May 31, 2011

And the man on the radio won't leave me alone
He wants to take my money for something
That i've never been shown

Kate Simon, Life is a Killer

* From an interview of Ed Sanders:

"The FUGS were a trio of poet-musicians, who included Tuli Kupferberg. We saw it as a way to have fun. I wanted to party and be like Bacchus: have a good time and work for the Revolution. We were sort of revolutionaries.

"We wanted a different world, a different economy. We wanted more of a share in the economy. We thought there would at least be a social democracy, like in Sweden or Norway, or something like that. But it didn't turn out that way.

"So that's how The FUGS got started. We played at the Peace Eye. We had our roots in the Dadaists and in the Cabaret Voltaire. We had our roots in the Happenings at Judson Church with Allan Capral. We had our roots in Jazz Poetry, with Jack Kerouac and Steve Allen playing together. We had our roots in the whole modern drama. We were influenced by Brecht's Living Theater, by Lennie Bruce, and by Beatnik Poetry.

"BUT mostly, we were influenced by the Dadaists; and the civil rights movement. We played in churches surrounded by the Klan, where they were threatening to kill us. This civil rights thing really made us into tough and ready-to-face-danger musicians. I wouldn't write some of the same songs today that I wrote then, but we were just wild, testosterone-maddened young men having fun."

-- related: The Fugs Boobs a Lot

* What Song are You Listening To?

* Set of fantastic color photos taken during the Depression era.

* "Still, no one finally knows what a poet is supposed either to be or to do. Especially in this country, one takes on the job—because all that one does in America is considered a "job"—with no clear sense as to what is required or where one will ultimately be led. In that respect, it is as particular an instance of a "calling" as one might point to. For years I've kept in mind, "Many are called but few are chosen." Even so "called," there were no assurances that one would be answered." -- Robert Creeley

May 27, 2011

Pursue the small utopias: music, friendship, intimate love

Kenneth Josephson, Stockholm, 1967

Elegy 1969
-- by Mark Strand

(after Carlos Drummond de Andrade)

You slave away into your old age
and nothing you do adds up to much.
Day after day you go through the same motions,
you shiver in bed, you get hungry, you want a woman.

Heroes standing for lives of sacrifice and obedience
fill the parks through which you walk.
At night in the fog they open their bronze umbrellas
or else withdraw to the empty lobbies of movie houses.

You love the night for its power of annihilating,
but while you sleep, your problems will not let you die.
Waking only proves the existence of The Great Machine
and the hard light falls on your shoulders.

You walk among the dead and talk
about times to come and matters of the spirit.
Literature wasted your best hours of love-making.
Weekends were lost, cleaning your apartment.

You are quick to confess your failure and to postpone
collective joy to the next century. You accept
rain, war, unemployment and the unjust distribution of wealth
because you can’t, all by yourself, blow up Manhattan Island.

How Things Work
-- by Gary Soto

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

May 25, 2011

you have aged
you must start looking up

Brad Elterman, Gene Simmons and Brooke Shields, 1979

Oh Yes
-- by Charles Bukowski

there are worse things than
being alone
but it often takes decades
to realize this
and most often
when you do
it's too late
and there's nothing worse
too late.

Brothers on Sunday Night
-- by Frank Stanford

We'd been dreaming
Or at least I had
About peanuts that grow in the river
And oozed sap
When you bit them

A woman bootlegger shook her dustmop
That was the moon

In the fields
Something barren like a journey
And echoes of salt
Sprinkled deep on the table

Where they said the young mother
Walked into the water

With her dress full of rocks
I laid down
And ate a peck of bruised peaches

A fisherman went to sleep on his mule
Riding to the store
For a roll of wax paper
Then we heard
Shouting that tore out the light.

