which, oddly, improved mine,
so I tacked on your vacation days to mine,

even though I barely put in bankers hours –
it’s this cool deal they call Eminent Domain!,
and still I made the time to spread my message of duct tape and despair,
Far and Wide and East and West and North and South.

Now like Shane I must be going. Saddle up my private jet.
No, don’t say it, it’s embarrassing, the gratitude, the love.
These years of public service have been the best years of my life.

- by Dennis Mahagin

Awkward silence at the tail end
of the film strip

whipping off
like Bicycle cards
spoke-pinned and spinning
in gradual deceleration,

as the smoke clears, and a new
Inauguration nears, yet still

you stand here,
like Tom Mix in Sunday best,

--what a freaking
theatrical sunset!

--what a freaking
theatrical sunset!

Dearest Junior,
we knew Gary Cooper--and you
are no Gary Cooper circling
the wagons of an eight-year
stupor, truth is

you embarrassed us, you put a somber pall
on the old town hall meeting of Rich Uncles
and Interventionists-- point of order and
matter of fact you brought us


and now we pass around
the collection crown,
to scrounge

enough leverage to run you
out of town, in the wake

of the horrific Carnival Accident,
fallout of your ill-advised, hardly
authorized climb into the cockpit

of Tilt-A-Whirl & Combine-Two, high
centered and pinwheeling on the midway,

daisy chained
hot metal seats of the crazy
ride breaking loose
from centrifugal,

a deadly Gulliver Scythe
upon the tarmac raining
viscera and limbs.

AWAY FROM HIM!" we screamed, we donned nylon
ski masks, and winged many rocks at that old cockpit, trying
to make it stop, until some Black Ops Psych Doc genius cued
up the Marty Robbins record on Public Address (denouement
of Mars Attacks!)and you switched off the ignition, kicking
back, kicking back, to have you a good listen.

Well, have you?

Junior, Junior,
Junior are you listening
now? Please be long
gone out

of town,
before sundown,
egress in
leaps and bounds,

else at last
we'll have no

choice but to go
all Nukular Winter
on your sorry ex
extant executive


In DC Inaugural weekend? The Foreign Press are playing Monday January 19, 2008 at Solly's (11 and U, nw) as part of the Sun Committee Pre-Inauguration Ball. With: Sun Committee, Ugly Purple Sweater, Amateur Hour and Levi Stephens. 8pm. $5. For more information: click here.

-- back after Obama is sworn in.

January 13, 2009

once i was a big old bear
reigning blows on sparkly snares

Jenny Holzer, Yellow Looming, 2004

* Eugene Robinson. excerpt:

"Not to kick the president on his way out the door, but he was wrong when he told White House reporters at a wistful, nostalgic news conference yesterday that 'there is no such thing as short-term history.' It's true that some presidencies look different after a few decades. But it's also true that presidential acts can have immediate consequences -- and that George W. Bush will leave office next week as a president whose eight years in office are widely seen as a nadir from which it will take years to recover.

"'I strongly disagree with the assessment that our moral standing has been damaged,' Bush said in perhaps his most spirited response of the session. 'I disagree with this assessment that, you know, people view America in a dim light."'

"Has he been paying attention? Did he not notice that both President-elect Barack Obama and his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, felt the need to promise to restore America's honor and standing in the world? Or does Bush believe they were just joshin'?

"Asked to identify the biggest mistake of his presidency, Bush gave a curious answer that had more to do with public relations than presidential decision making. He mentioned the 'Mission Accomplished' banner that prematurely announced the end of major conflict in Iraq -- but not his decision to invade Iraq in the first place. He mentioned his failure to visit New Orleans at the height of the devastating, deadly flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina -- but not the decision to entrust the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the hapless and ineffective Michael Brown."
"As his greatest achievement, Bush would cite the fact that there has been no terrorist attack on U.S. soil -- I won't use Bush's unfortunate term, 'the homeland,' which sounds vaguely Teutonic and evokes lederhosen -- since the Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaeda atrocities. Here, though, he relies entirely on short-term history. His argument, in effect, is that since we've made it through seven years and four months without an attack, his administration's anti-terrorism methods must be both necessary and effective.

"That must be a comforting thought for the president, but it's unjustified. That there has been no new attack does not justify waterboarding, Guantanamo, secret CIA prisons or warrantless domestic surveillance. Bush believes these departures from American values and traditions were necessary, but from what we know so far, they look more like overkill -- an excess of cruelty and a disdain for the rule of law that have seriously damaged this nation's sense of itself.

"What we know so far isn't enough. I understand Obama's reluctance to conduct criminal investigations of the Bush years -- and I realize that Bush might well pardon everybody in advance anyway. But it's important to convene an investigation and learn the truth, all of it, so that no president is tempted to take such liberties again. History, both short-term and long-term, will be grateful."

