July 28, 2010

I spent the summer wasting
The time was passed so easily
But if the summer's wasting
How come that I could feel so fre

Mel Bochner, Blah, Blah, Blah, 2008

At the Lions Head
-- by David Markson

I scowl at the bar
And confront a midnight revelation:
In ten years
I have contributed thirty thousand, cash,
to the fiscal well-being
of this saloon.

If I still wake, mornings, to
Is there a refund?

The Divorcee and Gin
-- by Kim Addonizio

I love the frosted pints you come in,
and the tall bottles with their uniformed men;
the bars where you’re poured chilled
into shallow glasses, the taste of drowned olives,
and the scrawled benches where I see you
passed impatiently from one mouth
to another, the bag twisted tight around
your neck, the hand that holds you
shaking a little from its need
which is the true source of desire, God, I love
what you do to me at night when we’re alone,
how you wait for me to take you into me
until I’m so confused with you I can’t
stand up anymore. I know you want me
helpless, each cell whimpering, and I give
you that, letting you have me just the way
you like it. And when you’re finished
you turn your face to the wall while I curl
around you again, and enter another morning
with aspirin and the useless ache
that comes from loving, too well,
those who, under the guise of pleasure,
destroy everything they touch.

Swing Shift Blues
-- by Alan Dugan

What is better than leaving a bar
in the middle of the afternoon
besides staying in it or not
having gone into it in the first place
because you had a decent woman to be with?
The air smells particularly fresh
after the stale beer and piss smells.
You can stare up at the whole sky:
it's blue and white and does not
stare back at you like the bar mirror,
and there's Whats-'is-name coming out
right behind you saying, "I don't
believe it, I don't believe it: there
he is, staring up at the fucking sky
with his mouth open. Don't
you realize, you stupid son of a bitch,
that it is a quarter to four
and we have to clock in in
fifteen minutes to go to work?"
So we go to work and do no work
and can even breathe in the Bull's face
because he's been into the other bar
that we don't go to when he's there.

July 26, 2010

I had a hard time waking this morning
I got a lotta things on my mind

Sarah Small, Clouds, 2009

* Excerpts from a 1966 Playboy interview of Bob Dylan:

PLAYBOY: "Mistake or not, what made you decide to go the rock-'n'-roll route?

DYLAN: "Carelessness. I lost my one true love. I started drinking. The first thing I know, I'm in a card game. Then I'm in a crap game. I wake up in a pool hall. Then this big Mexican lady drags me off the table, takes me to Philadelphia. She leaves me alone in her house, and it burns down. I wind up in Phoenix. I get a job as a Chinaman. I start working in a dime store, and move in with a 13-year-old girl. Then this big Mexican lady from Philadelphia comes in and burns the house down. I go down to Dallas. I get a job as a 'before' in a Charles Atlas 'before and after' ad. I move in with a delivery boy who can cook fantastic chili and hot dogs. Then this 13-year-old girl from Phoenix comes and burns the house down. The delivery boy - he ain't so mild: He gives her the knife, and the next thing I know I'm in Omaha. It's so cold there, by this time I'm robbing my own bicycles and frying my own fish. I stumble onto some luck and get a job as a carburetor out at the hot-rod races every Thursday night. I move in with a high school teacher who also does a little plumbing on the side, who ain't much to look at, but who's built a special kind of refrigerator that can turn newspaper into lettuce. Everything's going good until that delivery boy shows up and tries to knife me. Needless to say, he burned the house down, and I hit the road. The first guy that picked me up asked me if I wanted to be a star. What could I say?"
PLAYBOY: "In their admiration for you, many young people have begun to imitate the way you dress - which one adult commentator has called 'selfconsciously oddball and defiantly sloppy.' What's your reaction to that kind of put-down?

DYLAN: "Bullshit. Oh, such bullshit. I know the fellow that said that. He used to come around here and get beat up all the time. He better watch it; some people are after him. They're going to strip him naked and stick him in Times Square. They're going to tie him up, and also put a thermometer in his mouth. Those kind of morbid ideas and remarks are so petty - I mean there's a war going on. People got rickets; everybody wants to start a riot; 40-year-old women are eating spinach by the carload; the doctors haven't got a cure for cancer - and here's some hillbilly talking about how he doesn't like somebody's clothes. Worse than that, it gets printed and innocent people have to read it. This is a terrible thing. And he's a terrible man. Obviously, he's just living off the fat of himself, and he's expecting his kids to take care of him. His kids probably listen to my records. Just because my clothes are too long, does that mean I'm unqualified for what I do?