-- by Mike White

half a room

no one around
to lift the thing

all those parts

after a while
you give up

even dusting

May 23, 2011

I'll get up and fly away

david berman, david berman's cassettes, 2011

* Mark E. Smith interview. excerpt:

Which living person do you most admire, and why?
All nurses and television programmers at 4am who "update". But mainly myself, as Napoleon.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Having to clean my teeth and look after my health.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
A lot of people seem obliged to have a viewpoint.
Aside from a property, what's the most expensive thing you've bought?
Human souls are not cheap.
What is your most treasured possession?
A tree in my front garden.
What would your super power be?
No food necessary. True bats know false powers drag you down.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I could use a new brain and other organs.

If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
A decent bitter/lager.

Who would play you in the film of your life?
Orson Welles or Brian Cox.

What is your most unappealing habit?
Random spitting, stealing lighters – both are unconscious.

* “Stupidity is the deliberate cultivation of ignorance." -- William Gaddis

May 21, 2011

I'm feeling thankful for the small things today

James Lofton, Confetti, 2008

* Happy Birthday to Me.

* I'm Not a Young Man Anymore.

May 18, 2011

we're all here chewing our tongues off
waiting for the fever to break

Cara Ober, Forgotten Bestsellers, 2010

Half A Block From The Horse Shoe
-- by Dennis Mahagin

Half a block
from the Horseshoe
I saw a wan hooker
in faux

raincoat, so
silver, chiffon and
high heels; she pulled
a pack of Kools
from her

purse, and


a bit at the curb,
as if menthol and stiletto
had some nerve,
to be cursed

by banana peel;

but none of this
is probably real
, I told
myself later, in front
of the Aladdin,
when I dug

Him: this lilliputian
McTaggert with off
white hard hat;
he waddled up,

spit into
the wind, a short
hair from radical
achondro -
plasty, he looked right
thru me, as if to shrug
off something nasty
about a word or two
stitched into his

work shirt said Hulu
Captain ! HVAC; this

dwarf straddled

the yellow line of
embarcation, Vegas Strip
mall melting pot, taxi
stand, whatever; I saw
there were things
in his head I'd never
-- it's why

every day,
I get a bit shorter
of wind, with phantom
pains in the gulliver,
bracing for a
Big One
like Steve Wynne
might corner
the market on

Prilosac ... and all my
beliefs that throw one
back, that threaten

to slip the noose
of insight, and pity, like a freak
thunderstorm in Laughlin last
New Years, when
I got accosted

by a Mexican dressed
to the nines, with lipstick red
boots on, and oh so

tight they had
to hurt, bad, even
feminized a little
his accent and
duck foot

gait ... but

wait! ... That dwarf,
started scuttling, just
then, cutting
past me,

muttering something
punctilious, quick and


"Forget Bin Laden, naval
man, I'll fix your swamp fan
for five hundred euros!" ...

Across the street,
a pale blue beam hit
the Luxor just right;
I thought Scotty
McCreery might
win American Idol
after all, jolly green
giant neon satellite
TV screens; popcorn
tracers, humming hard
drive erasers. B flicks
from so many

Bics, and lately, maybe
I believe I've seen about
enough, the dwarf

down, scuffed
a Redwing

bootie, on the under
carriage of his ride,
so deep inside a back
seat what happens

to stay, to run
a little more ... cool
down and

hide another

day mister cabbie
I mean that little

man, his remark
about my fan,
reminded me
I'm doomed
to see

verities, mash up
with traffic, lights
and prophecies,

Hulu's dumpling
cheeks in the night
a glow, like Nevada
test site, like Reno

May 17, 2011

And you can't say
That I didn't learn from you

Joan Semmel, Crossed Legs, 2011

* Be sure to check out these videos from Will Oldham's remarkable November 2000 performance at Now! Music and Fashion. Filmed by Marc Masters.

* In DC? Mark your calendars: The Foreign Press will be performing with the excellent d.c. band More Humans and Small Sur, from Baltimore. Velvet Lounge Wednesday June 1.

