November 30, 2009

every single thought is like a punch in the face

Ross Bleckner, Flowers, 2004

* The history of the hockey mask.

* Want to buy my house?

* The world's largest collection of tongue twisters.

* "There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality." -- Pablo Picaso

November 25, 2009

over the river and through the woods

A Thanksgiving Prayer
-- by William bourroughs

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

Thanks for a continent to despoil
and poison.

Thanks for Indians to provide a
modicum of challenge and

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

Thanks for bounties on wolves
and coyotes.

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

Thanks for the KKK.

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

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

Thanks for "Kill a Queer for
Christ" stickers.

Thanks for laboratory AIDS.

Thanks for Prohibition and the
war against drugs.

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

Thanks for a nation of finks.

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

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

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

--- back Monday

November 24, 2009

Lately, my heart is made of gravy

Lynn Cazabon, Uncultivated, 2008

* Matt Taibbi on Sarah Palin and the culture war. excerpt:

"Sarah Palin is the Empress-Queen of the screaming-for-screaming’s sake generation. The people who dismiss her book Going Rogue as the petty, vindictive meanderings of a preening paranoiac with the IQ of a celery stalk completely miss the book’s significance, because in some ways it’s really a revolutionary and innovative piece of literature.

"Palin — and there’s just no way to deny this — is a supremely gifted politician. She has staked out, as her own personal political turf, the entire landscape of incoherent white American resentment. In this area she leaves even Rush Limbaugh in the dust.

"The reason for that is that poor Rush is an anachronism, in the sense that his whole schtick revolves around talking about real political issues. And real political issues are boring.

"Listen to Rush any day of the week and you’ll hear him playing the old-fashioned pundit game: he goes about the dreary business of picking through the policies and positions and public statements of Democrats and poking holes in them, arguing with them, attacking them with numbers and facts and pseudo-facts and non-facts and whatever else he can get his hands on, honest or not, but at least he tries. The poor guy nearly killed himself this summer trying to find enough horseshit to arm himself with against the health care bill, coming up with various fairy tales about how state health agencies used death panels to try to kill cancer patients who just wanted to live a little longer, how section 1233 is Auschwitz all over again, yada yada yada.

"Rush is no Einstein, but the man does research. It may be fallacious and completely dishonest research, but he does it all the same. His battlefield is world politics and most of the time the relevant action is taking place in Washington. As good as he is at what he does, he still has to travel to the action; he himself isn’t the action.

"Sarah Palin’s battlefield, on the other hand, is whatever is happening five feet in front of her face. She is building a political career around the little interpersonal wars in the immediate airspace surrounding her sawdust-filled head. And in the process she connects with pissed-off, frightened, put-upon America on a plane that’s far more elemental than the mega-ditto schtick."

* William Burroughs on the worst possible method of withdrawl. excerpt:

“Prolonged Sleep.--The theory sounds good. You go to sleep and wake up cured. Industrial doses of chloral hydrate, barbiturates, thorazine, only produced a nightmare state of semi-consciousness. Withdrawal of sedation, after 5 days, occasioned a severe shock. Symptoms of acute morphine deprivation supervened. The end result was a combined syndrome of unparalleled horror. No cure I ever took was as painful as this allegedly painless method. The cycle of sleep and wakefulness is always deeply disturbed during withdrawal. To further disturb it with massive sedation seems contraindicated to say the least. Withdrawal of morphine is sufficiently traumatic without adding to it withdrawal of barbiturates. After two weeks in the hospital (five days sedation, ten days "rest") I was still so weak that I fainted when I tried to walk up a slight incline. I consider prolonged sleep the worst possible method of treating withdrawal."

* ""There's the typical books, Moby Dick and, I guess in my adult life I began to read biographies more than fiction. I started to want to relate to other people's lives, things that had really happened." -- Dr. J

November 23, 2009

Do You Remember Me, Like I Remember You

Ford Beckman, POP Rhythm Orange and Black, 2008

* The Disappearance of Ford Beckman: How a Celebrated American Artist was Forced to Trade his Multi-million dollar Collection for a Job Selling Donuts. Read it.

* List: Fifteen greatest acts of rock rebellion.

