July 29, 2011

Mr pharmacist
Can you help me out today
In your usual lovely way

Marian Bingham, Trips, 2008

Look Back In Languor
-- by Dennis Mahagin

If you never knew me

by now, someone else
will. I talk an awful

game, chew

with mouth full.

All in a name, exalted


Remember Bush? Came
on Teleprompter, looking so
pale and drawn ... I wished

to switch
the CD Rom, my God
holy flicker, make new

for adventures on Amtrak.

Junior said, They hate

us, they hate us for R

freedoms! In '02
no one knew

his foot size.


Me, I was on my
way to ICU, with 50 - 50
odds of passing thru


Junior said

trust me, the surge

is the rage, the furlough
the stage

set for VP Dick
Cheney to shoot his friend
in the face. No one knew
his fellow

man, what they

go thru!


And who
among you
hasn't wanted to

quail, identity
the penultimate
fail safe?

My two feet firmly

planted but that
was Today.

Could be
dead before they quit
Amazing Race, -- Belfast
to Bethesda to Hell's
Kitchen, Tikrit, // mister

Junior said let

them eat yellow cake

and I did.

-- by Carl Dennis

Don't be ashamed that your parents
Didn't happen to meet at an art exhibit
Or at a protest against a foreign policy
Based on fear of negotiation,
But in an aisle of a discount drugstore,
Near the antihistamine section,
Seeking relief from the common cold.
You ought to be proud that even there,
Amid coughs and sneezes,
They were able to peer beneath
The veil of pointless happenstance.
Here is someone, each thought,
Able to laugh at the indignities
That flesh is heir to. Here
Is a person one might care about.
Not love at first sight, but the will
To be ready to endorse the feeling
Should it arise. Had they waited
For settings more promising,
You wouldn't be here,
Wishing things were different.
Why not delight at how young they were
When they made the most of their chances,
How young still, a little later,
When they bought a double plot
At the cemetery. Look at you,
Twice as old now as they were
When they made arrangements,
And still you're thinking of moving on,
Of finding a town with a climate
Friendlier to your many talents.
Don't be ashamed of the homely thought
That whatever you might do elsewhere,
In the time remaining, you might do here
If you can resolve, at last, to pay attention.

July 25, 2011

I drink my liquor from the palm
of a child who spoke in tongues

Sharon Shapiro, It's not the heat, it's the humidity, 2002

* From Harper's August 2001:

-- Estimated percentage change in chief executive pay at America's publicly traded corporations in 2010: +11

-- Percentage change in the number of unmarried cohabitating couples in the US between 2000 and 2010: +97

-- Number of Americans serving life without parole for crimes they committed when they were 14 or younger: 73

-- Value of state tax breaks approved in May for a Bible-themed amusement park in Kentucky: $43,000,000

* A 1247-word palindrome (be sure to note the URL).

* Obama's press secretary Jay Carney talks GBV from the podium.

* "If you understood everything I said, you’d be me." -- Miles Davis

July 20, 2011

up on the roof
it's almost dawn
see the water towers
look so forlorn
they've got no reason
to feel that way

Grace Hartigan, American, 1960

-- by Dean Young

For weeks, I’ve gone unbroken
but not unpunished by the quiet
of zero degrees which is worse than
the quiet of twenty when at least
you can’t hear the stars wheeze.
I can’t make it any clearer than that
and stay drunk. A crash course
in the afterlife where I still walk
beside you but unable to touch your hair.
It worries me I could no longer care
or only in a detached way like a monk
for a scorpion.

Beyond Pleasure
-- by Jack Gilbert

Gradually we realize what is felt is not so important
(however lonely or cruel) as what the feeling contains.
Not what happens to us in childhood, but what was
inside what happened. Ken Kesey sitting in the woods,
beyond the fence of whitewashed motorcycles, said when
he was writing on acid he was not writing about it.
He used what he wrote as blazes to find his way back
to what he knew then. Poetry registers
feelings, delights, and passion, but the best searches
out what is beyond pleasure, is outside process.
Not the passion so much as what the fervor can be
an ingress to. Poetry fishes us to find a world
part by part, as the photograph interrupts the flux
to give us time to see each thing separate and enough.
The poem chooses part of out endless flowing forward
to know its merit with attention.

Dead of Winter
-- by William Corbett

Factories close, the harbor stinks
our bridges rot and roads decay
we sail farther and farther out
to take fewer fish,
we refuse to educate our children
and they are murderous and murdered,
our leaders tell us nothing
we do not want to hear.
Real estate robbed some of us
and illness bankrupts others.
Out of complicated laws
endless litigation.

