April 30, 2009

Did you lose your fatty in the bath?
Did you make the city slicker laugh?

Anna Skladmann, Pig Head, 2008

* Eugene Robinson.

"President Obama's words on torture at his "100 days" news conference were, to my ears, sharp and unequivocal. What he didn't tell us is what happens next.

"He said bluntly, without leaving any wiggle room, that waterboarding is torture. While he didn't directly answer the question of whether the Bush administration had "sanctioned torture," his moral clarity left listeners with only one inference to draw. He was particularly aggressive in refuting the "Jack Bauer" argument -- that torture may be unpleasant, but it produces quick and vital results. Obama said that interrogators "could have gotten this information in other ways, in ways that are consistent with our values, in ways that are consistent with who we are." He said he believes this just as strongly even after reading the intelligence memos that Dick Cheney says prove that the torture was justified. The president even cited Churchill, which politicians tend to do when they're in no mood to discern between shades of gray."
"The president of the United States told the world, in no uncertain terms, that at least one of the interrogation techniques practiced by his predecessor's administration constituted torture. As Obama knows, torture is against international and American law.

"Obama has said previously that he's not fond of the idea of a blue-ribbon "truth commission." He hasn't ruled out a Justice Department investigation -- but hasn't ruled one in, either. The fact of torture is there for all to see. What we're going to do about it remains opaque. Maybe Obama is saving that decision for some time in the next 100 days..."

* A video history of Ian Svenonious, who recently interviewed Stephen Malkmus for his excellent Soft Focus show.

* "I once wanted to become an atheist, but I gave up - they have no holidays." -- Henny Youngman

April 29, 2009

it's the simple stuff I need

Sheep Jones, Yard Birds, 2006

-- by e.e. cummings

Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window,into which people look(while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and fro moving New and
Old things,while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything.

-- by Sylvia Plath

I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
What ever you see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, only truthful---
The eye of a little god, four-cornered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.

-- by Carol Mirakove

flash card. fever down.
"arépa!" as an expletive--translation=pancake. flip flop
happy feet: corn is what we've got & worth it.
scholars, watchdogs, tactics, public. thanks to you,
CHARLES LEWIS. how long before my membership to anti-
slavery international tags me as an accessory to a terrorist
organization? naming corporations who use bonded labor
to suck oil is, as they say, unpatriotic. read between the

if you're free & in. if you're running late. if you're burning
a mix. if you're better & better. love. love. wondering.

the gift of an eye for horror. have tape, will capture.
sweetest v-day of the freedom freaks. we shall overthrow.
frozen toes or no.

4 million in the streets & all mobile, save NYC. saying no
to war were college students, middle-aged couples,
families, veterans of the 60s civil rights movement,
Average White Guys for Peace, laborers,
environmentalists, Christians, businessfolk, and elderly
ladies wearing pink kerchiefs who, after 80 years of
globalization, just--can't--take it anymore!
rage & helplessness abound in the barricades, controlled,
inward, still denied assembly, right to sidewalks kicked to
the curb. beating the penned-in kneeling puppets,
chickens watch. standoff in SoHo rings DROP BUSH, NOT

their F-15 = detect / acquire / track / attack. the single-
seat, low-drag, superior-weapon, Eagle air.
mythological in stature: war reasons & their means.
actual in cost: $2,000 per family, here; entire families,

April 28, 2009

jokes are for the living
the dead know everything

Stephen Lapthisophon, Clocks, 2003

* dday at Digby's place:

"I view the impeachment of Jay Bybee from the 9th Circuit Court as a moral and legal imperative, but also an entryway into the larger fight for justice and accountability for those who authorized and directed torture in our name. I agree with Jerrold Nadler that impeachment should not be seen as a compromise measure, a way to satiate those concerned with accountability. 'There can't be a compromise -- you have to follow the law ... If the facts say that some former high-ranking official should be prosecuted, the fact people will get angry should be irrelevant ... If we do not investigate the torture that is clear that it occured, and if the evidence is there prosecute, not only are we disobeying the law, not only are we being immoral, but we are inviting torture of our people in the future.'

"Bybee's impeachment can start us down the path to restoring the rule of law. And now the largest state Democratic Party in the country has spoken. They have said that the myth about torture being a useful tool to extract actionable intelligence from terror suspects is not only irrelevant when it comes to lawbreaking but also entirely false, according to the CIA's own inspector general. They have said that Judge Bybee's appalling judgment and slavish acceptance of John Yoo's flawed legal reasoning represents a greater evil - the evil of thoughtlessness - and a greater responsibility for the actions committed thanks to his off-handed signature. They have said that Bybee's understanding of his own wrongdoing outweighed by his desire to be a federal judge shocks the conscience, and that far from being rewarded for his obedience to his conservative minders, he should bear responsibility for it, to the fullest extent possible."

* The ten most common titles of submissions received by the Virginia Quarterly Review over the past two years.

* In DC? The Foreign Press perform with Plums and 200 Mexicans at Big Bear cafe (1st & R, NW). Friday May 1, 2009. 8pm. Free. BYOB.

