Thursday, September 30, 2010

32 days to halloween

ah halloween. mood music, party music, the soundtracks. . .all candy to the ears. but what's been playing in casa del lopez/bronson lately, what's got me hooked is the horror-pop band from liverpool, zombina and the skeletones. actually, the've been on heavy rotation since i found the band on a sampler download offered by rue morgue magazine last spring. they utilize all sorts of sounds from doo-wop, ska, punk, rockabilly and surf with a songwriting that is simple, tight and laden with hooks. i think they've been making music since the late '90s which i think makes them either in their late 20s or early 30s. not sure, since they seem not to break character and i can't find much on the net about their real names. no matter, zombina sings in a kind of sexy, androgynous key. she's also possessed of tons of presence and charisma. the whole band is super-catchy and they do love their horror imagery in costumes and stage blood, and their songs run the gamut of crooning about vincent price, cryptozoological creatures such as the spring-heeled jack, and sci-fi hokums such as falling in love with a girl in hibernation on a space station. perfect for the scary season. i couldn't decide what vids to post here so i chose three of my favorites. don't worry, their songs are brief.

happy halloween!

punks not dead[?]

maybe it's just because i feel old
or am old
or maybe simply being mold

but this evening
the walk home was
early fall and lovely

been a long fucking day
and the nerves were
jangled like the g string

on an abused fender guitar
but then there it was
three young punks

on the corner right in
front of me
they looked vintage

i thought i heard
one of them say

and last night
watched a bit of
fuel tv

a channel devoted
to extreme sport
like surfing and skateboarding

there was a piece about
the mosh pit
how to slamdance

and look cool
and i swear i was transported
to 1983

even the music
was classic
and i ask

from a middle-age ex-punk
who now looks
so square

like these young kids' father
i'm sure
i ask

what is new
what is old
how the hell

when did time

Monday, September 27, 2010

tao of ernie k ernst

our beloved cat, ernie, died last night. he was 18, an old kitty. ernie died from old age. his body simply started shutting down and he spent the weekend growing weaker and weaker till finally he took a couple of last breaths and then simply didn't. ernie was sui generis, a loving soul who never held a grudge nor did he ever cross paths with any creature, human and otherwise, that he didn't accept. he was a beauty and i think perhaps a bit vain because of it. let's allow all of us our petty vanities. because ernie would accept ours as i suspect he would expect the same of us regarding his.

ernie lived a long, happy life. i'm sure he had moments of irritation and anger but for a cat he didn't show them and he lived life at the first intensity. but for him life lived at the nth degree meant taking things slow, savoring those moments. we learn from our loved ones including our pets. ernie's way was to enjoy and love and if i learned anything from the cat it is the necessity of every now and again to stop and eat the flowers.

if you're wondering what the 'k' stands for in his middle name, well, i must confess that one of my little vanities was a desire for him to become a hip-hop artist. sure, it sounds silly but you should've heard him rap. he knew how to mewl! and if you so much looked at him and said his name he'd respond with a loud, rounded out, meow! he was the most vocal of felines even if he was not the most musical. so the 'k' came out of his persona see because i wanted to give some cred even if he was the sweetest thing in our universe, so when he was a kitten i took to calling him a KILLA IN KITTEN'S KLOTHING. ernie i'm sure thought that was silly but was way too kind to tell me so.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

provocative raunch

i've been on a book-buying binge of late. yep, ya know, i read a bunch online and y'all know how much i advocate for blogs and e-publishing, self and otherwise, but i love the book, it's form, it's smells, it's heft and weight, how it fits in the hand. plus reading print is a different feel than reading pixels. better? i dunno, but i do get more pleasure with a book than i do with the ether.

nothing is more pleasurable than coming home from work and finding a package waiting for me. oh lord! i know what's inside because i'm the one who ordered the tomes but i still feel like a kid at christmas. i've been thinking that we are perhaps living in a post-book world. not that i think books are going to disappear or that my pleasure in books will evaporate. rather i think books will, indeed perhaps already have, become one of many different platforms writing and writers shall use. like i think there are many levels of literacy there shall be many platforms for writing with the book being one of the many.

still, this is not the death knell for the printed word. instead, the title of this post comes from a cut-line i read today in volume ii of tom brinkman's survey of mid to late 20th century pulp magazines bad mags [caveat: brinkman's website is graphic as all get-out, in other words, it ain't work safe]. PROVOCATIVE RAUNCH was printed on one of those pulp mags and i thought that this is a great title for a collection or a zine, maybe even for a volume of collaborative work. the title hits at gut-level but hints at a bit of intellectual sophistication, or sophistry, depending on your world-view and orientation. what have you. i've just been buzzing with these words in my head all day and still don't know what to do with them.


i think i saw jim mccrary, or his doppelganger, this afternoon at the supermarket. i was in the produce section when i looked up and saw this dude looking at me as he walked past. i did a double-take because he looked just like mccrary, perhaps a bit younger, but with the same hair color and style, same build, and same type of heavy black glasses. what the hell. jim, you've got a double here in sac and next time you pass by stop and say hey, okay.