July 19, 2011

I know what the senator wants
what the senator wants is a blow job

Billy Name, Brillo, 1963

* Tim Burgess discusses his love for Felt. excerpt:

What was it that drew you to the band's music to begin with: its mystery, its sound, Lawrence's personality, or what…?

TB: I think it was the music, obviously, that drew me in, but I became intrigued more and more by Lawrence and his aesthetic: 10 singles, 10 albums, 10 years and so on. I was attracted to the mystery, and it was the first time I really became aware of the power of mystery in groups. I loved the artwork and the titles: album titles and song titles.

When we listened to Ignite The Seven Cannons, which is the only album with both Maurice Deebank and Martin Duffy playing, we shared a moment where we acknowledged together the similarity in vocal style between Lawrence and Tom Verlaine. In fact, listening to more of his stuff since I got home to Berlin, I think Felt seem to owe a considerable debt to him, both for Lawrence's vocal delivery and for the interplay between him and Deebank, reflecting Richard Lloyd and Verlaine's musical relationship. Were you a fan of Television and Tom Verlaine? Were you already aware of the musical connection between Felt and Television when we met?

TB: No, I am not a Television fan. I have tried to be. Maybe subconsciously through Lawrence. Also, I wasn't very aware of the connection. Which is a beautiful thing. I was aware that Felt got the name from a Television song, and I remember he mentions Verlaine in 'Mobile Shack' (one of my favourite Felt songs), but never meticulously followed it through, perhaps like I did with R.E.M's debt to The Byrds. I maintain that Felt are by far the best band to ever come out of Birmingham. I also maintain that Felt are better than Television.
Felt made, it has to be said, a fairly small impact upon the world in general, and yet musicians often cite them as a significant influence. What do you think it is about Felt that makes them such a musician's band?

TB: Martin Duffy is a genius, actually the only musical genius I have ever met – listen to side two of The Pictorial Jackson Review – so that would be part of the reason they would be considered a musician's band. Me and Kevin Shields sat up all night once with open mouths praising his natural ability. Lawrence obsessed, but with humour. His obsessions and bizarreness were a hilarious take on an outsider's point of view. Even though they were possibly taking over his life. I can hear Lawrence's humour in Jarvis Cocker more than any other performer. From all I hear from people who know him, he is pretty happy.
Were you at, or at least aware of, the show where he took acid and, after one song, asked the audience to get their money back and go home? It was, apparently, an audience largely made up of A&Rs…

TB: I heard that story… I love it!

* Help Malkmus come up with radio-friendly lyrics for Senator, from the forthcoming album Mirror Traffic.

* "One has to believe in what one is doing, one has to commit oneself inwardly, in order to do painting. Once obsessed, one ultimately carries it to the point of believing that one might change human beings through painting. But if one lacks this passionate commitment, there is nothing left to do. Then it is best to leave it alone. For basically painting is idiocy." -- Gerhard Richter, 1973

July 13, 2011

I'll bet you look like marc bolans girlfriend
I've only heard a voice
I've only seen your song
It keeps me awake

Jill Greenberg, from the Glass Ceiling series, 2010

The Phenomenon of the Right Wing Nut
-- by Ed Sanders, 1981

Many of the
National Security grouches,
the flame-mouths of secrecy,
the racists in high places
the men and women of crypto-kill
and their dull, unimaginative, paper pushing

subsumed beneath
the banners of the
Right Wing Nut

The Right Wing Nut in its heart of hearts wearies of the concept
of voting, and longs for a rigid boss with
powers of Total Spank

The Right Wing Nut itself is rigid, like a bazooka shell striking
a tank's side, never giving up, piercing,
ripping 24 hours a day, as eager to harm & to
loot in the dawn as it is in the dusk

The Right Wing Nut never knows itself wrong. Wrong is the Other.
Wrong is something in the Other. Wrong never
confuses it, for Wrong is a weaker mammal w/
a bullet in it.

The Right Wing Nut will slime its way into the confidence of
police and intelligence, ever seeking access
to, and input to, police information systems
and attitudes, offering its services as
crazed informants or provocateurs.

The Right Wing Nut is a voyeur of violent gossip and bad news.
The r.w.n. grovels in dossiers of dirt. It
Loves without reason the "slimy universe of pain."

The Right Wing Nut thirsts to kill, to fire a gun, to urge others
to kill, and to steal money from the oppressed
while in the act of injuring the oppressed.
The r.w.n. wants ironically to oppose and to
propose street-gore, but more than anything
to hear news about it.

The Right Wing Nut while haunted w/ an irrational hatred of blacks
& minorities, yet has an awe of the prowess of
the oppressed, and confuses its own hatred and
rage with an imagined rage and vengeance
from its victims.

