June 30, 2009

upper or downers
either way blood flows

Emily Greene Liddle, Hooked, 2008

* Interview of Joel Gion, tambourine man for Brian Jonestown Massacre, longtime Ameoba employee, and now front man for The Dilettantes. excerpt:

Q: What song do you wish that you wrote every time you hear it?

JG: "My Little Green Bag" by The George Baker Selection. The absolute coolest cruisin' down the sidewalk with the headphones on tune ever. Then it stops and goes into this pizzaria jig and you're like, this is nutty cool!

Q: Aside from Dig, what is your favorite musician/band documentary?

JG: I just can't aside when it comes to Dig!

Q: What have you been listening to lately?

JG: The Eva soundtrack by Michel LeGrand and Elevator To The Gallows by Miles Davis. Frenchy cool 60's soundtrack jazz, baby.

Q: I know you are quite the cinema buff. What's your favorite movie from the 70s? From the 60s?

JG: That is really hard, but it's probably either Good, the Bad and The Ugly or Once Upon A Time In the West. Or maybe Duck, You Sucker or For A Few Dollars More. It's hard to say.

Q: Is there an older movie that has finally come out on DVD that you would recommend?

JG: The Delirious Fictions of William Klein Criterion Box set. It's from their Eclipse Series, so that means you get 3 films for 40 bucks on Criterion -- that's cool, baby. William Klein was an American in France during the 60's/70's who made some incredibly great lefty stick-it-to-the-man gone high art comedy flicks.

Q: What has been your best find at Amoeba?

JG: My girlfriend.

Q: Adorable answer. What are your tour plans for the summer?

JG: The Brian Jonestown Massacre 4-week festival tour all over Europe, with 2 weeks in Australia/New Zealand. Plus David Letterman if we don't scare em too much at the pre-show rehearsals!

* Some excellent photos from the Glastonbury Festival.

* "You can pretend to be serious; you can't pretend to be witty." -- Sacha Guitry

June 29, 2009

Monday, monday, cant trust that day
Monday, monday, sometimes it just turns out that way

Stephen Shore, 'Andy Warhol, Sam Green, Marcel Duchamp, Cordier Ekstrom Gallery', 1965

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

5. "Joe The Plumber is apparently still hanging around book stores and GOP meetings looking for work. Wasn't he supposed to be buying his boss's plumbing business? I guess he's having too much fun pretending to be a celebrity. Maybe we should start calling him Joe "Hollywood" The Plumber.

Anyway, Joe spoke to a group of conservatives in Wassau, WI last week and wowed them with his knowledge of history and politics. According to the Wassau Daily Herald:
Referring to the Constitution as "almost like the Bible," Wurzelbacher said of the Founding Fathers: "They knew socialism doesn't work. They knew communism doesn't work."
Well done Joe! Just one problem...

The Constitution predates the origins of socialism by nearly 100 years.

At the same meeting, The Plumber complained that tea-baggers are unfairly labeled as "extremists."
"I'm here for one reason and one reason only: It's 'I love America,'" Wurzelbacher told the crowd. "Mainstream media wants to paint us as a bunch of extremists, right? We're in search of liberty and our freedoms. What's so extreme about that?" (...)

"Let me give you another extremist view, 'In God We Trust,'" he said to wild applause. "Say that too loud in some parts of America and you will be shot. It's terrible."
I know, right? Won't somebody think of all those poor Americans who live under the constant threat of physical violence just because they go to a Christian church. You know they can't go out on a Sunday morning without their body armor.

Joe capped off his performance by demonstrating why he and his conservative buddies aren't a bunch of extremists.

Referring to Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., more than once, Wurzelbacher asked, "Why hasn't he been strung up?"

* Worst possible 33 1/3 books.

* "To predict the behavior of ordinary people in advance, you only have to assume that they will always try to escape a disagreeable situation with the smallest possible expenditure of intelligence." -- Friedrich Nietzsche

June 26, 2009

I dropped by to pick up a reason

Cecily Brown, Maid's Day Off, 2005

Ruined Histories
-- by August Kleinzahler

You so love these photographs, too well perhaps,
and rush to frame the moment, press the shutter,
and get along with this dollhouse saga
you had rehearsed before it ever came to be.
Ah, Little Girl Destiny, it's sprung a leak
and the margins are bleeding themselves away.
You and I and the vase and stars won't stay still.
Wild, wild, wild--kudzu's choked the topiary.

Looks like your history is about to turn
random and brutal, much as an inch of soil or duchy.
Not at all that curious hybrid you had in mind:
Jane Austen, high-tech and a measure of Mom.

You're lost, desolate as Savannah after Sherman.
The lavender sachet, marbled storybooks,
the ring Grandma left you, poor Damien's love letters . . .
It's just your eyes, ass, me and a broken Nikon.

Holes and Stars
-- by Emma Lew

I just got my memory back.
Few loons and I would live
in a corner at the airport,
not for the sequence
but the agony we had to be in,
running off with the money
and faking our own deaths.
Will technology make me remote?
1 don't know where I am,
I never know what's going to happen.

Everything is quiet,
stunned yet animated,
evolving yet wilting.
If I want to read a newspaper,
I reach out for it with my hand.
Funny how you've taken my theory
and decided to call it your own.
They will be making snow tonight;
it will be beautiful and we can afford it.
Come quickly,
by yourself,
bring the negatives.

