March 31, 2011

Times are hard
You're afraid to pay the fee
So you find yourself somebody
Who can do the job for free

Justin Lowe, untitled, 2011

* Awesome four part BBC documentary on the DC go-go scene, originally aired in 1986.

* Spencer Hall explains John Calipari’s career through a Steely Dan album.

* "Work on good prose has three steps: a musical stage when it is composed, an architectonic one when it is built, and a textile one when it is woven." -- Walter Benjamin

March 30, 2011

There's no truth in you
There's no truth in me
The truth is between

Fiona Rae, The World Explains the Way You Feel, 2010

Three To Get Ready
-- by klipschutz

“Leash Yr Doggerel”
-graffito, outside the Poetics Department, SUNY Buffalo

The President is homeless
The Dictator is flash
The Actor has a megaphone
The Dialectician talks inorganic trash

Rhyming comes too easy
but free verse is a joke
that anyone can tell
without knowing how to tell a joke

O that’s not fair or true
I’m neither one myself
& drowning in a pit of lack
of youth, good cheer & wealth

-I want, I want, I want
-So what? So what? So what?
Fred Seidel can’t help be rich
Justin Bieber too shall rot
Pill me, nurse!
before I turn back into Ogden Nash
who did right by Baltimore: was on a stamp.
-All better now? -Much, thanks.

Word Premiere

“You’ll hear it first tonight, in a few hundred beats of the heart, so please kill your silencers, prick up your ears, remove your piece and put extremities away, for the occasion is historic, if only in the eyes of cataractic semiotes who can’t help observe their own absence-in-presence. It remains axiomatic that language comes and goes, as do women, as do men, and country codes. Fashionista, mouse potato, spyware, biodiesel, soul patch, unibrow, manga, buzzkill, paywall, cheeseball, steampunk, tweetup, bromance, wardrobe malfunction. To drop a few. We have been to the mountaintop, brothers and sisters, and our legs are not even tired – we were in a helicopter! Ba-da-bing! All seriousness aside, the feeling is well nigh, there is not a dry anvil in the house, the klieg lights are hot and bright, pizza dust is dazzling the air. Will someone hand the envelope to me. . .”

Centenary On Ice

Turned a hundred this year:
Reagan, Bishop and. . .Kenneth Patchen.
Kenneth Who? you might ask, to which I would reply:
Fuck you, with my turn-it-up charm,
unless of course you were too big or beautiful,
in which case, I would say: Exactly.

I’ve done my time with Dutch.
who can’t inaugurate more harm, though he continues to cast
a muzzy glow across the past.

Ms. Bishop’s silences have served her well.
Teachers fawn over the fish that she threw back.
She’s alright, I guess.

Patchen lives. In my heart. Is with me.
Check him out.

March 29, 2011

I wanna see the movies of my dreams

Howard Hodgkin, After Ellsworth Kelly, 2001

* Fuses, by Carolee Schneemann.

Wiki: Fuses portrayed Schneemann and her then-boyfriend James Tenney having sex as recorded by a 16 mm Bolex camera. Schneemann then altered the film by staining, burning, and directly drawing on the celluloid itself, mixing the concepts of painting and collage. The segments were edited together at varying speeds and superimposed with photographs of nature, which she juxtaposed against her and Tenney's bodies and sexual actions. Fuses was motivated by Schneemann's desire to know if a woman's depiction of her own sexual acts was different from pornography and classical art as well as a reaction to Stan Brakhage's Window Water Baby Moving.

She showed the film to her contemporaries as she worked on it in 1965 and 1966, receiving mostly positive feedback from her peers. Many critics though described it as "narcissistic exhibitionism" and described it as self-indulgent. She received an especially strong reaction regarding the cunnilingus scene of the film. While Fuses is viewed as a "proto-feminist" film, Schneemann feels that it was largely neglected by feminist film historians. The film lacked the fetishism and objectification of the female body as seen in much male-oriented pornography. Two years after its completion, it won a Cannes Film Festival Special Jury Selection prize. Pop artist Andy Warhol, with whom Schneemann was acquainted, having spent time at The Factory, drolly remarked that Schneemann should have taken the film to Hollywood.

* April is James Salter Month at The Paris Review.

* "Like with ‘Say Yes,’ I wrote that song in five minutes. And I wrote ‘Between the Bars’ right after that. Both of those I made up during an episode of ‘Xena: Warrior Princess’ with the sound off, which is a great way to write songs. Your eyes are busy, so they don’t get bored and they don’t watch what your hands are doing, so then you can surprise yourself. Your hands can surprise you with what they know and that you don’t.” -- Elliot Smith

March 28, 2011

they slow-danced so the needle wouldn't skip

Darren Almond, Today, 2000

* From the chapter Identity by Felipe Alfau, from his excellent novel Locos: A Comedy of Gestures:

In writing this story, I am fulfiling a promise to my poor friend Fulano.