PLAYBOY: "No, but there are those who think it does - and many of them seem to feel the same way about your long hair. But compared with the shoulder-length coiffures worn by some of the male singing groups these days, your tonsorial tastes are on the conservative side. How do you feel about these far-out hair styles?

DYLAN: "The thing that most people don't realize is that it's warmer to have long hair. Everybody wants to be warm. People with short hair freeze easily. Then they try to hide their coldness, and they get jealous of everybody that's warm. Then they become either barbers or Congressmen. A lot of prison wardens have short hair. Have you ever noticed that Abraham Lincoln's hair was much longer than John Wilkes Booth's?"

"PLAYBOY: Paranoia is said to be one of the mental states sometimes induced by such hallucinogenic drugs as peyote and LSD. Considering the risks involved, do you think that experimentation with such drugs should be part of the growing up experience for a young person?

"DYLAN: I wouldn't advise anybody to use drugs - certainly not the hard drugs; drugs are medicine. But opium and hash and pot - now, those things aren't drugs; they just bend your mind a little. I think everybody's mind should be bent once in a while."

-- related: Excellent podcast re: The Basement Tapes.

* The Web: The End of Forgetting.

* "The real danger is the gradual erosion of individual liberties through automation, integration, and interconnection of many small, separate record-keeping systems, each of which alone may seem innocuous, even benevolent, and wholly justifiable." -- Anon., U. S. Privacy Study Commission, 1977

July 23, 2010

the water's warmer than it has been in weeks

Laurence Pignarre Wyllie, Transmissions, 2004

-- by Frank Stanford

The maid used to pull the drapes
So I could see the dust

When it didn't rain
I bought gum and worked in the boat
There was a locked up shack down the road
With a stack of records in the bedroom

We could tell strangers were around
From what they drank

The girls waited in the orchards
There was no need to lie.

-- by Dobby Gibson

Like the last light
spring snowfall
that seems to arrive
from out of nowhere
and not land, exactly, anyplace,
so too do the syllables of thought
dissolve silently into the solitude
of the body in thought.
Like touching your skin,
or the first time I touched ice
and learned it was really water
and that neither were glass,
so does the jet contrail overhead
zip something closed in us,
perhaps any notion of the bluer.
Glancing sunlight,
my shoulders bearing the burden
or any theory why these birds
remain so devoted
to their own vanishing.
One store promises flowers
for all your needs,
another tells you
everything must go.
One river runs like a wound
that will never heal,
one snow falls like a medicine
that will never salve,
you the Earth, me the moon,
a subject moved in a direction
you desire, but for reasons
I believe to be my own.

Where There Should Be a Plant Stand, There Isn't
-- by Karyna McGlynn

I hear people talking in the kitchen, but there’s no way
to get to them; they’ve had three drinks too many.

The worst is my bedroom, which has been roped off
with yellow police tape. They’ve pulled up the carpet.

I think someone’s been here—a smoker,
trying to bypass the now-defunct security system.

Through my window I see my sister step from her car.
She plans to confront me about the thing she can’t yet know.

I slip back through the shotgun rooms, and once again
enter my mother’s with its unheated waterbed.

In the left-hand drawer of her vanity, I know I can find
her expired pregnancy test with its indelible blue lines.

But, perhaps, like everything else, these are mutable details.
Shouting somewhere in the house now and I have to hurry.

If I take it out now, I might kill myself. If I leave it
I won’t remember what I came here to do.

July 20, 2010

Well I'll waltz
Through the wilderness with nothin'
But a compass and a canteen
Settin' the scenes

Kenneth Patchen, All At Once

* From Harper's August 2010:

-- Factor by which BP's 2010 first-quarter profits exceed its $75-million liability cap for the Gulf oil spill: 75

-- Percentage of "willful" violations by U.S. oil refiners since 2007 that occurred at BP plants, according to OSHA: 97

-- Number of states where it is legal for employers to discriminate on the basis of physical appearance: 49

-- Chance that a sexually active U.S. teenage boy would be "pleased" if he "got a female pregnant": 1 in 5

-- Number of states that have eased restrictions on Sunday alcohol sales since the beginning of the recession: 5

* Reading: Love in the age of the pickup artist.