As Planned
-- by Frank O'Hara

After the first glass of vodka
you can accept just about anything
of life even your own mysteriousness
you think it is nice that a box
of matches is purple and brown and is called
La Petite and comes from Sweeden
for they are words you know and that
is all you know words not their feelings
of what they mean and you write because
you know them not because you understand them
because you don't you are stupid and lazy
and will never be great but you do
what you know because what else is there?

Joseph Cornell
-- by Frank O'Hara

Into a sweeping meticulously-
detailed disaster the violet
light pours. It's not a sky,
it's a room. And in the open
field a glass of absinthe is
fluttering its song of India.
Prarie winds circle mosques.

You are always a little too
young to understand. He is
bored with his sense of the
past, the artist. Out of the
prescient rock in his heart
he has spread a land without
flowers of near distances.

June 24, 2009

People be careful not to crest too soon

Karl Lindvedt, Wes, 2009

Poem Addressing Why I Choose To Write Poems When I Know
It Is A Highly Unlikely Way To Receive The Approval That I Crav
-- by Peter Davis

My need for approval is such that even normal approval is not good enough. I only feel good about approval if I have earned it in the hardest way I can imagine. If you, by some amazing stroke of luck, find this poem and it impresses you so much that you feel very positive about me, and if you communicate that positive feeling to me, I will feel very good for a very short period of time (especially if you are well-respected and prestigious). I wait for this rare and fleeting event because I can’t think of anything else worth waiting on. It’s sad.

The Hand
-- by Mary Ruefle

The teacher asks a question.
You know the answer, you suspect
you are the only one in the classroom
who knows the answer, because the person
in question is yourself, and on that
you are the greatest living authority,
but you don’t raise your hand.
You raise the top of your desk
and take out an apple.
You look out the window.
You don’t raise your hand and there is
some essential beauty in your fingers,
which aren’t even drumming, but lie
flat and peaceful.
The teacher repeats the question.
Outside the window, on an overhanging branch,
a robin is ruffling its feathers
and spring is in the air.

Storm Catechism
-- by Kim Addonizio

The gods are rinsing their just-boiled pasta
in a colander, which is why
it is humid and fitfully raining
down here in the steel sink of mortal life.
Sometimes you can smell the truffle oil
and hear the ambrosia being knocked back,
sometimes you catch a drift
of laughter in that thunder crack: Zeus
knocking over his glass, spilling lightning
into a tree. The tree shears away from itself
and falls on a car, killing a high school girl.
Or maybe it just crashes down
on a few trash cans, and the next day
gets cut up and hauled away by the city.
Either way, hilarity. The gods are infinitely perfect
as is their divine mac and cheese.
Where does macaroni come from? Where does matter?
Why does the cat act autistic when you call her,
then bat a moth around for an hour, watching intently
as it drags its wings over the area rug?
The gods were here first, and they're bigger.
They always were, and always will be
living it up in their father's mansion.
You only crawled from the drain
a few millennia ago,
after inventing legs for yourself
so you could stand, inventing fists
in order to raise them and curse the heavens.
Do the gods see us?
Will the waters be rising soon?
The waters will be rising soon.
Find someone or something to cling to.

June 23, 2009

Half-hours on Earth
What are they worth
I don't know

Warren Rosser, False Start, 2000

* From the final interview of Roberto Bolano, published in Stop Smiling (issue 38, which also contains interviews of Stephen Malkmus and David Berman). excerpt:

SS: What is your favorite soccer team?

RB: None right now. The ones who fall to second tier, then third consecutively, then regional until they've disappeared. The phantom teams.
SS: Have you suffered much for love?

RB: Very much the first time, then I learned to take things with a sense of humor.
SS: Do you worry about the position of your books on best-seller lists?

RB: Minimally

SS: Do you think about your readers?

RB: Almost never.
SS: What things make you angry?

RB: At this age, getting angry is a waste of time. And, regrettably, time matters at my age.
SS: How does it feel to be regarded as the Latin American writer with the most promising future by critics like Dario Osses?

RB: It must be a joke. I am the Latin American writer wiht the least promising future. But on that point, I am the type with the most past, which is what matters anyway.
SS: What do you wish to do before you die?

RB: Nothing special. Well, clearly I'd prefer not to die. But sooner or later the distinguished lady arrives. The problem is that sometimes she's neither a lady nor very distinguished, but, as Nicanor Parra says in a poem, she's a hot wench who will make your teeth chatter no matter how fancy you think you are.

* Tiger heckled by Long Islanders. excerpt:

"At 6:42 p.m., dozens of drunken spectators at Hole 10 taunted Woods as he prepared to start his third round in the rain. “We’re on Long Island, baby, where men are men!” one fan yelled. “Put that umbrella down!”

"…Woods did not respond to the people who were heckling him but tried to quiet the crowd with a “sshh” hand gesture, putting his finger to his lips, as golfers prepared to tee off on the adjacent 12th tee.

“'Suck it up, you’ve got your own video game!' someone shouted at Woods. Some fans, apparently disgusted by the hecklers’ behavior, walked away from the hole. Others told the vocal contingent to quiet down, which had no effect on the verbal abuse. Minutes later, a group of fans greeted Fred Funk at the 10th hole by shouting his last name as an obscenity.

