January 31, 2011

we all sense it
we can see things

David Salle, Poets in Their Youth, 2009

* From Stoner, by John Williams:

"An occasional student who comes upon the name may wonder idly who William Stoner was, but he seldom pursues his curiosity beyond a casual question. Stoner's colleagues, who held him to no particular esteem when he was alive, speak of him rarely now; to the older ones, his name is a reminder of the end that awaits us all, and the the younger ones it is merely a sound which evokes no sense of the past and no identity with which they can associate themselves or their careers"

"In his forty-third year, William Stoner learned what others much younger, had learned before him: that the person one loves at first is not the person one loves at last, and that love is not an end but a process through which one person attempts to know another."

"In his extreme youth, Stoner had thought of love as an absolute state of being to which, if one were lucky, one might find access; in his maturity he had decided it was the heaven of a false religion, toward which one ought to gaze with an amused disbelief, a gently familiar contempt, and an embarrassed nostalgia. Now in his middle age he began to know that it was neither a state of grace nor an illusion; he saw it as a human act of becoming, a condition that was invented and modified moment by moment and day by day, by the will and the intelligence and the heart."

* Bob N., sportscaster.

* "Don't tell 'em, let 'em guess." -- Miles Davis (from this 1982 interview)

January 27, 2011

they tell me tomorrow will never arrive
though I've seen it end a million times

Walter Martinpaloma Munoz, traveler at night

* From an interview of Steve Berlin of Los Lobos, regarding his work with Paul Simon on Graceland:

At the time, we were high on the musical food chain. Paul had just come off One Trick Pony and was kind of floundering. People forget, before Graceland, he was viewed as a colossal failure. He was low. So when we were approached to do it, I was a way bigger fan than anybody else in the band. We got approached by Lenny Waronker and Mo Ostin who ran our record company [Warner Bros.], and this is the way these guys would talk -- "It would mean a lot to the family if you guys would do this for us." And we thought, "Ok well, it's for the family, so we'll do it." It sounds so unbelievably naïve and ridiculous that that would be enough of a reason to go to the studio with him.

We go into the studio, and he had quite literally nothing. I mean, he had no ideas, no concepts, and said, "Well, let's just jam." We said, "We don't really do that." ... Not by accident, not even at soundcheck. We would always just play a song.

... Paul was a very strange guy. Paul's engineer was even stranger than Paul, and he just seemed to have no clue -- no focus, no design, no real nothing. He had just done a few of the African songs that hadn't become songs yet. Those were literally jams. Or what the world came to know and I don't think really got exposed enough, is that those are actually songs by a lot of those artists that he just approved of. So that's kind of what he was doing. It was very patrician, material sort of viewpoint. Like, because I'm gonna put my stamp on it, they're now my songs. But that's literally how he approached this stuff.

I remember he played me the one he did by John Hart, and I know John Hart, the last song on the record. He goes, "Yeah, I did this in Louisiana with this zy decko guy." And he kept saying it over and over. And I remember having to tell him, "Paul, it's pronounced zydeco. It's not zy decko, it's zydeco." I mean that's how incredibly dilettante he was about this stuff. The guy was clueless.

It was ridiculous. I think David starts playing "The Myth of the Fingerprints," or whatever he ended up calling it. That was one of our songs. That year, that was a song we started working on By Light of The Moon. So that was like an existing Lobos sketch of an idea that we had already started doing. I don't think there were any recordings of it, but we had messed around with it. We knew we were gonna do it. It was gonna turn
into a song. Paul goes, "Hey, what's that?" We start playing what we have of it, and it is exactly what you hear on the record. So we're like, "Oh, ok. We'll share this song."

* What would you say if you met Bob Dylan?

* "Every word has a great burden of memories, not only just of one person but of all mankind." -- Heinrich Böll

January 26, 2011

I've been to a minor place
and I can say I like its face
if I am gone and with no trace
I will be in a minor place

Royal Nebeker, Rockin in the Free World, 2007

Do Not Touch Me, I am Caesars
-- by Sarah Hannah

The fast hind's lust -- I wonder if you know.
Aging cowboy, boasting over ale
Of pretties knocked up by your arrow,
Of trees and tendon pinned down by your skill.
I wonder if you know how I can carve
You out in well-placed blows of hoof to bone;
I wonder if you know how velvets burn
And chafe beneath the collar, in the grove.
They say I'm marked for centuries, penned
To the nines, the end of time, the emperor.
I wonder if you know the hind's a whore.
You circle, point. I should run, but relent
With your approach -- your strokes, your begging head.
My bond is null, my lauded god long dead.