* Check out the Christian United National Tour van.

* "The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day." -- David Foster Wallace

July 19, 2010

Where there's mist for hire if it's just too clear

Walter Robinson, Run On, 2008

* Esoteric mystery solved. excerpt:

There's a Julian Cope song called 'Metranil Vavin.' It is a great song. In his book Head-On, Mr. Cope says that the song (which was first recorded by The Teardrop Explodes and appears on their posthumous record Everybody Wants To Shag The Teardrop Explodes) was inspired by his love for Russian dwarf poet Metranil Vavin. The only problem with this is that no one has ever been able to find any poems by Metranil Vavin.
I did a bit of research... Googling was no help whatsoever, of course, so I turned to the subscription biographical and author databases. Nothing on Metranil, but I did find a reference to a 'Metro Vavin' (ungoogleable because the Paris subway station takes over). So this morning I followed up on that at the library and discovered the truth!

Metranil Vavin is not the invention of Julian Cope. He is the invention of American poet Clayton Eshleman, who in 1975 published a book called The Gull Wall, which contained 'The 9 Poems of Metro Vavin.' In a page-long intro to these nine poems, Eshleman claims that a hastily-written note from a friend led to his confusing the name of a Paris Metro stop — Metro Vavin — with a person he was supposed to look up. In so doing, he stumbled across a 64-year-old Russian dwarf named Metranil Vavin, who had only been called 'Metro' as a small child, by his parents. Upon meeting, though, Eshleman tells the dwarf that he is a poet, and Vavin then reveals these nine poems — the only poems he has ever written! — which he has translated from their original Russian into crude French. Eshleman then claims that he has translated these naive works into English.

Looking at books about Clayton Eshleman was no help in ascertaining that this was a hoax, until I consulted an annotated bibliography, which noted: Notes: "The 9 Poems of Metro Vavin" were written by Clayton Eshleman. The persona of Metro Vavin was conceived by Eshleman, (see appendix A).
The question now is whether or not Julian Cope knew about the hoax.

-- you can read the poems here.

* Random beer fact: "Pabst Brewery produced the first six-pack of beer in the 1940s. The brewery conducted numerous studies, which found six cans were the ideal weight for the average housewife to carry home from the store."

* "Nobody running at full speed has either a head or a heart." -- W.B. Yeats

July 14, 2010

The percentage you're paying is too high priced
While you're living beyond all your means
And the man in the suit has just bought a new car
From the profit he's made on your dreams

Christian Chaize, Praia Piquinia, August 20, 2005

Conversation Starter
-- by Klipschutz

Roman Polanski made some good movies,
okay, even great ones.
He suffered in epic proportion as a boy
(his mother died at Auschwitz).
His tie-in with the Svengali of Death Valley,
Charles Manson, was another tragedy-bearing episode
in a life made up of them, links in a chain.

He also slept with the sexiest women on the planet.
Not able to leave such outsize luck alone,
one of these women was a thirteen year-old girl
on Quaaludes provided by a legend’s common-law wife.

In the spirit of the times, Polanski bought and wangled
his way out of the legal stink, skipping the country
while the skipping was good, to be safe,

and was still considered a fugitive in the United States
when arrested thirty years later in Zurich
and bound over for extradition,
which one year on Switzerland denied.

Friendships ended, marriages went wrong
over his fate, this genius in his seventies,
who did an awful thing, and got caught, twice.
The comment streams on blogs did overflow.

Can I be sad for everyone? Try and stop me.
I’m tired of being angry. Be my guest.
Anger can be useful. Point to you.
She is deaf and dumb now too? Point to you.

Times change, wheels of fortune spin around.
What yesterday was up today is down.

Italic couplet signifying what? A nod to yore?
This is history, this is human drama.
It doesn’t get much more lurid or polarizing.