Friday, September 24, 2010

37 days to halloween

even the smidgen, the faintest notion, the smudged ideas of satan and hell are to some of us scary as shit. i grew up nominally catholic. we rarely went to church and i was the only one of my siblings that was baptised because i am the first born and by the time my brothers arrived on the scene my father was already developing an agnosticism that bled dry the dead flesh of ceremony and belief.

at any rate, even with all that skepticism of the existence of god in the house as i was growing up catholicism was like gravity to a satellite. one can't help but be pulled in, no matter how faint. perhaps that's just me, but being catholic is a hard thing to shake. so movies about demonic possession are still to this day horrifying. it is the unseen that can't be controlled. guilt, catholic guilt, is another matter but which somehow factors into this equation. being guilty of being human, a being that lusts, loves, desires and hungers even. possession is all about that.

so is going to hell. i recall a couple of years ago anna and i were watching one of those programs on tv where the subjects were being interviewed about their near-death experiences. only that these near-death experiences exposed them to hell. the fire-and-brimstone place, complete with reenactments. i nearly had a panic attack watching this program. H E DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS is still a real taboo. there has not been a scary movie about demonic possession in ages but the subject is a rich vein to tap.

but what about hell. can one actually go there? again, that depends on your belief systems and whether you think there is a place where sinners suffer horribly for all eternity. is there proof of hell being a real place? for sure. according to the lore some years ago a drilling team in siberia was going deep and stuck a microphone down the hole. what they recorded is. . .well, judge for yourself. the guy doing the intro is art bell, the original host of the paranormal, and wildly popular, radio show coast to coast. this recording might bore the shit out of you. or it could scare the yell out of you. what it certainly will do is have you say, in that old looney tunes way, now i've heard everything.

you are warned.

happy halloween!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

the nue skool

last night i read this essay by joshua clover and juliana spahr, the 95 cent skool, where the authors declare an alternative to the mfa programs that cost a buttload of money and in this economy, what is being dubbed 'the new normal' where we are refracted and displaced by changing times, that no one should have to go broke studying poetry. esp. when the student-loan industry seems to be such a racket and tuition at all campuses, esp. the ones here in california, are skyrocketing.

agreed. there needs to be alternatives to the mfa programs. perhaps i have my head in my ass but i don't have one, an mfa, and it never occurred to me to get one. i suppose that stems from my belief that poetry starts at the level of obsession and develops into, if we are lucky, a life. i don't think you need an advanced degree to become obsessed with anything, particularly poetry.

perhaps my attitude starts also with my thoughts that poetry is a loser's art, as in bishop's 'the art of losing', and there is a wonderful scene in that tom conti vehicle loosely based on dylan thomas, reuben, reuben [1983] where conti's character, poet gowan mcgland, is being gently chided by his wife for being such a fuck up. mcgland's wife said, you wanted to be a conductor, with a wand in one hand and a lock of hair over the eyes. but you never dreamed of doing the back-breaking work to get there. instead you stumbled into poetry.

yet, one doesn't stumble in it for very long. as a writer i think of writing all the time. even in my dreams. it is an obsession that is for some a religion and demands a lifetime's devotion. that devotion is extra-curricular and in fact has nothing to do with school or degrees or even careers. we read and write because that is what becomes us, and if we are lucky we find a few others just as devoted to the craft of reading and writing.

the cost is everything that is not money, but even as i greatly admire both clover and spahr as poets and thinkers i think their skool at 95 cents is still too much to pay. i propose a nue skool that is free of all monetary entanglements where the conference of a writer does not depend upon a degree and who then soon after seeks and hopes against hope to maybe get a paying, tenured gig. i propose writers nurture their obsessions and seek those, either thru the pixels or on a stool at the bar, or probably both, who are also obsessed with their art. the jobs one does to support the writer's habits can be and are varied to the nth degree. what matters is living and reading and writing. screw 'the new normal ' and don't worry about creating masterpieces. just write and read as if your life depends on it. because when obsession becomes devotion it often does.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