At Midnight
-- by Sara Teasdale

Now at last I have come to see what life is,
Nothing is ever ended, everything only begun,
And the brave victories that seem so splendid
Are never really won.

Even love that I built my spirit's house for,
Comes like a brooding and a baffled guest,
And music and men's praise and even laughter
Are not so good as rest.

January 21, 2011

some kind of strange magic happens
when the city turns on its lights

Lee Krasner, Kufic, 1965

-- by Jack Gilbert

I can't remember her name.
It's not as though I've been in bed
with that many women.
The truth is I can't even remember
her face. I kind of know how strong
her thighs were, and her beauty.
But what I won't forget
is the way she tore open
the barbecued chicken with her hands,
and wiped the grease on her breasts.

I Take Back Everything I’ve Said
-- by Nicanor Parra (trans. by Miller Williams)

Before I go
I’m supposed to get a last wish:
Generous reader
burn this book
It’s not at all what I wanted to say
Though it was written in blood
It’s not what I wanted to say.
No lot could be sadder than mine
I was defeated by my own shadow:
My words took vengeance on me.
Forgive me, reader, good reader
If I cannot leave you
With a warm embrace, I leave you
With a forced and sad smile.
Maybe that’s all I am
But listen to my last word:
I take back everything I’ve said.
With the greatest bitterness in the world
I take back everything I’ve said.

The Painter of the Night
-- by James Tate

Someone called in a report that she had
seen a man painting in the dark over by the
pond. A police car was dispatched to go in-
vestigate. The two officers with their big
flashlights walked all around the pond, but
found nothing suspicious. Hatcher was the
younger of the two, and he said to Johnson,
"What do you think he was painting?" Johnson
looked bemused and said, "The dark, stupid.
What else could he have been painting?" Hatcher,
a little hurt, said, "Frogs in the Dark, Lily-
pads in the Dark, Pond in the Dark. Just as
many things exist in the dark as they do in
the light." Johnson paused, exasperated. Then
Hatcher added, "I'd like to see them. Hell,
I might even buy one. Maybe there's more out
there than we know. We are the police, after-
all. We need to know."

January 19, 2011

Moving but not gaining any ground
Climbing up the escalator as it takes you down

Elsa Wolman Katana, Baltimore Night, 2011

A Place To Be
-- by Nick Drake

When I was younger, younger than before
I never saw the truth hanging from the door
And now I'm older see it face to face
And now I'm older gotta get up clean the place.

And I was green, greener than the hill
Where the flowers grew and the sun shone still
Now I'm darker than the deepest sea
Just hand me down, give me a place to be.

And I was strong, strong in the sun
I thought I'd see when day is done
Now I'm weaker than the palest blue
Oh, so weak in this need for you.

The Inner Part
-- by Louis Simpson

When they had won the war
And for the first time in history
Americans were the most important people --
When the leading citizens no longer lived in their shirtsleeves
and their wives did not scratch in public
Just when they'd stopped saying "Gosh" --
When their daughters seemed as sensitive
as the tip of a fly rod,
and their sons were as smooth as a V-8 engine --
Priests, examining the entrails of birds,
Found the heart misplaced, and seeds
As black as death, emitting a strange odor.

Against Entropy
-- by John M. Ford

The worm drives helically through the wood
And does not know the dust left in the bore
Once made the table integral and good;
And suddenly the crystal hits the floor.
Electrons find their paths in subtle ways,
A massless eddy in a trail of smoke;
The names of lovers, light of other days
Perhaps you will not miss them. That's the joke.
The universe winds down. That's how it's made.
But memory is everything to lose;
Although some of the colors have to fade,
Do not believe you'll get the chance to choose.
Regret, by definition, comes too late;
Say what you mean. Bear witness. Iterate.

January 18, 2011

many times we've been out drinking
many times we've shared our thoughts
did you ever notice the kind of thoughts I got

Larry Brown, Hot Spots, 2008

* From the February 2011 edition of Harper's:

-- Factor by which Joe DiMaggio's 1950 salary exceeded the U.S. family mean income: 26

-- Factor by which Derek Jeter's 2010 salary did: 288

-- Fine in California for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana and for jaywalking, respectively: $100, $108

-- Median income of U.S. men who are single, childless, in their twenties, and live in a city: $26,000

-- Of women: $28,000

* David Berman has a new blog, Mentholmountains.

