Thursday, December 30, 2010

a bottle of cold duck

the question at the office goes like this, what are you doing for new year's eve. the answers run the range from concerts to clubs to doing absolutely nothing. me, we're doing a traditional thing. a pot of fondue with the family. we've been doing this as long as anna and i have been together.

but another thing i want to do is find a bottle of cold duck and open it on the anointed hour. cold duck? you remember, don't you, from the 1970s, a mish-mash of sparkling wines that was advertised as a holiday tradition back in the day. my office-mates, except for a few, think i've hallucinated the wine. cold duck sounds like something from the '70s, right. completely off-the-wall referent torn from its subject.

sure enough the commercials i remember for cold duck exist as i remember them. thanks to the internets what faulkner said of the past not being the past because it hasn't even passed is surely true of our digital culture. everything, the past included, is available with a few strokes of the keys.


we are leaving the first decade of the 21st century and i still don't have my jetpack. you know, back when we were kids and thought of the future as a mash-up of futuristic designs from say the film metropolis and the jetsons and it looked like the 2000s would give us time travel, food pills and flying cars. i'm just gonna have to make do, i guess.

no new year's resolutions for me. more of the same please. more poems. more movies. more music. more friendships. more love to share.

happy new year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

watching good television

if you watch this vid of television performing their song 'foxhole' you'll see a crawl that tells viewers that tom verlaine started out as a poet who often collaborated with his old friend richard hell. the next crawl says, thankfully they ditched poetry in favor of rock&roll.

fuck that shit. now that patti smith won the nba for her memoir of her friendship with robert mapplethorpe, also richard hell published novels and poems and book reviews of novels and poems, i think it's high time for verlaine to write his own book. i'd like to see an omnibus collection of lyrics, poems, sketches and other miscellany.

while i'm on a kind of wishlist of literate rock&rollers i'd like to see shane macgowan concentrate on writing poems and publish a collection or two.

i'm interested in the cross-pollination of poetry, music, movies, to name just a few disciplines. most poets are indeed influenced by music and movies, i am for sure as you probably are too, who then learn from and use various techniques from these disciplines in our writings. the same for musicians who are influenced by poetry or are or were poets themselves. jim carrol for example, patti smith, richard hell. others of course like bob dylan. no need to denigrate poetry pop cultural critics, please. i'm puzzled why poetry gets, in the phrase of rodney dangerfield, no respect from the general pop culturalists [is that even a word?!], but the same have absolutely no difficulty with the lyrics of say radiohead as printed in their albums. ever see radiohead lyrics? they look almost like concrete poems. but as tom verlaine is a proof that poetry influences his music, i want to see verlaine write some poems and publish a collection.

Monday, December 27, 2010

a hard clarity
in response to the question, why poetry

i come to poetry for some sanity
as i worked my way out of an illness
in my late teens

i entered into language
because i am primarily attracted to words
their sounds their appearances their sense/nonsense

poetry seemed the better fit
for my love of language
its condensaries & its engines of surprise & delight

then i began reading the bios of poets
like rimbaud and dylan thomas
which added another dimension of dynamism

the lives of the poets were cool
like the life of the fonze
thus i entered poetry

for the chicks for the fame & to get rich, beyotch!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

welcome to the new dark ages: a response to geof huth

i usually walk pass the church of scientology building on i st on the way to and from work. the church is most often buttoned up. the blinds are drawn but the front door is open with a tv in the window facing the street. the tv is on and showing i don't know what but i assume it to be a documentary on scientology and its founder l. ron hubbard. oh, you can see thru the open door a portrait of hubbard. i'm fascinated by the building and the people who go inside her, more than i am interested in the dogmas of scientology.

this is not a knock on scientology, at all. each of us can draw our own conclusions about the philosophy. i'm not a religious man. i am however drawn to the mystic. as thom gunn was once described, i too am an atheist who admits to the supernatural. take from that what you will. i do celebrate christmas and not as a christian. i celebrate the giving and receiving of love and fellowship. i do think we live in a corporate culture, a society that worships the few with enormous wealth. in spite of our culture of greed i think we need to spread more love, practice a greater lovingkindness, and do this with a large measure of humility.

