Thursday, August 31, 2006

i've longed claimed that i'm a reader first, should i hyphenate my obsessions it would be reader/poet. something along those lines, anyway. so when i sit down to write i'm also reading blogs, zines and googling favorite poets at the same time. like all writers i'm a bibliophile and love being surrounded by journals, chaps, zines and books. anna is thinking about how to arrange more bookshelves in the house that would be aesthetically pleasing with the decor and design of our house, while expanding much needed space to corral the books and papers before i start stacking them up in corners.

so then, before i hit the hay tonight want to point out an interview by a younger poet that i've been actively seeking out his work for some time now. ryan laks writes poems that are wild, cool and great looking on the page/screen. i know nothing about him personally, except that he is prolific and now one of the editors of the new zine siren. check him out.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

last christmas anna asked if i wanted an i-pod for a gift. since i walk to work she thought listening to tunes would be a great way to pass the 30-45 minutes it takes to get to the office. a generous gift, but i told her no, since i like to listen to the ambient sounds of the streets and overhear snatches of conversations of other passersby. also, i enjoy the songs that loop within the inner-ear. i still have 'down in the park' by gary numan looped. wasn't it schumann who went nuts cuz he said he got one note stuck in his ear?

writers are rather snoopy creatures. at least i am. often i regret not having pen and paper on hand to record the talk i do overhear. enigmatic chunks of language spoken from the ether. but no, not really the ether, since the speaker usually has a listener. even the street people i see talking to themselves have an inner audience. me, i'm just catching a few pieces, like lines of poems, or parts of songs, or fragmented soundtracks to the movies of our lives.

sometimes those snippets of language do find their way into poems. sometimes those chunks become a story i tell to friends. often i forget them after an hour or so. even then, i wonder about the person talking, how s/he came to be using that phrase at the moment about that subject. sometimes language is a mirror to the soul. most often it obfuscates its speaker and deepens the mysteries.

and sometimes i wanna yell, shut the fuck up.

Monday, August 28, 2006

the tao of ernie k ernst the cat

sometimes you have to stop
and eat the flowers

the tao of hugo the hound

sometimes you have to stop
and piss on the flowers

the tao of berta the cat

sometimes you have to stop
and swat at the flowers

the tao of sophie the pooch

sometimes you have to stop
and cower in the flowers

Friday, August 25, 2006

blues has dissipated. again, wasn't no thing, a minor case of feeling sorry for myself, for no reason. food lifts the spirits, which i've been eating in abundance, esp. today, i ain't no gourmet, but a gourmand, a fucking pig. and so chatting with steve caratzas for about 25 minutes or so this afternoon was another boon, a major lift. something in his voice that sounds familiar, like i've known the guy for years. very cool, and very comfortable talking with him.

anyway, he called me at work, the end of the day, from his office which is located near times square. i've never been to nyc, it's sorta a mythical place to me, and even tho i think wherever you are is the center of the universe, you must live in yr own skin and mind, in whatever town or country, the thought of being at times square is sorta like, to me, the thought of being at disneyland to an 8-year-old. on 42nd st. were the old grindhouses, dilapidated theaters specializing in exploitation films which thrived before the area was disneyfied, and made safe for families. i told steve of a marvelous book about the 42nd st. grindhouses. i think i've linked to the authors' website before, but i promised steve i'd send him the link, so here it is. the book is a rich trove of wild history on the films, the theaters and the characters that inhabited those cinemas. it's been a steady favorite of mine for 4 years. where else on earth could you by crack, witness a couple of hustlers scamming a mark, and watch umberto lenzi's fucked-up cannibal ferox all at once? sounds like paradise to me.

our talk ranged from movies to poets and poetry to music. then holy shit, i accidently hung up on him when anna called to say she was on her way to pick me up at the office. felt like a hot turd.