"A little earlier, drunken fans at the seventh hole shouted at golfers, 'This Bud’s for you!”'On the ninth fairway, drunks called out 'you suck' to players while spectators on the other side booed the hecklers.

* "Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand." -- Mark Twain

June 22, 2009

they're waking you up to close the bar
the street's wet you can tell by the sound of the cars
the bartender's singing clementine
while he's turning around the open sign

Matthew Rose, Andre' Breton, 2007

* Krugman. excerpt:

"America’s political scene has changed immensely since the last time a Democratic president tried to reform health care. So has the health care picture: with costs soaring and insurance dwindling, nobody can now say with a straight face that the U.S. health care system is O.K. And if surveys like the New York Times/CBS News poll released last weekend are any indication, voters are ready for major change.

'The question now is whether we will nonetheless fail to get that change, because a handful of Democratic senators are still determined to party like it’s 1993.

"And yes, I mean Democratic senators. The Republicans, with a few possible exceptions, have decided to do all they can to make the Obama administration a failure. Their role in the health care debate is purely that of spoilers who keep shouting the old slogans — Government-run health care! Socialism! Europe! — hoping that someone still cares.

"The polls suggest that hardly anyone does. Voters, it seems, strongly favor a universal guarantee of coverage, and they mostly accept the idea that higher taxes may be needed to achieve that guarantee. What’s more, they overwhelmingly favor precisely the feature of Democratic plans that Republicans denounce most fiercely as “socialized medicine” — the creation of a public health insurance option that competes with private insurers."
"I’m not that worried about the issue of costs. Yes, the Congressional Budget Office’s preliminary cost estimates for Senate plans were higher than expected, and caused considerable consternation last week. But the fundamental fact is that we can afford universal health insurance — even those high estimates were less than the $1.8 trillion cost of the Bush tax cuts. Furthermore, Democratic leaders know that they have to pass a health care bill for the sake of their own survival. One way or another, the numbers will be brought in line.

"The real risk is that health care reform will be undermined by 'centrist' Democratic senators who either prevent the passage of a bill or insist on watering down key elements of reform. I use scare quotes around “centrist,” by the way, because if the center means the position held by most Americans, the self-proclaimed centrists are in fact way out in right field.

"What the balking Democrats seem most determined to do is to kill the public option, either by eliminating it or by carrying out a bait-and-switch, replacing a true public option with something meaningless. For the record, neither regional health cooperatives nor state-level public plans, both of which have been proposed as alternatives, would have the financial stability and bargaining power needed to bring down health care costs.

"Whatever may be motivating these Democrats, they don’t seem able to explain their reasons in public."
"Honestly, I don’t know what these Democrats are trying to achieve. Yes, some of the balking senators receive large campaign contributions from the medical-industrial complex — but who in politics doesn’t? If I had to guess, I’d say that what’s really going on is that relatively conservative Democrats still cling to the old dream of becoming kingmakers, of recreating the bipartisan center that used to run America.

"But this fantasy can’t be allowed to stand in the way of giving America the health care reform it needs. This time, the alleged center must not hold."

* Infinite Summer kicks off today. "Join endurance bibliophiles from around the world in reading Infinite Jest over the summer of 2009, June 21st to September 22nd. A thousand pages1 ÷ 92 days = 75 pages a week." Good time to read DFW's masterpiece if you haven't done so already.

* "Books have the same enemies as people: fire, humidity, animals, weather, and their own content." -- Paul Valery

June 19, 2009

Sippin on a beer on Bourbon Street
I'm sittin easy
Don't get me wrong
It takes a lot to please me

Margaret Bourke-White, At the time of the Louisville flood, 1937

First Party At Ken Kesey's With Hell's Angels
-- by Allen Ginsberg

Cool black night thru redwoods
cars parked outside in shade
behind the gate, stars dim above
the ravine, a fire burning by the side
porch and a few tired souls hunched over
in black leather jackets. In the huge
wooden house, a yellow chandelier
at 3 A.M. the blast of loudspeakers
hi-fi Rolling Stones Ray Charles Beatles
Jumping Joe Jackson and twenty youths
dancing to the vibration thru the floor,
a little weed in the bathroom, girls in scarlet
tights, one muscular smooth skinned man
sweating dancing for hours, beer cans
bent littering the yard, a hanged man
sculpture dangling from a high creek branch,
children sleeping softly in their bedroom bunks.
And 4 police cars parked outside the painted
gate, red lights revolving in the leaves.

Cosmopolitan Greetings
-- by Allen Ginsberg

Stand up against governments, against God.
Stay irresponsible.
Say only what we know & imagine.
Absolutes are Coercion.
Change is absolute.
Ordinary mind includes eternal perceptions.
Observe what’s vivid.
Notice what you notice.
Catch yourself thinking.
Vividness is self-selecting.
If we don’t show anyone, we’re free to write anything.
Remember the future.
Freedom costs little in the U.S.
Asvise only myself.
Don’t drink yourself to death.
Two molecules clanking us against each other require an observer to become
scientific data.
The measuring instrument determines the appearance of the phenomenal
world (after Einstein).
The universe is subjective..
Walt Whitman celebrated Person.
We are observer, measuring instrument, eye, subject, Person.
Universe is Person.
Inside skull is vast as outside skull.
What’s in between thoughts?
Mind is outer space.
What do we say to ourselves in bed at night, making no sound?
“First thought, best thought.”
Mind is shapely, Art is shapely.
Maximum information, minimum number of syllables.
Syntax condensed, sound is solid.
Intense fragments of spoken idiom, best.
Move with rhythm, roll with vowels.
Consonants around vowels make sense.
Savour vowels, appreciate consonants.
Subject is known by what she sees.
Others can measure their vision by what we see.
Candour ends paranoia.