The Right Wing Nut cools his fantasies on Sunday mornings in
church. Church is the calm-down ointment of
the r.w.n. Thus calmed, the right wing nut
look into the eyes another r.w.n., &
will know of one more thing to do at once:
"Acquire Pain-Mon!" That is, the money of
rent-gouging, of migrant workers junk-food
company stores, of mafia heroin protected by
government intelligence, of war profiteering,
of gun sales to muggers, of leg-breaking to
collect debts, of bribery for quick bucks, of
hurting those whom you rip off. Selling fake
cancer drugs to the dying is the triumph of
the right wing concept of "pain mon."

Open up a file
on your favorite right wing nut

& go one-on-one
with him or her
into the Abyss

And may the drool
dry forever on
the lips of
every right wing nut.

Frontier Guards
-- by James Tate

I'm surprised to find you here, I said.
Likewise, she said. I come here every night,
I said. I do, too, she replied. Well, I've never
seen you here, I said. And I've never
seen you either. How could that be? I said.
When we drink we become invisible, she suggested.
I thought it over. What would you like? I said.
Hold my hand and we'll disappear together.
Shazam, she said.

July 11, 2011

I was lost in a valley of pleasure.
I was lost in the infinite sea.
I was lost, and measure for measure,
love spewed from the heart of me

Michael Bevilacqua, Captain O, 2010

* Raymond Chandler 1945 piece on Writers in Hollywood. excerpt:

Hollywood is a showman's paradise. But showmen make nothing; they exploit what someone else has made. The publisher and the play producer are showmen too; but they exploit what is already made. The showmen of Hollywood control the making – and thereby degrade it. For the basic art of motion pictures is the screenplay; it is fundamental, without it there is nothing. Everything derives from the screenplay, and most of that which derives is an applied skill which, however adept, is artistically not in the same class with the creation of a screenplay. But in Hollywood the screenplay in written by a salaried writer under the supervision of a producer - that is to say, by an employee without power or decision over the uses of his own craft, without ownership of it, and, however extravagantly paid, almost without honor for it.

I am aware that there are colorable economic reasons for the Hollywood system of "getting out the script." But I am not much interested in them. Pictures cost a great deal of money—true. The studio spends the money; all the writer spends is his time (and incidentally his life, his hopes, and all the varied experiences, most of them painful, which finally made him into a writer) - this also is true. The producer is charged with the salability and soundness of the project - true. The director can survive few failures; the writer can stink for ten years and still make his thousand a week - true also. But entirely beside the point
It makes very little difference how a writer feels towards his producer as a man; the fact that the producer can change and destroy and disregard his work can only operate to diminish that work in its conception and to make it mechanical and indifferent in execution. The impulse to perfection cannot exist where the definition of perfection is the arbitrary decision of authority. That which is born in loneliness and from the heart cannot be defended against the judgment of a committee of sycophants. The volatile essences which make literature cannot survive the clichés of a long series of story conferences. There is little magic of word or emotion or situation which can remain alive after the incessant bone-scraping revisions imposed on the Hollywood writer by the process of rule by decree. That these magics do somehow, here and there, by another and even rarer magic, survive and reach the screen more or less intact is the infrequent miracle which keeps Hollywood's handful of fine writers from cutting their throats.

Hollywood has no right to expect such miracles, and it does not deserve the men who bring them to pass. Its conception of what makes a good picture is still as juvenile as its treatment of writing talent is insulting and degrading. Its idea of "production value" is spending a million dollars dressing up a story that any good writer would throw away. Its vision of the rewarding movie is a vehicle for some glamorpuss with two expressions and eighteen changes of costume, or for some male idol of the muddled millions with a permanent hangover, six worn-out acting tricks, the build of a lifeguard, and the mentality of a chicken-strangler. Pictures for such purposes as these, Hollywood lovingly and carefully makes. The good ones smack it in the rear when it isn't looking.

* Dean Warham's photolog.

* "Nobody thinks or feels or cares anymore; nobody gets excited or believes in anything except for their own comfortable little God damn mediocrity" — Richard Yates (Revolutionary Road)

July 6, 2011

it's the way I'm living right or wrong

Cy Twombly, Feragost IV. RIP

-- by Frank Stanford

I aimed to get some of my blood
back from the Snow Lake mosquitoes
my belly was full of lemonade
and my hair had Wild Root on it
I took to the thicket at dawn
not knowing where I was from in the man in the moon
there were trees with so much shade
you shivered
like someone chiseling the year in a graveyard
the shadows seeped thick as smoke
when you touched them
even breathing drew blood from the wood
it was dark
as a swarm
they smelled like olives
and feet in a garden
when you bowed and kissed them

Yellow Tulips
-- by eileen myles

I was walking along the sidewalk
in all the daily pain
& miserable faces & awful air.
Up above in a flower box
were yellow tulips, too real
to be real, so big
and sexual looking in
that funny way flowers
always are. I guess
they were like heads
poking in from another
world. How do you
like Wednesday, you
beautiful things?