* " When the politicians complain that TV turns the proceedings into a circus, it should be made clear that the circus was already there, and that TV has merely demonstrated that not all the performers are well trained." -- Edward R. Murrow

April 27, 2009

the sun highlights the lack in each

Dennis Stempher, Jim White drumming with Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Amsterdam, April 23, 2009

* NYT's profiles Timothy Geithner. excerpt:

"An examination of Mr. Geithner’s five years as president of the New York Fed, an era of unbridled and ultimately disastrous risk-taking by the financial industry, shows that he forged unusually close relationships with executives of Wall Street’s giant financial institutions.

"His actions, as a regulator and later a bailout king, often aligned with the industry’s interests and desires, according to interviews with financiers, regulators and analysts and a review of Federal Reserve records.

"In a pair of recent interviews and an exchange of e-mail messages, Mr. Geithner defended his record, saying that from very early on, he was “a consistently dark voice about the potential risks ahead, and a principal source of initiatives designed to make the system stronger” before the markets started to collapse.

"Mr. Geithner said his actions in the bailout were motivated solely by a desire to help businesses and consumers. But in a financial crisis, he added, “the government has to take risk, and we are going to be doing things which ultimately — in order to get the credit flowing again — are going to benefit the institutions that are at the core of the problem.”

"The New York Fed is, by custom and design, clubby and opaque. It is charged with curbing banks’ risky impulses, yet its president is selected by and reports to a board dominated by the chief executives of some of those same banks. Traditionally, the New York Fed president’s intelligence-gathering role has involved routine consultation with financiers, though Mr. Geithner’s recent predecessors generally did not meet with them unless senior aides were also present, according to the bank’s former general counsel."

* Celebs remember their first days in NYC.

* Listen to Sonic Youth's version of Beck's Pay No Mind, a record store day release.

* "All generalizations are dangerous, even this one." -- Alexandre Dumas

April 24, 2009

all thoughts are prey to some beast

Pep Suari, A Patchy Woman, 2005

East Bronx
-- by David Ignatow (1914-1997)

In the street two children sharpen
knives against the curb.
Parents leaning out the window
above gaze and think and smoke
and duck back into the house
to sit on the toilet seat
with locked door to read
of the happiness of two tortoises
on an island in the Pacific --
always alone and always
the sun shining.

Famous Last Words
-- by Antonia Clark

The dying make no bones about it. It’s life
they want to talk about—business as usual:
news and weather, sports, the sound of rain
striking the windowpane, the most recent hole in one,
stock prices, interest rates, errands to run.

The dying talk of elephants, veal pies, rising fog,
tiresome wallpaper, shore birds at low tide. Chekhov
spoke fondly of champagne, Bogart of Scotch,
Dylan Thomas totted up his whiskeys, satisfied.
They often speak of the dark or ask for the light
to be left on or off. They may cry out,
“I’m still alive!” or more soberly reflect
on things they should have done or said,
bills still unpaid, books left unread.

My father, a joker even at the end,
said, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.” It’s kept
the thought of him alive, it’s true. Hope springs
eternal, just like fear, each time the phone rings.

Getting It Right
-- by Jack Gilbert

Lying in front of the house all
afternoon, trying to write a poem.
Falling asleep.
Waking up under the stars.

April 23, 2009

And if epiphanies terror reduced you to shame
Have your head bobbed and weaved
Choose a side
To be on

Cecily Brown, the quarrel, 2004

* Wow. excerpt:

"Condoleezza Rice, John D. Ashcroft and at least 10 other top Bush officials reviewed and approved as early as the summer of 2002 the CIA's use of harsh interrogation methods on detainees at secret prisons, including waterboarding that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has described as illegal torture, according to a detailed timeline furnished by Holder to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

"At a moment when the Justice Department is deciding whether former officials who set interrogation policy or formulated the legal justifications for it should be investigated for committing crimes, the new timeline lists the members of the Bush administration who were present when the CIA's director and its general counsel explained exactly which questioning methods were to be used and how those sessions proceeded.

"Rice gave a key early approval, when, as Bush's national security adviser, she met on July 17, 2002, with the CIA's then-director, George J. Tenet, and 'advised that the CIA could proceed with its proposed interrogation of Abu Zubaydah,' subject to approval by the Justice Department, according to the timeline. Rice and four other White House officials had been briefed two months earlier on 'alternative interrogation methods, including waterboarding,' it states. Waterboarding is a technique that simulates drowning."

* Check out the David Foster Wallace audio project. [via]

* “A rich man is nothing but a poor man with money.” -- W. C. Fields

April 22, 2009

yesterday was spent
down in the trenche

Pauline Boty, The Only Blonde in the World, 1963

-- By Bruce Andrews

Rhythm is a vacuum
bruises are weapons
the bookshops haven’t the heart
gasp antibodies moved by facts or moved by pictures? —
systole me some husbandry in stucco savvy
provoke the passion between objects in design
immanent allowanceable deception howls enough
opining a head pump nouned on you
release the pressure on your grudge
recursively speaking, sudden or sullen? —
only triggers can be awkward, only
certainty is vintage: be glad
your internal children die, a private reference fairground
to invent appropriate developments in your past:
no wheelchair could insure you I’ll be
a monk on your mobile diffidence with the territory —
a union of nothing special
cussing threshold you’re so hostile now
to the non-rational grows no more choice
if quality had anniversaries to flatter
by information my generosity cannot keep
the book propped open feigned ensconcing
shudders to short-cut non-living circumstance
careful not to be an example of
the perfect slurpie pedigree curtails —
can you mother alone?