* “Inspiration is for amateurs. I just get to work.” -- Chuck Close

January 14, 2011

If I could be anything
in the world that flew
I would be a bat and come
swooping after you

Billy Name, Warhol at the Factory, 1964

Reminiscent of a Bruise
-- by William Vieth

The creature is now nothing more than a bruise
Black, Blue, White, and stained red
It sits there staring at me with cold, lifeless eyes
I feel no sympathy
no remorse
Too late to deliver salvation
Instead, I abruptly ended the suffering
Hobbling across the field,
Its wing dangling fruitlessly
I watched mixed with pity and excitement
I would have to play God.
The girl and I fanned out across the field
She, my scout, yelled the location of the jay.
The bird saw me and fled, clinging for life as we all do
A loud crack
a plume of dirt
The bird kept running
The threat is near
Again and again,
An angry rancher,
Trying to provoke lazy cattle.
Feathers sprung up everywhere, red spattered the ground
A joyous gasp exited our lips, watching the creature meet a timely end
The deed is done
The reward is hers.

For The Foxes
-- by Charles Bukowski

don't feel sorry for me.
I am a competent,
satisfied human being.

be sorry for the others

rearrange their

juggling mates

confusion is

and it will
whoever they
deal with.

beware of them:
one of their
key words is

and beware those who
only take
instructions from their

for they have
failed completely to live their own

don't feel sorry for me
because I am alone

for even
at the most terrible
is my

I am a dog walking

I am a broken

I am a telephone wire
strung up in
Toledo, Ohio

I am a man
eating a meal
this night
in the month of

put your sympathy
they say
water held up
to come
you better be
nearly as

January 12, 2011

We were fucking corndawgs
We'd go drink and pogo

unknown, St. Tropez, 1978

-- by Eileen Myles

All the doors in my home are open.
There's a pulse outside I want to hear.

The phone's unplugged.
The pastiche of you on me would be unforgivable now.

If there's a god squirming around
she sees me & is me.
I wish the birds were souls, invisible.
I wish they were what I think they are; pure sound.

Snow Globe
-- by Kim Addonizio

It’s winter in the tiny motel.
The man and woman lie down
naked and freezing. A blizzard

streaming on the television,
gloss of ice on the windows,
the bourbon a bottle of fire.

After love she licks
his cold sweat, trying to seal
herself into him.

Smoke from their cigarettes
rising, disappearing as they sink
into sleep. If I shake them

awake now they’ll tumble
from the white bed,
ashes swirling and searing

their skin. Already
my hands, numb from holding them,
begin their painful prickling.

Already I’m remembering
his breath on my face, hot
as an animal’s, his insistent tongue.

Better to let them
lie there, then. To let the chill
of the deep drifts bury them.

Made In Holland
-- by James Tate

Pigtails fiddles with my riverbed,
she shoots some plutonium up my harpsicord.
I am here in Holland up a nut tree.
I walk the shopping mall in my pajamas.
My cologne seems to intoxicate everyone.
Deluded cattle walk out of the barbershop
saying things like "Nice pajamas," and
"Didn't I see you at the golf club last week?"
"Alms," I say, "Alms for The Sacred Rifles.
Alms for The Pampered Daughters of the Dragonfly."
Papa's up a nut tree in Holland, Pigtails
reposes over the fretwork of his dominion.
I am tethered to some daft subterfuge.
A doorbell rings, but there is no door.
Chuckle. A buzz, a bundle arrives:
someone in clogs is bringing it toward me.
It is my fever they want. I reach for the mop
and fall, fall quaintly against fluffy sashes,
and I fall on Pigtails, prod her
bereaved haven, skim the blemish of her starch.
And that is why I am in Holland.
That must be why, tulip.

January 10, 2011

I am breathing, yet I feel no sky

Arthur Dove, Space Divided by Line Motive (U.S.A.), 1943

* Krugman, excerpt:

And it’s the saturation of our political discourse — and especially our airwaves — with eliminationist rhetoric that lies behind the rising tide of violence.

Where’s that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let’s not make a false pretense of balance: it’s coming, overwhelmingly, from the right. It’s hard to imagine a Democratic member of Congress urging constituents to be “armed and dangerous” without being ostracized; but Representative Michele Bachmann, who did just that, is a rising star in the G.O.P.

And there’s a huge contrast in the media. Listen to Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann, and you’ll hear a lot of caustic remarks and mockery aimed at Republicans. But you won’t hear jokes about shooting government officials or beheading a journalist at The Washington Post. Listen to Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly, and you will.