* "Art is making something out of nothing and selling it." -- Frank Zappa

November 20, 2009

I don't like these drugs anymore

Greely Myatt, I gotta learn to talk (detail), 2006

Opus 21
-- by William Kloefkorn

How satisfying to have gone to a concert
featuring someone now famous you have broken
bread with. There was music, too, in the way

she lifted her fork to her mouth, music in the fork
that delivered the music that was the food
to sustain her. I meanwhile hum along

with the breeze that plays the oak leaves
like the fretted instrument my mother refused
to buy me. Obviously, I am looking

for something more than a mother to lay the wreaths
of my imperfections at the foot of. The bread
she baked was worth far more than the price

of forgiveness. In the kitchen its aroma
continues to drive me insane. In Gilead there is
neither sustenance nor balm. William, you should

stop your whining and buy yourself a good used
violin. Your audience cannot sit
silent on its hands forever, now can it.

My Love For All Things Warm and Breathing
-- by William Kloefkorn

I have seldom loved more than one thing at a time,
yet this morning I feel myself expanding, each
part of me soft and glandular, and under my skin
is room enough now for the loving of many things,
and all of them at once, these students especially,
not only the girl in the yellow sweater, whose
name, Laura Buxton, is somehow the girl herself,
Laura for the coy green mellowing eyes, Buxton
for all the rest, but also the simple girl in blue
on the back row, her mouth sad beyond all reasonable
inducements, and the boy with the weight problem,
his teeth at work even now on his lower lip, and
the grand profusion of hair and nails and hands and
legs and tongues and thighs and fingertips and
wrists and throats, yes, of throats especially,
throats through which passes the breath that joins
the air that enters through these ancient windows,
that exits, that takes with it my own breath, inside
this room just now my love for all things warm and
breathing, that lifts it high to scatter it fine and
enormous into the trees and the grass, into the heat
beneath the earth beneath the stone, into the
boundless lust of all things bound but gathering.

Ludi Jr. Sits Quietly Through The Passing Along of His Father's Advice
-- by William Kloefkorn

do not shoot the rabbit
through either its good eye
or the one that most offends vou
do not sit too easily
in the lap of you
know who I mean
return the air freshener
the comicbooks the lifesavers
to the drugstore
remember one of the following:
father mother
do not neglect
the days of the calendar
that bar of soap
you carved the other night:
shred it like ripe cabbage
into the throat of the drain
do not want the words
that the unkind give you
do not tell betty jean's mother
what under betty jean's underwear
is growing
remember this trinity
to keep it holy:
blood is sour
and verily verily
when the dark asks you
say no

November 19, 2009

it's nice to be liked
but it's better by far to be paid

Cao Fei, A Mirage, 2004

* Aaron Leitko takes a look at the Twitter account of Matador Records' Chris Lombardi.

* "I never think of the future - it comes soon enough." -- Albert Einstein

November 18, 2009

the infrastructure rots
and the owners hate the jocks

Carol Diehl, All These Things That I've Done, 2008

Three poems by Frannie Lindsay:

To November

Here you come before we have had any time
to take our solemn coats our hats that itch back out
of the naphthalene dark you glide as though you believed
our gusty scarves and the flags of our breath
were welcoming you here you come with nothing
to love except your own vibrant bleakness

sweeping the birds with your stern stroke of hay
wide is your intent on songlessness
oh husher of all that has ever beseeched
oh nearsighted pipe-metal noon
puller of smoke from the unready chimneys
are you not at once reluctance and hastened departure

with nowhere to go except every north-facing stoop
each complaining screen door in which a tired wife
has just given up waiting I offer you this
lashed bundle of all that is still
too damp to burn

The Thrift Shop Dresses

I slid the white louvers shut so I could stand in your closet
a little while among the throng of flowered dresses
you hadn’t worn in years, and touch the creases
on each of their sleeves that smelled of forgiveness
and even though you’d be alive a few more days
I knew they were ready to let themselves be
packed into liquor store boxes simply
because you had asked that of them,
and dropped at the door of the Salvation Army
without having noticed me
wrapping my arms around so many at once
that one slipped a big padded shoulder off of its hanger
as if to return the embrace.


Her brow and knees,
her brain

and womb and ruined heart,
her bowing arm,

and breasts that fed
no one, the foot that hurt,

the cheek
her father struck,

all burned
together: soot, light snow

the spring that she
was born.

November 17, 2009

whatcha doing for supper
whatcha doing to me
whatcha doing for money
whatcha doing for free

Avish Khebrehzadeh, Theater, 2005/2006
oil and gesso on canvas with video-animation projection

* From Harpers' December 2009:

-- Rank of politicians among classes of people most trusted by Chinese in a poll this summer: 25

-- Rank of peasants, clergy, and sex workers, respectively: 1, 2, 3

-- Percentage of all Las Vegas homes that are currently worth less than their mortgages: 81

-- Ratio of Katie Couric's salary to the total operating expenses of NPR's seventeen foreign bureaus: 3:2

-- Number of obituaries that the New York Times has pre-written: 1,300

-- Number of U.S. states that have banned texting while driving: 27

-- Number of these states that offer traffic updates via Twitter: 25

* Brilliant retelling of the no-hitter Pittsburgh Pirates' Dock Ellis pitched in 1970 while on on LSD and other stimulants. By illustrator James Blagden. Watch it.