as elli wallach sd in that old western flick about poets

if yr gonna shoot SHOOT don't talk

live from grona lund

stockholm central station

portrait of the artist as developing silverback

Sunday, September 19, 2010

oh well, a touch of grey kinda suits you anyway

so vocalised jerry garcia 20-odd years ago in the only big hit by the grateful dead. what astonishes me more now is that i'm roughly the same age now as garcia et al. were when they recorded their tune. trust me, the years were but a blink of the eye. so much for wistfulness. and my hair color is nearly all grey now. my first touch of grey hit me in my teens. that's okay, i suppose, but now it's also thinning as hell. it used to be so thick that i could barely pull a comb thru it. so i gave up trying to comb it years ago. now i see jim mccrary and i share the same sort of hair color, or lack of it. see his post here and post, if you dare, your own pics of your hair, too.

the symmetry of reptiles

mark young's post yesterday titled harley & me is similar to my own day. on a few billboards was advertised THE SACRAMENTO REPTILE SHOW located at the convention center. so i took nicholas thinking it was a travelling exhibition. rather the show was -- is -- a convocation of buyers and sellers of snakes, geckos, and exotic insects. i'd never seen the like before and i'm telling you that some of those bugs, such as hissing cockroaches and cave spiders and a tarantula that was the size of a grown person's head, freaked me out. something primordial, that fear. nicholas loved it and was begging me to buy him a walking stick for 20 bucks. no way. but shit, my mind was reeling. i have no idea if those animals were captured from the wild or raised in captivity. i think it a mixture of both. and i'm not sure of my own thoughts regarding the buying and selling of such exotic livestock. at any rate, i'll chock it down to an education, for myself, that such fairs happen and that there are those among us who love the creepies, the crawlies and the roaches.

Friday, September 17, 2010

44 days to halloween

i confess, i admit it, i'm nuts for halloween. fall is my favorite time of year and the color scheme of orange&black gets my heart a'thumpin'. so i'm gonna do an occassional series counting down the days of halloween. this will include, obviously, movie reviews but also whatever else strikes my fancy, such as browsing the halloween aisles at target. consider it a travelogue for the scary set. whatever. this is the most wonderful time of the year.

let's begin with a halloween blog. yep, they exist. like once upon a time there was a magazine for any thing and any topic now there are blogs on just about anything you can think of. i don't know who is behind pumpkinrot but the blog is way cool and is a hit of halloween 365 days a year. the dude [i think it's a dude, i could be quite wrong, could be a dudette] posts the coolest pics of scarecrows and home haunts and music that runs the gamut from dark ambient electronica to halloween party music. even the lay-out of the blog is so redolent of fall that each click brings me closer to my happy place. okay that sounds goofy as all get-out. so what. i'm guilty. happy halloween.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

quote unquote

. . .almost every night at the drive-in, I experienced an extraordinarily heightened sense of language coming from this other source -- literally, a disembodied speaker. It was the eruption of the dreamlike into the moment between sleeping and waking, in which the day world got suddenly transported into that space which is strangely sacred and wholly unpredictable. The riskiness of it is one of the most intense and beautiful parts of being alive. That's one of the things that poetry activates in people, that quickening of psychic experience.

--tom sleigh

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

2 visions of death

across the street from coffee works
was a women's clinic
each sunday would see a protest
a woman's right to choose
each sunday would stand a row of fat
middle-aged men taunting the women
who would cross their line under security of escort
each sunday was their preacher dressed as the grim reaper
black cloak and hood white skull mask and scythe
each sunday the preacher would fall to his knees
and then use his bony fingers to point


last morning on my way to work i pass city hall

some sort of dispute was happening

looked like a demonstration but quiet and low-key

there was a large scroll that i tried to read

no matter how deep their message i just couldn't make it out

two grim reapers held the scroll to the traffic on the street

dressed in black cloaks and hood white skull masks and scythes

in one take

back in '03 me and the poet a.p. sullivan drove to sf to hear thom gunn read at some dive bar called sweetie's

sweetie's was [is?] located just off north beach and we had some time to kill

we headed up the road a bit to city lights bookstore

when we left city lights night fell like a shroud / sf lit up like a brick of firecrackers