-- By Shelley Stenhouse

I couldn't help thinking about your penis,
that deflated party balloon, that old thin
dachshund hanging behind the dark curtain of
your pants. I knew I should have been thinking
how sad it is I have to lift you into a cab,
wearing a turtleneck in the middle of summer,
your huge voice booming out of a stick figure
from Hangman, with your draft dodging story,
your dinner theater story, your lecture
on the afterlife. Handing me a copy of your
voice-over tape, small legacy, while I cut up
your food. I'll forget about the money you owe me.
But I thought about your penis, put away in there,
packed away like a used catnip toy in a shoe
box, in the small dark room behind your pants,
where the ghosts of all the men and women you have
slept with are mourning, leaning over that long
thing in the coffin, mourning.

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.

April 21, 2009

if you could only stop your heartbeat
for one heartbeat

Nina Glaser, For Meaning or Other Such Quests II, 2005

* From Harper's May 2009:

-- Estimated percentage of Bush Administration apointees who are currently unemployed: 70

-- Percentage change last year in the total net worth of Russia's ten wealthiest individuals: -68

-- Average number of books about Abraham Lincoln release every week since 2007: 1

-- Gallons of coal ash released into a Tennessee rive last December by a power plant: 1,100,000,000

-- Factor by which this exceeds the volume of oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez: 101

* Former Police Chief's thoughts: Marijuana v. Alcohol. excerpt:

"Hundreds of alcohol overdose deaths occur annually. There has never been a single recorded marijuana OD fatality.

"According to the American Public Health Association, excessive alcohol consumption is the third leading cause of death in this country. APHA pegs the negative economic impact of extreme drinking at $150 billion a year.

"There have been no documented cases of lung cancer in a marijuana-only smoker, nor has pot been scientifically linked to any type of cancer. (Don't trust an advocate's take on this? Try the fair and balanced coverage over at Fox.) Alcohol abuse contributes to a multitude of long-term negative health consequences, notably cirrhosis of the liver and a variety of cancers.

"While a small quantity, taken daily, is being touted for its salutary health effects, alcohol is one of the worst drugs one can take for pain management, marijuana one of the best."

April 20, 2009

Admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone

J.G. Ballard, Self-Portrait Double Exposure, 1950


* From Ballard's 1970 essay Why I Want To Fuck Ronald Reagan:

Incidence of orgasms in fantasies of sexual intercourse with Ronald Reagan:

Patients were provided with assembly kit photographs of sexual partners during intercourse. In each case Reagan’s face was super imposed upon the original partner. Vaginal intercourse with "Reagan" proved uniformly disappointing, producing orgasm in 2% of subjects. Axillary, buccal, navel, aural, and orbital modes produced proximal erections. The preferred mode of entry overwhelmingly proved to be the rectal. After a preliminary course in anatomy it was found that the caecum and transverse colon also provided excellent sites for excitation. In an extreme 12% of cases, the simulated anus of post-costolomy surgery generated spontaneous orgasm in 98% of penetrations. Multiple-track cine-films were constructed of "Reagan" in intercourse during (a) campaign speeches, (b) rear-end auto collisions with one and three year model changes, (c) with rear exhaust assemblies...

Sexual fantasies in connection with Ronald Reagan:

The genitalia of the Presidential contender exercised a continuing fascination. A series of imaginary genitalia were constructed using (a) the mouth parts of Jacqueline Kennedy, (b) a Cadillac, (c) the assembly kid prepuce of President Johnson...In 89% of cases, the constructed genitalia generated a high incidence of self-induced orgasm. Tests indicate the masturbatory nature of the Presidential contender’s posture. Dolls consisting of plastic models of Reagan’s alternate genitalia were found to have a disturbing effect on deprived children.

Reagan’s hairstyle:

Studies were conducted on the marked fascination exercised by the Presidential contender’s hairstyle. 65% of male subjects made positive connections between the hairstyle and their own pubic hair. A series of optimum hairstyles were constructed.

The conceptual role of Reagan:

Fragments of Reagan’s cinetized postures were used in the construction of model psychodramas in which the Reagan-figure played the role of husband, doctor, insurance salesman, marriage counsellor, etc.

The failure of these roles to express any meaning reveals the nonfunctional character of Reagan. Reagan’s success therefore indicates society’s periodic need to re-conceptualize its political leaders. Reagan thus appears as a series of posture concepts, basic equations which reformulate the roles of aggression and anality. Reagan’s personality. The profound anality of the Presidential contender may be expected to dominate the United States in the coming years. By contrast the late JFK remained the prototype of the oral subject, usually conceived in pre-pubertal terms. In further studies sadistic psychopaths were given the task of devising sex fantasies involving Reagan. Results confirm the probability of Presidential figures being perceived primarily in genital terms; the face of LB Johnson is clearly genital in significant appearance--the nasal prepuce, scrotal jaw, etc. Faces were seen as either circumcised (JFK, Khrushchev) or uncircumcised (LBJ, Adenauer). In assembly-kit tests Reagan’s face was uniformly perceived as a penile erection. Patients were encouraged to devise the optimum sex-death of Ronald Reagan."

