October 28, 2012

I hold your picture in my mind
It makes me warm when I am cold
Gets me up and it makes me walk
It makes me question what I’m told

Jeremy Blake, Dope & Guns Party Candidates, 2007

* Pete Townshend on smashing his guitars on stage:

"Usually I'd be feeling like a loner, even in the middle of the band, but tonight, in June 1964, at The Who's first show at the Railway Hotel in Harrow, West London, I am invincible.

"We're playing R&B: 'Smokestack Lightning', 'I'm a Man', 'Road Runner' and other heavy classics. I scrape the howling Rickenbacker guitar up and down my microphone stand, then flip the special switch I recently fitted so the guitar sputters and sprays the front row with bullets of sound. I violently thrust my guitar into the air -- and feel a terrible shudder as the sound goes from a roar to a rattling growl; I look up to see my guitar's broken head as I pull it away from the hole I've punched in the low ceiling. It is at this moment that I make a split-second decision -- and in a mad frenzy I thrust the damaged guitar up into the ceiling over and over again. What had been a clean break becomes a splinter mess. I hold the guitar up to the crowd triumphantly. I haven't smashed it: I've sculpted it for them. I throw the shattered guitar carelessly to the ground, pick up my brand-new Rickenbacker twelve-string and continue the show....

"I had no idea what the first smashing of my guitar would lead to, but I had a good idea where it all came from. ... I was brought up in a period when war still cast shadows, though in my life the weather changed so rapidly it was impossible to know what was in store. War had been a real threat or a fact for three genera­tions of my family. ...

"In 1964 I began playing guitar the way I was always meant to play it. The sound I had favoured until then borrowed liber­ally from American prodigy Steve Cropper's guitar solo on 'Green Onions' -- a cold, deeply menacing, sexual riff. This, I suppose, is how I imagined myself at eighteen. Now, at the flick of a switch the central pickup, which I had set close enough to the strings to almost touch them on my modified Rickenbacker 345S guitar, cut in to boost the signal 100 per cent. The guitar, with a semi-acoustic body I had 'tuned' by damping the sound holes with newspaper, began to resonate. ...

"I wasn't trying to play beautiful music, I was confronting my audience with the awful, visceral sound of what we all knew was the single abso­lute of our frail existence -- one day an aeroplane would carry the bomb that would destroy us all in a flash. It could happen at any time. The Cuban Crisis less than two years before had proved that. On stage I stood on the tips of my toes, arms outstretched, swooping like a plane. As I raised the stuttering guitar above my head, I felt I was holding up the bloodied standard of endless centuries of mindless war. Explosions. Trenches. Bodies. The eerie screaming of the wind."

* The Caribbean will be performing at U Street Music Hall (1115a U St. NW) on Friday night, November 2 and it's an early show. Doors open at 6! Harness Flux, a solo project of the mighty John Masters (Metropolitan, Cheniers), will start the proceedings off at around 7, then one of our favorite bands (and group of people) More Humans takes the stage at around 8. The Caribbean'll hit it at about 9. In keeping with the club's founding purpose, DJ Matt Perrone of Alma Tropicalia will spin pre-show and between sets. Admit is $12US. If you like, tix are available at Ticketfly.

The Caribbean
More Humans
Harness Flux
1115a U Street NW
Washington, DC
Friday, November 2
Doors: 6pm
Stage: 7pm

The next night (Saturday, November 3), the group travels for a quicky down to Raleigh, NC to perform at King's (14 West Martin St.) with TOW3RS, Alpha Cop, and Zack Mexico.
Showtime is 930 and admit is $6US.

The Caribbean
Alpha Cop
Zach Mexico
14 West Martin Street
Raleigh, NC
Saturday, November 3

* “I don’t really listen to what people tell me. I forget things I don’t like.” —Édouard Levé

October 24, 2012

from snowstorm to snowstorm
people loved us back

Nikki Painter, 9 (Meet), 2009

Pentatina for Five Vowels
-- Campbell McGrath

Today is a trumpet to set the hounds baying.
The past is a fox the hunters are flaying.
Nothing unspoken goes without saying.
Love’s a casino where lovers risk playing.
The future’s a marker our hearts are prepaying.