* "Music can be made anywhere, is invisible and does not smell." -- W. H. Auden

May 16, 2011

latenight obsessions
covered in questions

Michele Abeles, Cigarettes, Newspaper, Body, Wood, Lycra, Bottle, 2011

* From Harper's June 2011:

-- Date on which Standard & Poor's revised its U.S. debt outlook to "negative": 4/18/2011

-- Number of times it has previously been anything other than "stable": 0

-- Amount of federal money that went to National Public Radio in 2010: $2,700,000

-- Amount to Jerry Falwell's Liberty University: $446,000,000

-- Percentage change in domestic violence when the local NFL team unexpectedly loses: +10

-- When it loses to a traditional rival: +20

* Listen to the National Jukebox.

* "I was brought up to believe that the only thing worth doing was to add to the sum of accurate information in the world." -- Margaret Mead

May 12, 2011

we're gonna find the meaning of feeling good

Pep Suari, A Patchy Woman, 2005

In Plain View
-- by Frank Stanford

A white rose fell out of my lapel
outside the church house
like a hand with too much sun
A horse trampled it
The barefoot rider who was
just passing through
leaned over backwards
and picked it up with his toes
He said Sorry
and I said Much obliged
And I took it from his dark foot
and gave it to his fine horse

Love Poem for College
-- By Sandra Beasley

You hit on me. You hit on everyone.
You pour gallons of lightning punch
into a trash bag, explaining that sobriety
is just a 2 AM Waffle House away.
You are always under construction.
The earth shall be inherited by your trucks.
Every semester brings new commandments.
Your blackboards are suspiciously green.
You pop your collar. You roll your skirt.
You tell me you don’t care, then you
sneak off to the stall on the third floor
and throw up. You hit me, once.
You hit everyone, once. You
streak the Chancellor’s house.
You steal beakers from Chem class.
When you say you are sorry,
you mean you’ve left your heart out
on the train tracks again. Later
we will all wonder if you were
the best of us, but you were probably
just the most frantic. We swarmed
like fireflies in our jar before someone
lifted the lid off. We pierced the sky
with our panting, involuntary light.

the abandoned valley
-- by jack gilbert

can you understand being alone for so long
you would go out in the middle of the night
and put a bucket into the well
so you could feel something down there
tug at the other end of the rope?

May 10, 2011

this emery board is giving me a rash

Jenny Holzer, Selection From the Survival Series, 1991

* From a 2002 article on Will Oldham:

"With Oldham, it seems, all that matters are the songs. Which is why it often seems that he is the only person who is doing something new, something now, with the idea of the song - including sometimes stretching it to breaking point. A Will Oldham song - any Will Oldham song you care to choose - will sound both familiar and utterly alien. It will sound both old and new, fully formed and a little bit broken, complete and somehow unfinished. It will intrigue you and maybe even baffle you and it may well annoy you. The titles alone give some indication of his singular approach. Here is a random selection: 'You Will Miss Me When I Burn', 'Be Still And Know God (And Don't Be Shy)', 'I Tried To Stay Healthy For You', 'Rich Wife Full Of Happiness' and, last but not least, 'You Have Cum On Your Hair (And Your Dick Is Hanging Out)' - which, as the title suggests, is a love song for our times.

"Perhaps because of his elusiveness, Oldham has become a cult artist constantly on the cusp of crossover. Next week, without fanfare, he has sold out the Barbican as part of their Further Beyond Nashville festival. Last year, he was acknowledged by the ailing Johnny Cash, who recorded one of Oldham's best and darkest songs, 'I See A Darkness'. Oldham's fans include Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, who has recorded with him, and Harmony Korine, the maverick filmmaker who gave him a cameo in his last film, Julien Donkey-Boy.

"For all that, he remains the most mysterious figure in contemporary American music, someone whose increasingly rare interviews often reveal nothing so much as their interrogators' fumbled attempts to get a handle on him. Oldham hates interviews. 'What are they for?' he asks me. 'They have nothing to do with the music. It's usually people asking a bunch of weird questions like, "Why are the songs so slow?" Well, maybe because they are. Because that's how we play them. Because I wrote them at a less rapid pace. It's always why, why why? Why everything? And the answer to 'why' is because it just is. Things just are.'"

* The New York Times takes a look at Normal Mailer's unique Brooklyn apartment.