* “I would sum up my fear about the future in one word: boring. And that's my one fear: that everything has happened; nothing exciting or new or interesting is ever going to happen again... the future is just going to be a vast, conforming suburb of the soul.” -- J.G. Ballard

April 17, 2009

pawn to rook four

unknown, man ray v. duchamp

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.

--by Ted Berrigan

is when you walk around a corner
& I see you see me across Second Avenue
You're dressed in indentifiable white
over your jeans & I'm wearing Navy --
Jacob Riis is beams of sunlight as
I cross against the light & we inter-
cept at the Indian Candy Store. The
Family has gone off to Parkersburg, W. Virginia
The Chrysler Building is making the Empire State
stand tall & friendly it leans your way
There's appointments for everybody
They don't have to be kept, either.

April 16, 2009

tanning beds explode with rich women inside

Brion Gysin, I Give You/You Give Me, Made during an LSD trip with John Giorno, May 28, 1965

* Onion AV Club interviews Will Oldham. excerpt:

AVC: You’ve been doing a lot more movies lately, after a long layoff. Do you find acting more satisfying now than it was when you first started out?

WO: It’s only satisfying because these specific things have come up with these people I trust. It can be more like a friendly and open and trusting working relationship, which is not the norm in the film industry, and wasn’t when I was trying to pursue it professionally, and wouldn’t be now if I tried to do that again. I think everybody works from a defensive position, for the most part, in the film industry.

AVC: How so?

WO: First off, every job is short, relatively. Like, an insanely long movie would take six months or something like that. So everyone is either living in the present or living in the future, and they’re personally guarded because they’re in an intense situation for a short period of time. You have to protect yourself when you’re working with people who are talented and strong like that. You just have to ask, “Is this a friendship, or is this a working relationship? Is this a love affair, or is this whatever?” And then professionally, it’s always, “This is my agent, this is your agent. You got that job? How’d you get that job?” And not ever just, “Yeah, I’m happy with what I’m doing. Are you happy with what you’re doing? Good.” With these situations I’ve been in lately, it has been happier, because everyone knows that acting isn’t what I do full-time, so I don’t feel any sense of competition, or I don’t feel like I need to be professionally on the ball outside of the work situation itself. All I have to do is pay attention to the work at hand, and that works out for everybody, I think.

AVC: You mentioned talking to Richard Linklater and Caveh Zahedi about your ideas on movie music. Can you summarize those ideas?

WO: Well, for a while, it seemed like you were always seeing movies where all the music was determined by the music supervisors and their special relationships with certain record labels. And I just felt like, “Wow, I’ll bet they spent months or years writing this screenplay, and I’ll bet they spent months shooting this, and I’ll bet they spent months editing this, and now they’re spending no time at all picking these completely inappropriate songs with lyrics to put under a scene that has dialogue.” How does that even work? How can you have a song with someone singing lyrics under spoken dialogue and consider that mood-music, or supportive of the storyline? As somebody who likes music, when that happens, I tend to listen to the lyrics, which have nothing to do with the movie. And then I’m lost in the storyline. Not only is that a crime, but it’s a crime not to give people who are good at making music for movies the work. It’s like saying, “We don’t need you, even though you’re so much better at it than I am as a music supervisor.” Like the cancer that is that Darjeeling guy… what’s his name?

* Bill Callahan performs Faith/Void, one of my favorite songs of his excellent new album Sometime I Wish We Were An Eagle, at Used Kids Records in Columbus, Ohio.

* Man on Wire Philippe Petit plans a wire walk in Manhattan this summer.

* "Late to bed and late to wake will keep you long on money and short on mistakes." -- Aaron McGrude

April 14, 2009

it's time to put God away

Marion Post Wolcott, Transportation for Hepcats, 1940

-- by Jack Micheline

I chose the whippoorwill
The imaginary throne of ego madness of fantasy land
I chose the herringbone
I chose the waitress at Tina's
I chose chasing pussy over a bank account
I chose poetry over standing in line at the opera
I chose art just to kick the dark devil in the ass forever
I chose pain and torture because I'm a masochist
I chose alcohol and cigarettes over 9 grain cereal
Sublime destiny over mediocrity
Like Darwin I chose the monkey over man
I chose the harmonica over the harpsichord
I chose Superwoman over Betty Grable
I chose the safety of failure over the Winner's Circle

The Springtime
-- by Denise Levertov

The red eyes of rabbits
aren't sad. No one passes
the sad golden village in a barge
any more. The sunset
will leave it alone. If the
curtains hang askew
it is no one's fault.
Around and around and around
everywhere the same sound
of wheels going, and things
growing older, growing
silent. If the dogs
bark to each other
all night, and their eyes
flash red, that's
nobody's business. They have
a great space of dark to
bark across. The rabbits
will bare their teeth at
the spring moon.