* "Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for - in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it." -- Ellen Goodman


November 16, 2009

Puttin' up the groceries now
Just got back from Morristown

Brad Moore, Ahern Rentals Westminster California, 2006

* From "Praise to the Highways" by Roberto Bolano, translated by Natasha Wimmer. Praise to the Highways will be published in English next year by New Directions.

"All praise to the highways and to these moments. Umbrellas abandoned by bums in shopping plazas with white supermarkets rising at the far ends. It’s summer and the policemen are drinking at the back of a bar. Next to the jukebox a girl listens to
the latest hits. Around the same time, someone is walking, far from here, away from here, with no plans to come back. A naked boy sitting outside his tent in the woods? The girl stumbled into the bathroom and began to vomit. When you think about it, we’re not allotted much time here on earth to make lives for ourselves: I mean, to scrape something together, get married, wait for death. Her eyes in the mirror like letters fanned out in a dark room; the huddled breathing shape burrowed into bed with her. The men talk about dead small- time crooks, the price of houses on the coast, extra paychecks. One day I’ll die of cancer. Cleaning utensils begin to levitate in her head. She says: I could go on and on. The kid came into the room and grabbed her by the shoulders. The two of them wept like characters from different movies projected on the same screen. Red scene of bodies turning on the gas. The bony beautiful hand turned the knob. Choose just one of these phrases: 'I escaped torture' . . . 'An unknown hotel' . . . “No more roads” . . . "

* Belle de Jour is no longer anonymous.

* "All human situations have their inconveniences. We feel those of the present but neither see nor feel those of the future; and hence we often make troublesome changes without amendment, and frequently for the worse." -- Benjamin Franklin


November 13, 2009

We've got no good will, no good will to give
to those who try to take away what we need to live

Philip Koch, Bend in the Road, 1983

New Habits
-- by Barbara J. Orton

You've made me your horse,
and I don't mind.

When you leave town
at midnight, debts unpaid

and a hard wind lifting
the dust out of your hair,

I'll take up new habits:
whisling, chewing my nails.

Bank robbery's not so bad
when you think about it.

Outside my window
the pin oak hisses and rattles.

I've lost something, but look--
these things in my hands.

-- by Hailey Leithauser

More than mere spasm
or when focused mind

and game heart combine
as mechanism,

maneuvering spine

to bliss, realigned.
More like a schism

or charmed sarcasm
at reason’s fine line,

the old soul’s design
for protoplasm’s

exquisitely mined.

The Thumb
-- by Peter Schneider

In a nanosecond David lost his thumb,
the one his mother painted
with pine pitch when he was four
to keep him from forever sucking it.
Unable to distinguish human flesh
the McCormick silo filler
sliced it off—
nail, bone, knuckle—
and blew it skyward
an ounce of humanity
in a thousand tons of silage.

Taken by surprise
David suppressed the truth.
Before the rush of blood
he held up the stump
saw the clean cut
grey bone marrow visible
and thrust it in his mouth
where the memory
of childhood security lay.
Then he swore,
tears rushing to his eyes, and ran
holding the stump with his good hand
blood oozing between his fingers.

Joe, a huge bulk of a man
and a constant neighbor,
jumped from his wagon
caught David like a child
held him to his chest
not intimidated by blood
or the tears of a grown man.

November 11, 2009

someone's selling all your heroes
and it seems such a sham

Rosemary Luckett, Fake Forest (Waste), 2009

Words from the Front
-- by Ron Padgett

We don’t look as young
as we used to
except in the dim light
especially in
the soft warmth of candlelight
when we say
in all sincerity
You’re so cute
You’re my cutie.
two old people
behaving like this.
It’s enough
to make you happy.

Bad Writing
-- by Julie Babcock

for Michael Martone

He didn't believe it was possible. But bad writing was very bad. It had slept through workshop and drooled during discussions of craft. Now it was lumbering in the middle of the Vermont College Green without moving aside for the Frisbees and the cats and the dogs chasing the cats. Soon it was planning on spreading, turning gelatinous like the blob just so Steve McQueen could show up in front of the Stone Science building with a hose and the police and the teenagers–everyone versus bad writing. The whole well meaning community will pour bullets and fire and dry ice over bad writing's whole, stinky body. And bad writing will laugh and ha because nothing, no nothing, will ever stop it.

