April 29, 2011

Drinks flow
People forget
Big wheel spins
The hair thins, people forget
The news slows..., people forget
The shares crash, hopes are dashed, people forget
They forget they're hiding

David Graham, Pies, 2003

Self-Portrait At 28
-- by David Berman

I know it's a bad title
but I'm giving it to myself as a gift
on a day nearly canceled by sunlight
when the entire hill is approaching
the ideal of Virginia
brochured with goldenrod and loblolly
and I think "at least I have not woken up
with a bloody knife in my hand"
by then having absently wandered
one hundred yards from the house
while still seated in this chair
with my eyes closed.

It is a certain hill
the one I imagine when I hear the word "hill"
and if the apocalypse turns out
to be a world-wide nervous breakdown
if our five billion minds collapse at once
well I'd call that a surprise ending
and this hill would still be beautiful
a place I wouldn't mind dying
alone or with you.

I am trying to get at something
and I want to talk very plainly to you
so that we are both comforted by the honesty.
You see there is a window by my desk
I stare out when I am stuck
though the outdoors has rarely inspired me to write
and I don't know why I keep staring at it.

My childhood hasn't made good material either
mostly being a mulch of white minutes
with a few stand out moments,
popping tar bubbles on the driveway in the summer
a certain amount of pride at school
everytime they called it "our sun"
and playing football when the only play
was "go out long" are what stand out now.

If squeezed for more information
I can remember old clock radios
with flipping metal numbers
and an entree called Surf and Turf.

As a way of getting in touch with my origins
every night I set the alarm clock
for the time I was born so that waking up
becomes a historical reenactment and the first thing I do
is take a reading of the day and try to flow with it like
when you're riding a mechanical bull and you strain to learn
the pattern quickly so you don't inadverantly resist it.


I can't remember being born
and no one else can remember it either
even the doctor who I met years later
at a cocktail party.
It's one of the little disappointments
that makes you think about getting away
going to Holly Springs or Coral Gables
and taking a room on the square
with a landlady whose hands are scored
by disinfectant, telling the people you meet
that you are from Alaska, and listen
to what they have to say about Alaska
until you have learned much more about Alaska
than you ever will about Holly Springs or Coral Gables.

Sometimes I am buying a newspaper
in a strange city and think
"I am about to learn what it's like to live here."
Oftentimes there is a news item
about the complaints of homeowners
who live beside the airport
and I realize that I read an article
on this subject nearly once a year
and always receive the same image.

I am in bed late at night
in my house near the airport
listening to the jets fly overhead
a strange wife sleeping beside me.
In my mind, the bedroom is an amalgamation
of various cold medicine commercial sets
(there is always a box of tissue on the nightstand).

I know these recurring news articles are clues,
flaws in the design though I haven't figured out
how to string them together yet,
but I've begun to notice that the same people
are dying over and over again,
for instance Minnie Pearl
who died this year
for the fourth time in four years.


Today is the first day of Lent
and once again I'm not really sure what it is.
How many more years will I let pass
before I take the trouble to ask someone?

It reminds of this morning
when you were getting ready for work.
I was sitting by the space heater
numbly watching you dress
and when you asked why I never wear a robe
I had so many good reasons
I didn't know where to begin.

If you were cool in high school
you didn't ask too many questions.
You could tell who'd been to last night's
big metal concert by the new t-shirts in the hallway.
You didn't have to ask
and that's what cool was:
the ability to deduct
to know without asking.
And the pressure to simulate coolness
means not asking when you don't know,
which is why kids grow ever more stupid.

A yearbook's endpages, filled with promises
to stay in touch, stand as proof of the uselessness
of a teenager's promise. Not like I'm dying
for a letter from the class stoner
ten years on but...

Do you remember the way the girls
would call out "love you!"
conveniently leaving out the "I"
as if they didn't want to commit
to their own declarations.

I agree that the "I" is a pretty heavy concept
and hope you won't get uncomfortable
if I should go into some deeper stuff here.


There are things I've given up on
like recording funny answering machine messages.
It's part of growing older
and the human race as a group
has matured along the same lines.
It seems our comedy dates the quickest.
If you laugh out loud at Shakespeare's jokes
I hope you won't be insulted
if I say you're trying too hard.
Even sketches from the original Saturday Night Live
seem slow-witted and obvious now.