peace out

Thursday, August 24, 2006

logan ryan smith on seeing gary numan at the fillmore. hardly know numan's work, only a couple of songs. one that has been looped on the inner-ear for a few days now is down in the park. haunting is not quite how i'd describe it, but it is chilly and breathtaking at once. a remarkable composition of synth and vocals. i've seen a video of numan performing the song live in concert on vhi classic several times now, last sunday it closed out the alternative. the visuals of numan in concert, his pancake make-up, blackened eyes, and his band stacked up behind him each in a cube of strobing neon reminds me so much of the new-wave era: scary, impersonal, abstract and occasionally brilliant. numan's song is all that, and to me, timeless. a remarkable song that reminds me again and again why i'm still enraptured by electronica.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

obsessions we all have them
whatever they are
whatever degree of possession

[could make a rhyme outta that one: obsessions/possessions]

those things in the midst
of the maelstrom
that calm you

what are they

for what they are worth
few of mine:

movie posters
intermission shorts
fall light golden/granulated

etc. etc. etc.

3 things to break the blues

arrived in today's mail: fhole and thorn's zine fuck! both journals contain poems by one of my fave writers jon cone


tom beckett's interview with CAConrad


Friday, August 18, 2006

Looked at one way, idea preceded its embodiment; looked at another, particulars preceded induction. Neither process excludes the other here, because the process of writing a poem is something more comprehensive than either, and I think -- in all seriousness and not as a mere playful metaphor -- it is also connected with the processes of magic. It is a reaching out into the unexplained areas of the mind, in which the air is too thickly primitive or too fine for us to live continually. From that reaching I bring back loot, and don't always know at first what that loot is, except that I hope that it is of value as an understanding or as a talisman, or more likely as a combination of the two, of both rational power and irrational.

Thom Gunn 'Writing a Poem' (1973)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

battling a minor case of the blues at the moment. ain't no thing, everybody gets it. could be because last week i was sick with flu-like symptoms that put me down for the count a couple of days, then anna gets it friday night. originally thought it was, for me, exhaustion, but when anna got it we remembered that nicholas probably had it the week before, for he was sleeping a lot and not holding down his milk, which again we thought the cause was a bad batch of milk. whatever, were okay. and i plan on taking a 3-day weekend. friday to catch up on a couple of overdue writing projects, saturday to go to the fair, and perhaps hang with my friend b. at the drive-ins. b. and i are long overdue for an evening in the open air, not paying attention to what is onscreen.

depression seems to be an occupational hazard for writers, tho i hesitate to give writers a priviledged status among the mentally ill, since that leads to romanticizing a horrible, potentially, debilitating condition. and that clinical depression affects so many who are not poets. perhaps writers have access to language, an articulation of illness, which makes it appear they are more susceptible to mental illness. just the same, the condition is real suffering for a lot of poets.

how do you cope with depression, or the blues, as a poet? i ask as a fellow traveler on our wild journeys. last night i ran across one of the first blogs i ever read, tom bell's forthehealthofit, which has been inactive since '04. bell is a clinical psychologist and poet whose sign-off on his posts, not yet a crazy old man, and his researches into depression caught my attention. he used to be quite active on the buffalo listserv and blogs, but i've not seen/read anything by him for a long time. here's to hoping he is still not yet a crazy old man.

Monday, August 14, 2006

something i forgot about being a child, and certainly wasn't prepared for as a parent, is the sheer utter delight, the pleasures of living, of existence, now, here at this moment, at this space, at this pitch. spinning around in circles for the joy of doing it is an activity you might forget about, as you grow up dutifully taking yr irony pills, that signals that life, and its terrors too, is such a fucking rush. lately, nicholas has developed the habit, when that undefinable joyousness takes him, of squealing at such a pitch that, my god, my eardrum bleed. he does it because it is fun, and like a poem, it is both sign and signifier of that ineffable, i don't know what --

and so check out the blog and vispo of david-baptiste chirot. a high example of his art is this piece of text and visual poetry.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