christmas ceased to be a strict christian holiday since probably the late 19th century. we teach our children to believe in the magic of santa claus rather than the birth of a man who was the son of god. as proof of this secularization of christmas the church of scientology week before last was not buttoned up. its windows were open and the lights were on. inside i saw a christmas tree and a person at the front counter wearing a santa hat. i'm aware that scientology takes from a host of religious doctrines, including christianity, and bakes them into its own pie. i'm also aware of my own ignorance of both scientology and christianity as i make these remarks.

but there is no denying the brutal facts of christmas being mostly a commercially driven holiday. it's totally corporate and we see the reports from the news media how important sales are to the health of our economy. these sales are either adrenalized spikes or a lowly depression in consumer confidence that even a regimen of tricyclic medications won't cure. it is at christmas when these sales become the most important.

rather than get over my head as i'm neither an amateur spiritual guide nor even a lackadaisical economist i am haunted by this christmas post by geof huth. geof is one of the most grounded men i know and when he says that our present time is 'slipping into a new dark age' he echoes a conversation i had yesterday with my father. both my father and me are not optimistic about our near future as a species. what's interesting is the role of technology plays in the faith of people. for example, when a couple goes thru a few sessions of in vitro fertilization the children born from this scientific procedure is 'a miracle'. even tho christmas is mostly, of course not all, but mostly secular holiday our lives seem to be governed by blind faith and un-reason.

i agree with geof that we are perhaps moving into a new dark age. take a look at the tenor of what passes for political discourse for an immediate example. and yet. . .and yet. . .science is what makes our civilization great. even if we believe in faith we pray that the doctor in the e.r. has the right tools and training to save our lives when the need arises. perhaps not all is lost as there are a very many people who use their intellect but do not speak in the language of fear. fear is best digested in byte-size and is the loudest voice of all.

i don't know where we are going but it doesn't look good. when a man as lucid and intelligent as geof huth warns that we are slipping into a new dark age i sit up and take notice. i'm worried obviously that the practice of money and the corporatizing totally of our culture[s] will make us more ignorant and fearful. and yet. . .and yet. . .i am a happy pessimist. or try to be. because despite our best and worst intentions the future is still an undrawn map. we still have yet to find the roads before we can make a choice over this one and the road not taken. even when the future goes dark i still might have to wear shades.

Friday, December 24, 2010

to each and all of you:
a very merry christmas

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

tron: legacy [2010]

seriously. why. like a moth to flame? perhaps. i remember the original, now nearly thirty years old. the first tron vehicle had the distinction of being the very first computer animated film. it looks it. the first film appears as if it were structured thru an old ibm clone and one wrong keystroke would get ya 'syntax error'. remember that! well, who does?!

apparently the eggheads at disney lost their collective memories. why does this flick need the reboot, especially after nearly three decades? is it because the first pic is a cult item? naw, can't be, or can it. jeff bridges is back as kevin flynn the uber-programmer and designer of 'the grid' and stuck in the same for as long as the first film meets the second flick. come flynn's son, sam, the heir of encom, flynn senior's company, who gets sucked back into 'the grid' to rescue is pa and all the programs too, since information is supposed to be free. apparently flynn pere is way ahead of the fcc when it comes to the concept of net neutrality.

there is always a monkey in the works and that particular primate is clu, the program designed by the old man flynn, but who went rogue and now runs 'the grid' like a third world dictator. in comes flynn, sam i mean, with the aid of a half human/half program chick assayed by a vibrant young actor, olivia wilde. nearly everyone in this flick is gorgeous wearing skin-tight suits and asymmetrical hair-dos. what would you expect on 'the grid', 5:00 shadows and morning breath?