* Beer ads from old newspapers.

* WNYU radio show features Will Oldham.

* "In the fight between you and the world, back the world." -- Frank Zappa

January 12, 2009

Time will tell if dreams become reality

Dawoud Bey, Barack Obama, 2008

This original photographic portrait of President-elect Barack Obama will be on view at Baltimore's Contemporary Museum (100 West Centre Street, noon to five) from January 14 through February 1, 2009. The President-elect commissioned renowned African American artist Dawoud Bey to photograph the portrait, which was taken in the Obama residence in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood in 2008.

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

7. George W. Bush

"George W. Bush began his presidency with an enormous display of pettiness - the incoming administration invented dramatic tales of White House vandalism by outgoing Clinton staffers and sold them breathlessly to the media (via the Drudge Report) in an effort to trash Bill Clinton as his presidency ended. Months later it was proved that no such vandalism occurred, but by that time the media had moved on and the lie had become part of the conventional wisdom.

"And so it is that Bush's presidency ends as it began. Recently Barack Obama asked the Bush administration if his family could move into Blair House - the president's guest house - a little early, so that his daughters could start their school term without too much fuss. Sorry! The White House refused the request on the grounds that there were 'previously scheduled events' at Blair House which could not be moved.

"And those 'previously scheduled events' would be...? It turns out that only one person is staying overnight at Blair House during the two weeks prior to the inauguration on January 20 - that would be John Howard, the conservative former prime minister of Australia, who also happened to be a big booster of the war in Iraq. If you guessed that he's in DC to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, congratulations - you win a stuffed kookaburra.

"Former British prime minister Tony Blair and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe (also in DC to receive the Medal of Freedom) decided to room elsewhere so as not to inconvenience President-Elect Obama. Apparently John Howard needed most of Blair House's 70,000 square feet of space, spanning 119 rooms, to accomodate his ego.

"And so the Obamas have been forced to stay at the Hay-Adams Hotel (at taxpayer expense) until five days before the inauguration, when they'll finally be allowed to move in to Blair House.

"Ten bucks says the Drudge Report will receive dramatic reports of vandalism after they move out."

* In June 1938 Disney rejected Mary Ford for a spot in the Inking and Painting Department's training school because "Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that work in entirely performed by young men. For this reason girls are not considered for the training school." Further, as Disney employee Mary Cleane makes clear in the letter "The only work open to woman consists of tracing on clear celluiod sheets with India ink and filling in the tracings on the reverse side with paint according to the directions."

* "TV is chewing gum for the eyes." -- Frank Lloyd Wright

January 9, 2009

glance, don't stare

Gerhard Richter, Abendstimmung, 1969

Dirty Joke
-- by Rachel Berry

A husband and a wife walk into a bar.
They are, of course, not each other's.
Just lovers, just for a while, for now
and how this escalator to the bottom
of the ocean will end is simple.
Sand. She'll hold their hourglass on its side,
decide on another glass of Pinot,
and show him, slowly, the architecture
of her left breast. At night, bars become chapels,
and full of whiskey or was it bourbon,
her shirt undone enough for it not to matter,
their chatter, their whispers, are as wet as vows.

A Dark Summer Day
-- by Denise Levertov

I want some funky jazz band
to wake me,
tell me life's been dreaming me.
I want something like love, but made
out of string or pebbles,
oboe of torn air
to tear me to my senses.
Emily's black birds
don't bate their banjos nor the throbbing
of their quick hearts.
The leaves part to reveal
more leaves, and darkness,
darkness and the intense
poised sequence of leaves.
I want to take that last of all leaves
between my lips and taste
its weight in stone.

What the Living Do
-- Marie Howe

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won't work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven't called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It's winter again: the sky's a deep headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living room windows because the heat's on too high in here, and I can't turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street the bag breaking,

I've been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss--we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I'm gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I'm speechless:
I am living, I remember you.

January 8, 2009

political favors could make you a savior

Bob Budette, Bad Vacation, mixed media on multiple boards

* Apparently, Hulk Hogan was a terrible wrestler. Excerpt:

"With no real fanfare, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., has finished up his investigation of steroids in professional wrestling. (Yep, it's a problem.) Marc Ambinder, a hopeless fan of the squared circle, has a good write up of some of the highlights and the policy implications.

"But the steroid stuff is not really the most interesting part. In his effort to rid the nation of steroid abuse, Waxman has incidentally created a great historical treasure trove, one of the most comprehensive pictures ever produced of the fascinating, exhilarating, often-nasty and always-elusive professional wrestling business. This industry is, it must be said, America's last great circus, a traveling band of performers with pecs and tights that is televised with huge ratings three times a week on cable, fills untelevised arenas many other nights each week, and attracts millions of dollars in annual pay-per-view revenue. It is 'fake' in the way that it is not a sport, like baseball or football. But as a business, as a form of entertainment, and as an athletic drama it often puts real sports leagues to shame.