Of course, the likes of Mr. Beck and Mr. O’Reilly are responding to popular demand. Citizens of other democracies may marvel at the American psyche, at the way efforts by mildly liberal presidents to expand health coverage are met with cries of tyranny and talk of armed resistance. Still, that’s what happens whenever a Democrat occupies the White House, and there’s a market for anyone willing to stoke that anger.

But even if hate is what many want to hear, that doesn’t excuse those who pander to that desire. They should be shunned by all decent people.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t been happening: the purveyors of hate have been treated with respect, even deference, by the G.O.P. establishment. As David Frum, the former Bush speechwriter, has put it, “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us and now we’re discovering we work for Fox.”

So will the Arizona massacre make our discourse less toxic? It’s really up to G.O.P. leaders. Will they accept the reality of what’s happening to America, and take a stand against eliminationist rhetoric? Or will they try to dismiss the massacre as the mere act of a deranged individual, and go on as before?

If Arizona promotes some real soul-searching, it could prove a turning point. If it doesn’t, Saturday’s atrocity will be just the beginning.

* "I'm afraid that if you look at a thing long enough, it loses all of its meaning." -- Andy Warhol

January 7, 2011

because the night belongs to us

Elliott Erwitt, Los Angeles, 1959

-- by Russell Edson

On the other side of a mirror there’s an inverse world, where the insane go sane; where bones climb out of the earth and recede to the first slime of love.

And in the evening the sun is just rising.

Lovers cry because they are a day younger, and soon childhood robs them of their pleasure.

In such a world there is much sadness which, of course, is joy . . .

Another Feeling
-- by Ruth Stone

Once you saw a drove of young pigs
crossing the highway. One of them
pulling his body by the front feet,
the hind legs dragging flat.
Without thinking,
you called the Humane Society.
They came with a net and went for him.
They were matter of fact, uniformed;
there were two of them,
their truck ominous, with a cage.
He was hiding in the weeds. It was then
you saw his eyes. He understood.
He was trembling.
After they took him, you began to suffer regret.
Years later, you remember his misfit body
scrambling to reach the others.
Even at this moment, your heart
is going too fast; your hands sweat.

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?

January 6, 2011

The houses are real and the garden is real
And everything looks nice enough to steal

Burt Glinn, Half Note bar, NYC. The band is standing on top of a liquor cabinet, 1959.

* David Bowie and Iggy Pop in Berlin, from a 1979 Rolling Stone article. The article begins:

David Bowie moved to Berlin because it was a world as far removed from Los Angeles as he could find. In Hollywood, he'd fallen in with the wrong crowd. Living on stimulants of all varieties, he'd flirted with ideas of power, ascension, dictatorship - the glorious figurines that may seem strange to you and me, but seemed amusing to one who had tasted the crowd's hysteria from the lucky side of the footlights.

He'd gotten to be quite a high-hat.

In Berlin, a city that had known other takeover artists, he got humble. Rock & roll was no longer a vehicle for driving to the throne. But it was a living. It would finance a movie career, anyway.

Jim Osterberg moved to Berlin around the same time as Bowie, the spring of 1976. Going under other names, like Iggy Stooge and Iggy Pop, he had, more than a decade ago, originated in Michigan what later became known as the punk-rock masque: maniac music with a death-warmed-over pose. He had the lean, suspicious face of a young American hoodlum, and the pose was not always fashionable. He too found himself living on the Coast, and what he was in Los Angeles was a sun going down. Carrying a junk habit around, he became a street person, a drifter, crashing where he could. Finally, he committed himself to UCLA Hospital.

His only regular visitor there was David Bowie. Iggy was told that if he cleaned up, he could join Bowie's Station To Station tour. So he kicked and joined as a companion. He started another life in Berlin.

Soon after Bowie ushered Iggy into a recording studio overlooking the Berlin Wall and produced 'The Idiot' (1977), a sad album but brilliant if you could tolerate it. Bowie - thought by his fans to probably be a mighty weird nogoodnik - must seem refined and reliable next to a real article like Iggy. Iggy's power and Iggy's curse is that he has always lived out his show, unlike those who make a production out of the pose, Alice Cooper, Kiss... or Bowie...

* "Illusions are important. What you foresee or what you remember can be as important as what really happens." -- Javier Marias

January 5, 2011

The Chrysler Building will never fall down
as long as you frequent the bars in this town

Alfred Stieglitz, Old and New New York, 1910

Real Life
-- by Kim Addonizio

Here we walk without wallets,
no keys to anything. The gates
swing open, we move among the
cows, hot hills, at night through wet
foxtails; the kitchen light hums
winged things circle it. Yesterday
you slit a snakeskin and found
the diamond pattern interrupted,
in the center, by a heart:
covered it in salt, tacked
it to a board for drying out.
This evening it's soft, the scale
you peel for me a tiny
translucency in my hand.