My friend Fulano was the least important of men and this was the great tragedy of his life. Fulano had come to this world with the undaunted purpose of being famous and he had failed completely, developing into the most obscure person. He had tried all possible plans of acquiring importance, popularity, public acknowledgment, etc., and the world with a grim determination persistently refused to acknowledge even his existence.

It seems that about Fulano's personality, if we are to grant him a personality, hung a cloud of inattention which withstood his almost heroic assaults to break through it.

Fulano made the utmost efforts to be noticed, and people constantly missed him.

I have seen Fulano shake hands during an introduction in a vehement way, stare violently and shake his face close to the other person's, literally yelling:

"Tanto gusto en conocerle."

And the next moment, the other individual was talking to somebody else, completely oblivious of Fulano.

I have seen Fulano at another introduction remain seated and extend two fingers in the most supercilious manner. Nothing! All in vain. A second after the other person had absolutely forgotten his existence and was blankly looking through him.

-- be sure to read the whole thing [via]

* There are 5.9 million brackets in the ESPN Tournament Challenge and only two have the Final Four correct.

* “You gonna tell me the history of the blues? I am the goddam blues. Look at me. Shit. I’m from West Virginia, I’m the first man in my family not to work in the coal mines, my mother scrubbed floors on her knees for a living, and you’re going to tell me about the goddam blues because you read some book written by John Hammond? Kiss my ass.” -– Bill Withers

March 25, 2011

I love an expert I hate a hack
You've got to bust up a sidewalk sometimes
To get people to gather round
And I'm prepared to do whatever it takes

Gordon Ball, Allen Ginsberg's desk at the time of his death, April 8, 1997

how i met your mother
-- david berman

"you can tell he has an older brother," she said
"how," i wondered "do you know that"
"by the bb scars on his ass"

we watched "motherfuckers" cackle out of his mouth.
he wanted something. something like a mini-mart blowjob.
she propped open her briefcase and pulled out
a stack of research on tonights guests.

i was surprised she was willing to share information.
we'd been rivals for eight years, writing the society pages
for our towns two daily newspapers.

truth told, i wasnt up on this crowd.
id only heard rumours about the house on route 727
where they used a nineteen letter alphabet
and held nude parties fueled by 5 dollar bills
pulled out of birthday cards by the host,
a postal clerk with a sharp eye for grandmotherly script.

"OK," i said, "who is mr. whiskey over there by the bean dip?"
she glanced down at her notes, "he just opened a salon
by the courthouse for defendants who want the innocent look."

the subject was listening to a women bitch about parrots.
"they talk but they dont understand!"
"if animals could talk, we would have killed them
off years ago," he said dryly

"how about the lady in the orange crossing-guard sash?"

"part of the downtown crowd.
she paints portraits of children who cut in line."

i recognized the fellow she was talking to.
a spanish exchange student. his lust
had scorched several area trellises.

an old man came out of the guest room
and walked up to them.

his necktie acted as a valve
that kept the sadness bottled in.

"frederico, i want you to meet elmer, of elmer's glue"

my exact thought was, "no way..."
i faked a disinterested look around the room.
on the wall behind me hung a framed photograph,
"nephew with first stereo,"
and a painting called "three ideas about maine"

the old man approached us, pulling an oxygen tank
on a little chrome cart. he wore a checkered sportscoat
covered in industry medals that clattered when he moved.

it was taking him forever to reach us.

i guess we both looked at the phone and thought about
calling the story in for the morning edition,

but there was something more finely drawn in the air
then the dotted line that showed our possible paths to the phone.

she took my writing hand in hers,
and after that i could find no precedent.

March 24, 2011

It was in the city of spies
That I spoke with nothing but lies
When they set a trap for all you could feel
It's important that your mind is concealed

Ashley Bickerton, Walking Street, Pattaya, Thailand, 2010

* Who Would Dare, an essay by Roberto Bolano. excerpt:

The books that I remember best are the ones I stole in Mexico City, between the ages of sixteen and nineteen, and the ones I bought in Chile when I was twenty, during the first few months of the coup. In Mexico there was an incredible bookstore. It was called the Glass Bookstore and it was on the Alameda. Its walls, even the ceiling, were glass. Glass and iron beams. From the outside, it seemed an impossible place to steal from. And yet prudence was overcome by the temptation to try and after a while I made the attempt.
From the mists of that era, from those stealthy assaults, I remember many books of poetry. Books by Amado Nervo, Alfonso Reyes, Renato Leduc, Gilberto Owen, Heruta and Tablada, and by American poets, like General William Booth Enters Into Heaven, by the great Vachel Lindsay. But it was a novel that saved me from hell and plummeted me straight back down again. The novel was The Fall, by Camus, and everything that has to do with it I remember as if frozen in a ghostly light, the still light of evening, although I read it, devoured it, by the light of those exceptional Mexico City mornings that shine—or shone—with a red and green radiance ringed by noise, on a bench in the Alameda, with no money and the whole day ahead of me, in fact my whole life ahead of me. After Camus, everything changed.

