April 30, 2012

the thing that made me cry
was when John Cassavetes died

Alex Katz, Good Afternoon, 1974

* "Before my dad died I saw the world as a place. By place I mean space. Fixed. Space did not move, but people moved in space. People and space could touch each other, but not very deeply.

After he died, I saw that people and space are permeable to each other in a way that people and people are not. I saw that space is like water. People can go inside it." -- Amy Fusselman, The Pharmacist's Mate

* Thirty years ago today: Lester Bangs was found dead. He was 33.

* "Millions long for immortality who don't know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon." -- Susan Ertz

April 27, 2012

pray that what you lack does not distract

anders krisar

Meditation on Statistical Method
-- by J. V. Cunningham

Plato, despair!
We prove by norms
How numbers bear
Empiric forms,

How random wrong
Will average right
If time be long
And error slight,

But in our hearts
Curves and departs
To infinity.

Error is boundless.
Nor hope nor doubt,
Though both be groundless,
Will average out.

Between Love and Death
-- by Frank Stanford

I watched the woman in the room.
She moved in her misery
Like a pine in the wind.
I could hear the woman sweeping her floors,
Boiling roots, and drinking milk.
I could watch the woman
Turning the tap of her bath
Through the hole in the wall.
On the summer nights I whistled,
Wanting her to hear me.
She would look my way, sometimes,
With an apple core in her mouth.
Working late, overhauling her truck,
She would drink coffee and hum,
Go to sleep with grease on her fingers.
God I was crazy for not
Going to her door,
Tapping on her window,
Following her to the river
Where her dory grew wet like the moon.
A bird sick of its tree, I despair.
Leaves without wind, I lay
Damp and quiet on the earth.
She bled through the walls
Into my side of the house,
And they came with their lights
Asking did I know the woman,
And I said no, not I.

April 24, 2012

the bar was dark but I found the light

Sandy Kim, Smoke, 2011

* From an interview of John Cage by Ted Berrigan:

"INTERVIEWER: How does Love come into all this?

CAGE: It doesn't. It comes later. Love is memory. In the immediate present we don't love; life is too much with us. We lust, wilt, snort, swallow, gobble, hustle, nuzzle, etc. Later, memory flashes images swathed in nostalgia and yearning. We call that Love. Ha! Better to call it Madness.

INTERVIEWER: Is everything erotic to you?

CAGE: Not lately. No, I'm just kidding. Of course everything is erotic to me; if it isn't erotic, it isn't interesting.

INTERVIEWER: Is life serious?

CAGE: Perhaps. How should I know? In any case, one must not be serious. Not only is it absurd, but a serious person cannot have sex.

INTERVIEWER: Very interesting! But, why not?

CAGE: If you have to ask, you'll never know."

* Cool Flickr set: Still Life with Book, by Juliette Tang.

* "It’s amazing what lies people can sustain behind the mask of their real faces." -- Philip Roth

April 22, 2012

I'm the only motherfucker in the whole wide world
that can make Linda Lovelace gag

Arthur Schatz, Jack at Home, 1969

* Jack Nicholson is 75 today. Happy Birthday!

* Great documentary on Charles Mingus. Watch him get evicted from his NYC apartment!

* "Even in the valley of the shadow of death, two and two do not make six." -- Leo Tolstoy

April 21, 2012

life is a carnival

Zoe Leonard

*     From a 1990 interview of Mark E. Smith by Andy Gill:

Finally, Mark picks as one of his "very, very favourite records of all" something by his fellow curmudgeon Frank Zappa: The Mothers Of Invention's finest hour, 1967's We're Only In It For The Money, which satirised the contemporary hippy movement with a ruthlessness somewhat at odds with the peace and love dictates of the time. 

"I just think it's one of the funniest records I've heard," he says. "I like Freak Out! too, that still sounds great, really powerful, but We're Only In It For The Money is so relevant to the Manchester scene today, it's unbelievable. Like, I walk down Whitworth Street and someone comes up and says, Mark Smith, you created this scene, where can I get some E? Or pot? Ha ha! I say, I don't bloody know! He says, Well, me and the guys came down in a van from Wales to get the scene, but they won't let us in The Hacienda! And they've got the Beloved/Soup Dragons centre-parting, and they're asking about drugs. It's just like We're Only In It For The Money!