Before the Trip
-- by Jim Harrison

When old people travel, it's for relief
from a life that they know too well,
not routine but the very long slope
of disbelief in routine, the unbearable
lightness of brushing teeth that aren't all
there, the weakened voice calling out
for the waiter who doesn't turn;
the drink that once was neither here
nor there is now a singular act of worship.
The sun that rises every day says
I don't care to the torments of love
and hate that once pushed one back
and forth on the blood's red wagon.
All dogs have become beautiful
in the way they look at cats and wonder
what to do. Breakfast is an event
and bird flu only a joke of fear the world
keeps playing. On the morning walk
the horizon is ours when we wish.
We know that death is a miracle for everyone
or so the gods say in a whisper of rain
in the immense garden we couldn't quite trace.
As the music swells somehow stronger from adversity
Our hero finds his inner peace

Barry Stone, Ball and Hoop Brooklyn, 2005

* New article, not a new problem: many professional athletes have a hard time handling their money. excerpt:

"What happens to many athletes and their money is indeed hard to believe. In this month alone Saints alltime leading rusher Deuce McAllister filed for bankruptcy protection for the Jackson, Miss., car dealership he owns; Panthers receiver Muhsin Muhammad put his mansion in Charlotte up for sale on eBay a month after news broke that his entertainment company was being sued by Wachovia Bank for overdue credit-card payments; and penniless former NFL running back Travis Henry was jailed for nonpayment of child support.

"In a less public way, other athletes from the nation's three biggest and most profitable leagues—the NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball—are suffering from a financial pandemic. Although salaries have risen steadily during the last three decades, reports from a host of sources (athletes, players' associations, agents and financial advisers) indicate that:

" --By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.

"--Within five years of retirement, an estimated 60% of former NBA players are broke."
"Children almost always complicate the issue. How to limit paternity obligations is a challenge for pro athletes. Former NBA forward Shawn Kemp (who has at least seven children by six women) and, more recently, Travis Henry (nine by nine) have seen their fortunes sapped by monthly child-support payments in the tens of thousands of dollars. Last month Henry, who reportedly earned almost $11 million over seven years in the NFL, tried and failed to temporarily reduce one of his nine child-support payments by arguing that he could no longer afford the $3,000 every month. Two weeks later he was jailed for falling $16,600 behind in payments for his child in Frostproof, Fla."
"When former NBA guard Kenny Anderson filed for bankruptcy in October 2005, he detailed how the estimated $60 million he earned in the league had dwindled to nothing. He bought eight cars and rang up monthly expenses of $41,000, including outlays for child support, his mother's mortgage and his own five-bedroom house in Beverly Hills, Calif.—not to mention $10,000 in what he dubbed 'hanging-out money.' He also regularly handed out $3,000 to $5,000 to friends and relatives. (Along with Ismail, he enlisted as both a Slamball coach and a Pros vs. Joes participant last year.) Former big league slugger Jack Clark filed for bankruptcy in July 1992 while still playing, listing debts of $6.7 million and ownership of 18 cars—17 of which still had outstanding payments.

"Financial advisers have come to call it 'the problem of the $20,000 Rolex.' If a 22-year-old spends $20,000 on a watch or on a big night out at a nightclub, that money is either depreciating or gone. 'But if they invested in a five percent, Triple A insured, tax-free municipal bond for a period of 30 years,' money manager Seymour says, 'that $20,000 would be worth $86,000 at that tax-free rate of return. And needless to say, they buy more than one $20,000 Rolex.'

"Four years ago future NBA Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen unsuccessfully sued his former law firm for allegedly losing $27 million of his money through poor investments. (He had earned about $110 million in salary alone over a 17-year career.) In February 2007—around the same time as Pippen's failed NBA comeback attempt—the Missouri Court of Appeals upheld a ruling that the player owed U.S. Bank more than $5 million in principal, interest and attorneys' fees from a dispute regarding a Grumman Gulfstream II corporate jet that he'd purchased in 2001.

"In an era in which banks are lambasted for using taxpayers' money to fly their executives on luxury private planes, it's a smart bet for players not to use their own cash to do the same. 'In this economy, especially, the goal shouldn't be living that kind of lifestyle or trying to get richer,' says West. 't needs to be about trying to maintain the wealth.'"

* Twofer Tuesday (Bonnie Prince Billy video edition):

-- Wai, from Lawrence, Kansas April 7, 2009.

-- Performing a song, with Dawn McCarthy, as McCarthy holds her baby in her arms. From Orchard Spotlight in Santa Rosa, March 29, 2009.

* RIP Mark Fidrych.

* "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." -- Flannery O'Connor

April 13, 2009

have faith in wordless knowledge

Kim Manfredi, Galactic Core, 2009

* Unpublished portion of this recent Anthem Magazine interview of Bill Callahan (thanks, Donna!):

Q: I know you have been expanding your written work into a novel lately. An epistolary novel/epic poem titled Letters to Emma Bowlcut. What made you choose to write in just antiquated styles? How did the
story develop into these forms?