"In recent years, American professional wrestling has been mostly run as a monopoly, under the umbrella of the WWE, which is controlled and operated by Vince McMahon and his family, who often perform at the events. They like to keep the backstage details quiet, by necessity. Like magic, pro-wrestling is about illusion. You never want to reveal more than the trick demands. But Waxman has now laid these details bare, in testimony to Congress, where lies are prosecutable offenses. We learn that the WWE, for instance, employs about 10 writers to develop story lines for the wrestlers. In addition to the writers, a group of "producers," mostly former wrestlers, travel on the road to help the performers with rough choreography of each match. (Each match needs a beginning, middle and end.) The performers can make anywhere from a few thousand to many hundred thousand dollars, depending on the event. Then there is this, my favorite nugget from what I have read so far--from an interview with Stephanie McMahon, the daughter of Vince and the person in charge of talent relations and creative writing.
Q: How does talent get to become main-event talent?

A: Basically, hard work and perseverance and overwhelming the audience. . . . When someone walks out on that stage, they either connect with the people or they don't. If you walk out on stage and nobody cares and you don't have any presence, you are never going to be a main-event guy. But if you walk out and you make the people notice you, you can be a main-event guy. You really don't even have to be a good wrestler. Hulk Hogan was a terrible wrestler, and he still is.
Q: For the record, I am sure he would disagree with that.

A: I am sure he would disagree with that. I forget this is all public. But, you know, he was. He was a terrible wrestler. But what an incredible psychologist and what an incredible charismatic person. There is no denying Hulk Hogan is one of the biggest stars in the history of our business and will always be perceived as such. But he was not a great wrestler, not a great technician.

* If you watch pro football, you might want to check out this article.

* Everything you would want to know about bathroom etiquette.

* "I used to believe that marriage would diminish me, reduce my options. That you had to be someone less to live with someone else when, of course, you have to be someone more." -- Candice Bergen

January 7, 2009

But now we must pick up every piece
Of the life we used to love
Just to keep ourselves
At least enough to carry on

William B. Post, New England Village, Fog, 1905

Men at Forty
-- by Donald Justice

Men at forty
Learn to close softly
The doors to rooms they will not be
Coming back to.

At rest on a stair landing,
They feel it
Moving beneath them now like the deck of a ship,
Though the swell is gentle.

And deep in mirrors
They rediscover
The face of the boy as he practices tying
His father's tie there in secret

And the face of that father,
Still warm with the mystery of lather.
They are more fathers than sons themselves now.
Something is filling them, something

That is like the twilight sound
Of the crickets, immense,
Filling the woods at the foot of the slope
Behind their mortgaged houses.

Upon Discovering My Entire Solution to the Attainment of Immortality Erased from the Blackboard Except the Word 'Save'
-- by Dobby Gibson

If you have seen the snow
somewhere slowly fall
on a bicycle,
then you understand
all beauty will be lost
and that even loss
can be beautiful.
And if you have looked
at a winter garden
and seen not a winter garden
but a meditation on shape,
then you understand why
this season is not
known for its words,
the cold too much
about the slowing of matter,
not enough about the making of it.
So you are blessed
to forget this way:
jump rope in the ice melt,
a mitten that has lost its hand,
a sun that shines
as if it doesn't mean it.
And if in another season
you see a beautiful woman
use her bare hands
to smooth wrinkles
from her expensive dress
for the sake of dignity,
but in so doing reveal
the outlines of her thighs,
then you will remember
surprise assumes a space
that has first been forgotten,
especially here, where we
rarely speak of it,
where we walk out onto the roofs
of frozen lakes
simply because we're stunned
we really can.

The Peacock Song
-- by Richard Brautigan

I remember a beautiful Indian girl
sitting embarrassed on a bus in Mexico.

She had no shoes and her feet were naked
like two breasts lying on the dirty floor.

She tried to cover up one foot
by standing on it with the other foot.

January 6, 2009

There is no reason to grieve
The world that you need is wrapped in gold silver sleeves
Left beneath Christmas trees in the snow

Gary Komarin, Yarrow, 2006

* Clusterfuck Nation wishes farewell to George W. Bush, who is outta here in two weeks! excerpt:

"A prankish fate put George W. Bush in the oval office to keep America stupid. The nation was far from ready to see where it was going in the 21st century, and he was just the figure to keep it that way, with his void of curiosity, his allergy to reading, and his panderings to wealth-worshipping, Ponzi-loving, science-hating Jesus cultists. He goes out of office broadly regarded as an object of horror and loathing while the nation, now facing wholesale bankruptcy, struggles to imagine a plausible future, like someone who has just awakened from a cheap red wine drunk into the grip of a vicious hangover.