The Thumb
-- by Peter Schneider

In a nanosecond David lost his thumb,
the one his mother painted
with pine pitch when he was four
to keep him from forever sucking it.
Unable to distinguish human flesh
the McCormick silo filler
sliced it off—
nail, bone, knuckle—
and blew it skyward
an ounce of humanity
in a thousand tons of silage.

Taken by surprise
David suppressed the truth.
Before the rush of blood
he held up the stump
saw the clean cut
grey bone marrow visible
and thrust it in his mouth
where the memory
of childhood security lay.
Then he swore,
tears rushing to his eyes, and ran
holding the stump with his good hand
blood oozing between his fingers.

Joe, a huge bulk of a man
and a constant neighbor,
jumped from his wagon
caught David like a child
held him to his chest
not intimidated by blood
or the tears of a grown man.

November 10, 2009

what comes is better than what came before

Tanya Steinberg, the entombment, 2003

* From a 1998 interview of Lou Reed:

Perfect Night sounds like it’s one piece, one album. It’s almost hard to imagine that the songs span a period of over 30 years...

Because I never cared for trends, that never bothered me. Music was what bothered me, what interested me. I always believed that I have something important to say and I said it. That’s why I survived because I still believe I’ve got something to say. My God is rock’n’roll. It’s an obscure power that can change your life. The most important part of my religion is to play guitar.

How about good lyrics?

That also doesn’t harm.

How do you see yourself? Your role as an artist?

I don’t really think about that. I’m an artist and that means I can be as egotistical as I want to be. I can concentrate on my art. I don’t really think about what the subject of my next album will be. I just know that I’m going to make another album.

You’ve always reinvented yourself. Is that one of the reasons you dislike your older albums?

One of my rules is: Never listen to your old stuff. If you do that, then you’re not a musician anymore, then you’re just a self-satisfied nostalgic idiot who’s not interested in inventing anything.
I think life is far too short to concentrate on your past. I rather look into the future.

* Two songs performed by The Fall:

-- Victoria

-- U.S. 80s-90s

* "Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted." -- Aldous Huxley

November 6, 2009

shine out in the wild kindness

Gibby Haynes, Revelation, unknown

Poems by Richard Brautigan:

To England

There are no postage stamps that send letters
back to England three centuries ago,
no postage stamps that make letters
travel back until the grave hasn't been dug yet,
and John Donne stands looking out the window,
it is just beginning to rain this April morning,
and the birds are falling into the trees
like chess pieces into an unplayed game,
and John Donne sees the postman coming up the street,
the postman walks very carefully because his cane
is made of glass.


Any thought that I have right now
isn’t worth a shit because I’m totally
fucked up.

It's Time to Train Yourself

It’s time to train yourself
to sleep alone again
and it’s so fucking hard.


I'm haunted a little this evening by feelings that have no vocabulary and events that should be explained in dimensions of lint rather than words.

I've been examining half-scraps of my childhood. They are pieces of distant life that have no form or meaning. They are things that just happened like lint.

November 5, 2009

How much fun is a lot more fun

Jonathan Blum, Will It Be OK?, 2007

* From a 1998 interview of Charles Simic. excerpt:

J.M. Spalding: Could you talk about your early years and your life before you realized you were a poet?

Charles Simic: Germans and the Allies took turns dropping bombs on my head while I played with my collection of lead soldiers on the floor. I would go boom, boom, and then they would go boom, boom. Even after the war was over, I went on playing war. My imitation of a heavy machine gun was famous in my neighborhood in Belgrade.

Spalding: When did you first feel what Pound called "the impulse" to write?

Simic: When I noticed in high school that one of my friends was attracting the best-looking girls by writing them sappy love poems.
Spalding: Who are your influences?

Simic: The way Don Juan adored different kind of women I adored different kind of poets. I went to bed, so to speak, with ancient Chinese, old Romans, French Symbolists, and American Modernists individually and in groups. I was so promiscuous. I'd be lying if I pretended that I had just one great love.

Spalding: If you had not become a poet, what would you have done?

Simic: I would have liked to own a small restaurant and do my own cooking. The dishes I like are mostly Mediterranean, so you'd have been served squid, octopus, lamb sausages, eggplant, olives, anchovies.... I'd hire my poet friends to be waiters. Mark Strand would look great in a white jacket wiping with a napkin the dust on some wine bottle of noble vintage.
Spalding: Where do you find your inspiration these days?

Simic: Piece of cake. One needs inspiration to write when one is twenty. At the age of sixty, there's the mess of one's entire life and little time remaining to worry about.

