January 25, 2013

thorazine given in your food will stop the headaches
but don't be fooled by what you leave behind

Mark Ryden, Corkey Ascending to the Heavens, 1994

City Afternoon
-- John Ashbery

A veil of haze protects this
Long-ago afternoon forgotton by everybody
In this photograph, most of them now
Sucked screaming through old age and death

If one could seize America
Or at least a fine forgetfulness
That seeps into our outline
Defining our volumes with a stain
That is fleeting too

But commemorates
Because it does define, after all:
Gray garlands, that threesome
Waiting for the light to change,
Air lifting the hair of one
Upside down in the reflecting pool.

Love in America
-- Marianne Moore

Whatever it is, it's a passion --
a benign dementia that should be
engulfing America, fed in a way
the opposite of the way
in which the Minotaur was fed.
It's a midas of tenderness;
from the heart;
nothing else. From one with ability
to bear being misunderstood --
take the blame, with "nobility
that is action," identifying itself with
pioneer unperfunctoriness

without brazenness or
bigness of overgrown
undergrown shallowness.

Whatever it is, let it be without

Yes, yes, yes, yes.

-- Denise Levertov

I am waiting.
On benches, at the corners
of earth's waitingrooms,
by trees whose sap rises, rises
to escape in gray leaves and lose
itself in the last air.
for who comes at last
late, lost, the forever
longed-for, walking
not my road but crossing
the corner where I wait.

January 22, 2013

the future's here
but it feels like the past

Yves Klein, Leap into the Void, 1960

- From the show “Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop” at the Met. To create this image, Klein combined two negatives shot by Harry Shunk and János Kender of Klein jumping from atop a high wall: In combining the two images, he erased the people who were waiting below to catch Klein in an outstretched tarp, and thus made it seem as if he could, in fact, fly.

* Excerpts from one of my favorite books, Stoner, by John Williams:

"He had come to that moment in his age when there occured to him, with increasing intensity, a question of such overwhelming simplicity that he had no means to face it. He found himself wondering if his life were worth the living; if it had ever been. It was a question, he suspected, that came to all men at one time or another; he wondered if it came to them with such impersonal force as it came to him. The question brought with it a sadness, but it was a general sadness which (he thought) had little to do with himself or with his particular fate; he was not even sure that the question sprang from the most immediate and obvious causes, from what his own life had become. It came, he believed, from the accretion of his years, from the density of accident and circumstance, and from what he had come to understand of them. He took a grim and ironic pleasure from the possibility that what little learning he had managed to acquire had led him to this knowledge: that in the long run all things, even the learning that let him know this, were futile and empty, and at last diminished into a nothingness they did not alter."

"In his forty-third year, William Stoner learned what others much younger, had learned before him: that the person one loves at first is not the person one loves at last, and that love is not an end but a process through which one person attempts to know another."

"In his extreme youth, Stoner had thought of love as an absolute state of being to which, if one were lucky, one might find access; in his maturity he had decided it was the heaven of a false religion, toward which one ought to gaze with an amused disbelief, a gently familiar contempt, and an embarrassed nostalgia. Now in his middle age he began to know that it was neither a state of grace nor an illusion; he saw it as a human act of becoming, a condition that was invented and modified moment by moment and day by day, by the will and the intelligence and the heart."

* Fun read: For Amusement Only: The Life and Death of the American Arcade.

* “I think the names of colors are at the edge between where language fails and where it’s at its most powerful.” -- A. S. Byatt

January 15, 2013

I was smoking with the boys upstairs
when I heard about the whole affair

Helmut Federle, Blume mit 4 Blüten (Flower of Sadness), 1982

It Can't Be True (1974)
-- Michael Brownstein

That we belong to one of the last generations
To see an uncontaminated sky
And walk through enough forest
Stretching for hundreds of square miles
Uncharted and completely surrounded by itself
Holding us because being there
Is a real suprise, vast and everyday
And not just the unspoiled tip
Of an island fenced off by the gov't.
For one brief, clumsy weekend
Fucking away from the glare of the city's
Shiny hallucination

Stag Club
-- Frank O'Hara

A prickly beer's like
snow on your asshole --
all the asphodels farting
through a poem by Robert Burns.
Joys of interminable beers!
teeth green as grass, the kiss
under the table upside down
mushrooming and sweet sun
over the bitches, their pears.

Headphones at Dawn
-- by Edward Sanders (from History of America in Verse)

Just as young people studied City Lights pocket poets
or mimeographed magazines
for news that was Really News

by the mid and late 1960s they studied stereo albums
as if they were religious texts
or as an anodyne to the crimson chaos
or even to help them build courage to
stand up for change

Raptured at dawn with headphones listening to Cecil Taylor
Jim Morrison & the Doors

Joni Mitchell
the wild wail of Janis

Dylan & other mind-mending mind-bending
mixes from the revolution in multi-track over-dubbed recording -- gifts from what Charles Olson called the Electromagnetic Aeon

January 14, 2013

everybody's trying to make us
another century of fakers

Chiharu Shiota, Memory of Books, 2011

* From Harper's February 2013:

-- Projected annual revenue Mexican drug cartels stand to lose from pot legalization in Colorado and Washington: $1,400,000,000

-- Date of the first combat death of a female U.S. service member in Iraq: 3/23/2003

-- Date on which the U.S. Army began testing body armor designed for women: 8/20/2012

-- Average price for an ounce of human breast milk at a U.S. hospital: $4

* Watch I am a Genius (and there's nothing I can do about it, a recent documentary on R. Stevie Moore.