A: The form is antiquated, but the style is ripped open by making it epistolary. It is anything but formal, except in parts. There is a freeness in writing in letter form. I wanted to write something shrouded in a classic form (the epic poem), but that didn't conform to meter. It is allowed to succumb to vagaries with the knowledge that a discussion between two people who are familiar with each other doesn't have to be explicit. And that there is an assumed knowingness between letter writers, a portion of which is supported by the fact that there are letters coming from the other person, too. And that there are past
letters and future letters. Writing is a form of seduction.

Q: You are able to encapsulate a short story within three or four minutes. Your writing style is very straightforward, tending towards simple, beautiful narratives about a person in a particular place or mode of thinking coming alive through your strong hold on language, like you’re choking the stories out of the words. How do you think your style fits in among your contemporaries? Most writers today seem to favor long, winding, elliptical styles, how did you grow into the
way you write?

A: It has always been the style that speaks the most to me. With something like GG Marquez I feel like I only need to read a third of the book to know the whole thing. That could be wrong of me. I don't think my style either fits or doesn't fit among my contemporaries. Anyone worth their salt has their own thing going on. I think when you start out you are more influenced by what has come before you, but as you go on you get your own voice. I've always written in shortness. In high school I could never make the word limit on essays but the teachers always had to admit I said enough. There is a prejudice against the terse.

Q: I tend to think the seeming simplicity of your language gets lost on a lot of people. I was once in an audience where the people behind me kept interpreting your lyrics, drunkenly, passionately shouting “This song is about sex” and “This one is about sex too!” Why did you choose to apply your language skills to music? Why write songs when your writing can easily stand alone?

A: I'm not sure my songwriting can stand alone. It's not supposed to, really. It's supposed to be with all that comes with a song -- the phrasing, the music behind it, the person standing on stage to deliver it. I chose music because it is a more varied experience. You aren't just writing words. There's the singing which makes me feel good. You work with a lot of people, it's not just you and a blank page all the time. Music is more social. I thought it'd be good for me. It is.

-- Callahan’s Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle is out tomorrow.

* Check out this video promo for Black Nasty's new album, Shark Tank, out now.

* "Give me the luxuries of life and I will willingly do without the necessities." -- Frank Lloyd Wright

April 10, 2009

Too awake to be famous
Too wired to be safe

Rob Stolzer, Four Heads, 2001

The Unknown Lyrist's Easter Sunday Sermon to Himself
-- by Klipschutz

National Poetry Month or no,
I am, per usual, alone,
in that dreary little cul-de-sac
removed from luck and light,
green to yellow COOKING,
the bitter dream of TRAVEL,
surrounded by the pure pith of the ages,
the rotten, ripe and wax fruit of the age.
My eyes fall on an argument,
The Ordeal of Robert Frost,
no doubt misshelved, well-reasoned prose,
which I don't disturb,
having ordeals of my own.
Outside a weak sun shines
as my Rockports carry me
back to this Tendernob cavern.
(What used to be a “garret, carpet new”
now lists as “atmospheric, skyline view.”)
I'm sure he had it harsh,
still no matter how you slice it,
the ordeal of Robert Frost has gone to sleep.
I on the other hand rock on
from crisis to conceit,
elegy to chorus, cheek to cheek,
beset by editors and landlords without faces.
Curiosity contracts with accretion—
I'll take his sufferings on faith,
hold the detail.
The hired hand comes home to die,
that much I recall, the God-fearing solid souls
who take him in. Apples, birches, fences,
the virtues of persistence and blank verse.
This April afternoon could’ve gone worse.
One’s bookworm cul-de-sac
is the apple of another’s universe.

-- Klipschutz reads Easter Sunday 4pm at Valona Deli (Crockett, California), for more information, click here.

--by Mary Ferrari

for Kenneth Koch

at the end of every cigarette that burns there is of course
a soft little bright light which means
hope! eternity! so you are not
killing yourself when you
smoke you are preparing for
heaven where the loving lavender
cigarette angels have soft ash wings
or for hell where a flaming cigarette forest makes
a marvelous explosion in which at least you are involved!

--by Beth Woodcome

This morning the three dogs shat
on the floor and that’s what I woke to.

Before I even woke my body took itself
in, took it in like an immediate mother would.

Not every mother, but let’s get back to you.
One dog is now sleeping at my feet.

I know how that feels, that shame.
This is my sixty-seventh postcard.

Each time, when I say
I wish you were here

I mean to say I don’t know if you’re real
or intend to hurt me by having a body I can’t get to.

April 9, 2009

And hearing distorting and feeling is lying
But it never succeeds to prevent me from trying

Bev Gegen, Lagoon, 2007

* From a 2008 interview of Ed Ruscha. excerpt:

Q: Are you interested in who’s running for the presidency?

Ruscha: ‘Not enough. I don’t watch TV, so I feel like I’m left out of the American fabric or something. People refuse to believe that I’ve never been to Starbucks or Disneyland – I mean what kind of American am I? So in a sense, maybe I’m thumbing my nose at America.’

Q:Yet you’re so closely tied to California and have consistently paid homage to Americana…

Ruscha: ‘All my artistic response comes from American things and I guess I’ve always had a weakness for heroic imagery. “Azteca” is heroism at its finest: it could represent arms flung open, searchlights going at diagonals or even blaring horns. But a standard gasoline station is similarly heroic.’