portrait of the poet at 12:30 am sat. night

sitting around / doing nothing

2 beers / and watching clerks

Thursday, August 10, 2006

i've not written much about comedies, i think. pity, since i love 'em. the genre is so like horror, easy to louse up, very difficult to get right. the tone, pitch, timing, in short, everything need to be on balance to make a side-splitter. the same goes for horror, or better, terror. in order to scare the shit outta people there must be the appropriate atmosphere, gore, shock, and that unknown quantity to make it stick. that is hard to do. ed wood, god love him, couldn't make a scary movie even if a master, such as james whale did 4/5ths of the pre-production and production, and also lent a hand on the post-production of the finished movie. on the other hand, hitchcock could make a simple walk to the grocery store in broad daylight a frightening ordeal.

so here is a short list of my favorite funny films of the past 25 years or so. should i go back 75-80 years, i'd include almost everything by the maestro buster keaton, and the unsung harold lloyd. both master of physical comedy, both with their beautiful, wonderful faces: keaton's stoicism, lloyd's bemusement married with futility.

here goes, in no particular order, and no ranking. these are a handful of films i return to again and again, which sustains for me a gut-busting hilarity. i must warn you, my silly bone is rather strong. i laugh at the stupidest shit imaginable. example: my favorite series of commercials on tv now are the messin' with sasquatch campaign. these dumbass ads keep getting funnier each viewing.

blazing saddles

young frankenstein

raising arizona


the jerk

that's it at the moment. two on this list were made by mel brooks in his most fecund period of filmmaking: the early 1970s. they are irreverent, shocking, bold and skewers everybody and everything the camera shoots. in other words, brooks films of the period are mad works of genius.

via daniel f. bradley: fucking a!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

spent the last couple of days convalescing from some sort of bug or sumpn or other. slept and slept, in fact, so that when i awoke last night at 10pm my lo-grade fever and aches dissipated. not entirely so, still feel a twinge now and then. i say it was from exhaustion, anna thinks it was something i ate, even tho we've eaten the same stuff, and she and nicholas are great. nothing drains like feeling like shit. so inbetween feverish hallucinations [not interesting at all; imagined i was trying to get two sets of forests to commingle and become one] i thought of movies.

actually, only one film, rather a favorite but perhaps not the best of its kind. yet, creator, starring peter o'toole, vincent spano and virginia madsen, came out at a time in my life when i was moving toward poetry as [for what it's worth] my life work. yes, the movie is rather maudlin and stupidly inane, however, there is a sweetness to it that i fall for every time i watch it. and i've must've seen the film over 100 times now. the three principals are wonderful to watch. o'toole is an eccentric, perhaps certifiable, research scientist who is secretly cloning his dead wife while spouting cloudy mystical philosophies, something about 'god's testicles'. spano is the hapless grad student huckstered into working for o'toole, and madsen is also a grad student and tragic love interest for spano.

neato. and yet, the repartee between the three, and also o'toole's nemesis at the university played by david ogden stiers, and oh before i forget mariel hemingway [don't see much of her no more on the big screen; a shame, really] is the happy-go-lucky street kid who warms up the ol' brilliant dr. and cad, to finally forget the dead and love the living. never you mind an age difference of about 40 years, what's love got to do with it, anyhow.

not that there's anything wrong with that, surely, o'toole is already on the outs with the university. and and and spano's strength of love is tested almost beyond endurance when madsen suffers a stroke and falls flat into a coma. but miracle of miracles, yes, the miraculous happens right at the nick of time. i'll not spoil it for you if you've not seen this film, but surely, and i'm not joking, the bond between mentor and acolyte is given the hardiest of bearhugs, and i fall for it again and again.

but back to poetry, or language. since this is a film about words as well, the beauty of them, the talismanic power of utterance. there are a few here that entered my personal lexicon, and confirmed in me that language is worth a life's working toward, in and thru. sonafabitch, is one of those words. there is a marvelous scene where spano meets for the first time the hemingway character and asks, who are you? upon learning of her identity and insipid goofiness, o'toole then teaches his young charge the proper way to say it, accent on the last syllable. sounds kinda mean, but rather the word becomes a cipher and simultaneously charges and diffuses the awkwardness of spano's and hemingway's acquaintance.