Buying the Whore
-- by Anne Sexton

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

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

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

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

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

June 18, 2009

Playgrounds where we spent our days
Return within our dreams

Kim Dorland, Catwalk, 2007

* On Gilda Radner (from Make 'Em Laugh by Michael Kantor and Laurence Masion):

"Radner was born in Detroit, nine months after the end of World War II, to a Russian Jewish family. Her father ran a successful hotel in town, and many famous nightclub entertainers performed there. Gilda, already named after a Rita Hayworth heroine, was starstruck at an early age. The first wall she banged into was her father's death, when she was a teenager, and it hit her hard. 'She was also heavy,' recounted Alan Zweibel, another close friend and SNL writer. 'So, the death of a Dad and being fat, that was a little bit of a combo platter there, that certainly is a really good recipe to be funny. How else do you survive?'

"Gilda went across the border to follow a boyfriend to Canada, worked briefly on a children's television show, and then did improv at Toronto's Second City. She came to New York to perform in the National Lampoon Show, where producer Lorne Michaels saw her: she was the first of the Not Ready for Prime Time Players to be hired for Saturday Night Live. Through the first five seasons of the program, Radner became the show's heart, winning the audience over with her gallery of misguided misfits. There seemed to be few risks she was not willing to take, whether it was gluing fake armpit hair on to parody Patti Smith, or slamming full throttle into a bedroom door [or jumping on the bed] as the hyperactive little girl, Judy Miller.
" 'Part of the charm of Gilda was the child inside of her, that she was not afraid to access,' said Zweibel. 'She felt comfortable in the world that's in the head of children.'

"Perhaps her greatest risk-taking revolved around her ability to endow each of her unforgettable characters with a humiliating flaw that would have, in less sensitive hands, consigned them to social marginalization. Her version of Barbara Walters combined a speech impediment with a gargantuan ego: 'I mean, wewwy, who does deserve to be Fiwst Wady? Me, Baba Wawa, Fiwst Wady of tewevision.' Emily Litella, the 'Weekend Update' contributor, incapable of getting the simplest facts straight, was continually railing against 'Violins on Television' or 'Soviet Jewelry.' There was 'always something' over-the-top about newscaster Roseanne Rosannadanna, who never seemed to understand the most basic rules of taste or etiquette. ...

"No matter how egregious the faux pas of her characters, no matter how goofy they seemed to be, they always thought they were perfectly fine; that's because Radner did, too. Anne Beatts remembered that 'She once said that she thought comedy originated for her when you're little and you fall down on the ice? And people might laugh at you so you try and make it seem like you fell on purpose? That was the root of her comedy.' Nowhere was that more apparent than with Lisa Loopner, the girl nerd who, despite the fact that her breasts were, in her words, 'miserable maraschino cherries,' still radiated an immense sexual attraction to her pizza-faced classmate, Todd, played by Bill Murray, [who] was 'a boy and a friend, but not my boyfriend,' ...

"As Gilda's star ascended, there were the inevitable rungs in the ladder of crossover success - movies, a one-woman Broadway show - but she always turned down the repeated, fervent requests for her to star in her own sitcom. She was happy where she was, on SNL, but in 1980, when the original cast left after five seasons, it was time to move on. Her huge fame at the time filled her more with ambivalence than anything else; she told a television reporter that 'it happens a lot in comedy that when you get success and celebrity, it changes. There's something about being an underdog, a voyeur, that makes comedy possible.' "

* Top sevenconservative new media fails so far this year.

* "The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth." -- Niels Bohr

June 17, 2009

I hear that's the brand new thing

Jaromír Funke, Untitled (Bridge in Kolín), 1922

-- by Adriana Grant

A curvaceous, porcelain water fountain: one oversize molar. Bony
relic of elementary school. Letters decorating walls like the
hieroglyphs they are. To enunciate the sound of T. The white noise of
the fan populates the room with quiet.

darryl strawberry asleep in the field of dreams
-- by Paul Beatty

They raised the price of dreams,
blue inked cans of del monte creamed corn
where baseball players
are reborn

in their prime,
to play in modern day times
and not only was the ball white

shoeless Joe Jackson was white

his uni was white
all the dead white players was white
takin batting practice in white home uniforms
under white Iowa clouds.

I squirmed in my seat hoping for a
warm thunder storm

that would rain down cool pappa bell
and hell would drip off corn stalk blades,

pool into a homestead gray

in a gray away uniform,
flip down flip-up shades,
and say -- hey now he's really playin --

got to wear your sun glasses
so you can feel cool.

But it's only a movie
and film school heaven is
where white doctors who played
only an inning and a half
can pray for a tinker everlastin chance to groove the 0-2 sinker.

White boys steady leaning in
truly believin this is the best movie they've ever seen
but none of em asked Josh Gibson to slo-dance
across the color line that
fall in an Iowa ball field

broken but unhealed.
Fathers younger than their sons play catch
onna mismatch patch
of natural grass and James Earl Jones' broad ass.