Q: Why did you name the statuesque mountain ranges ‘Higher Standards, Lower Prices’?

Ruscha: ‘I was searching for a title and I saw this slogan on a grocery truck in LA. In the second of the two paintings these buildings suddenly shoot up out of nowhere like an instant industrial village of Wal-Marts and Costcos – so that says to me lower prices. But then you have your higher standards – there’s some serious geology going on in those mountains.’

Q:Where does this focus on erosion come from? Is it about looking back and remixing previous work or is it about getting older?

Ruscha: ‘I had paintings in my studio that were looking at me and I didn’t want to give up on them. Its almost like I’m a farmer, practicing crop rotation. However, I can’t say that just because one image looks older or greyer than the other that it’s necessarily negative. I’m just pointing up the issue, not commenting – I don’t have a social agenda.’

* Wild Turkey sold for $575 million.

* "Barnum was wrong - it's more like every 30 seconds." -- Unknown

April 8, 2009

The sun shines
people forget

Paul Klee, Cold City, 1921

In the Era of the Sentence Fragment
-- by Dan Albergotti

Lines of incompletion. All those words
that can be gathered. But not enough
for shoring. Not against ruins. Fragments
of sentences, of dreams, of the boys’ school
in Hiroshima. Looking for raw material
in the dust. Finding nothing. Having nothing
inside. Unable to do the police in different voices.
No more voices. No more makers, better
or worse. Only weak echoes. And irony.
And the dim blue sunrise of the television screen.
And the wish finally to die, like Shelley,
mid-sentence. Writing the triumph of life.

Working Stiff Cylinder
-- Denise Duhamel

I went to the main office to get the official code.
A secretary said to get the code I needed a company I.D.

I went to the personnel office to get a company I.D.
A secretary said to get an I.D. I needed to fill out Form F.

I went to pick up Form F in the basement.
A secretary said, “To get Form F, you need Form P signed by the boss.”

I went to the boss’s office on the top floor.
The boss said that I’d have to have Form P notarized before she could sign it.

I went to the notary in the company’s lobby.
He said, “I can’t notarize Form P until you get all the Xerox copies.”

The Xerox machine was broken, so I called the 800 number.
A technician refused to come, because I didn’t know the official code.

The Hotel Devotion
-- by Sandra Beasley

In the Hotel Devotion
there is no running water,

no power, no stairs,
no bed. There is only

the woman who holds
a river in her mouth,

fireflies in her hands,
the woman who bends

for you, opens for you.
There is only this book,

this pen in your hand,
your name the only name.

April 7, 2009

there's mist for hire
if the air is just too clear

Gwyneth Scally, Twitches and Whispers, 2007

* Why are these people still on our tv's. excerpt:

"And yet, months after Mr. Bush took his Madoff-level popularity and exited the White House, his loyalists are still routinely called upon by influential media to represent the 'conservative' perspective - bestowing unwarranted legitimacy on them and guaranteeing an unsatisfying experience for viewers who might be interested in hearing an intelligent conservative perspective, not a mindless rehash of the slogans Mr. Bush spouted to increasingly ill effect over eight years.

"This unfortunate phenomenon reared its head over the weekend on 'Meet the Press,' which convened a discussion with three essentially non-partisan journalists and two men with more clearly defined ideological views. From the left, there was William Rodgers, once the chief economist for Bill Clinton's Labor Department. And from the right, there was Michael Gerson, the former Bush speechwriter who is credited with coining the phrase 'axis of evil' and coming up with perhaps the single most important line to sell the Iraq war - that 'the first sign of a smoking gun might be a mushroom cloud.'

"If you missed the show, you'll be happy to know that Mr. Gerson, who regularly provides 'conservative' perspective for the Washington Post's op-ed page, is still at it. His most significant contribution to the panel came when he complained about the new administration's decision to stop using the 'war on terror' phraseology in which Mr. Gerson so eagerly trafficked.

"'We've pursued a strategy against al-Qaeda that assumed we were at war that's been fairly successful since 9/11,' the ex-speechwriter said. 'And so calling something an overseas contingency operation, which really sounds like you're looking for lost luggage, doesn't necessarily, you know, move this debate forward.'

"Maybe this would have passed for 'balance' back in, say, 2005, but exactly whom does Mr. Gerson represent anymore? Iraq, at least in theory, destroyed his credibility with the general public. And while conservatives generally remained loyal to Mr. Bush while he was president, the ever-increasing denunciations of his policies from the right since he left office have made clear that the Bush philosophy - unilateral interventionism overseas with little regard for the G.O.P.'s traditional emphasis on small government - was never really representative of his party's grassroots; they simply stuck with him because he was their president and the Democrats hated him.

"Nor is Mr. Gerson the only conservative to emerge, after hitching his wagon to the Bush administration's star, as a supposed representative of current conservative thought.

"Turn on CNN and chances are you won't have to wait long to see the face of Stephen Hayes, who distinguished himself earlier this decade for his insistence, long after it was clear that the opposite was true, that 'there can no longer be any serious argument about whether Saddam Hussein's Iraq worked with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda to plot against Americans.' He also penned a fawning biography of Dick Cheney.