It's just that our advances are irrepressible.
Nowadays little kids can't even set up lemonade stands.
It makes people too self-conscious about the past,
though try explaining that to a kid.

I'm not saying it should be this way.

All this new technology
will eventually give us new feelings
that will never completely displace the old ones
leaving everyone feeling quite nervous
and split in two.

We will travel to Mars
even as folks on Earth
are still ripping open potato chip
bags with their teeth.

Why? I don't have the time or intelligence
to make all the connections
like my friend Gordon
(this is a true story)
who grew up in Braintree Massachusetts
and had never pictured a brain snagged in a tree
until I brought it up.
He'd never broken the name down to its parts.
By then it was too late.
He had moved to Coral Gables.


The hill out my window is still looking beautiful
suffused in a kind of gold national park light
and it seems to say,
I'm sorry the world could not possibly
use another poem about Orpheus
but I'm available if you're not working
on a self-portrait or anything.

I'm watching my dog have nightmares,
twitching and whining on the office floor
and I try to imagine what beast
has cornered him in the meadow
where his dreams are set.

I'm just letting the day be what it is:
a place for a large number of things
to gather and interact --
not even a place but an occasion
a reality for real things.

Friends warned me not to get too psychedelic
or religious with this piece:
"They won't accept it if it's too psychedelic
or religious," but these are valid topics
and I'm the one with the dog twitching on the floor
possibly dreaming of me
that part of me that would beat a dog
for no good reason
no reason that a dog could see.

I am trying to get at something so simple
that I have to talk plainly
so the words don't disfigure it
and if it turns out that what I say is untrue
then at least let it be harmless
like a leaky boat in the reeds
that is bothering no one.


I can't trust the accuracy of my own memories,
many of them having blended with sentimental
telephone and margarine commercials
plainly ruined by Madison Avenue
though no one seems to call the advertising world
"Madison Avenue" anymore. Have they moved?
Let's get an update on this.

But first I have some business to take care of.

I walked out to the hill behind our house
which looks positively Alaskan today
and it would be easier to explain this
if I had a picture to show you
but I was with our young dog
and he was running through the tall grass
like running through the tall grass
is all of life together
until a bird calls or he finds a beer can
and that thing fills all the space in his head.

You see,
his mind can only hold one thought at a time
and when he finally hears me call his name
he looks up and cocks his head
and for a single moment
my voice is everything:

Self-portrait at 28.

April 27, 2011

You're the grooviest girl in the world
and I'm a guy with impeccable taste

Martyn Goddard, Debbie Harry at the opening of Blondie in Camera exhibition at the Mirandy Gallery, 1978

The Speed Of Darkness
-- by Muriel Rukeyser


Whoever despises the clitoris despises the penis
Whoever despises the penis despises the cunt
Whoever despises the cunt despises the life of the child.

Resurrection music, silence, and surf.


No longer speaking
Listening with the whole body
And with every drop of blood
Overtaken by silence
But this same silence is become speech
With the speed of darkness.


Stillness during war, the lake.
The unmoving spruces.
Glints over the water.
Faces, voices. You are far away.
A tree that trembles and trembles.


After the lifting of the mist
after the heavy rains
the sky stands clear
and the cries of the city risen in day
I remember the buildings are space
walled, to let space be used for living
I mind this room is space
whose boundary of glass
lets me give you drink and space to drink
your hand, my hand being space
containing skies and constellations
your face carries the reaches of air
I know I am space
my words are the air.


Between between
the man : act exact
woman : in curve senses in their maze
frail orbits, green tries, games of stars
shar of the body speaking its evidence


I look across at the real
vulnerable involved naked
devoted to the present of all I care for
the world of history leading to this moment.


Life is the announcer.
I assure you
there are many ways to have a child.
I bastard mother
promise you
there are many ways to be born.
They all come forth
in their own grace.


Ends of the earth join tonight
with blazing stars upon thier meeting.

These sons, these sons
fall burning into Asia.