* “I loathe writing with what amounts to a kind of phobia, and I suppose that it’s only a sort of perverse masochism that keeps me at it.” William Styron

January 11, 2013

See the losers in the best bars
Meet the winners in the dives

Lynn Hershman Leeson, Shutter, 1986

* From Soul Men: The Making of The Blues Brothers:

It begins, as these things do, in a dark bar. The time is November 1973. The bar, a speakeasy called the 505 Club, is in Toronto and owned by Aykroyd, a bizarro 20-year-old with webbed toes, mismatched eyes—one green, one brown—and a checkered past as a two-bit hoodlum and a seminary student.

The club opens at one A.M. because Aykroyd works nights. For the past three years, he has been performing with Second City, the famed comedy troupe based in Chicago but also flourishing in Toronto.
It is 1979. Rare is the actor who doesn’t snort, pop, or guzzle. Landis, a teetotaler, misses the bigger picture. “We had a budget in the movie for cocaine for night shoots,” Aykroyd says. “Everyone did it, including me. Never to excess, and not ever to where I wanted to buy it or have it. [But] John, he just loved what it did. It sort of brought him alive at night—that superpower feeling where you start to talk and converse and figure you can solve all the world’s problems.”

“There was some girl who would hang out at the Blues Bar,” Carrie Fisher says. “She cleaned the fishtank and provided mescaline. There were always these people that were enabling the party to continue.”
The Blues Brothers, having exceeded its $17.5 million budget by $10 million, is needlessly long and clearly flawed. In New York, Belushi drives from theater to theater, gauging audiences. Aykroyd watches the movie in a theater in Times Square.

He detects laughter.

The Blues Brothers makes $115 million, becoming one of Universal’s most enduring hits and by far its greatest farce.

* "Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for - in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it." -- Ellen Goodman

January 8, 2013

The sun shines and people forget

Gary Winogrand, Beach, 1964

Three poems by Jack Gilbert:

Portrait Number Five: Against A New York Summer

I'd walk her home after work
buying roses and talking of Bechsteins.
She was full of soul.
Her small room was gorged with heat
and there were no windows.
She'd take off everything
but her pants
and take the pins from her hair
throwing them on the floor
with a great noise.
Like Crete.
We wouldn't make love.
She'd get on the bed
with those nipples
and we'd lie
and talking of my best friend.
They were in love.
When I got quiet
she'd put on usually Debussy
leaning down to the small ribs
bite me.

Poetry Is A Kind Of Lying

Poetry is a kind of lying,
necessarily. To profit the poet
or beauty. But also in
that truth may be told only so.

Those who, admirably, refuse
to falsify (as those who will not
risk pretensions) are excluded
from saying even so much.

Degas said he didn't paint
what he saw, but what
would enable them to see
the thing he had.


I came back from the funeral and crawled
around the apartment, crying hard,
searching for my wife's hair.
For two months got them from the drain,
from the vacuum cleaner, under the refrigerator,
and off the clothes in the closet.
But after other Japanese women came,
there was no way to be sure which were
hers, and I stopped. A year later,
repotting Michiko's avocado, I find
a long black hair tangled in the dirt.

January 1, 2013

all is quiet on New Year's Day

Roberto Matta, Jazz Band, 1973

* From an essay pondering new ways to measure incompetence:

Sometimes it seems as if we're not all watching the same TV shows and seeing the same movies and listening to the same records, even when we are. We live in the ruins of what used to be a monoculture and we are never, ever getting back together. So we need things to fail abjectly, because it brings us together. The most amazing communal experience I had with a work of art this year was probably the first time I saw The Master — opening night, packed house, stunned silence from first shot to last, a whole room holding its breath so as not to break the spell. But the second-most amazing communal experience I had with a work of art in 2012 involved the Lifetime docudrama Liz & Dick. My understanding is that Liz & Dick starred Lindsay Lohan and someone who played a character named "Cooter" on True Blood as Richard Burton and (are you serious right now, IMDb?) Creed from The Office as Darryl Zanuck, and kind of resembled a school play Max Fischer would have taken his name off of; I didn't actually watch it. But I watched Twitter watch it. I read along as Twitter pecked it to death, and it was magical, like a slow-motion casino demolition with tipsy color commentary by an Algonquin Round Table as big as the world. The movie itself was a ratings disappointment — it did about half what the Steel Magnolias reboot did for the network a few months earlier — but that doesn't matter. Did any other movie made for TV this year fill this many people with this much wonder and glee? Did any other movie?

* "If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking." - Haruki Murakami