-- By Dennis Mahagin

Turning a bit
vegetarian, I thought it
might help shed me some
weight, although there's not
a diet been invented yet
can generate clarity,
grace or tender

mercy, meanwhile
most of your DMV's
are ghost principalities
now, non-celestial

hierarchies laid to waste
by computer hackers crafting
bogus ID's
in cyberspace,
ribonucleic winter,
final frontier with a
web cam face.

And poets
in poverty? Those albatross
hunters tantamount to salsa
chefs on Martha Stewart
Living? Be standing

in, while she's carted off
to penitentiary, whoring
best recipes for a grand
per month, a resistance

to E Coli
and hoof n' mouth built up
always one mad hour or so
before a dame, easy on
the eyes is carted off

to chicken prison, about chin
deep and rising, poets in poverty
inured to death's bite, more so
at least than rock stars like

Sting who invite
dictators to corduroy
power brunch, extended beastly
tax cuts for the wealthy, pineapple
junkets, Monsanto pea pod freak
show, day at the
coast, nip - tuck,
pork loin derivative
marinades by numb
minions; the days

right? I'd like to get them all
reading my feed, those nights I
spent in amnesiac sorties, auguring
my dome light auras and dim

from the bottom of a Taco Bell
dumpster in northeast Portland, uncouth
bunker glazed with hamburger goo, color
of rust, a rich stench of death all up
in there, too, and a
manager who
snapped me

out of it, pouring iced coffee dregs
as if to soak cold ashes, he said, knock
yourself out buddy
boy but buy a fucking
clue, please
wake up, he said
it and sniff it
too at your

leisure, your soy,
your Holiday Inn on Airport
Way, where I did some gourmet
junk around '92, can't possibly
say, lest I swallow my
own tongue,
when I go

down into it, you must
simply clear the avenue,
I probably won't

die, comes from
switching pain pills
out of celery, and pray
it never happens
to you.

January 4, 2011

the nights of my professional life

William de Kooning, Woman, 1950

* Video: Philip Roth on myths of ageing.

* Apparently, May 21, 2011 is going to be a big day, and not only because it's my birthday: It's rumored to be the The Second Coming.

* Life tells us all the time that it’s possible to like the people that you violently disapprove of. – Kingsley Amis

January 3, 2011

You'll get yours and i'll get mine
You can't be lucky all the time

André Kertész, Pedaling, Paris 1948

* H.L. Mencken, known as "The Sage of Baltimore," was a popular journalist, essayist and satirist, and is regarded as one of the most influential American writers of the first half of the 20th century. A caustic critic of American life and culture, Mencken was one of the first in the U.S. to popularize such writers as Friedrich Nietzsche and Joseph Conrad.

He had grave concerns about anti-intellectualism in American society, which he viewed as being found most prominently in organized religion and political discourse. He was especially concerned about the role of the crowd in this anti-intellectualism. His reporting of the debate over the theory of evolution between William Jennings Bryan and legendary attorney Clarence Darrow (made famous in the movie and play Inherit the Wind) reflected his distaste for fervent belief rooted in faith rather than science:

"The individual man, cheek by jowl with the multitude, drops down an intellectual peg or two, and so tends to show the mental and emotional reactions of his inferiors. The crowd, as a crowd, performs acts that many of its members, as individuals, would never be guilty of. Its average intelligence is very low; it is inflammatory, vicious, idiotic, almost simian. Crowds, properly worked up by skillful demagogues, are ready to believe anything, and to do anything.

"The numskull runs amuck in a crowd, not because he has been inoculated with new rascality by the mysterious crowd influence, but because his habitual rascality now has its only chance to function safely.

"What happens when a crowd cuts loose? ... The few superior men in it are not straightway reduced to the level of the underlying stoneheads. On the contrary, they usually keep their heads, and make efforts to combat the crowd action. But the stoneheads are too many for them. ... And why? Because they are suddenly conscious of the power lying in their numbers. The third rate man, though he may wear the false whiskers of a first rate man, may always be detected by his inability to keep his head in the face of an appeal to his emotions. A whoop strips off his disguise."

* "The good thing about stealing books–unlike safes–is that one can carefully examine their contents before perpetrating the crime." -- Roberto Bolano