Time comes into it.
Say it. Say it.
The universe is made of stories,
not of atoms.


blazing beside me
you rear beautifully up—
your thinking face—
erotic body reaching
in all its colors and lights—
your erotic face
colored and lit—
not colored body-and-face
but now entire,
colors lights the world of thinking and reaching.


The river flows past the city.

Water goes down to tomorrow
making its children I hear their unborn voices
I am working out the vocabulary of my silence.


Big-boned man young and of my dream
Struggles to get the live brid out of his throat.
I am he am I? Dreaming?
I am the bird am I? I am the throat?

A brid with a curved beak.
It could slit anything, the throat-bird.

Drawn up slowly. The curved blades, not large.
Bird emerges wet being born
Begins to sing.


My night awake
staring at the broad rough jewel
the copper roof across the way
thinking of the poet
yet unborn in this dark
who will be the throat of these hours.
No. Of those hours.
Who will speak these days,
if not I,
if not you?

A Girl in Milwaukee and a Girl in Brooklyn
-- by Matt Cook

My wife is talking on the phone in Milwaukee
To her girlfriend in Brooklyn.
But, in the middle of all that, my wife has to go pee.
And it turns out that the girl in Brooklyn,
At the very same time, also has to go pee.
So they discuss this for a moment,
And they're both very intelligent people.
They decide to set their phones down and go to the bathroom
(This was back when people set their phones down).
So they do this, and now we have a live telephone line open
Between Milwaukee and Brooklyn
With no one speaking through it for about two minutes as
A girl in Milwaukee and a girl in Brooklyn go to the bathroom.

April 26, 2011

Another season, but the same old feelings
Another reason could be
I'm tired of aching, summer's what you make it
But I'll believe what I want to believe

Kini Collins, City Bird, 2007

* From the May 2011 Harper's Index:

-- Average salary difference between a starting New York public school teacher and a first-year private lawyer in 1970: $2,000

-- Today: $106,000

-- Percentage by which an American is more likely than a non-American to suffer from bipolar disease: 100

-- Age of the youngest person facing life without parole in the United States: 13

* Ten reasons to still be pissed off about the BP disaster.

* "An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools." -- Ernest Hemingway

April 25, 2011

the meaning of the world lies outside the world

Mary Chiaramonte, House Bound, 2009

* From an interview of Ed Sanders of the Fugs, originally published May 12, 1967 in the Berkeley Barb:

Interviewer: I take it you're not as optimistic as Tuli [Kupferberg] seems to be about the possibility of radical socio-political change in America?

Ed Sanders: My motto is 'Fuck God in the ass.' I don't have any faith at all in the efficacy of politics. I don't know what's going to happen. I'm political — I vote and hustle and hike, fight and scream. Non-violently. I don't know what to do. We just try. I assume that what people want is a transformation of the society, right? They want to set up a new type of government, a new type of methods for doing almost everything, from handling the A&P to handling the problems of war and peace — so how is it done? I read everything I can read, and I go to all the demonstrations, and nobody's even set up a cabinet - they ought to set up some sort of rebel cabinet and issue big decrees all the time about where it is they're pissed off. I don't know. The way to do it is really be militant, man,and get after them … the bastards.

* my new favorite dictionary.

* * "We have two American flags always: one for the rich and one for the poor. When the rich fly it means that things are under control; when the poor fly it means danger, revolution, anarchy." -- Henry Miller

April 20, 2011

Thank you, friends
Wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you

Linda Touby, Dance of the Seven Veils, 2005

Two Hangovers
-- by James Wright

Number One

I slouch in bed.
Beyond the streaked trees of my window,
All groves are bare.
Locusts and poplars change to unmarried women
Sorting slate from anthracite
Between railroad ties:
The yellow-bearded winter of the depression
Is still alive somewhere, an old man
Counting his collection of bottle caps
In a tarpaper shack under the cold trees
Of my grave.

I still feel half drunk,
And all those old women beyond my window
Are hunching toward the graveyard.

Drunk, mumbling Hungarian,
The sun staggers in,
And his big stupid face pitches
Into the stove.
For two hours I have been dreaming
Of green butterflies searching for diamonds
In coal seams;
And children chasing each other for a game
Through the hills of fresh graves.
But the sun has come home drunk from the sea,
And a sparrow outside
Sings of the Hanna Coal Co. and the dead moon.
The filaments of cold light bulbs tremble
In music like delicate birds.
Ah, turn it off.