The Finger
-- by Charles Bukowski

the drivers of automobiles
have very little recourse or
when upset with
they often give him the

I have seen two adult
florid of face
driving along
giving each other the

well, we all know what
this means, it's no

still, this gesture is
so overused it has
lost most of its

some of the men who give
the FINGER are captains of
industry, city councilmen,
insurance adjusters,
accountants and/or the just plain
no matter.
it is their favorite

people will never admit
that they drive

the FINGER is their

I see grown men
FINGERING each other
throughout the day.

it gives me pause.
when I consider
the state of our cities,
the state of our states,
the state of our country,
I begin to

the FINGER is a mind-
we are the FINGERERS.
we give it
to each other.
we give it coming and
we don't know how
else to respond.

what a hell of a way
to not

July 13, 2010

see the sky about to rain

Carl Fischer, Andy Warhol's Scars, 1969

* RIP Tuli:

With his bushy beard and wild hair, Mr. Kupferberg embodied the hippie aesthetic. But the term he preferred was bohemian, which to him signified a commitment to art as well as a rejection of restrictive bourgeois values, and as a scholar of the counterculture he traced the term back to an early use by students at the University of Paris. Among his books were “1,001 Ways to Live Without Working” — and for decades he was a frequent sight in Lower Manhattan, selling his cartoons on the street and serving as a grandfather figure for generations of nonconformists.

Beneath Mr. Kupferberg’s antics, however, was a keen poetic and musical intelligence that drew on his Jewish and Eastern European roots. He specialized in what he called “parasongs,” which adapted and sometimes satirized old songs with new words. And some of his Fugs songs, like the gentle “Morning, Morning,” had their origins in Jewish religious melodies.

Naphtali Kupferberg was born in New York on Sept. 28, 1923. He grew up on the Lower East Side and became a jazz fan and leftist activist while still a teenager. He graduated from Brooklyn College in 1944 and got a job as a medical librarian.

“I had intended to be a doctor at one point, like any good Jewish boy,” he recalled to Mr. Sanders in an audio interview in 2003. Instead he began to write topical poems and humor pieces, contributing to The Village Voice and other publications.

* Also RIP -- Harvey Pekar. 10 questions with Harvey Pekar.

* Interesting article on Wayne B. Wheeler, the man the man who turned off the taps.

* "“The songs are not meant to be real life. They're meant to have a psychic - rather than a factual - bearing on the listener. It's rare that a song grounded in reality moves me because I don't feel like I'm getting the whole story. Songs are made to exist in and of themselves, like a great James Jones or Robert Louis Stevenson novel - they're not autobiographical, and yet there's a reality in every single page. It's real life of the imagination.” -- Will Oldham

July 9, 2010

Scraping off the attitude
old man eating all my food
don't be kind, don't be rude
just shake your boots and let it all get loose

Marti Peterson, untitled, 1997

-- by Dobby Gibson

Your luck for today:
The desire to have any is your first mistake.
The second, knowing this, is to hope
to somehow be outside it all,
and this will set in motion an architecture of great consequence.
Rivers will vanish into rivers,
Sunday will bring half-price bottles of wine, cruets edged with light.
How many times have you walked at night,
sheaves of gloom precluding a neighborhood
singing its own intense, quotidian silence?
A single dog will bark.
You will get your wish, but it may arrive too late.

-- by Dobby Gibson

We think we are little gods,
yet the one thing we fear most is to be left alone.
So we carve one another's names into the desktops,
drop rocks from the trestle.
We invent and overuse the long vowel.
To be loved, speak with your hands.
To learn how, open a magazine
and try to catch the little cards as they flutter to the floor.
Some numbers come with secret powers.
Some secret powers come with little power at all.

-- by Dobby Gibson

The neighbors will soon spread their confounding potluck before you.
Dressed in period garb, they wear sandals and socks.
The subscribe to Life magazine to experience
the present as if it were already the past.
Their flowering trees were engineered to never drop fruit.
Overhead, constellations of stickers glow from bedroom
ceilings as souvenirs from a time when life was lived outdoors.
All conversations end in silence. The trick is to make it purposeful.
It's not going to get any easier, for these are the CliffsNotes.

July 8, 2010

And the ripples from the wind
Cast a shadow on your soul

Jordan Bennett, Organic Market, Maine, 2002

* William Burroughs and Brion Gysin's Life at 222 Bowery, excerpt:

It’s the first major tribute to the artistic subculture rooted just across the street from the museum, at 222 Bowery. Together with the Hotel Chelsea, the building was to New York what the Beat Hotel was to Paris: the spot where artists and writers hung out, crossed paths, misbehaved, hooked up. Burroughs lived there; it was Gysin’s crash pad when he was in town. And unlike the Beat Hotel, it’s still an artist enclave.