"GWB was reputed to be an appealing personality off-camera, relaxed among his cohorts, full of fun, warmth, jokes, and nicknames. He was not quite as bad on-stage as his critics complained -- his natural obtuseness sometimes came off as candor -- but he was programmed by handlers with a range of poor locutions that eventually amounted to a world-view. For instance, the idiotic 'war on terror,' which served mainly to portray our adversaries as abstractions. His insistence on the term 'victory' when speaking of our situation in Iraq actually fooled even his worst critics into thinking we were engaged in a 'war,' when for years it has been more accurately an awkward and lethal occupation."
"The same prankish fate that elevated GWB may end up excusing or papering over his current ill-standing. Decades from now he might be remembered as the last national leader who presided over an orderly transition of power in a cohering federal system. The fickle public that longs for the last symbolic photo op, when Mr. Obama waves at the helicopter bearing GWB into the Texas gloaming, may soon turn on the new president for failing to return them to the Blue Light Special nirvana of days gone by.

"To me, GWB will remain the perfect representative of his time, place, and culture. During his years in Washington, America became a nation of clowns posturing in cowboy hats, bethinking ourselves righteous agents of Jesus in a Las Vegas of the spirit, where wishing was enough to get something for nothing, where 'mistakes were made,' but everybody was excused from the consequences of bad choices. The break from that mentality will be very severe, and we may look back in twelve months and wonder how we ever fell for the whole package. The answering of that question will occupy historians for ages to come."

* Baltimore artist Cara Ober has updated her website and expanded her online portfolio. go check out her newest works in which "appropriated images and texts are combined to explore personal and public sexual fantasies."

* Twofer Tuesday: R. Stevie Moore:

-- I Hate People

-- Funny Child

* "The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it." -- Theodore Roosevelt

January 1, 2009

I could have been someone
well so could anyone

Wingate Paine, Mirror of Venus, 1964

* The New Yorker profile of Will Oldham concludes:

"In discussions with Drag City, Oldham sometimes referred to 'Lie Down in the Light' as 'LIDL,' or 'the little record,' partly because he knew that he wouldn’t be doing much to promote it. In March, he plans to release 'the big record,' a deeply satisfying album called 'Beware,' which conjures a mood of resolution, maybe even finality. (In the stately country song 'I Don’t Belong to Anyone,' he amplifies the title of his 1993 début album: 'I don’t belong to anyone, there’s no one who’ll take care of me / It’s kind of easy to have some fun when you don’t belong to anyone.') He intends to promote the album with singles, a photo shoot, and a handful of interviews, if only to prove that record promotion doesn’t really work, at least not for him.

"He is inspired, and challenged, by the example of Merle Haggard. 'He’s writing and singing better than he ever has,' Oldham says. 'And it’s just like, well, there’s no excuse, then. You can’t just say that it goes away, or that the music industry kills it, or whatever.' He also likes the idea of stopping, content in the knowledge that he has done what he came to do. But he knows that he has contemplated quitting before. 'Sometimes,' he says, 'we need to tell ourselves that we’re not going to do certain things, just in order to stay sane.'

"As night fell, the conversation turned to the indie-rock industry that supports Oldham, and the indie-rock community that he keeps at arm’s length. These days, it is, to a large extent, a world sustained by bars (where the musicians circulate) and the Internet (where the music circulates), both of which Oldham dislikes. He’s always looking for ways to widen his circle: he’d love to get in the studio with R. Kelly, or spend a week watching Haggard work. And he resists the idea that, with his endless flow of obscurities and his maniacal fan base, he is one of the most blog-friendly musicians in the country. He asked, 'At that show last night, what do you think, eighty per cent of the people read blogs? Fifty? Thirty? Ten? Ninety?' There were certainly plenty of cameras, and, sure enough, on Monday morning the indie-rock Web site Pitchfork posted six photographs and a brief write-up.

"He went out to the minivan to retrieve something: a book of his lyrics, handprinted and bound by a woman in West Virginia. 'There were supposed to be three hundred,' he said. 'But a couple of pages got fucked up, so I think there are about two hundred and seventy-five or so. And I’ve just given them away, because I don’t know how to sell ’em—you know, I don’t want them to end up on eBay.' He proffered a copy, with an inscription inside: 'K. GOOD LUCK. BPB.' But it was clear that he wasn’t feeling entirely optimistic about having agreed to a magazine profile. 'My mother’s a huge fan, and I really liked that Merle piece, but definitely there’s already . . .' He trailed off. 'I don’t know. I really hate press. And it’s . . . yeah.'"

* The Cut Ups: Videos for New Year's Eve and All That's Left, by YouTube user fcbridge.

* Jim O'Rourke authors this months Top Ten in Art Forum.

* "But what is the difference between literature and journalism? ...Journalism is unreadable and literature is not read. That is all." -- Oscar Wilde