there is more. o'toole, marvelous actor that he is, has a lovely speech with spano at the bedside of the comatose madsen. o'toole says, talk to her; words can be wonderful things. and so spano does, he reads to her, tells her what he thinks about their shared future, their unborn children, relays bad jokes, and continues nonstop. such is the power of language, of sign and signifier in a gravitational pull and push. and it is our connection to each other, and to personal and collective inner and outer realities.

language is also a path and a door. for reasons rather complicated and still unknown i've associated creator with my inward journey toward poetry. speaking of dreams. a few years later, after first seeing this film, i had a dream i was john berryman, or rather, i looked like john berryman, bespectacled, steel-grey beard, but had tattoos. i've no idea why but that dream was a confirmation that i entered the door correct for me. still wandering, most often lost, on that path.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

lovely gift in the mail today: a clutch of chaps from jim cory. i told alex gildzen how much i liked cory's poems and asked if there were any of his books available. alex forwarded my address to jim who responded by sending me his books. i can't thank him enough for his generosity.

i know the heatwave is now centered on the east coast, that along with the humidity, which we had more than a touch of in california, is in my humble opinion a killer. hang tough out there. but here in northern ca the weather is much like fall in the morning and evening. the light is changing to a golden hazy particulate matter, and with the delta breezes there is a bare kiss of chill in the air. until the next heatwave, which surely is around the corner. fall is my favorite time of year, as i've mentioned before and both anna and i would be in heaven if there were 4 months of it. and anyway, anna and i were talking a couple of days ago about memories of autumn. how the area rice farmers would burn their fields, and that grey, acrid smoke is synomous in our minds with the turning of the seasons. i'm probably repeating myself, but the smell of rice smoke is redolent with memories of halloween, my favorite holiday, its paraphenalia and cheesy horror movies. and tonight the delta breeze kicked up, and whaddayaknow, rice smoke hunkered over the city for a while at dusk. and i called anna outside since the scent of it is that lot, and all so luscious.

which makes me want to start scouring the net for halloween websites, costume retailers, and ebay for vintage halloween stuff. i gotta keep that in check or i might turn into this guy and decorate the house in vintage halloween designs. anna keeps a water pistol full of lithium by her side and is not afraid to use it, just in case.

now i gotta run. gonna keep this an early night. drafted a poem in my notebook, and right now the excellent film by sam raimi the evil dead is on ifc.

(what's so funny) 'bout peace love & understanding

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

what is another word for the doldrums? perhaps it's just the ol' eddie cochran 'summertime blues'. i was writing this post earlier but my computer went burp! and i lost the post. so now a bit tired, but no matter, i don't need tv when i have t-rex.

but better than a hubcap diamond star halo are these visual poems by los angeles based poet harry k stammer. i've been reading them ever since i got the print version of otoliths a few days ago. i lack the vocab for a good analysis of stammer's poems. at any rate, like all good poetry, the meanings are manifold. what and how i read vispo or texts is usually by emotion first, intellect second. i don't know what the hell hart crane or dylan thomas [to name two very earlier influences] were talking about in their poems, but i was enthralled just the same. so it goes for stammer. i've been reading his blog for years now. stammer is a bit of a mystery to me. i don't know his bio. he writes the palimpsests of his l.a., a city that often exists in the popular mind as the land of sun and beaches to some, and for others the rain-washed streets of film noir. the distorted poems here bleed out into greys and reds, while the light glares at their centers. i gather the texts are poems by stammer. i've read these as straight texts, but fail because that is only part of these pieces. i'm impressed by their spare beauty.

i'm gonna hurry to finish before my computer decides to fuck me out of posting one more time. stammer has more work in the most recent otoliths, both textual and visual.

can you dig it