Hollywood's black fat majesty
bellows... and the people will come.
and put the suicide squeeze on my mother's mother
whose color
is the same
as a night game infield

...and the people will come.
to see black fathers to be
with scars on their knees
from shinbones split in half
and knocked off kneecaps

practice the tap dunks they will pump over their daughters n sons

...and the people will come.
How could daughters and fathers build
wooden bleachers
just to sit and cheer male features.

If umpire Pam Postema dies in the minor leagues
Ty Cobb'l hook slides into heaven
and she'll just call him out
and he will
get up, dust himself off, call her a...
brush it off as a tease.

Is this heaven,

no, it's Iowa.
Is this heaven,

no, it's Harlem.
Is this heaven,

no, it's bedrock.
Is this heaven,

no, it's Cabrini Green.
Do they got a team

ain't sure they got dreams
damn sure they ain't got a field,
or crops that yield.
Is that the sign for 'steal,'

I approach the third base coach
and ask 'is the movies for real.'

June 16, 2009

The reflection from the bus
Makes it look like one of us is older and taller

Richard Prince, Untitled (four single men with interchangeable backgrounds looking to the right [detail]), 1977

* From Harper's July 2009:

-- Percentage change since 1985 in the number of U.S. newspapers with reporters covering Congress: -72

-- Percentage change since 2003 in the number of newspaper reporters covering state legislatures: -32

-- Percentage of six-to nine-year-old American girls who wear lipstick or lip gloss: 46

-- Percentage change since 2007 in the average cost of a U.S. wedding: -24

-- Percentage change since last year in the amount Americans spent on canning and freezing supplies: +29

-- Number of poppyseed bagels that could be made with Afghanistan's annual poppy harvest: 357,000,000,000

* Red Kitchen's debut album, The Second Person, has been highly anticipated here at Dust Congress. It's out now, and has been on constant repeat since it arrived. Smart lyrics, fuzzy pop sounds, perfect for summertime.

Tracks six and seven from The Second Person:

-- Point of Reference

-- Like A Trombone

For information on obtaining The Second Person (and lyrics and more) check out the band website.

* Three way tie for mindblower.

* "I've got 50% of people with me, and 50% of people will never be with me." -- Tracey Emin

June 12, 2009

Sometimes it's more than he can take
He falls in love more everyday
Sometimes it's all he can do to stay awake

Ray Caesar, L'accord D'amour, 2005

Getting Lucky in December
-- by Nicole Steinberg

Snow White-fresh, you wandered into a forest,
pushed your way through the tangled ferny
undergrowth, and breathed in zesty green
enchantment. Freezing your behind off,
you curled up in front of a fireplace
in a charming farm-cum-hotel-cum-spa
with clusters of chambray napkins, vivid pink
candlesticks, ornate little knives and spoons;
French wine bottles like shimmery crack vials.
The winters do get chilly. You shed your sweater
in the rustic boudoir—a beautiful centerpiece
draped, nymph-like, over a paisley pillow.
Tea rose to scent your underthings, hibiscus
in your hair, you blushed and opened like a locket.

The Forms of Love
-- by George Oppen

Parked in the fields
All night
So many years ago,
We saw
A lake beside us
When the moon rose.
I remember

Leaving that ancient car
Together. I remember
Standing in the white grass
Beside it. We groped
Our way together
Downhill in the bright
Incredible light

Beginning to wonder
Whether it could be lake
Or fog
We saw, our heads
Ringing under the stars we walked
To where it would have wet our feet
Had it been water

-- by Barbara Guest

The simple contact with a wooden spoon and the word
recovered itself, began to spread as grass, forced
as it lay sprawling to consider the monument where
patience looked at grief, where warfare ceased
eyes curled outside themes to search the paper
now gleaming and potent, wise and resilient, word
entered its continent eager to find another as
capable as a thorn. The nearest possession would
house them both, they being then two might glide
into this house and presently create a rather larger
mansion filled with spoons and condiments, gracious
as a newly laid table where related objects might gather
to enjoy the interplay of gravity upon facetious hints,
the chocolate dish presuming an endowment, the ladle
of galactic rhythm primed as a relish dish, curved
knives, finger bowls, morsel carriages words might
choose and savor before swallowing so much was the
sumptuousness and substance of a rented house where words
placed dressing gowns as rosemary entered their scent
percipient as elder branches in the night where words
gathered, warped, then straightened, marking new wands.

June 11, 2009

I feel like an astronaut
Suffocating on the moon
So far from home
Encased in this plastic dome

Liz Hickok, San Francisco's Ferry Building, made of jello

* Little Drops of Water, a recently published short story by Kurt Vonnegut.

* In Baltimore? The Caribbean are performing Friday June 12 at the fabulous Hexagon w/Controlled Storms, Red Sammy, and The Expanding Man.

* "Washington is the only place where sound travels faster than light." -- C. V. R. Thompson

June 10, 2009

I'm not the chosen one

Dan Christensen, April Blue, 1995

Inventing the Body
-- Dora Malech

The lungs were my idea.
Shins, his.
Breasts, mine, though he agreed.

He tried to name his favorite organ
Mr. Winky, but titles were forbidden from the start.

Laughter was a vital sign,
amended to a ticking in the chest.

We called the heart the heart
because we could not say its real name,
even to each other, even in the dark.