I remember the edition: it was a book with very large print, like a primary school reader, slim, cloth-covered, with a horrendous drawing on the jacket, a hard book to steal and one that I didn’t know whether to hide under my arm or in my belt, because it showed under my truant student blazer, and in the end I carried it out in plain sight of all the clerks at the Glass Bookstore, which is one of the best ways to steal and which I had learned from an Edgar Allan Poe story.

* In DC?

This Saturday night, March 26th, at St. Stephens Church [1525 Newton Street NW], The Caribbean, sandwiched between performances by Carol Bui and Tereu Tereu, performs songs from their new record Discontinued Perfume as part of a astonishingly groovy Positive Force DC Benefit for 826 DC. 826DC is a nonprofit organization in Columbia Heights dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. 8pm, $8

* "That was Youth with its reckless exuberance when all things were possible pursued by Age where we are now, looking back at what we destroyed, what we tore away from that self who could do more, and its work that's become my enemy because that's what I can tell you about, that Youth who could do anything. " -- William Gaddis

March 23, 2011

we can all go mad together
that's what friends are for

Peter Hujar, Girl in My Hallway, 1976

We Were The 11 O'clock News
-- by Richard Brautigan

we were the 11 o'clock news
because while the rest of the world
was going to hell we made love

An Annotated Inferno
-- by Beth Woodcome

I see my birth, covetous as smoke,
devour me. It’s a victory that repeats itself.

If someone is calling my name I can’t hear it.

The creak of the world’s shoulder
turning: the only sound of the last door

On the balcony, where all ecstasy should
happen, kneeling will be my last pleasure.

If someone is calling to me, I’ve forgotten it.
If so, ask me my sorrows.

Are you frightened?

I’m alive and I want someone
else to do it for me.

How did you wake?

Someone has always been
saving my life.

Tell me your joy.

-- by David Lehman:

Every so often my father comes over
for a visit he hangs his overcoat and hat
on my hat rack I brief him on recent
developments and serve us coffee
he is surprised that I like to cook
once when he made an omelette
he flipped it in the air much to my delight
and it landed on the floor yes that
was the summer of 1952, he remembered
the high breakers and how fearless
I was running into the ocean anyway
the important thing is to see you doing
so well he said and took his coat and hat
and left before I remembered he was dead

- In memory of William R. Fox, July 12, 1944 - March 23, 2002

March 22, 2011

I eat an oyster and I feel the contact
But more than one would be a waste

Dana Frankfort, Thinker, 2006

* From a 1985 interview of the Minutemen:

Interviewer: The last time you were through, you were handing out "U.S. Out Of Central America” stickers. It’s obvious there’s a political emphasis to a lot of your lyrics. Do you really think you’re reaching the audience?

Boon: Yeah. They took ‘em, they grabbed ‘em. This one girl grabbed one and said, 'I love it. My father works for the CIA and he’ll love this.' Then I had one guy come up to me as I was passing them out and I give him one and he goes, 'I don’t want one – I’m stationed in Andreas.' I have a lot of people come up to me and they ask me about it and tell me they’re happy to hear me say it. I wrote a really good song about that on the next record, 3 Way Tie For Last.

Interviewer: Where did you get Brother Awest from? He said in one place they got shot at or something.

Boon: He baptized a whole audience of punkers and they bombarded him with horse manure...Used condoms…

Interviewer: About how many songs do you guys think you know at this point?

Boon: Maybe 80. We’re going to do a triple album during the summer. 3 dudes doing 6 sides, 3 live, 3 studio and we’re passing out this ballot where our compatriots in music can vote on what songs to put on the live records.

Interviewer: What’s the inspiration behind Brother Awest?

Mike: The MINUTEMEN‘s kind of a dry, one-dimensional thing. Covers, different styles of music, but, as far as our political stance, it’s pretty cut and dried so Brother Awest has a sarcastic point of view to get people thinking another way. We’re all trying to tell the same story, just from different angles. We use rock; he uses, uh, subversion.

Interviewer: You said punk rock changed your life (on History Lesson, part II). Do you still believe in it bringing about any sot of social change?

Boon: In that song, it didn’t really mean social change. In the song, it means, here I was working a job, going to college 2 or 3 years ago, and now I’m traveling around the country in a band, playing music, something I never thought I’d do. It changed my life. I don’t know about punk music trying to change society. Society has to change and music should be one of the means. What rock music has done for me is show me that people could actually not hate each other.

Mike: We want people confronting issues, whatever they’re going to pick. At least they’re confronting them. Me and Boon are very personal about our beliefs. We just want to point out the issue more than our opinion. A lot of people believe things because they’re told to. We’re not into brainwashing.

Interviewer: I remember reading that you guys believe in the Democratic Party. Do you think they can get the momentum going again?

Boon: Well, they’d better. I don’t want to have Bush as president!

* "I can never decide whether my dreams are the result of my thoughts, or my thoughts the result of my dreams.” -- D.H. Lawrence

March 21, 2011

The past keeps knock knock knocking on my door
And I don't want to hear it anymore

Bettmann/Corbis, Roberto Clemente catching a fly ball, 1962

* The Salvedge Yard provides a pictorial recap of the career of Roberto Clemente.