* Strange Victory. Check it out.

* "A tremendous number of people in America work very hard at something that bores them. Even a rich man thinks he has to go down to the office everyday. Not because he likes it but because he can't think of anything else to do." --W. H. Auden

November 4, 2009

Who can say where we're going
No care in the world
Maybe I'm learning
Why the sea on the tide
Has no way of turning

Mary Chiaramonte, Love + Hate, 2007

Xmas Gift
-- by Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997)

I met Einstein in a dream
Springtime on Princeton lawn grass
I kneeled down & kissed his young thumb
like a ruddy pope
his face fresh broad cheeked rosy
"I invented a universe separate,
something like a Virgin"--
"Yes, the creature gives birth to itself,"
I quoted from Mescaline
We sat down open air universal summer
to eat lunch, professors' wives
at the Tennis Court Club,
our meeting eternal, as expected,
my gesture to kiss his fist
unexpectedly saintly
considering the Atom Bomb I didn't mention.

What We Want
-- by Linda Pastan

What we want
is never simple.
We move among the things
we thought we wanted:
a face, a room, an open book
and these things bear our names--
now they want us.
But what we want appears
in dreams, wearing disguises.
We fall past,
holding out our arms
and in the morning
our arms ache.
We don't remember the dream,
but the dream remembers us.
It is there all day
as an animal is there
under the table,
as the stars are there
even in full sun.

Me & My Devo Hair
-- by Jennifer L. Knox

laid on the chaise together and yearned hard
for a new car (among other stuff) while listening
to Herb Alpert as our club-footed seizure shuffled
up the patio stones. I’d killed many men (among
other stuff) but the twisted thing outside the sliding door
would not die—despite all the times I'd napalmed its
luminous lair which ruined loads of mohair sweaters
(among other stuff) and gave me headaches—such doozies—
they hosed the chalk outline of my skull off the sidewalk.
Then suddenly: large relief to not be Aztec (or was I?)
broke like Burmese rain. I wasn’t that bad. We toasted,
“Here’s to being waterproof.”

November 3, 2009

I walk through the heather
Underneath the sky
The leaves have never looked as good
As now they're going to die

T. V. Santhosh, Bitter Lessons II, 2009

* Can you believe it? The Redskin's vendors are selling beer in the men's room at FedEx Field. excerpt:

"But then last weekend, the same guy who posted the shot a year ago put a video of FedExField’s head hawkers on YouTube. Commenters again chimed in to say they’d seen such sales at various men’s rooms during Skins home games. After Washington City Paper wrote about the clip, it went viral, so to speak. The bathroom beer vending gave the world another reason to mock the Redskins.

"Even folks who regulate beer sales for a living were shocked and awed by what they saw.

“'Our phones were ringing off the hook last week,' says Norma Lindsay, the chief liquor inspector for Prince George’s County. 'Everybody—us, the [county] health department, everybody—got involved. That sort of conduct is absolutely against code, because it’s a health issue. There’s every sort of health inspector in the world at that stadium for Redskins games, but nobody had ever heard of that or witnessed it before. I can’t even imagine who would want to buy a beer in the bathroom. That was frightening.'

“'Oh, my lord,' gasped Jill Pepper of the TEAM Coalition as she watched the video of the bathroom beer sales for the first time.

"Stadium beer is Pepper’s bailiwick. The TEAM Coalition is a local nonprofit that, Pepper says, was formed 'to promote responsible consumption and sales service of alcohol' at major sporting venues.
“'A bathroom can be hazardous to your health,' she says, “particularly as guys, since the track record for guys is, after they urinate, they’re quite disinclined to wash their hands. You pick up things from all over in the bathroom. When they hear this, some guys say, ‘I don’t think my hands are contaminated.’ Well, they might not be picking anything up from the act of urinating, but you may be carrying around bacteria and viruses from other sources. Even without the science, frankly, I’m surprised anybody would be considering mixing any type of food or beverage with the bathroom setting.'

"The Redskins were not sanctioned by P.G. County for the bathroom beer sales. Lindsay says she’s confident that the men’s room vending is in the past at FedExField. Her agency has been in contact with the team and its caterers since the story broke, she says, and they’ve assured her that the salesman in the video has been fired. But, she adds, just in case, county health and liquor inspectors have all been briefed on the situation, and from now on they’ll all be spending more time in men’s rooms.

“'We’re used to dealing with sales to minors, selling after closing time, sales on Sundays,' Lindsay says. 'Nobody ever thought of looking in the men’s room for beer sales. That one’s going down in the books.'"

* Falsedawn!

* "The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment." -- Dorothy Nevill