-- by Sarah Manguso

I'm tired of looking at this blonde's well-formed ass
but she sure can weed a garden.
Does she know I dream about her white eyelashes?
Does she know all ambition has the same source?
The gray bird describes a shape,
the deer bounces up a hill,
many animals walk on the earth and silence me.
Thanks, gravity.
Thanks, big-ass blonde.
Weed away! Let the light burn you,
the sun distract you from the blazing world!
For death is coming! And love will be new!

-- by Jeanne Lupton

60th September
honeybees wild
in yellow blossoms
I was born
for middle age

June 9, 2009

there's a look on your face
that says you've been had

Matthew Kern, More Time Tick Tock, 2000

* From Barthes to Foucault and beyond – Cycling in the Age of Empire. excerpt:

"In their marking out of a territory, of a nation and of a people, the Tours were as much a part of creating the Europe of the 20th century as was the documentation and administration of life as Foucault so very well describes in his lectures entitled of 'Society Must be Defended' – the people, customs, fetes, fairs and fiestas, each day complete with the local version of cheese, chorizo and champagne. The Tours were created and maintained by an alliance of the state, industrial capital and the media. [In France, the Tour was started by the newspaper L'Equipe, its impetus to sell more editions of a motoring magazine, putting cycling to work in the pay of an intersection of the car and newspaper industries. With its resumption after the Civil War in 1941 Spain's La Vuelta covered the longest route in its history demarcating the victor's territory across the country and particularly the former Republican strongholds. For some years it was restricted by Franco to only Spanish participants.] In modernity these races all played their role in reinforcing the status of a unified territory, a people, a nation and its capital.

"The Tours have also been the place that traditionally have allowed Europe to think of itself as the place where subjectivity could still 'do' rather than the place where subjectivity was simply relegated to 'being'. The Tours were centres of action in lands that might otherwise be petrified into museums of the old world amongst the chaos of the new world and modernity. [Is this the problem with the American?]

"But with the coming of the age of Empire, things changed. It was with the coming of those from outside continental Europe that the practices of the peloton and in particular doping first become problematised.

"It is with Simpson's death – the Englishman who helps start the process of globalising the Tours - that doping first becomes a political matter. Still it remains an internal issue, something for the sport to deal with. [The mid sixties also coincide with the demise of national teams and the introduction of what are known as the Trade Teams.] The late 1990’s mark the point at which it becomes a matter for the sovereign – it is here with the 'Festina Tour', with borders being crossed that we see doping becoming criminalised. It is here that we first see cyclists being taken from their bikes to the jail cells. But it is in the age of Empire, an age that arrives with the American, [a Texan no less] that things really start to escape their bounds."

* 2004 Arthur article, only recently available online: Daniel Chamberlin discusses the "the discreet charm of the grateful dead", with a couple illustrations by D.C. Berman. [via]

* Surprise! An Israeli couple are preparing to divorce after the man summoned a prostitute to his hotel room only to discover she was his daughter.

* “I don’t create controversies. They’re there long before I open my mouth. I just bring them to your attention.” -- Charles Barkley

June 8, 2009

It was very nice
candlelight and Dubonnet on ice

Sasha Stone, Berlin, 1928

* Marie Mundaca on designing interiors of David Foster Wallace's books. excerpt:

"Consider the Lobster was a little different. Most of the book was very typical, but there was one particular essay called 'Host' that required some special treatment. Wallace, infamous for his footnotes and endnotes, wanted to try something a little different with 'Host.' He wanted to stress the immediacy of communication and the speed of thought that occurred in the studio where the talk radio DJ John Ziegler worked. The Atlantic Monthly had already run a version of this essay and did a spectacular design job, using a format with color-coded callouts, as if someone had highlighted a script and made note in the margins. However, there are intrinsic differences between a magazine and a book. The Atlantic Monthly used color; we were not going to do that. Magazines are usually 8-1/2 x 11, and we were 6 x 9. We had to figure out a way to do this essay.

"Wallace's idea was to have leaders and labels, like a diagram. He wanted something that looked like hypertext rollovers that were immediate and at hand. I thought this whole thing might be a bit much for me to design. It seemed like it might be a full-time job. I sent it off to one of my favorite designers, who shot me an email back saying something along the lines of 'There is not enough money in the world to make me do this.'

"So I did it. Had I realized at the time that this job would entail my spending close to an hour every few weeks talking to my favorite author ever on the phone, I would have never considered giving it to anyone else. Mostly we just went over changes that needed to be made, but initially we had some very intense discussions regarding the semiotics of the leaders (the lines going from the text to the boxes) and the tics and the line width of the boxes and the ampersands. He'd leave me voice mail messages at work in the middle of the night, telling me what time I should call him the next day. One time when I called, I got his answering machine, but when I began to leave a message, he picked up. 'I heard your mellifluous voice," he said. Sometimes I'd hear the dog barking in the background. He was recently married, and he obviously relished saying 'my wife' when he would tell me about upcoming plans and where I could find him if I needed him."

* Download Miles and Trane from Stockholm, 1960.

* Literal video: Total Eclipse of the Heart.