* Interesting stat: The '91-'92 Duke team went on to make $225.4 million in the NBA. The '91-'92 Michigan team earned $431.4 million.

* The world's greatest extra.

* Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and "everyone and their brother" playing I Saw The Light.

* "No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." -- Friedrich Nietzsche

March 18, 2011

Sometimes this life gives you a sign
But you’re struck temporarily blind
What kind of man have I become
Have I given up and lost my mind

Cara Ober, It's Not True, 2008

An Open Casket To Charlie Sheen
Carlos “The Jackas” Estevez, FC

after Brett Easton Ellis

-- by klipschutz

I like you enough, you’re in
one of my poems
from the hope-scope end of 2008.

Let’s face it, though, it’d be cool too
if you died. The story
could turn on a dime into a morality saga
about hubris (a President Barlet word
but you had an education), mental illness
and substance abuse, oh my.
For now you embrace each escalation,
projecting (Feeee-gahr-o!)
to the cheap seats
how you don’t give an Ex-Lax shit
even when you swim in it
(granted, paid help jumps
to wash you down).

Usted tiene muchos problemas, Meester Man –
free advice tho I accept donations.
We get it: you’re a Kamikazedian, a Bingeformance Artist;
let me fail to coin a meme in the heat of composition:
an FC [Freelance Celebrity] – without portfolio is too. . .
I want to say gay but I’m not you.
Even Howard Stern must be flummoxed
(if not Flomax’d™) wondering
how you’re going to actually service your base.
He has to get up every morning
at four and squint into a screen to service his,
but he’s a workaholic; that’s his trip.
You’re a . . . Vulcan Kardashian Cockblock, or something.

I had chest pains not an hour ago, so it might not be good karma
to repeat that it would be kind of cool if you die
(and spare us the alternative [see Winehouse, Amy,
a less durable case]), but it would!
ET would have its marching orders for MONTHS!
Books would be written, games licensed,
movies bottlenecked in turnaround.
It could even turn the economy around.
Take one for the team, Big Man.
If you don’t know what Jesus would do, ask your dad.

March 17, 2011

Our love is like the border between Greece and Albania
Trucks loaded down with weapons
Crossing over every night

Martin Amis

* From The Stoner Arms Dealers, the story of Efraim Diveroli and David Packouz, the 20-somethings who won a very lucrative arms contract with GW Bush's Defense Department to arm America's allies in Afghanistan:

Packouz was baffled, stoned and way out of his league. "It was surreal," he recalls. "Here I was dealing with matters of international security, and I was half-baked. I didn't know anything about the situation in that part of the world. But I was a central player in the Afghan war — and if our delivery didn't make it to Kabul, the entire strategy of building up the Afghanistan army was going to fail. It was totally killing my buzz. There were all these shadowy forces, and I didn't know what their motives were. But I had to get my shit together and put my best arms-dealer face on."
Once a week or so, the pair would hit the clubs of South Beach to let off steam. Karaoke in a basement bar called the Studio was a favorite. Packouz took his performances seriously, choosing soulful music like U2's "With or Without You" or Pearl Jam's "Black," while Diveroli threw himself into power ballads and country anthems, tearing off his shirt and pumping his fists to the music. Between songs, the two friends would take hits of the cocaine that Diveroli kept in a small plastic bullet with a tiny valve on the top for easy access. Packouz was shy around girls, but Diveroli cut right to the chase, often hitting on women right in front of their boyfriends.

All the partying wasn't exactly conducive to running a small business, especially one as complicated and perilous as arms dealing. As AEY grew, it defaulted on at least seven contracts, in one case failing to deliver a shipment of 10,000 Beretta pistols for the Iraqi army. Diveroli's aunt — a strong-willed and outspoken woman who fought constantly with her nephew — joined the two friends to provide administrative support. She didn't approve of their drug use, and she talked openly about them on the phone, as if they weren't present.
The Flamingo was a constant party," Packouz says. "The marketing slogan for the building was 'South Beach revolves around us,' and it was true. There was drinking, dancing, people making out in the Jacuzzi — sometimes more than just making out. Outside my balcony there was always at least a few women sunbathing topless. People at parties would ask us what we did for a living. The girls were models or cosmetologists. The guys were stockbrokers and lawyers. We would say we were international arms dealers. 'You know the war in Afghanistan?' we would say. 'All the bullets are coming from us.' It was heaven. It was wild. We felt like we were on top of the world."

In the evenings, Packouz and Diveroli would get high and go to the American Range and Gun Shop — the only range near Miami that would let them fire off the Uzis and MP5s that Diveroli was licensed to own. "When we let go with our machine guns, all the other shooters would stop and look at us like, 'What the fuck was that?' Everyone else had pistols going pop pop. We loved it. Shooting an automatic machine gun feels powerful."

- read the whole thing, it's fascinating.

* William Shatner performs Bernie Taupin and Elton John's Rocket Man.