* "A page of good prose remains invincible." -- John Cheever

May 9, 2011

just unlock my mind

André Ethier, Untitled, 2005

* Lester Bangs on Patti Smith (from Creem Magazine, February 1976:

Patti’s heroes may be gone, but she is both with us and for us, so strongly that her music is something, finally, to rally around. For one thing, she has certain qualities that can make her a hero to a whole generation of young girls; Patti has done more here for woman as aggressor than all the Liberation tracts published, and has pushed to the front of the media eye that it is just as much a process (ordeal) learning to “become” a “woman” as it is for men wrestling with all this ballyhoed “manhood” business. It’s this tough chick who walks like Bo Diddley and yet all is all woman like we’ve been waiting for so long, a badass who pulls off the feat of being simultaneously idol of women and lust object of men (and women, no doubt).

And even more than that, Patti’s music in its ultimate moments touches deep wellsprings of emotions that extremely few artists in rock or anywhere else are capable of reaching. With her wealth of promise and the most incandescent flights of and stillnesses of this album she joins the ranks of people like Miles Davis, Charlie Mingus, or the Dylan of “Sad Eyed Lady” and Royal Albert Hall. It’s that deeply felt, and that moving: a new Romanticism built upon the universal language of rock ‘n’ roll, an affirmation of life so total that, even in the graphic recognition of death, it sweeps your breath away. And only born gamblers take that chance.

* Trailer for Herzogs' Cave of Forgotten Dreams. [via]

* "Pop music is about saying 'fuck me.' Rock and roll is about saying 'fuck you'." -- Chrissie Hynde

May 6, 2011

grounded fireflies are little stars that are dying

Carlos Tarrats, Untitled 1, 2006

Elegy For John Belushi
-- klipschutz

Dead in a Hollywood hotel,
no doubt your picture
on a billboard nearby.

Dead on the national news,
with film clips, in grim tones,
sandwiched between the economy
and El Salvador.

Dead over the radio.
Dead in newsprint.
Dead on the street.

One more mouthful of dirt
on our coffin of dreams.


1949-1982. Same age as Jesus.
In 2000 years, will someone
be waiting for you
to cartwheel back to life?


We laughed so hard
we got sick, my buddies and I.
Never missed an episode
the first year and a half.

One time we stole Rod’s tv
when Mike's punked out.
(“Just break the window.
I'll buy him a new one tomorrow.”)
We were so bored we ran down
mailboxes (a federal offense)
in an black ’62 Cadillac, for kicks.
You kept us off the streets
one night a week.


I was in a bookstore with a full bladder
re-reading “Bomb” by Gregory Corso
when the flattened out words,
half-heard, flew past.
I reshelved the book and left.
On every channel they said
the same thing:

Dead as a censored sketch.
Dead as a cancelled Czech.
Dead as Francisco Franco.


I have this wife, and she’s crying.
(3,000 miles away, she’d been watching too.)
"It’s not fair, It’s not fair."


How’d ya get so fat and stay so limber?
Why'd ya haveta split so soon?
“Live from New York. . .”
Raised in Chicago.
Dead in L.A.
Dead in bed. Dead. Dead.

I half expected Old Wax-Face
to melt the world today, but not this.
You must’ve had other plans for the afternoon yourself.

Like all great comedians, however,
Death is a master of surprise.


Where are the legs with which you danced
In porkpie hat and baggy pants?
Why don’t we get another chance?
What made us think we knew ya. . .

A Matter Of Policy
-- klipschutz

The cop downstairs beats his wife
really throws her around

I was brought up to have respect
for the law
I was brought up by 2 aunts
not related to me
or each other
I was brought up right
in the heart of America
the heart that keeps giving out
the one you read about in the papers
that quits at fifty forty thirty
the one they’re replacing with monkeys
& machines
Everything’s different
where I was brought up
I was brought up to show respect
for the individual the right to privacy

I practice the Good Neighbor Policy:
I wear earplugs

May 4, 2011

There's a rendezvous of strangers
Around the coffee urn tonight

Joy Feasley, You Made Me Very Happy, 2008

An Honest Description of Myself with a Glass of Whiskey at An Airport, Let Us Say, in Minneapolis
-- by Czesław Miłosz

(translated from the Polish by Robert Hass and Czeslaw Milosz)

My ears catch less and less of conversations, and my eyes have weakened, though they are still insatiable.