* "It is precisely the purpose of the public opinion generated by the press to make the public incapable of judging, to insinuate into it the attitude of someone irresponsible, uninformed." -- Walter Benjamin

June 5, 2009

you can't hide
what you intend
once you start
the path of revenge

In DC? Check out OBETROL at Artomatic Saturday Evening

The Natives Are Restless
-- by Sandra Beasley

Of course you invited them in: faces painted
like trick-or-treaters, carrying pointy spears.
The youngest clutched his goat, the tallest
her stack of bowls, and you had rooms to spare.
They fill the house with song and drums;
they show you the dance for morning, the dance
for evening, the dance for mowing the lawn.
They yank the dust covers off your heart.
Now you have sheets to iron, skirts to mend.
You wish your husband was here to see this:
You are useful. You are adored. They want
marrow for breakfast, pancakes for supper.

The Mutes
-- by Denise Levertov

Those groans men use
passing a woman on the street
or on the steps of the subway

to tell her she is a female
and their flesh knows it,

are they a sort of tune,
an ugly enough song, sung
by a bird with a slit tongue

but meant for music?

Or are they the muffled roaring
of deafmutes trapped in a building that is
slowly filling with smoke?

Perhaps both.

Such men most often
look as if groan were all they could do,
yet a woman, in spite of herself,

knows it's a tribute:
if she were lacking all grace
they'd pass her in silence:

so it's not only to say she's
a warm hole. It's a word

in grief-language, nothing to do with
primitive, not an ur-language;
language stricken, sickened, cast down

in decrepitude. She wants to
throw the tribute away, dis-
gusted, and can't,

it goes on buzzing in her ear,
it changes the pace of her walk,
the torn posters in echoing corridors

spell it out, it
quakes and gnashes as the train comes in.
Her pulse sullenly

had picked up speed,
but the cars slow down and
jar to a stop while her understanding

keeps on translating:
'Life after life after life goes by

without poetry,
without seemliness,
without love.'

Saturday Morning
-- by Hugo Williams

Everyone who made love the night before
was walking around with flashing red lights
on top of their heads-a white-haired old gentlemen,
a red-faced schoolboy, a pregnant woman
who smiled at me from across the street
and gave a little secret shrug,
as if the flashing red light on her head
was a small price to pay for what she knew.

June 4, 2009

And you hang on, hang on, hang on to the words of a liar

Henry Diltz, Neil Young at home on his Ranch, 1973

* Arianna Huffington on Dick Cheney's lies. excerpt:

"Cheney's ongoing Forget Everything I Ever Told You Tour is historical revisionism at its most despicable.

"And we are clearly watching a master manipulator at work. I've always felt that his best -- and by that I mean worst -- work was going on Meet the Press in 2002 to tell us about those ominous aluminum tubes and the "number of contacts over the years" between Al Qaeda and Iraq... or his repeated designed-to-terrify-voters warnings about nuclear attacks on US soil. But this ranks right up there.

"In his interview with van Susteren, Cheney also backed away from his claim that the documents he wants the CIA to declassify would prove that torture was effective -- saying instead that they would offer a good summary of "what we learned" not just from waterboarding but the detainee interrogation program as a whole.

"So, he gets all the media value and spin by originally making the claim that the intel documents would prove the value of torture - if only Obama would let the truth come out. Then he backs away from the claim, using weasel-words to give him sufficient wiggle room to say that what he really meant was that the overall interrogation program provided useful information -- not that waterboarding or other enhanced interrogation techniques did.

"Perhaps it suddenly dawned on the former VP that he doesn't have the power to keep those documents classified any more -- and that he could be proven to be a liar (yet again) with the stroke of President Obama's pen. Hence the verbal tap-dancing.

"But eventually the pile of lies may get so high that it will tumble down on him. For instance, it's not a very smart idea to go around saying that Richard Clarke missed the warning signs on bin Laden and 9/11 when there is email after email after email from the spring and summer of 2001 showing that it was actually Cheney and Bush who ignored the warning signs on bin Laden.

You know what they say about people living in glass houses? Well, people with a paper trail that proves they ignored the looming threat of al-Qaeda, sanctioned torture, and used lies and manipulated intelligence to get us into a war, shouldn't be so fast to throw stones either."

* Video: 100 great movie lines in 200 seconds.

* "Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before... He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way." -- Kurt Vonnegut

June 3, 2009

playing chess in an old cartoon

Christine Lebeck, Room 1830 Chicago, 2006

-- by Jim Harrison

The sun's warm against the slates of the granary,
a puddle of ice in the shadow of the steps;
a bluetick hound lopes
across the winter wheat --
fresh green, cold green.
The windmill, long out of use,
screetches and twists in the wind.
A spring day too loud for talk
when bones tired of their flesh
and want something better.

Heaven Was Elsewhere
-- by Stuart Dischell

The cities were anonymous
The problems generic
And the people who lived
Out their lives did nothing
Remarkable. Most were
Afraid. They ate and drank.
They had babies or avoided them.
They prayed and kissed and sometimes forgot
Each other in the dark.
They did the basic human thing.
Knowing they would die
Following the leader
While cursing their wages.
(But once you and I did
Something specific, and a couple
Of people saw us later on the street.)

Every Word is a Little City
-- by Mel Nichols

The deep blue velvet suit lady telling
the deep blue velvet suit man
where he cannot pee. The table that divides in half,
dividing in half, in half, my neck dividing in half.
Everything collapsing. Collapsing and swinging.
A table I kicked out of the way, folding.
There was a trashcan, we were told not to pee in it.
The house was a house with you and me in it.
The rain, the rain, the rain was coming in.
Only this time it happened on Thursday instead.
I do take the little blue man.