"Or pick up the Washington Post, the same paper that gave Mr. Gerson his post-Bush home, and you'll find a regular op-ed column from William Kristol, the tireless Iraq war champion whose offerings, worse than being wrong, are usually unreadable; Or there's Ron Christie, a little-known Bush and Cheney aide who has somehow become one of the cable networks' go-to guys for the conservative viewpoint - which he unfailingly expresses with the language his old bosses favored when they were in power.

"All of these people, of course, are entitled to their views. But, besides outdated and discredited bluster, they add nothing to the current discussion. And there are plenty of intelligent conservatives out there who aren't just interested in defending the last administration (and, by extension, themselves) and who offer fresh, thought-provoking, and often unpredictable perspectives."

* Jazz musicians James Carter, Cyrus Chesnut, Ali Jackson and Reginal Veal reinterpret Pavement songs (from their album Gold Sounds). Here are two:

-- Trigger Cut

-- Summer Babe

* "Hate no one; hate their vices, not themselves." -- J. G. C. Brainard

April 2, 2009

And then, one day in April, I wasn't even there,
For there were many things I didn't know

Channa Horwitz, Pink to Burgundy Circle Variance No. 5, 2007

* Clusterfuck Nation. excerpt:

"What’s going on now is nature’s way of telling you that America’s standard of living has to be reduced by something between 20 and 50 percent. You can have it in the form of a compressive deflationary depression, including widespread bankruptcies… or you can have by way of inflation, in which money loses its value. But there’s one basic qualification to this: the way down is not symmetrical with the way up. That is, it’s really not just a matter of ratcheting down to a standard of living half of what it was, say, in 2006, because in the event all the various complex systems that support everyday life enter failure mode before our society re-sets at a theoretically lower level of equilibrium.

" By this I mean our methods for getting food, for moving about the landscape, for deploying capital, for trading and manufacturing, for schooling, doctoring, and running public services all destabilize and, to some degree or other, fail to deliver their contribution to normal daily life. Banking (capital deployment) is already mortally wounded. It remains to be seen how this will affect the food supply half a year ahead in the harvest season. Capital is as big an “input” for our method of farming as diesel fuel or fertilizers made from methane gas. The failure of banking will combine with city and state insolvency to crush public transit, law enforcement, fire protection, and whatever flimsy local safety nets exist to keep the ultra-poor and helpless from die-off. The lowering of living standards by 20 to 50 percent essentially eliminates all but the must critical commerce, meaning that most of the stores in the malls and strip malls lose their customers and shed employees, while the mall and strip mall owners lose their rents, and the bankers lose performing commercial real estate loans. As all this occurs, tax revenues go way down, schools can’t pay their employees or buy diesel fuel for their yellow bus fleets. More people lose the ability to carry health insurance. Hospital emergency rooms are overwhelmed. Health care descends to Third World levels. Meanwhile, pensions are destroyed, the elderly live on dog food and ketchup. . . ."

* Reminder: The Foreign Press @ Solly's, tonight, doors 7:30, The Foreign Press @ 8. Free!

* "To be a book-collector is to combine the worst characteristics of a dope fiend with those of a miser." -- Robertson Davies

-- back Tuesday.

April 1, 2009

Put on your slippers and sit by the fire
You've reached your top and you just can't get any higher

Ceal Floyer, Flight, 2006

I Have Folded My Sorrows
-- by Bob Kaufman

I have folded my sorrows into the mantle of summer night,
Assigning each brief storm its alloted space in time,
Quietly pursuing catastrophic histories buried in my eyes.
And yes, the world is not some unplayed Cosmic Game,
And the sun is still ninety-three million miles from me,
And in the imaginary forest, the shingles hippo becomes the gay unicorn.
No, my traffic is not addled keepers of yesterday's disasters,
Seekers of manifest disembowelment on shafts of yesterday's pains.
Blues come dressed like introspective echoes of a journey.
And yes, I have searched the rooms of the moon on cold summer nights.
And yes, I have refought those unfinished encounters. Still, they remain unfinished.
And yes, I have at times wished myself something different.

The tragedies are sung nightly at the funerals of the poet;
The revisited soul is wrapped in the aura of familiarity.

Rite of Passage
-- by Sharon Olds

As the guests arrive at our son’s party
they gather in the living room—
short men, men in first grade
with smooth jaws and chins.
Hands in pockets, they stand around
jostling, jockeying for place, small fights
breaking out and calming. One says to another
How old are you? —Six. —I’m seven. —So?
They eye each other, seeing themselves
tiny in the other’s pupils. They clear their
throats a lot, a room of small bankers,
they fold their arms and frown. I could beat you
up, a seven says to a six,
the midnight cake, round and heavy as a
turret behind them on the table. My son,
freckles like specks of nutmeg on his cheeks,
chest narrow as the balsa keel of a
model boat, long hands
cool and thin as the day they guided him
out of me, speaks up as a host
for the sake of the group.
We could easily kill a two-year-old,
he says in his clear voice. The other
men agree, they clear their throats
like Generals, they relax and get down to
playing war, celebrating my son’s life.

-- by W. S. Merwin

Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.