"I went to The Hacienda the other day, and it's just like that. It's so commercialised – guys who should be ashamed of themselves, well over our ages, with beer bellies and that, blokes I've known for years in, like, electric-green shirts! So embarrassing!"

April 19, 2012

the music swells somehow stronger from adversity

Andreas Gursky, EM Arena II, 2000

*     DC's The Caribbean come out of hibernation to play a show Friday night at Comet Ping-Pong (5037 Connecticut Avenue NW). They are performing in the middle -- flanked by DC acts, Deleted Scenes and Cigarette.

*     Plums "Sigmar Polke," was just named Number 1 Spring Jam by the Minneapolis City Paper. Great video of Plums at the link.

What We Want
  -- by Linda Pastan

What we want
is never simple.

We move among the things
we thought we wanted:
a face, a room, an open book
and these things bear our names--
But what we want appears
in dreams, wearing disguises.
We fall past,
holding out our arms
and in the morning
our arms ache,
We don't remember the dream,
but the dream remembers us.
It is there all day
as an animal is there
under the table,
and the stars are there
even in full sun.

The Banal
-- by Elaine Equi

Even with its shitload of artifacts, the everyday is radiant, while the banal is opaque and often obscure. I  prefer the latter, with its murky agate, mushroom, ochre background music -- its corridor of lurk. One hardly knows where one stands with/in the banal. Walls come together with hardly a seam. Wherever we are, we feel we have always been. Poe, for all his special effects, is rather banal in his approach to the supernatural, i.e. overly familiar. Against the inarticulate velvet of this mood, one grasps at the everyday for relief. Thus any object can bring us back with the fast-acting power of aspirin. Any object shines.

April 17, 2012

We never argue because we're never in the same place
In the redwood forest you're testing my will each day
To the new york island determined to get your way

Jackie Saccoccio, Portrait (Reverse), 2012

* J.G. Ballard was asked in 1992 by the editors of Zone to contribute to a special issue on the body, and suggested possible topics. Rather than tackle them one at a time, he provided short reflections on each of them. Here are some of the topics Ballard discussed:

War: The possibility at last exists that war may be defeated on the lingustic plane. If war is an extreme metaphor, we may defeat it by devising metaphors that are even more extreme.

Telephone: A shrine to the desperate hope that one day the world will listen to us.

Forensics: On the autopsy table science and pornography meet and fuse.

Hallucinogenic drugs: The kaleidoscope's view of the eye.

Pornography: The body's chaste and unerotic dream of itself.

The Warren Commission Report: The novelization of the Zapruder film.

Money: The original digital clock.

Personal Computers: Perhaps unwisely, the brain is subcontracting many of its core functions, creating a series of branch economies that may one day amalgamate and mount a management buyout.

Furniture and Industrial design: Our furniture constitutes an external constellation of our skin areas and body postures. It's curious that the least imaginative of all forms of furniture has been the bed.

Genocide: The economics of mass production applied to self-disgust.

* "When I write a sentence, oftentimes what I do is try to treat it like a kernel of popcorn. I'll keep packing more and more words in there. Sort of refine it, until it explodes. When it does, it has all this surface area. It's kind of complicated to trace the whole shape of the thing. But if you do, you get the whole round shape of it. And that's the way it has to be. Some of the earlier stuff is the most grammatically complex. I just try to come up with the right sentence for the right job." -- William T. Vollman

April 14, 2012

went out for the weekend
it lasted forever
got high with my friends
it's officially summer

Joe Brainard, ZZZZ . . . , 1977

* From Harper's May 2012:

-- Percentage of its profits that GE paid in federal taxes in the past decade: 2.3

-- Number of rodent hairs allowed by the FDA in a standard jar of peanut butter: 5

-- Total advertising revenue of the U.S. newspaper industry in 2011: $23,900,000,000

-- Of Google: $36,500,000,000

-- Amount the average U.S. worker spends annually on coffee: $1,092

* Interesting 1976 NYRB article on Billie Holiday by Elizabeth Hardwick.