maybe. bridges does his best zen-like stance and channels his coen bros' dude persona. i liked him for it. still, i couldn't help thinking that if a human was stuck in a computer program for nearly thirty years what would he be eating, where would he get his books, how would he build his house? what is creepy about this movie is the fact that the filmmakers thought it wise to make a younger bridges cum clu via today's technology. it looks a little plastic and hence creepy. that's okay for clu as he's supposed to be a power-hungry s.o.b. but this flick begins with a prologue of a much younger bridges telling the young sam about 'the grid' and how it will change life forever.

you might now think that i hated this movie. i didn't. the moth in flame analogy relates to me. i couldn't help it. i took nicholas to see it on sunday because i wanted to see what the filmmakers done with the story. i'm a fan of the first film even if i acknowledge it as an imperfect flick. olivia wilde is hot in this movie. i like the elder bridges zen detachment too. i'm a sucker for zen detachment as it plays on the big screen. the action sequences are pretty cool and the score by daft punk is pretty rockin'. the filmmakers must've thought so too as there is a scene in a night club that prominently shows the electonica duo fully fleged in skin-tight threads and trade-mark helmets.

that's about it. the conclusion sets up another sequel and i imagine that if the powers-that-be at disney see to it there might be a franchise in the making. the whole of the flick is a lot of nothing. can't recall if the original movie was a disney pic [i just looked it up, it is]. many years have passed since the first tron movie to this one. should this become a franchise let's hope that it doesn't take half as long to make the next one.

Monday, December 20, 2010

steve landesberg [1945 - 2010]

i just learned landesberg died today at the criminally early age of 65. the comedian is best known for his role as dietrich on the cop sitcom barney miller [1974 - 1982] landesberg's dietrich was an intellectual know-it-all who really did know it all and he was my favorite character on the show. it might sound weird, i was eight years old when barney miller started, it was dietrich with whom i identified with. i'm not suggesting that i was precocious and shit, not at all, just that dietrich was the oddest duck in the midst of odd ducks who lived the life of the mind and it was this quality, along with a shunted sense of absurdity, that i could dig. landesberg played dietrich exquisitely well. he shall be missed.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

no best of

it's the time of year when we see a whole lot of lists that tell us the year's the top movies, books, music etc. etc. etc. i enjoy reading these lists but not because i care what might or might not be the tops of anything. i enjoy reading these lists because i like to learn those things that help make a passion. i can learn also from these lists, new books, new bands, and new movies. and i do these lists too, sometimes. not this year. i'm trying to empty myself of the concepts of best and major. the same goes for the lower end of the scale. in the end i read, listen and watch what obsesses me and gives me great good pleasure. i don't care if it's the best or no. in other words, the ideas of best and worst limits the realms and ranges of the arts of life and the life of the arts, for me at least. i'm seriously considering writing a series of texts with the title 'to the minor world poets'. these would be epistles to real and imagined writers whom i lump together as 'minor' not because i believe in the word but because in the end what matters is the writing and the writer doing the writing and fuck all labels. rather the label 'minor' is a celebration of living in creation and is used as a catch-all basin for all of us who have chosen to live by the word. i say 'world poets' because i think it's time to consider ourselves as world citizens rather than arbiters of nation-states. it's almost a new year. time to make resolutions. resolutions are, again, something i refuse to do. this year i might make an exception to my home-made restriction. i resolve to practice greater non-competitiveness. i resolve to do my best to include everyone. i resolve to take it all on.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

serious bang-up
for and thru john b-r

hey baby I hear the blues a-calling and I’m sorry for the bad dates
I lost the keys forgot where we parked the car but the moon shone in your eyes
ever wonder why we do this shit and keeping going the writing is
in error but ain’t life like that anyway a series of mistakes a system
of missteps and stumbles that some might mistake for a dance
we all fall in the end anyway isn’t that how it goes we wish
life was a boomerang it flies then returns in an arc so we can have more
than one go fat chance sucka this bitch of a sister life’s brewing up a storm that’s right blowing up a storm so seriously ape shit there’s only one way
the door swings so I’ll write as fast as I can I’ll write it out and set it to go

Monday, December 13, 2010

3 signs seen on sunday

1) dude on the corner w/ a cardboard sign asking for money
other side reads PLEASE HELP           I NEED A HOOKER