Number Two

I Try to Waken and Greet the World Once Again

In a pine tree,
A few yards away from my window sill,
A brilliant blue jay is springing up and down, up and down,
On a branch.
I laugh, as I see him abandon himself
To entire delight, for he knows as well as I do
That the branch will not break.

Nothingsville, MN

-- by Franz Wright

The sole tavern there, empty
and filled with cigarette smoke;
the smell
of beer, urine, and the infinate
sadness you dread
and need so much of
for some reason.

-- by Eileen Myles

for Joan

There was a bird
on my sill
this morning
stone sill
dark grey bird
and it bumped
against my window
then it flew in
it was freaked
turned round tried
to fly out; crashed
the bird's face was huge
vanished into my tiny apartment
no bird under the bed
no bird in the kitchen
bird flying out of
bumped into the window
and dizzy zoomed
into the white day

-- Last night The Dust Congress received its 600,000 visitor (since October 2006, when we began keeping track of such things). Thanks to all for stopping by!

April 16, 2011

my art was a knife

John Gutmann, The Artist Lives Dangerously, 1938

* A nice piece on Roger Angell. excerpt:

Roger Angell's memories of Babe Ruth at Yankee Stadium are moving pictures in his head, deposited there when he was a boy absorbed by the pastime and the world around him. The Babe's big bat, his heavy flannel uniform, the men in fedoras watching him: You and I, way late to the party, have been fed these black-and-white snaps by PBS specials and Hall of Fame exhibits, but that's not the case for Angell. For him, they're in color. Angell is the grand master of the first-hand observation, which is why his baseball writing in The New Yorker is so original and lively and has been for 50 years.
"The nature of memory has changed," he said the other day, with the new season a calendar flip away. Old Yankee Stadium was shiny and new when he started watching games there in 1930 at age nine. Spring training was just catching on. "In those days, there was no television and there weren't many photos in the paper. You saw the ballplayers at the ballpark." They weren't larger than life. (Well, Ruth was.) They looked, Angell says, "like your older brother." Now the players look like giants. Angell's fine with it. They're better athletes, he says.
In 1976, on a manual typewriter, Angell wrote about the joy of holding a baseball, "a perfect object for a man's hand." In his office the other day, Roger held a game ball from last season for a minute or two. Age has curved his fingers. Retired catchers have the same fingers, battered by foul tips and long swings. He gripped the ball's red laces and said, "Now I can throw the knuckler." His bent digits, or the many seasons they represent, have only helped his keyboard strikes.

* Stolen Pills, by Spiral Stairs, from his excellent 2009 album, The Real Feel.

* Alice Denham, the only Playboy centerfold who authored a short story in the same issue (July 1956).

* "Painting is not done to decorate apartments." -- Picasso

April 15, 2011

the night sky is a jewelry store window

Angelo Filomeno, Spring Shower, 2005

-- by Veronica Forrest-Thomson

Love is the oldest camera.
Snap me with your eyes.
Wearied with myself I want
a picture that simplifies.

Likeness is not important
provided the traits cohere.
Dissolve doubts and contradictions
to leave the exposure clear.

Erase shadows and negative
that confuse the tired sight.
Develop as conclusive definition
a pattern of black and white.

For I wish to see me reassembled
in that dark-room of your mind.

-- by Campbell McGrath

Late dinner at a dark café blocks from Rittenhouse Square, iron pots of mussels and Belgian beer and a waiter eager to snag the check and clock out. Such are the summer pleasures of his work—winding down to a glass of red wine, catching the windowed reflection of a girl as she passes, counting the take upon the bar, thick roll of ones and fives, palming the odd ten smooth against zinc and polished walnut, the comforting dinginess of American money, color of August weeds in a yard of rusting appliances, hard cash, its halo of authority, the hands’ delight in its fricatives and gutturals, its growl, its purr, gruff demotic against the jargon of paychecks on automatic deposit with social security deductions and prepaid dental, realism vs. abstraction, a gallery of modest canvasses, more landscapes than still lifes, steeples of the old city with masts and spars, a vista of water meadows with fishermen hauling nets in the distance, women collecting shellfish in wicker panniers. It yields enough to sustain us, after all, the ocean of the past. We’ve paid. The waiter pockets his final tip and throws down his apron and walks out into the warm night of dogs splashing in public fountains and couples on benches beneath blossoming trees and soon enough we follow, arm in arm across the cobblestones, looking for a yellow cab to carry us into the future.