The building itself is a sturdy-looking brick chunk, built in 1884, that would blend into nearly any downtown block. In its early decades, it was home to the first modern YMCA. During and after World War II, the artists started to move in. First came the French Cubist Fernand Léger; painters James Brooks and Wynn Chamberlain arrived soon after. In 1958, Mark Rothko leased the building’s huge gymnasium to work on his murals for The Four Seasons, the ones whose story is told in the Broadway show Red. Rothko handed down his space to the second-generation Abstract Expressionist Michael Goldberg in 1962. Lynda Benglis, whose own retrospective opens at the New Museum in February, secured her loft in 1974; the sculptor and painter Lynn Umlauf, who later married Goldberg, came in 1977. (Both women still live and work there.)

The real social butterfly of 222, though, was Gysin’s former lover, the poet and artist John Giorno, who followed Chamberlain there in 1966. Giorno remembers one of Gysin’s long-ago visits vividly. It was 1978, and their affair had long since fizzled. Gysin was in town for the Nova Convention, a poetry festival co-produced by Giorno and dedicated to Gysin and Burroughs—who had moved into his own loft at 222, which he famously called “the Bunker.” Gysin was used to Parisian garrets, and loft life, with its high ceilings and few walls, was a revelation. He took one look at Giorno’s space, cluttered with Oriental rugs and piles of poems, and remarked, in his particular British-Canadian cadence, “You all live like bohemians!” Which they did.

What followed was typical of Giorno and Burroughs’s interlaced lifestyle. They escorted Gysin (and others, like Burroughs’s longtime companion James Grauerholz) down to the Bunker, where Burroughs drank (vodka) and Giorno cooked (bacon-wrapped chicken was a Burroughs favorite). Guests were always high and liquored up by the time dinner was served, at a conference table surrounded by orange vinyl chairs. Drinking and smoking would continue until 10 p.m. or so, when Burroughs would retreat to bed, after engaging his guests in some convivial target practice with his blowgun.

Things were always a little more intense when Gysin was in town. There were visits with Allen Ginsberg and Blondie. Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat were always around, stopping by with their expensive pot after dinner, getting Gysin high, and hanging on his every word. But it was Burroughs who was most affected by Gysin’s presence. The two had known each other for decades, going back to their time as expats in Tangier in the fifties, and “Brion brought out a very somber, self-conscious Burroughs,” says Stewart Meyer, a novelist and Bunker habitué. Giorno agrees: “When William was asked, ‘Did you ever love somebody?,’ he always said, ‘I’ve never respected anybody more than Brion Gysin in my life.’ That was his word for love. He had lovers, but somehow Brion was on another level. They were gay and never had sex together, but in a certain way Brion was William’s lover.” Meyer says Burroughs was painfully concerned with Gysin’s perception of him. “William could not paint while Brion was alive, though he had wanted to. He did not want to overshadow Brion in that area, because he had already overshadowed him in every other area.”

* Map of the Day.

* "Cinema, radio, television, magazines are a school of inattention: people look without seeing, listen in without hearing." -- Robert Bresson

July 7, 2010

Her future died in someone's past

Lisa Law, Nico, 1967

-- by Stephen Dunn

Just when it has seemed I couldn’t bear
one more friend
waking with a tumor, one more maniac

with a perfect reason, often a sweetness
has come
and changed nothing in the world

except the way I stumbled through it,
for a while lost
in the ignorance of loving

someone or something, the world shrunk
to mouth-size,
hand-size, and never seeming small.

I acknowledge there is no sweetness
that doesn’t leave a stain,
no sweetness that’s ever sufficiently sweet ....

Tonight a friend called to say his lover
was killed in a car
he was driving. His voice was low

and guttural, he repeated what he needed
to repeat, and I repeated
the one or two words we have for such grief

until we were speaking only in tones.
Often a sweetness comes
as if on loan, stays just long enough

to make sense of what it means to be alive,
then returns to its dark
source. As for me, I don’t care

where it’s been, or what bitter road
it’s traveled
to come so far, to taste so good.