* "Irresponsibility is part of the pleasure of all art; it is the part the schools cannot recognize." -- James Joyce

March 16, 2011

And so I dance in dirty pants
A drink in my hand

Jozsef Bullas, untitled, 2009

To be alive
-- by Gregory Orr

To be alive: not just the carcass
But the spark.
That's crudely put, but…

If we're not supposed to dance,
Why all this music?

Wheeling Motel
-- by Franz Wright

The vast waters flow past its back yard.
You can purchase a six-pack in bars!
Tammy Wynette's on the marquee

a block down. It's twenty-five years ago:
you went to death, I to life, and
which was luckier God only knows.

There's this line in an unpublished poem of yours.
The river is like that,
a blind familiar.

The wind will die down when I say so;
the leaden and lessening light on
the current.

Then the moon will rise
like the word reconciliation,
like Walt Whitman examining the tear on a dead face.

After Baby After Baby
-- by Rachel Zucker

When we made love you had
the dense body of a Doberman
and the square head of a Rottweiler.

With my eyes closed I saw:
a light green plate with seared scallops
and a perfect fillet of salmon on a cedar plank.

Now I am safe in the deep V of a weekday
wanting to tell you how the world
is full of street signs and strollers
and pregnant women in spandex.

The bed and desk both want me.
The windows, the view, the idea of Paris.

With my minutes, I chip away at the idiom,
an unmarked pebble in a fast current. Later,
on my way to the store, a boy with a basketball
yells, You scared? to someone else, and the things
on the list to buy come home with me.
And the baby. And your body.

March 15, 2011

the timing of the snowfall
coupled with the drugs
gives off the impression
that everyone is loved

Phillip Guston, Cherries, 1980

* From the story A Compassionate Leave, in which a WWII soldier is on a three day leave in Paris, by Richard Yates:

"...But oh Jesus God, the area up around the Place Pigalle. It throbbed in the new-fallen darkness with the very pulse of sex; it had a decidedly sinister quality too, in the shadows and in the guarded faces of everyone you saw. Steam rose from iron manhole lids in the street and was instantly turned red or green in the vivid lights of gas and electric signs. Girls and women were everywhere, walking and waiting, among hundreds of prowling soldiers.

"...And he walked the streets for hours, on sore feet, indulging himself in the bleak satisfactions of petulance. What the hell was supposed to be so great and beautiful about Paris anyway? Had anybody ever had the guts to say it was just another city like Detroit or Chicago or New York, with too many pale, grim men in business suits hurriying down the sidewalks, and with too much noise and gasoline exhaust and too much plain damned uncivilized rudeness? Had anybody yet confessed to being dismayed and bewildered and bored by this whole fucking place, and lonely as a bastard too?

"Late in the day he discovered white wine. It salved and dispelled his hangover; it softened athe rasp of his anger into an almost pleasanat melancholy. It was very nice and dry and mild and he drank a great deal of it, slowly, in one quietly obliging cafe after another...He imagined, as the white wine wore on and on, that he probably looked like a sensitive young man in wry contemplation of youth and love and death -- an 'interesting' young man -- and on that high wave of self-regard he went home and hit the sack.

"The final day was one of stunted thought and shriveled hope, of depressions so thick that all of Paris lay awash and sinking in it while his time ran out.

"Back in Place Pigalle at midnight and drunk again -- or more likely feigning drunkeness to himself -- he found that he was almost broke. He couldn't even afford even the most raucous of middle-aged whores now, and he knew he had probably arranged in his secret heart for this to be so. There was nothing left to do but make his way to the dark part of the city where the army trucks were parked.

"You weren't really expected to make the first truck; you could even miss the last truck and nobody would care very much. But those unspoken rules of conduct no longer applied to Paul Colby: he was very likely the only soldier in Europe ever to have spent three days in Paris without getting laid. And he had learned beyond question now that he could no longer attribute his trouble to shyness or awkwardness: it was fear. It was worse than fear: it was cowardice."

* Check out Dan Osborn's indie rock Namedropper's Bible, created in the mid-to-late 1980s. [via]

* “We had the Rolling Stones’ mobile recording unit sitting outside in the snow, but to get there we had to run cable through two doors in the corridor into a room, through a bathroom and into another room, from which it went across a bed and out the veranda window, then ran along the balcony for about 100 feet and came back in through another bedroom window. It then went through that room’s bathroom and into another corridor, then all the way down a marble staircase to the foyer reception area of the hotel, out the front door, across the courtyard and up the steps into the back of the mobile unit. I think that setup led to capturing some spontaneity, because once we got to the truck for a playback, even if we didn’t think it was a perfect take, we’d go, ‘Yeah, that’s good enough.’ Because we just couldn’t stand going back again.” -- Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore on recording Machine Head in an old hotel in Montreux, Switzerland.