I see their legs in miniskirts, slacks, wavy fabrics.

Peep at each one separately, at their buttocks and thighs, lulled by the imaginings of porn.

Old lecher, it’s time for you to the grave, not to the games and amusements of youth.

But I do what I have always done: compose scenes of this earth under orders from the erotic imagination.

It’s not that I desire these creatures precisely; I desire everything, and they are like a sign of ecstatic union.

It’s not my fault that we are made so, half from disinterested contemplation, half from appetite.

If I should accede one day to Heaven, it must be there as it is here, except that I will be rid of my dull senses and my heavy bones.

Changed into pure seeing, I will absorb, as before, the proportions of human bodies, the color of irises, a Paris street in June at dawn, all of it incomprehensible, incomprehensible the multitude of visible things.

I’ve Been Known
-- by Denise Duhamel

to spread it on thick to shoot off my mouth to get it off my chest
to tell him where
to get off

to stay put to face the music to cut a shine to go under to sell
myself short to play
myself down

to paint the town to fork over to shell out to shoot up to pull a
fast one to go haywire
to take a shine to

to be stuck on to glam it up to vamp it up to get her one better to
eat a little higher
on the hog
to win out to get away with to go to the spot to make a stake to
make a stand to
stand for something to stand up for

to snow under to slip up to go for it to take a stab at it to try out
to go places to play
up to get back at

to size up to stand off to slop over to be solid with to lose my
shirt to get myself off
to get myself off the hook

May 3, 2011

We've never been promised there will be a tomorrow

Ed Ruscha, History Kids, 2009

* From a 1982 interview of Joni Mitchell by Kristine McKenna [from McKenna's excellent book of interviews: Talk to Her]:

McKenna: In reading past interviews you've done, I got the impression that you considered jazz to be the superior form compared to pop?

Mitchell: I have to admit that Miles Davis' Nefertiti, as well as some of Miles' romantic music is something I've always revered and looked to as the real shit. To me, it had incredible contours, depth, whimsy -- it had everything. Miles had the full musicial talent: a gift of composition, shading, emotion, everything was there. At the time when that music came into my life, pop was in a formalized, simplistic phase. It had fallen into the hands of producers and been packaged for commerce, and a lot of it was very sterile. Of course, that happens to every musical form at one time or another, and then a temporary messiah comes along and revitalizes it. The Beatles brought new blood to rock 'n' roll after a very bland period, and punk brought some new textures as well. Punk interested me as an act of revolution, but its strength was in social rather that musical ideas. I keep hoping something musical will flower out of it.

From a 1988 interview:

McKenna: You once commented that the three great stimulants are artifice, brutality, and innocence. Can you elaborate on that?

Mitchell: That's an idea I borrowed from Nietzche but I agree with it. I rarely wear flamboyant makeup, but whenever I do I have to peel people off me who are responding to the seduction of artifice. Face painting, hiking up the skirt -- these are the flags of artifice. As for brutality, this culture is terrified of sex and thrives on decapitation. We're a culture of adrenaline addicts and need ever larger doses of horror to get off, so movies like Halloween III make millions. And innocence? A businessman wakes up in his mid-40s, jaded and thick-skinned from battling for financial opportunity, and he yearns for what he has lost -- his innocence. One of the recognizable characteristics of a culture in decline is the seduction of innocence.

From a 1991 interview:

McKenna: Ideally, how should art function in a society?

Mitchell: There's nothing wrong with art being decorative, but on a deeper level, I agree with Joseph Campbell, that it's the duty of the artist to be a kind of prophet and bring the lost flock back in.

* Blurt interviews David Kilgour

* "Education should be exercise; it has become massage" -- Martin H. Fischer