The future’s a promise there’s no guaranteeing.
Today is a fire the field mice are fleeing.
Love is a marriage of feeling and being.
The past is a mirror for wishful sightseeing.
Nothing goes missing without absenteeing.

Nothing gets cloven except by dividing.
The future is chosen by atoms colliding.
The past’s an elision forever eliding.
Today is a fog bank in which I am hiding.
Love is a burn forever debriding.

Love’s an ascent forever plateauing.
Nothing is granted except by bestowing.
Today is an anthem the cuckoos are crowing.
The future’s a convolute river onflowing.
The past is a lawn the neighbor is mowing.

The past is an answer not worth pursuing,
Nothing gets done except by the doing.
The future’s a climax forever ensuing.
Love is only won by wooing.
Today is a truce between reaping and rueing.

-- Aaron Baker

After the barlight soft on sweaty faces,
After the Bloody Mary,
After the Zinfandel,
After the Cabernet and the Maker’s Mark,

And the ordinary jokes,
And then the Greek joke:

The Cannibal King said: The earth is round,
And the Greek Sailor said: Will you fuck me?

Both interpreting the same symbol--

Then it’s out, out, out into the cool and rain,

The girl walking fast,
A cellphone glowing in her pocket,

The El a cannonade above you,

And you are headed homeward, more or less,

And this moment and this hour
Will wheel away
And wheel again,

World without end--

No more nor less
Than peerless Helen,
Or the ships at Mylae,
Or a wind in Nietzsche’s hair --

As much as these,

This moment and this hour,

Snugged against the rain,
Waiting for the El.

Equal the words:

World without end


Will you fuck me?

October 22, 2012

Whatever you want from me
Whatever you want I'll do

Ed Miliano, October, 2011

* From a Paris Review interview of William Meredith:

Interviewer: You've said that you average about six poems per year. Why so few?

Meredith: Why so many? Ask any reviewer. I remember one particularly wicked review of Edna St. Vincent Millay whose new poems weren't as good as they should have been. "This Millay seems to have gone out of her way to write another book of poems." You're always afraid of that. That could be said, I believe, of certain people's poems. So I wait until the poems seem to be addressed not to "Occupant" but to "William Meredith." And it doesn't happen a lot. I think if I had a great deal more time it would happen more often because I would get immediately to the typewriter. But it might happen eight times a year instead of six- not much more than that. I'll say this because it may be interesting or important: I think it is because poetry and experience should have an exact ratio. Astonishing experience doesn't happen very often. Daily experience is astonishing on a level at which you can write a poem, but astonishing experience would be the experience which is not astonishment of reality but astonishment of insight. It is for me, as a lyric poet, to make poems only out of insights I encounter. Robert Frost used to say, "How many things have to happen to you before something occurs to you?"
Interviewer: Do you think writing a poem is a specific engagement of a mystery?

Meredith: I would say exactly that. It is the engagement of a mystery which has forced itself to the point where you feel honor-bound to see this mystery with the brilliance of vision. Not to solve it, but to see it.
Interviewer: In poems like "Politics" and "Nixon's the One" and "On Jenkins' Hill" and "A Mild-Spoken Citizen Finally Writes to the White House" you develop an unusual civic stance for a contemporary poet, a kind of "poet as concerned citizen" approach to the political scene. Does that characterization seem accurate to you? And does this attitude signify a new kind of openness or political engagement in your work?

Meredith: I believe it represents an openness that I've always felt and acted on but never found much way, before this, to talk about in poetry. The lyric poem is often so private. For example, my intention in writing "The Wreck of the Thresher" was to write a public poem about my feeling of disappointment in the hopes of the United Nations. When I was writing that poem I remember seeing it change from a rather pretentious public statement to the very private statement it turned out to be. It occurred to me that this is simply a demonstration of what Auden said in the "Dyer's Hand," that we don't trust a public voice in poetry today. I would say that my concern about politics is precisely the concern of a Joan Didion or a Denise Levertov but that my stance is very different, so it doesn't appear to be the same. There is a spectrum of political opinion and a spectrum of political involvement. I stand with regard to involvement where those two women stand, but in the political spectrum I'm much more Jeffersonian-I'm nearer the middle.
Interviewer: Theodore Roethke once said, "In spite of all the muck and welter, the dark, the dreck of these poems, I count myself among the happy poets." Do you want to be one of the happy poets?