A Raspberry Sweater
-- by Frank O'Hara

to George Montgomery

It is next to my flesh,
that's why. I do what I want.
And in the pale New Hampshire
twilight a black bug sits in the blue,
strumming its legs together. Mournful
glass, and daises closing. Hay
swells in the nostrils. We shall go
to the motorcycle races in Laconia
and come back all calm and warm.

July 4, 2011

be careful not to crest too soon

Scott Waters, 2011. Waters is part of the Canadian Forces Artist Program

* From Make 'Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America by Michael Kantor:

"Gilda Radner was born in Detroit, nine months after the end of World War II, to a Russian Jewish family. Her father ran a successful hotel in town and many famous nightclub entertainers performed there. Gilda, already named after a Rita Hayworth heroine, was starstruck at an early age. The first wall she banged into was her father's death when she was a teenager and it hit her hard. 'She was also heavy,' recounted Alan Zweibel, another close friend and SNL writer. 'So, the death of a Dad and being fat that was a little bit of a combo platter there that certainly is a really good recipe to be funny. How else do you survive?'

"Gilda went across the border to follow a boyfriend to Canada, worked briefly on a children's television show and then did improv at Toronto's Second City. She came to New York to perform in the National Lampoon Show where producer Lorne Michaels saw her: she was the first of the Not Ready for Prime Time Players to be hired for Saturday Night Live. Through the first five seasons of the program, Radner became the show's heart, winning the audience over with her gallery of misguided misfits. There seemed to be few risks she was not willing to take, whether it was gluing fake armpit hair on to parody Patti Smith or slamming full throttle into a bedroom door [or jumping on the bed] as the hyperactive little girl Judy Miller:

" 'And now it's time for the Judy Miller Show!!!!!! Yea!!! And now presenting the beautiful star of our show - here she is folks Miss Judy Miller! I am the most beautiful bride in the whole wide world!!!!!'

" 'Part of the charm of Gilda was the child inside of her that she was not afraid to access,' said Zweibel. 'She felt comfortable in the world that's in the head of children.'

"Perhaps her greatest risk-taking revolved around her ability to endow each of her unforgettable characters with a humiliating flaw that would have, in less sensitive hands, consigned them to social marginalization. Her version of Barbara Walters combined a speech impediment with a gargantuan ego: 'I mean wewwy who does deserve to be Fiwst Wady? Me, Baba Wawa, Fiwst Wady of tewevision.' Emily Litella, the 'Weekend Update' contributor incapable of getting the simplest facts straight, was continually railing against 'Violins on Television' or 'Soviet Jewelry.' There was 'always something' over-the-top about newscaster Roseanne Rosannadanna who never seemed to understand the most basic rules of taste or etiquette. ...

"No matter how egregious the faux pas of her characters, no matter how goofy they seemed to be, they always thought they were perfectly fine; that's because Radner did too. Anne Beatts remembered that 'She once said that she thought comedy originated for her when you're little and you fall down on the ice? And people might laugh at you so you try and make it seem like you fell on purpose? That was the root of her comedy.' Nowhere was that more apparent than with Lisa Loopner, the girl nerd, who despite the fact that her breasts were in her words 'miserable maraschino cherries,' still radiated an immense sexual attraction to her pizza-faced classmate Todd, played by Bill Murray [who] was 'a boy and a friend but not my boyfriend' ...

"As Gilda's star ascended there were the inevitable rungs in the ladder of crossover success - movies, a one-woman Broadway show - but she always turned down the repeated fervent requests for her to star in her own sitcom. She was happy where she was on SNL, but in 1980, when the original cast left after five seasons, it was time to move on. Her huge fame at the time filled her more with ambivalence than anything else; she told a television reporter that 'it happens a lot in comedy that when you get success and celebrity it changes. There's something about being an underdog, a voyeur, that makes comedy possible.' "

* The Foreign Press is performing Wednesday (7/6) at The Velvet Lounge (915 U St. NW WDC) with Brooklyn's Boy Without God. 9pm doors. $8. See you there!

* "Everybody should check out his very interesting/awesome/strange videos on youtube, not to mention his many, varied records-- R. Stevie was making home recorded experimental pop records before "lo-fi" was even a word, and he produces songs the way Steve Keene produces paintings: constantly, in great numbers, with something interesting about each one-- Fans of ELO, XTC, and LSD check out "I Like to Stay Home" which is one of my favorite songs ever. The guy is God (he even has a white beard and big psychedelic glasses just like God). -- Robert Schneider (Apples in Stereo )on R. Stevie Moore