Coming Up For Air
-- by Gerard Malanga

for Edie Sedgwick

The face that grows out from the magazine
Covers some simple indication
That long earrings are coming
Back into fashion
At the parties that were
Beginning over
Night in the city
Limits, and the surprise
Package of whatever explains the false
Hood of logic to keep us
Guessing at the eventual sun
Rise, brings me home
In the film of our favorite soft
Drink starring you.

April 14, 2011

Gather Your Wits And Hold On Fast
Your Mind Must Learn To Roam

Robert Altman, Pete Townshend, San Francisco July 1969

* William Burroughs' shit is being used in a bioart project.

* In NYC: Animal Farm is hosting a reading featuring Emily Gould, Gabe Delahaye and Andy McCarthy tonight at Happy Ending (302 Broome). FREE. 8pm.

* "A jazz musician is a juggler who uses harmonies instead of oranges." -- Benny Green

April 13, 2011

What do you do with a revolution?

Laura London, Rock Star Moment No. 2, 2010

Everybody Who is Dead
-- by Frank Stanford

When a man knows another man
Is looking for him
He doesn’t hide.

He doesn’t wait
To spend another night
With his wife
Or put his children to sleep.

He puts on a clean shirt and a dark suit
And goes to the barber shop
To let another man shave him.

He shuts his eyes
Remembers himself as a boy
Lying naked on a rock by the water.

Then he asks for the special lotion.
The old men line up by the chair
And the barber pours a little
In each of their hands.

No President's Statue Escapes
-- by Nicanor Parra

From those infallible pigeons
Clara Sandoval used to tell us:

Those pigeons know exactly what they’re doing

The Time I Like Best
-- by Roger McGough

The time I like best is 6am
when the snow is 6 inches deep
which I'm yet to discover
'cause I'm under the covers
fast, fast asleep.

April 12, 2011

Don't hide the snake can see you

Robert Altman, Tina Turner, October 4, 1969

* Sasha Frere-Jones on Bill Callahan. excerpt:

Over time, Callahan, who is forty-four, started to resemble a particular kind of seventies folk-and-country artist: a songwriter like Johnny Cash or Willie Nelson, who engaged in both pop and politics, and who helped create the notion of a steady-handed American song that was rooted in verse and chorus but was open to all sorts of subject matter. Callahan’s voice has become a gorgeous thing, the product of a resonant chest and even breathing, underlining strange and subtle lyrics—few singers of his cohort put their voices as high in the mix or enunciate so clearly. “I Feel Like the Mother of the World,” from “A River Ain’t Too Much to Love,” which came out in 2005, begins in a vaguely philosophical register: “Whether or not there is any type of God / I’m not supposed to say / and today / I don’t really care / God is a word / and the argument ends there / oh, do I feel like the mother of the world / with two children fighting.” The music is a fluid, humming combination of acoustic guitars, drums, and the slightly frayed chime of the hammer dulcimer. Callahan switches quickly into a casual mode for the second verse, and describes fighting with his sister. It’s beautiful, brief, and weird. Are nations just scrappy kids? Are we always children?

* "Humility—the acceptance that being human is good enough—is the embrace of ordinariness." —underlined by David Foster Wallace in his copy of Ernest Kurtz's The Spirituality of Imperfection.

April 10, 2011

I make such good time through sub-space
when I dream all day and ride all night

Gordon Matta-Clark, The Caribbean Orange, 1978

A Vision for the People of America
-- by Kenneth Patchen

The poets with death on their tongues shall come to address you.

The fat nonsense will end.
You will drown in your rot.

The poets with death on their tongues shall come to address you.

The slimy hypocrisy will end.
You will go down in your filth.