March 14, 2011

when they get what they want, they never want it again

Ed Van Der Elsken, Amsterdam Biker, 1983

* Brett Easton Ellis on Charlie Sheen. excerpt:

“Drugs” is the first word Charlie Sheen utters in his only scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, a cinematic relic from 1986. It takes place in a police station where Jeannie Bueller (Jennifer Grey), waiting to get bailed out by her mom and fuming about brother Ferris’s charmingly anarchic ways (he breaks all the rules and is happy; she follows all the rules and is unhappy), realizes she’s sitting next to a gorgeous (he was!) sullen-eyed dude in a leather jacket who looks like he’s been up for days on a drug binge. But he’s not manic, just tired and sexily calm, his face so pale it’s almost violet-hued. Annoyed, Jeannie asks, “Why are you here?” and Charlie, deadpan, replies, without regret: “Drugs.” And then he slowly disarms her bitchiness with his outrageously sexy insouciance, transforming her annoyance into delight (they end up making out).

That’s when we first really noticed Sheen, and it’s the key moment in his movie career (it now sums up everything that followed). He hasn’t been as entertaining since. Until now. In getting himself fired from his hit TV show Two and a Half Men.

Post-Empire started appearing in full force just about everywhere last year while Cee Lo Green’s “Fuck You” gleefully played over the soundtrack. The Kardashians get it. The participants in (and the audience of) Jersey Shore get it. Lady Gaga arriving at the Grammys in an egg gets it, and she gets it while staring at Anderson Cooper and admitting she likes to smoke weed when she writes songs—basically daring him: “What are you gonna do about that, bitch?” Nicki Minaj gets it when she sings “Right Thru Me” and becomes one of her many alter egos on a red carpet. (Christina Aguilera starring in Burlesque doesn’t get it at all.) Ricky Gervais’s hosting of the Golden Globes got it. Robert Downey Jr., getting pissed off at Gervais, did not. Robert De Niro even got it, subtly ridiculing his career and his lifetime-achievement trophy at the same awards show.

James Franco not taking the Oscar telecast seriously but treating it with gentle disrespect (which is exactly what the show deserves) totally got it. (Anne Hathaway, unfortunately, didn’t get it, but we like her anyway for getting naked and jiggy with Jake G.) Post-Empire is Mark Zuckerberg staring with blank impatience at Empire Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes and telling her how The Social Network and its genesis story (he creates Facebook because he was rejected by a bitchy girl!) got it totally wrong (which it did; he was right; sorry, Empire Aaron Sorkin). Empire is complaining that the characters in Jonathan Franzen’s great 2010 novel Freedom aren’t “likable” enough.

* R. Stevie Moore covers Liz Phair's Stratford-On-Guy.

* "True success is figuring out your life and career so you never have to be around jerks." -- John Waters

March 10, 2011

it took an hour
maybe a day
but once i really listened
the noise just fell away

stefan bruggemann, dream

-- by Klipschutz

I want all the women
all the money
all the fun

I want every rainbow
all the marbles
and a personalized introduction to God

I want a death list
transparent skin
and a cat with no fur

I want everything
I have nothing
I will negotiate

Cafe Ennui
--by Sharon Mesmer

Are we the result of some bizarre narration
of the pleasure principle?
Are we versions of desire, but not desire itself?
Do you often find yourself awash in these vague ideas?
Then nip it in a budding grove.
You should be able by now to discern the good from the stupid.
If not, what you really need is vodka. Vodka. Polish vodka,
& the 99 sacred and profane versions of "louie, louie."
As for me, what I don't understand I will loathe,
and what I loathe I will fuck.

Orson Wells
-- Richard Brautigan

Orson Wells does whisky commercials on
Japanese television. It's strange to see him
here on television in Tokyo, recommending that the
Japanese people buy G&G Nikka whisky.

I always watch him with total fascination.
Last night I drempt that I directed one of the
commercials. There were six black horses in the

The horses were arranged in such a position
that upon seeing them and Orson Wells
together, people would rush out of their homes
and buy G&G Nikka Whisky.

It was not an easy commercial to film. It
had to be perfect. It took many takes. Mr. Wells
was very patient with an understanding sense of

"Please, Mr. Wells," I would say. "Stand a
little closer to the horses."

He would smile and move a little closer
to the horse.

"how's this?"

"Just fine, Mr. Wells, perfect."

-- previous poem is inspiration for The Cut Ups -- June 30 June 30.

March 8, 2011

there is a place past the blues
i never wanna see again

Alice Neel, Gerard Malanga, 1969

* From Lance Bangs:

This is one of my favorite live performances I’ve filmed; Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy walking out onto a minor league baseball park in Coney Island in the summer of 2003. Music can easily dissipate when it is performed outdoors in an open space in the summer, and the audience were primarily there to see Bjork and Sigur Ros who were performing later that evening. Will seemed to stare into the occasion and began adapting the words of Rabindranath Tagore’s “2-15” to describe the set and setting, then spun it into “New Partner.” The woman accompanying him is Cynthia Hopkins.

-- Watch it here.

* In NYC? Check out the Animal Farm reading Thursday March 10, 2011 (8pm) at Happy Ending (302 Broome Street) in Manhattan. Janice Shapiro, Jerry Williams and Mariya Gusev will be reading from recent work.