Meredith: I would like "The Cheer" to seem like someone who would say, "Yes. Without any reservations, I say yes." I speak about other things with reservations: things that I would want to change, things that I wish hadn't happened, things that we need to do and that we're not doing. But there are people who involuntarily give off an aura of "No," and those seem to be the people I quarrel with. It is inevitable to quarrel with that which you consider damaging in life.

* Name that drum-fill.

* "My movie is born first in my head, dies on paper; is resuscitated by the living persons and real objects I use, which are killed on film but, placed in a certain order and projected on to a screen, come to life again like flowers in water." -- Robert Bresson

October 17, 2012

The things that pass for knowledge
I can't understand

Reuben Wu, Bed, 2008

the Big World
-- Leonard Cohen

The big world will find out

about this farm

the big world will learn

the details of what

I worked out in the can

And your curious life with me

Will be told so often

that no one will believe

you grew old

The Phenomenon of the Right Wing Nut
-- 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.

October 15, 2012

playing tambourine for minimum wage

Joanne Greenbaum, Untitled, 2011

* From Harper's November 2012:

-- Percentage of Ohio Republicans who say Obama is more responsible than Romney for the death of Osama bin Laden: 38

-- Rank of "I don't know" among the most common answers Republicans give when asked why black voters support Democrats: 1

-- Number of states that restrict men who father children through rape from obtaining parental rights: 20

-- Average number of square miles by which Arctic Sea ice decreased each day this summer: 36,400

-- Portion of Americans who don't walk for at least ten continuous minutes at any point in an average week: 2/5

* Tidbits:

-- A designated area for booksellers existed in the central market in Athens as far back as in the fifth century BC.

-- Every passenger in the non-smoking section of a plane that crashed off Norway in 1948 was killed. Bertrand Russell had been smoking -- and was one of those able to swim to safety.

-- Albert Camus had already purchased a train ticket, between the Vaucluse and Paris, when he made a last minute decision to accept a ride with Michel Gallimard -- which would end in the crash that killed them both.

-- How miraculous it was, noted Diogenes, that whenever one felt that sort of urge, one could readily masterbate. But conversely how disheartening that one could not simply rub one's stomach when hungry.

* "Baseball is what we were, football is what we have become." -- Mary McGrory (1918 - 2004)

October 9, 2012

let's be undecided, let's take our time

Chris Johanson, Untitled, 1996

* From a Paris Review interview of Jack Gilbert:


This may sound silly, but what is poetry?


It’s a challenge. It’s boring—sometimes. It’s maddening. It’s impossible. It’s a blessing. The craftsmanship, the difficulty of making a poem—rightly, adequately, newly. If nothing else, it’s wonderful to be that close to magic.


What, other than yourself, is the subject of your poems?


Those I love. Being. Living my life without being diverted into things that people so often get diverted into. Being alive is so extraordinary I don’t know why people limit it to riches, pride, security—all of those things life is built on. People miss so much because they want money and comfort and pride, a house and a job to pay for the house. And they have to get a car. You can’t see anything from a car. It’s moving too fast. People take vacations. That’s their reward—the vacation. Why not the life? Vacations are second-rate. People deprive themselves of so much of their lives—until it’s too late. Though I understand that often you don’t have a choice.

You knew Ginsberg. How did you meet?


We had an argument about meter. He was trying to explain anapests to one of the young poets in North Beach. I leaned over and told him he was wrong. He was fresh from New York and of course thought he knew everything. He was affronted. We started arguing. Finally, he admitted I was right and he took out a matchbook, scribbled his address on it, handed it to me, and said, Come and see me. I liked him.