O the poets with death on their tongues shall come to address you.

This poem . . .
-- by Elma Mitchell

This poem is dangerous: it should not be left
Within the reach of children, or even of adults
Who might swallow it whole, with possibly
Undesirable side-effects. If you come across
An unattended, unidentified poem
In a public place, do not attempt to tackle it
Yourself. Send it (preferably, in a sealed container)
To the nearest centre of learning, where it will be rendered
Harmless, by experts. Even the simplest poem
May destroy your immunity to human emotions.
All poems must carry a Government warning. Words
Can seriously affect your heart.

White White Collars
-- by Denis Johnson

We work in this building and we are hideous
in the fluorescent light, you know our clothes
woke up this morning and swallowed us like jewels
and ride up and down the elevators, filled with us,
turning and returning like the spray of light that goes
around dance-halls among the dancing fools.
My office smells like a theory, but here one weeps
to see the goodness of the world laid bare
and rising with the government on its lips,
the alphabet congealing in the air
around our heads. But in my belly’s flames
someone is dancing, calling me by many names
that are secret and filled with light and rise
and break, and I see my previous lives.

April 7, 2011

I didn't have the heart to tell him
I believed in dinosaurs not god

Laurel Nakadate, Stay the Same Never Change, 2008

* Greil Marcus on Captain Beefheart. excerpt:

In “Orange Claw Hammer,” from Trout Mask Replica, he’s a broken old sailor, Ahab himself as a bum in the alley, muttering about Painless Parker and cherry phosphates, seeing a woman on the street, or every woman: “God before me if I’m not crazy is my daughter.” He puts you on the street with him, watching the madman, wondering what you’d do, what you’d say, if you could say anything. Whose mind is fucked now? “Want to do a version of ‘Orange Claw Hammer,’ live in the studio?” a disc jockey asked Van Vliet one day in 1975. “Yeahhhhh,” he said in a drawl of pure pleasure, stepping right into the song like it was a movie sequence he’d just stepped out of; with Frank Zappa, his friend and nemesis since high school, playing guitar like an autoharp behind him, it felt like bourbon. It sounded like a tall tale, a rumor, a folk song.

* Silver Jews: Long Long Gone

* "Books are finite, sexual encounters are finite, but the desire to read and to fuck is infinite; it surpasses our own deaths, our fears, our hopes for peace." -- Roberto Bolaño

April 6, 2011

Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They've all gone to look for America

Gerhard Richter, Confrontation, 1988

Learning How to Make Love
-- by denise duhamel

This couple couldn't figure it out.
The man licked his wife's genitals while she stared straight ahead.
The woman poked her husband's testicles with her nose.
The man put his toe in the folds of the woman's vulva.
The woman took the man's penis under her armpit.
Neither one of them wanted to be the first to admit
something was off. So it went on-
the man put his finger in his wife's navel.
The woman batted her eyelashes against the arch of her husband's foot.
They pinched each other's earlobes. They bit each other's rear ends.
To perpetrate the lie, they ended each encounter with a deep sigh.
Then one day while the husband was hunting,
a man stopped by the igloo and said to the wife:
I hear you have been having trouble.
I can show you how to make love.
He took her to bed and left before the husband came home.
Then the wife showed her husband,
careful to make it seem like the idea sprang
from both. After all these years of rubbing one's face against the other's belly
or stroking a male elbow behind a female knee,
this couple had a lot of catching up to do. They couldn't stop to eat or sleep
and grew so skinny they died. No one found them for a long time.
And by then, their two skeletons were fused into one.

Bild, 1959
-- by franz wright

as the bourbon's level
descended in the bottle
his voice would grow
lower and more
indistinct, like a candle flame
under a glass

sunlight in the basement room

so he reads to me
when he is gone

I go over
and secretly taste his drink

mushroom cloud of sunset

-- by John Tranter

Another fuckwit drops into the dustbin
of history, just as we're finishing our coffee.
Some of us are meant to burn out, is that
right? Like roman candles, across the night sky.

I want to go up like a tree, not a rocket.
I'd like to get drunk disgracefully
with a favorite neice, and grow old
among an amplitude of footnotes.