* Two (fantastic covers) for Tuesday:

-- California Dreaming, covered by soul great Lee Moses.

-- Sunshine of Your Love, covered by funk great Spanky Wilson. Wow! What a voice.

* "You can learn more by going to the opera than you ever can by reading Emerson. Like that there are two sexes." -- David Markson

March 5, 2011

You can't get to heaven in a silver spoon
You can polish everything
except for the mark on you

Lisa Yuskavage, Manifest Destiny, 1997

Mea Sheen
-- by Dennis Mahagin

Oh, if they had the means,
put me in the San Diego
zoo, meanwhile
I'm sitting

here, being me and only
me, only

... and you?

In quasi-
misery? Reach out
then Homer! With needy limbs
so far from the tree, cracking
up like

one of those phony TV
evangelists, crocodile

saline pouring from duct
cuts, exposed, exposed
laying hands on harmless
snakes and garters,
snakes and garters ...

I suppose you never
made mistakes? Yet, no
Courvoisier either, no
cable, with porn
gravatar member ID,
no strange tang
nor Ki. ;

Remember Jim Lang?

Oh, that blighter could move
me, blowing the kiss, at Tijuana
Brass, big time
class, that one;

but what about
the bachelorette
who ditched
your ass

in old Spokane?
Or a mere idea
of Milan? Christ,
why not pour
all your

hate on her? Leave me
my thorny cross, called Being
Great, being great. I can't kiss
it, cannot

Listen, if you met me
in a maelstrom, what
I'm saying be glad

I'm not a Norm watching
half hour sit coms after
six, wheel of fortune Alex
Trebek old grand

Don't you know
the shitstorm
is bound to hit
land? Soon enough,
soon enough, so what
is a little
taint? Cheek
stubble to a shadow,
to a stand up

Oh, I'll give
-- to the first saint
among you who looks

me in the eye.

March 4, 2011

Allegations in the air
Collaborations with the East

Linda Jo Nazarenus, Hidden, 2010

Darryl Strawberry Asleep in the Field of Dreams
-- by Paul Beatty

they raised the price of dreams
blue inked can 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 hopin for a
warm thunder storm
that would rain down cool papa bell
and hell would drip off corn stalk blades
pool into a homestead grey
inna a grey away uniform
flip down flip-up shades
and say hey now lets really play

got to wear your sun glasses
so you can feel cool

but its only a movie
and in film school heaven is
where white doctors who played
only an inning and a half in the show
can pray for a tinker everlastin chance to groove the 0-2 sinker
white boys steady leanin 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
falls in an iowa ball field
broken but unhealed
fathers younger than their sons play catch
onna mismatch patch
natural grass and james earl jonezes broad ass
hollywoods black fat majesty
bellows…and people will come

black people smiled and fell in a single file
to pay to watch mel ott run through Fences
and put the suicide squeeze on my mothers mother
whose color
is the same
as the night game infield

and the people will come

to see that black father to be
with scars on their knees
from shinbones split in half
and knocked off kneecaps
practice the rap dunks they will pump over their daughters n sons

and the people will come

how could daughters n fathers build
wooden bleachers
just to sit and cheer male features
if umpire pam postema dies in the minor leagues
ty cobb’ll hook slide into heaven
and she’ll call him out
and he will get up dust himself call her a…
brush it off as a tease

is this heaven
no its iowa
is this heaven
no its harlem
is this heaven
no its bedrock
is this heaven
no its cabrini green
do they got a team
aint sure they got dreams
damn sure aint got a field
or crops that yield
is that sign for steal
I approach the third base coach
and ask is all the movies for real

A Three Point Shot From Andromeda
-- Paul Beatty

rain rusted orange
ring of saturn
in urban orbit
over an outdoor gym

nighttime jumpers
pull up to the hoop
dance on the rim
bolted against a
metal backboard sky
riddled with

ninety nine thousand
BB sized holes
compressing fifth floor duplex
kitchen light
into a galaxy
of 50 watt schoolyard stars

supra flex intense constellations
rotate on defense
double down
tryin to guard
spinning playground
planetarium delirium
of black gods flyin
on neighborhood rep
shake n bake
pump fake
jab step
past orion
walk on air
and burst a reverse

on the stellar bear

Why That Abbott and Costello Vaudeville Mess Never Worked with Black People
-- by Paul Beatty

who’s on first?
i dont know, your mama

March 3, 2011

Under capsized boats, discouraged
To know how sunk can be days

Rob Stolzer, untitled, 2009

* From Harper's March 2011:

-- Number of companies in which the Senate Armed Services Committee staffers are prohibited from owning stock: 48,096

-- The senators themselves: 0

-- Pounds of antibiotics produced in the U.S. in 2009 that were consumed by humans: 7,275,254

-- Pounds consumed by animals for human consumption: 28,808,023

-- Date on which student loans first passed credit cards among the largest sources of private debt in the U.S.: 6/30/10

* Story/Stereo is tomorrow, Friday March 4, 2011 at the Writers Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Musical guests The Caribbean are celebrating the release of their new lp Discontinued Perfume. Should be a lot of fun. FREE.