* "If you are trying to transform a brutalized society into one where people can live in dignity and hope, you begin with the empowering of the most powerless. You build from the ground up." -- Adrienne Rich


April 12, 2012

what comes is better than what came before

Ryan Hill, Why?, 2009

The Poetry Reading
-- by Charles Bukowski

at high noon
at a small college near the beach

the sweat running down my arms

a spot of sweat on the table
I flatten it with my finger

blood money blood money
my god they must think I love this like the others

but it's for bread and beer and rent
blood money

I'm tense lousy feel bad
poor people I'm failing I'm failing

a woman gets up
walks out

slams the door
a dirty poem

somebody told me not to read dirty poems

it's too late.

my eyes can't see some lines
I read it

desperate trembling
they can't hear my voice

and I say,
I quit, that's it, I'm

and later in my room
there's scotch and beer:
the blood of a coward.

this then
will be my destiny:

scrabbling for pennies in tiny dark halls
reading poems I have long since become tired

and I used to think
that men who drove buses
or cleaned out latrines
or murdered men in alleys were

capitalist poem #5
-- by campbell mcgrath

I was at the 7-11.
I ate a burrito.
I drank a Slurpee.
I was tired.
It was late, after work washing dishes.
The burrito was good.
I had another.

I did it every day for a week.
I did it every day for a month.

To cook a burrito you tear off the plastic wrapper.
You push button #3 on the microwave.
Burritos are large, small, or medium.
Red or green chili peppers.
Beef or bean or both.
There are 7-11's all across the nation.

On the way out I bought a quart of beer for $1.39.
I was aware of social injustice
In only the vaguest possible way.

April 9, 2012

anyone who's lost in love
is always welcome at the door
nobody is turned away

Patrick Allen, Recess, 2009

* From a short article/interview of Roberta Flack:

I was at home with a toothache when 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face' won the Grammy Award [in 1973]. The people at my record company had told me not to bother going because no one thought I'd win. It was nominated against Harry Nilsson's 'Without You' and Don McLean's 'American Pie' - they were big songs!

When they said my name, I passed out. I was watching it on TV with my mom and had taken medication for my tooth. I couldn't believe I'd won. I look back on those years - when 'Killing Me Softly With His Song' and 'Where is the Love?' were hits - with fondness. What was my life like then? It was pretty darn good. When today's artists sample or cover my songs, I feel very proud.

In the '70s, I lived across the hall from John Lennon and Yoko Ono. We all lived in The Dakota building in New York [before that, Flack lived with husband Stephen Novosel, until they divorced in 1972]. When he wrote 'Imagine', I could hear him playing bits and pieces of it through the walls. I didn't know him in the sense I could call up and say, "Hey, John. Can I come over?" but when he was recording Double Fantasy - his last album - he invited me to the studio to hear what he was doing. He didn't ask me to play or sing anything, but I would have. I recorded an album of Beatles covers because I'm a fan. Pure and simple.

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

April 3, 2012

Make the sacrifice
take it all the way

Jean-Michel Basquiat. Riding with Death, 1988
(from End Piece, a collection of the last artwork of great artists)

They Must Be Giants
-- by Dennis Mahagin

The aliens watched ancient archives of ESPN
Highlights under Bay bridge, the Catch of the Say Hey Kid.
They pointed ----> long gnarled sucker fingers, each of them
A - gasp all around, clocking ancient archival ESPN screen gem
Footage: Willie Mays, spun on a dime: his relay throw to oblivion.
ET 3, four, five and 6 babbling ancient urgent Alienese:“What he DID!”
These aliens, utterly transfixed by national pastime capsule via ESPN
Under the abandoned Bay bridge: the Catch … of the Say Hey Kid.

-- related: Wille Mays is Up At Bat, by Chuck Prophet (co-written with Klipschutz)

-- by Michael Ryan

Fragile, provisional, it comes unbidden
as evening: the children on the block
called in to dinner that for tonight
is plentiful, as if it had cost nothing
either in money or worry about money.

Then evening deepens and the street
turns silent. There may be disasters
idling in driveways, and countless distresses
sharpening, but all that matters
most that must be done is done.