June 2, 2009

the moment she said yes

Philip Guston, Daydreams, 1970

* Check out Charlie White's The Girl Studies Project, for which White "pairs photos of girls age 12-14 with mirror images of male-to-female transsexuals, showing two sides of the transition into womanhood." [via]

* David Berman's book of drawings, The Portable February, will be released June 23, 2009. You can pre-order now at Drag City.

* "Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." -- William Arthur Ward

June 1, 2009

I guess its a matter of sensation

Stefan Bruggemann, Dream

* Old, though recently published in Vanity Fair, interview of Will Oldham. excerpt:

Q: So you never identified yourself as a pirate?

WO: I remember around this time getting a letter from a friend, and he had determined in this letter who he was. And I think that stalemated me for a little bit. I believed that you had to become who you are rather than just being who you are. It was about thinking that there’s an escape, that at any moment I could see a path that looked attractive and I had the option to walk down it. It’s thinking, “Well, being a pirate looks like a cool thing to do. So if I believe in that enough and do things that I associate with being a pirate, I will become that thing.”

Q: But isn’t that true? If it looks like a pirate and acts like a pirate, doesn’t that mean it’s a pirate?

WO:Not really. Because it’s just an idea of who you are rather than who you are. It’s like when you’re talking to someone and they say, “I’ve always wanted to learn French.” They never wanted to learn French. They never ever for a fucking second wanted to learn French. They wanted to be somebody who spoke French, but they don’t actually want to learn that skill. They just liked the idea of being that person. By saying that I want to be a pirate, simply by the act of saying it, all of the work is done for you. A pirate is something.

Q: How does somebody go from reading about pirates and daydreaming about pirates to thinking, “This is something I can actually become?”
WO: If it gets to that level, that is something I would call insanity.

Q:You would?

WO: I would, unequivocally, call that certifiable insanity.

Q: Why so? What makes it insane?

WO: What makes it not? I think everything makes it that way. I can’t think of a single thing that doesn’t make it insane.
Q: I think it’s more reasonable that somebody would say, “I’m moving to Somalia to become a pirate” than “I’m flying up to heaven to become an angel.”

WO: You think so? It still seems like the same thing to me. Because both a pirate and an angel are about escape. When I was a kid, I read about pirates like John Rackham and how he traveled the world and had all these exciting adventures. And I remember thinking, did he really become these things that people liked to write about? Maybe he was just a diseased loser who wanted to escape, escape, escape, escape and then failed, even at his escape. That escape from the real world seems like the main reason why somebody would want to be a pirate, and maybe also why somebody would want to be an angel.

Q:I don’t know, Will, I’m still having a hard time buying this. Isn’t lashing out at fantasies a weird stance for somebody who ended up in the arts? Do you really want to be the guy who takes aside an artistic kid with an active imagination and tells him, “You want to be a pirate? Oh, grow up!”

WO: It’s not about losing touch with your imagination. It’s not the artistic kids who have a difficult time letting go of the pirate fantasy. It’s the kids who grow up to be frat boys and executives. They become like real pirates. They still rape and pillage, they just don’t do it with the Long John Silver hats and the cardboard swords. They’re the natural descendants of Tony Scott.
Q: Wow. I guess that means GG Allin was a frustrated pirate, right?

WO:Yeah, sure. And if you think about it, all porn stars are pirates.

Q: How so? I get the whole phallic “sword” comparisons, but how else are they like pirates?

WO: I think that porn stars and pirates are like constellations. Everyone can see it, everyone can recognize it, and it’s very difficult to criticize because it’s not right in your face. Ron Jeremy is not doing me direct harm. But do I think maybe he’s more harmful than another citizen of the planet? He might be.

Q: I don’t think that anyone would argue that Ron Jeremy is a pirate. But as for the rest of the porn industry, I just don’t know.

WO: The thing about being a pirate is that anybody can do it. You can put on an eye patch and a bandana and a gold earring, but that doesn’t really make you a pirate. It’s the behavior, not the costume. To be a porn star, all you have to do is take your clothes off. That’s it. You put a video camera in your bedroom and you’re a porn star. The dream of being a pirate is tied to the ocean, so the whole Midwest is fucked. They can’t be pirates. But even if you live on a coast, what do you do? Spend $70,000 to buy a yacht? Cause those are the only things that resemble what we think of as a pirate ship. But everything that resembles being a porn star, you can do that pretty quickly.

Q: And then there’s the whole outsider aspect. A pirate is somebody who breaks off from society, becomes a rogue, and does things that might be considered amoral. You could use that same definition to talk about porn stars.

WO: Yeah. Pirates and porn stars both travel in groups, and ironically they both die unhappy and alone. Pirates say “Arrrrr” and porn stars say “Ooooooh!” Instead of a rousing sea shanty, it’s [imitates a funky porn soundtrack] “Bw-waah-wah,wuh-wah!” They share a lot of the same cultural archetypes, just slightly shifted.

Q: What about musicians? Do they qualify as pirates?

WO: Well, sometimes, There’s the junkie artist-musician who in some ways functions as a pirate, because they lie and steal, and people admire them.

* "The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity." -- Dorothy Parker