When he came to town he wanted to write little quatrains. They were neat, but they weren’t very good. We liked each other, but I kept laughing at him nicely. One day, he got on a bus and went across the Golden Gate Bridge to see me in Sausalito. The streets turned to lanes, and the lanes to gravel, and the gravel turned into a path and then just woods. Up and up. He finally reached the abandoned house where I was living. After we talked, he said he had something he wanted to show me. He got two pages out of his bag. I read them and then read them again. I looked at him and told him they were terrific. Those two pages eventually became “Howl.”

* Thee Oh Sees live. From February 9, 2011 at Great American Music Hall.

* "I suspect that there is no serious scholar who doesn’t like to watch television." -- Umberto Eco

October 3, 2012

how can one ever think anythings permanant

Howard Hodgkin, Hello, 2008

-- by David Markson

The women said:
Is there any point in reducing
Every damned question to sex?

There was Mozart on.
And what she really
Meant was: Couldn't we maybe delve
Into a few dozen more of her neuroses
Before we screwed again?

Now here is what was actually
In my own head around then:
That funeral, in that rain,
Where nobody could spare the time
To set some shabbiest of signals
At his grave.

I assume I've already
Telegraphed the last part of this.
Naturally I forgot her name.
But I could diagram exactly
Where the turntable stood.

A Quiet Poem
-- by Frank O'Hara

When music is far enough away
the eyelid does not often move

and objects are still as lavender
without breath or distant rejoinder.

The cloud is then so subtly dragged
away by the silver flying machine

that the thought of it alone echoes
unbelievably; the sound of the motor falls

like a coin toward the ocean's floor
and the eye does not flicker

as it does when in the loud sun a coin
rises and nicks the near air. Now,

slowly, the heart breathes to music
while the coins lie in wet yellow sand.

October 1, 2012

the world's always amazed
at how much cash you made
but not at how you made it
it's just strange

Emma Gluckman, red phone, 2010

* From a Paris Review interview of Grace Paley:


People have described your writing as wise.


That’s because I’m old. When people get old they seem wise, but it’s only because they’ve got a little more experience, that’s all. I’m not so wise. Two things happen when you get older. You have more experience, so you either seem wiser, or you get totally foolish. There are only those two options. You choose one, probably the wrong one.


In your choice of subject matter, you and Tillie Olsen have opened the door for a lot of writers.


I hope so. Of course that’s not up to me or Tillie to say, Yes, there was the door and we opened it—we can’t say that. It’s not nice. I will say I knew I wanted to write about women and children, but I put it off for a couple of years because I thought, People will think this is trivial, nothing. Then I thought, It’s what I have to write. It’s what I want to read. And I don’t see it out there.

Meanwhile, the women’s movement had begun to gather force. It needed to become the second wave. It turned out that we were some of the drops in the wave. Tillie was more like a cupful.


Was there anyone on that wave before you, who enabled you to write like you did?


Well, I didn’t know I was on any wave. I knew what I was writing, but I didn’t think then that I was part of any movement. I didn’t even think I was a feminist! If you had asked me if I was a feminist when I began writing The Little Disturbances of Man, I would have said I’m a socialist—or something like that. But by the end of the book I had taught myself a lot and I knew more or less who I was. I opened the door to myself.


Do you still feel supported by the women’s movement?


I do feel very supported. There’s hardly a woman writer who doesn’t receive some kind of support from the women’s movement. We’re very lucky to be living and writing now. I feel supported by lots of men too, but I feel very specifically the attention of women, even in opposition. And they’re the ones I get arguments from; they’re the ones who say, Why don’t you write about this kind of life, or that kind of life? We like the children but why are they all boys? But on the other hand, I was at a conference in California last week, where a young woman kept saying she didn’t want to be a woman writer because it trivialized her. The point is that the outside world will trivialize you for almost anything if it wants to. You may as well be who you are.


Why do you suppose she said that?


I think she said it because she feels it’s true. And there is truth to it. A lot of European women feel it very strongly. They are afraid of being anything but totally universal. But we used to have a saying, “I take it from whence it comes,” which is a Bronx version of sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me. So you take it from whence it comes, that is, if a certain society decides to trivialize you, it will marginalize you.

* End of The Century, the story of The Ramones.

* "Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." - Pablo Picasso