How Things Work
-- By Gary Soto

Today it’s going to cost us twenty dollars
To live. Five for a softball. Four for a book,
A handful of ones for coffee and two sweet rolls,
Bus fare, rosin for your mother’s violin.
We’re completing our task. The tip I left
For the waitress filters down
Like rain, wetting the new roots of a child
Perhaps, a belligerent cat that won’t let go
Of a balled sock until there’s chicken to eat.
As far as I can tell, daughter, it works like this:
You buy bread from a grocery, a bag of apples
From a fruit stand, and what coins
Are passed on helps others buy pencils, glue,
Tickets to a movie in which laughter
Is thrown into their faces.
If we buy a goldfish, someone tries on a hat.
If we buy crayons, someone walks home with a broom.
A tip, a small purchase here and there,
And things just keep going. I guess.

Tombstone as a Lonely Charm, Part 2
--by d.a. levy

you had the deepest eyes
as a child
when you cautiously looked
up at the sun
and restlessly wrote
the world's greatest poem
and your brothers
drinking in the clear water
of the universe
wrote their words with
gold on sacred blue
later they sat back
in the soft fat of their
glutted egos
& talked into eternity
about the mysteries

after the poetic-orgasm
you were still haunted
by some young girl's face

July 6, 2010

a horse, a horse
my kingdom for a horse

Falero, Departure of the Witches, 1878

* Coming to America: the story of Morris Moel. excerpt:

My father was here [in the USA]. He came in 1913. We didn’t hear from him for many many years during World War I, and after this the revolution in Russia. Things were terrible. So we didn’t hear from my father for 12 or 13 years. We finally got a message. It came through from Warsaw, from HIAS, the Hebrew immigration society. So my mother went to Warsaw, she left us with my grandmother. She was there for two months, three months, and during that period my grandmother passed away, and my older brother who was 17 became our mother and father. And one winter day a big sleigh approaches the house and a man comes out and asks if we are the Moel family. “We’re here to take you to your mother.” Put on the warmest things you can put on. I wrapped all kinds of rags on my feet. We traveled to the Polish border all day and part of the night. This was I suspect some time in late winter. We got to this house near the border where we slept part of the night and we were awakened and we found this sleigh and were taken to close to the border and then walked to the border. The Russian part of the border was all forest. And we were stopped. I heard rifles being cocked while we were walking. Russian soldiers. And the soldiers searched everyone and took everything that was valuable and said you’ve got to go back, and I guess they [the guides] knew another route so we got through. And the Polish border was absolutely free, but it was all snow. I was so little and my older borther dragged me across that border. Finally we got to the other side inside Poland. Stayed in a house for half a night and we were then taken to a train station. And that train took us into Warsaw. The first time I was in a train. And my mother was waiting for us in an office. We told her my grandmother died. She never knew about it.

We left Warsaw in June after four or five months, after waiting for documents. Then we took a train. I remember going through Germany. Ended up in Antwerp. We stayed one or two nights in someplace in a little narrow street near the Castle [Steen]. It was not too far away from where the ship was. We were in the steerage, where we had a little cabin with four plces to sleep, upper and lower bunk on each side. Very, very close quarters. Not beds, just bunks. And I know that I got seasick. And I was vomiting into the ocean. It was not a pleasant trip. And we were in steerage and we used to look up at other decks where people were well dressed. We had a lot of people from different nations in different garb. It was not a very pleasant trip across the ocean.

We were anxious to see my father. We knew nothing about the New World. When we approached the harbor we saw the Statue of Liberty. A lot of people said it was a statue of Columbus. They didn’t know who it was. When we debarked there was this boat that takes you to Ellis Island. And we were sort of separated there. And all of a sudden my mother realized that my sister had been immediately taken into the infirmary. And I never saw her in Ellis Island again. And we were detained there for at least four weeks, possibly six weeks, because we couldn’t get into the United States….And my mother was given the choice, after four weeks, either we all go back to Antwerp, or my sister, who was ten, a year older, would have to go back for treatment, and my mother made a decision, and it was a hell of a decision to make, that my sister should go back.

* Ubu Editions, publishing the unpublishable.

* Go Netherlands!

* "In football everything is complicated by the presence of the opposite team." -- Jean Paul Sartre