2) elderly couple exits lyons 24 hr restaurant and coffee shop
and slowly shuffle toward the chaufer
who holds the door of a stretch hummer limo open

3) suddenly the blast and wail of a police car

Sunday, December 12, 2010

i don't/do remember to dream

i do dream but i rarely remember them. rather there are bits and pieces that makes a kind of sense upon waking but lose their meaning and their weight as the day progresses. i don't put much stock into dreams -- surrealism has little attraction for me, even if i admire specific surrealist writers -- nor do i trust dream interpretations. i do know that when i am stressed about something, anything, i recall the fragments of my dreams. the best sleep is the kind of rest when my head hits the pillow, i stretch upon the glorious field of the bed, and crash. memories of dreams rarely factor in. still, i have an image of a dream last night. i awoke to it. i was at a gas station. i was with several people. we were traveling to a specific destination. a woman was shot by an unknown, unseen assailant. i didn't know what happened until i bent toward the woman and saw the blood. i took my shirt off and used that to try to staunch the blood. i was yelling for someone to call 911. what that dream means i haven't the foggiest notion. but here i am several hours away from waking and looking toward another night's crash into the surf of sleep, and i still remember last night's fragments.

Thursday, December 09, 2010


years ago i read a sci-fi short story where the future turned out exactly as predicted via 1920s, 1930s sci-fi movies like fritz lang's metropolis. a future that was all analog replete with flying cars and personal jet-packs. a future sleek with art deco interiors and phallic skyscrapers penetrating the ether. a future where we ate food in the form of pills and communicated thru, um, radio.

only the skyscrapers were true. and they were true when those old movies were made. but here we are ending the first decade of the 21st century and i still don't have my jet-pack, and jammed as the california freeways are and as much as i would like to have a flying car, my car doesn't fly, thus limiting me in my mobility as i get stuck in rush hour traffic.

yet the technologies we utilize every day is so very much like sci-fi. smart phones? who could've envisioned those even 20 years ago. a couple weeks ago we treated ourselves to an early christmas gift and got a new blu ray dvd player. that thing is amazing. hd tv looks great. but what's even better is that we connected the blu ray to the internet via wi-fi and can stream movies and all sorts of stuff. astonishing! oh, if that technology existed when i was a kid. once upon a time if you wanted to watch a program on tv you had to wait for it to air at a certain time on a certain day. if you missed it, tough.

now i hear vinyl records are making a kind of comeback. they never went away for there is a core audience of audiophiles who always preferred the warmer sounds of wax. the lps are gaining in popularity because they offer an alternative to digital downloads. a physical object with a larger surface area so that the album art can be better appreciated. not that itunes should have anything to worry about. i'm sure the same kids buying vinyl still jealously possess their ipods. they probably even convert their lps to mp3 files to upload onto their ipods.

i remember when cd players were cutting edge and had that wow factor. they still have that wow factor for me. a small shiny disc that can hold all that music or movies blows my mind. the newest generation perhaps haven't cut their teeth on discs and know only itunes and streaming video via netflix. i predict a day when the older people, people like me, refuse to learn the new technologies and stubbornly hold on to their cd players and still think of them as cutting edge. cd players shall become quaint as an old victrola. it's hard to gather that such technology shall be thought of as square by the newest set of kids that will come after us. we'll tell the youngest of them that once upon a time if you wanted to change the channel on the tv you had to get up, cross the room, and turn a knob. if that knob broke off you turned the channel with a set of pliers. some of those tv's were even without color! the newest of the new kids will look at us with incredulity and say to us, my god -- how did you survive?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

good stuff

eileen tabios done it again. she published another edition of her review zine galatea resurrects. get thee hence! and in a bit of shameless self-promotion do check out my reviews of an anthology of sonnets by aussie poets edited by tim wright here and a volume of anti-flarf, anti-conceptualist text [i don't know if it's anti anything really, except that i do believe it's anti death penalty] by john bloomberg-rissman there. and click around a while will ya where you'll find lots of good stuff reviewed by quite a colorful collection of kickass poet-critics.