Pour me another Pernod, Famous Poet, and
tell me again about the doomstruck literati,
those dropouts immortalized in ink -- your
thirst, your secret greed, your mausoleum.

April 4, 2011

Let the products sell themselves
fuck advertising, commercial psychology
psychological methods to sell should be destroyed

Raymond Pettibon, Untitled, 2001

* David Rees: What would D. Boon D0? excerpt:

The Minutemen were--are--the greatest punk band of all time.

So there you go.

But there's more:

-The Minutemen's awesome, inexhaustible 1984 masterpiece, "Double Nickels on the Dime," is the greatest rock album of all time.

-D. Boon's opening guitar lick on that album's "Two Beads At The End" is, simply, the most "God-DAMN, no he DIDN'T" punk rock guitar moment of all time.

-D. Boon's guitar solo on "'99," from the album "What Makes A Man Start Fires," is the greatest guitar solo of all time.

-Bassist Mike Watt and drummer George Hurley were the tightest, baddest, most in-the-pocket-and-out-of-bounds punk rock rhythm section of all time. Their performance on "What Makes A Man Start Fires," which careens from as-fast-and-furious-as-Paris-Hilton's-panties-dropping to as-buckled-down-and-funky-as-Darth-Vader-buttfucking-a-purple-Rolex, is the most convincing proof of this of all time.

-The first time I heard the Minutemen--on a Saturday afternoon in 8th grade, when my friend lowered the stylus onto "Shit From An Old Notebook," and the song somersaulted out of his RadioShack speakers in an ecstasy of spasmodic guitar and drum fills--is the greatest "first time someone heard a band and their life changed for all time" of all time.
-The Minutemen's cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son"--which is itself one of the greatest political songs of all time, but which is not quite as good as the Minutemen's version, because Mike Watt's bass line sounds so goddamn funk-ass amazing coming out of the stereo that you want to crap your pants and run around gurgling like Lewis Black--is the greatest cover of all time.

-The photograph accompanying Spin magazine's posthumous 1986 tribute to Boon--a grainy gig photo in which Boon and Watt play acoustic guitars accompanied by Hurley on bongos in what looks like a church basement located 500 miles below the earth's surface and 10,000 miles away from Top 40 radio; an image which totally confounded my expectations of what "punk rock musicians" and "punk rock concerts" looked like; and which I taped to my locker at Culbreth Junior High so I could feel connected to this mysterious new American culture that lay beyond the Maginot Line of Bon Jovi and Jefferson Starship--is the greatest photograph of a punk band of all time.

-The Minutemen's catalytic philosophy--that "punk is whatever we make it to be," that any group of kids could pick up instruments and make artistic, innovative, impossible music without worrying about cliques, categories, or condemnation; even working-class kids from San Pedro like Boon and Watt--is the greatest band philosophy of all time.

---related: Mike Watt teaches us vans are cool.

* "Read. If you don't read, you will never be a filmmaker. Those who watch television or are too much on the Internet, they lose the world." -- Werner Herzog

April 1, 2011

On a night like this
I am so glad you came around
Hold on to me so tight
And heat up some coffee grounds

Llyn Foulkes, Dali and Me, 2006

Imaginary Writers Conference Tryst
-- by Meg Pokrass

All borrowed things eventually

disappoint -- he met a girl

who loved Bon Jovi, as a consolation

she tried a rugged neckline

Bigfoot tattoo nestled

grumpy inside her cleavage,

peering monster pursed and frigid.

Later, she drove

him around the city

using windshield wipers and words.

A Diamond
-- by Jack Spicer

A Translation for Robert Jones

A diamond
Is there
At the heart of the moon or the branches or my nakedness
And there is nothing in the universe like diamond
Nothing in the whole mind.

The poem is a seagull resting on a pier at the end of the ocean.

A dog howls at the moon
A dog howls at the branches
A dog howls at the nakedness
A dog howling with pure mind.

I ask for the poem to be as pure as a seagull’s belly.

The universe falls apart and discloses a diamond
Two words called seagull are peacefully floating out where the
waves are.
The dog is dead there with the moon, with the branches, with
my nakedness
And there is nothing in the universe like diamond
Nothing in the whole mind.

-- by Barbara Guest

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