* "When men are pure, laws are useless; when men are corrupt, laws are broken." --Benjamin Disraeli

March 2, 2011

Jokes are for the living
the dead know everything

Christopher Wool, If You, 1992

Questions and Answers
-- by Nicanor Parra

do you believe it would be worth the trouble
to kill god
to see if that would straighten out the world?

--of course it would be

would it be worth the trouble
to risk your life
for an idea that might be false?

--of course it would be

I ask you now if it would be
worth the trouble to eat crab meat
worth the trouble to raise children
who will turn against
their elders?

--obviously yes
no, its worth the trouble

I ask you now if it would be worth
the trouble to play a record
the trouble to read a tree
the trouble to plant a book
if everything disappears
if nothing lasts?

--maybe it wouldn't be

don't cry

--I'm laughing

don't get born

--I'm dying

--by Patti Smith

I keep trying to figure out what it means
to be american. When I look in myself
I see arabia, venus, nineteenth-century
french but I can't recognize what
makes me american. I think about
Robert Frank's photographs -- broke down
jukeboxes in gallup, new mexico...
swaying hips and spurs...ponytails and
syphilitic cowpokes. I think about a
red, white and blue rag I wrap around
my pillow. Maybe it's nothing material
maybe it's just being free.

Freedom is a waterfall, is pacing
linoleum till dawn, is the right to
write the wrong words, and I done
plenty of that...

The Professional
-- by Joe Maynard

"That's the good thing;
about my profession,"
she said
putting her hand on my arm
while her other hand
palm up
with lipstick clad filter
sandwiched between her index
and bird finger
like a smoldering
"All you have to know
is how to use the phone."

March 1, 2011

We conjure ghosts and then we feed them

Daniel Weiss, Respect the Truth

* Serge Gainsbourg's 20 most scandalous moments. excerpt:

2. Dating the already married Brigitte Bardot

In 1967 Gainsbourg became infatuated with the French siren who, while enduring a difficult time in her marriage, agreed to go on a date with him. So intimidated was he by her stunning looks that on the date, he lost all of the wit and charisma that he was renowned for. Thinking he had ruined his chances with the sultry blonde, he returned home to hear a ringing phone over which Bardot insisted that as an apology for his poor performance on the date, he write her the most beautiful love song ever heard. The next morning, there were two: Bonnie et Clyde and Je T'aime … Moi Non Plus.

3. Recording songs in steamy, sweaty vocal booths (also with Brigitte Bardot)

Understandably, this upset Bardot's husband. Upon hearing Je T'aime … Moi Non Plus, Bardot headed to a Parisian studio with her new beau to record it. Throughout the two-hour session, sound engineer William Flageollet claimed to have witnessed "heavy petting" in the vocal booth while the sighs and whispers were committed to tape. The song had been mixed and readied for radio when Bardot, remembering that she was married, revoked her consent for its release. News of the recording had reached her husband, German businessman Gunter Sachs, and after desperate pleas, Gainsbourg relented to Bardot's wishes and the version was shelved. Bardot later went on to release the recording in 1986. And also to divorce her husband.
8. Explicitly stating his sexual desires to Whitney Houston on French TV

After a performance on the French prime time show of Michel Drucker in 1986, Houston found herself seated next to France's most notorious lothario for a post-performance chat. Little did she expect that the praise she would receive would turn into something sordid as Gainsbourg, in his best English clearly and confidently informed his host that he wanted "to fuck her". Houston's already highly blushed cheeks deepened a shade, and the scenario has never since been forgotten.

* RIP, Suze Rotolo, who, most famously, was on the cover of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.

* From an interview with James Hannaham:

Q: You recently published your first novel, God Says No, which is receiving wonderful reviews. Is it difficult to make the switch from novel writing to short story writing? Does your style change in the different forms?

JH: In the middle of writing GSN, which began life as a very different book in 2001, I wrote a story that changed my approach to writing significantly—I realized that, like the composer I started out wanting to be, a big component of what turned me on about writing was the sound and rhythm of words, and discovered that if I took more pleasure in those elements, better stuff began to come to me quite naturally, even in terms of what people often call “content” or “narrative.” In the middle of a class this past semester, I told my students “writing is a kind of music,” which sounds sort of confusing, I think, until one admits that writing is made of sound as much or even more than meaning. Poets seem far more accepting of this idea than fiction writers for some reason. I’m trying now to adapt my style to something that’s appropriate for each new idea or project, betting that some essential quality will remain. Probably my favorite building blocks: the tacky, the tragicomic, the bittersweet.

Q: What are you working on now?

JH: Turning those ‘wonderful reviews’ into cold hard cash. It’s like alchemy only more difficult and less scientific.

-- Hannaham is reading this Friday, March 4, at the Bethesda Writer’s Center. The evening also features a reading by Matthew Pitt, and a musical performance by The Caribbean celebrating the release of their latest album, Discontinued Perfume. FREE.

* "I don't necessarily agree with everything I say." -- Marshall McLuhan