dig it

Monday, December 06, 2010

light above blue
for purple hayes

                        hey man driving the carquinez straight
the c & h sugar plant to our left the bay to our right
o beauty               o treasure island
sf is loved like a bratty child

                        hey man i hate driving in the city
i loathe the traffic and us sutured to parking lots and garages
where is whitman in this mess
o california               o cars

                        hey man put the drive into words
the is of go

from the curlicues of silver exhaust
        and the pacific blue and cold
that sifts and combusts
the red fist of my heart

Sunday, December 05, 2010

caffeine junky

i'm not unsympathetic to plights of addiction. there are degrees and grey areas. i'm addicted to caffeine. as proof i had only one cup of mud this morning. we woke at 5:00 am to drive to our annual pilgrimage to s.f. for the saint lucia pageant hosted by the swedish women organization, swea, in the cathedral on geary. we've been going to this pageant for many years now. the only problem is finding parking in the city. san francisco is horrible. too many cars and not enough parking spaces. unlike most of california, up and down the state, s.f. is on a tiny spit of land and there are only so many spaces. so we decided to get up before dawn to beat the crowds and perhaps not have to fight for a parking space.

which meant that i only allowed myself one cup of rocket fuel. usually i down two cups of mud. i didn't want to be on the road and have to pee. nothing worse than being in traffic, especially bay area traffic, and have to pee. it's pure torture. i felt fine for most of the day. until i got home. i was exhausted and wanted to take a nap, which i did, and there's little in the way of pleasure that compares to crawling into bed on a saturday afternoon.

it had been a good day. bought a dozen saffron buns, a traditional swedish christmas treat which i love, and found a used book, modern swedish poets edited by gunnar harding and anselm hollo. i found the book at a table that sold used books. it was published in 1979 and had only two names i knew well, tomas transtromer and goran sonnevi. another poet whom i read tonight, goran palm, is totally knew to me. palm's work was political in a way that reminded me of another swedish palm, lars palm, and i think will reward rereading.

back to the coffee. i got up this evening just before dark. nicholas wanted to go for a bike ride. how can i refuse. a light rain coated the streets. i had a headache. i recognized that sort of headache. lack of caffiene. before i took nick out onto the wet streets at dusk i made a cuppa. hit the spot and took away my headache. my eyes opened again and the world turned on to a sequence of yeses. speaking of transtromer, he has a poem about coffee that declares it gives us 'the courage to open our eyes'. amen brother.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

during lunch

in old sac

a mother & her two children walked in to the restaurant

a little boy & a little girl

both were wearing tiaras

on their heads

later the tiara was on the girl's waist

the boy was playing with a toy military warbird

the girl's t-shirt said PACIFIST

Thursday, December 02, 2010

me and jimmy s.

seem to be in a poetic lull. it happens every now and then. i've learned not to worry, poetry will come again. not that i'm not writing, and i've written a few texts that might become poems. but the overall urge to make a book, which hit me hard a couple months ago, seems to be gone. i've learned to trust in poetry and allow it to speak when it wants and try not to force it. when i'm in a lull i do a lot of reading and trying to get to that original impulse thru movies. by movies i'm talking not only watching them but reading favorite critics, like stephen thrower and bill landis. but the most important of all is rereading jimmy schuyler. for me schuyler is my lodestar when i'm feeling blue and when i'm feeling lost in that sea of words. i came to the poet later in my life, when i was 29 and beginning a slow recovery from a fairly serious breakdown. won't get into details but that is when i read schuyler's diary and his collected. these works are so thrilling and so grounded in life that i really do believe that they sped up the process of my regaining some balance. schuyler is, to this reader, a sane poet. and loving and generous. he was i gather from his work a demanding friend too and lost a few because of his own personality and mental illness. but his overall spirit of generosity and his love of people and words and this world helped bring me back too. so now i'm rereading schuyler, pulling his collected, his diary and his selected letters off the shelf these past few days and i remember once again why i love poetry and why i love, no matter the b.s. of the usual varieties, being in this world.