i turned to face the buildings of the financial district

this is why i love cities

my jaw dropped from all that beauty

if i were a filmmaker i would have shot a couple hundred feet just of that view

i can hardly stand it / i swayed under it all

i was new for a while

Monday, September 13, 2010

between the click of the light and the start of the dream

man, okay, i'll tell youse all that i'm like totally stoked. for reals. got home last night after a long day at mather airfield for the annual air show. took nicholas to see planes go all acrobatic in the air and look at planes and helicopters, and even climb into a few of them, as they sat for inspection on the grounds. it was a great time but an exhausting one. the ambient temperature of the low 90s was made even greater for the asphalt's radiant heat and that we were pretty much on our feet the entire day but i must say nick is a trooper even if he got a bit distracted and like real tired by 5:00 pm. however, it wasn't the demonstrations of military fighter jets that most impressed nick. what with all that speed, noise and power those jets were so close we could feel the heat from the afterburns. no, what most impressed nick was robosaurus because it was huge, snorted fire, and grabbed a couple of junker cars by its claws and ate them! no, seriously, robosaurus ate cars! that's what impressed the little guy and how can i argue with that impression. the damn thing was huge and hungry and reminded me just a bit of godzilla and i think they people operating robosaurus did indeed use godzilla's brand of roar to great effect.

but no, what got me stoked was this: anna and i had been watching videos from the old mtv show 120 minutes on saturday night. the video show is dedicated to bringing alternative music to the tv airwaves back in the day but nowadays mostly rehashes old gen-x favorites such as xtc, the cure, depeche mode, elvis costello et al. anyways, it's been forever since we've seen live music, at least a year. so when nick and i were looking at aircraft yesterday anna was combing the 'net for possible upcoming shows.

it went like this. anna says, when i got home all sunburned, thirsty and famished, she says, i gots some bad news.


--arcade fire is playing two concerts at the greek in berkeley in early oct.

[picture a middle-aged man jumping up and down in excitement like spongebob squarepants chasing jellyfish. i think i even foamed at the mouth at the thought of seeing arcade fire, so when anna said it was bad news i thought she was just fucking with me.]

--how's that bad news?

--the shows are sold out.


see, i really like arcade fire, and they are the one band i most would want to see live. so i says, i know a couple of ticket brokers. let me check it out.

okay then.

a couple of clicks later a manage to get two tickets to the oct. 2 show, a saturday night, and i've not felt this giddy in a long, long, long time. sure, that sort of giddyness is a source of my unending nerdyness, but what of it. it's not like i worship the band. don't follow their tweets --if they do that -- or music blogs which would've told us that the band is coming to the bay area. but i do think they are one of the best bands out there and they are killer performers.

i haven't heard their newest album yet either. i'll try to get it before the show. man! i won't say how much i paid for the tix either but it wasn't exorbitant at all. anna and i will make a date of it and celebrate our wedding anniversary which is going on 14 years now. we've been together nearly 18 years. we met and later married in our favorite month, october. so one of my favorite bands performing in my favorite venue in my favorite bay area city with my only love and shit y'all can see why i'm so like totally stoked. rad!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

last blast: summer

oh yeah, fall is in the air, the light is changing to that wonderful smoky umber in the early evenings and anna asked me last night if i am looking forward to any thing, some thing, in the near future and oh yeah halloween is on the short list but oct. 31 is just a day for me halloween is a state of mind after all you are reading the words here of a man who has a freakin' jack 0'lantern tattoo fer crissakes and autumn simply makes me happy to be alive

but damn is it still late summer and i've had this tune stuck in my head this past week the sounds all redolent of a day at the beach the laid-back surf sounds of southern california i love surf music and this band called best coast is catchy as hell and if there is a poetic analogue to the laid-back so-cal vibe embodied by the band best coast then i think senor kevin opstedal is the sufer-skater poet laureate

so read opstedal click on his name in the side-bar and groove for one last blast of summer to the surf twangs of best coast and see if this song doesn't get stuck in your head

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


once upon a time i was fascinated by the gnosticism of philip k. dick. i wanted to become a mystic you see even if i'm not particularly religious. what is cool about dick is his endless sifting of our trash in our culture. if this world is made by inferior god[s] as dick believed than the way to find god[s] is by searching thru the lower reaches of our culture. so by studying trash i might've found mysticism.

well then okay, but still i find things rather fortuitous, or not. the title of this post comes from a graffiti scrawl i pass everyday on the back of a street sign on my way to work. i must've passed it many times before noticing it. the words 'hey gorgeous' are written rather hastily it seems and lack a kind of artifice that is usually the mark of a talented tagger. instead, 'hey gorgeous' looks like it was written by a hack.

but i'll take it. the past couple weeks has seen me bent to my desk for many, many hrs a day. i am, hell we all are if we work for a living and really don't we all have to work for a living?, stressed and am feeling the pressure. then it happened, i saw 'hey gorgeous' like it was a greeting done especially for me. out of the trash came a modicum of grace. and i said, shit, even if that's just some piece of crappy graffiti i'll read it as a signal that the world is all right even if it feels like hell. and the world is telling me about it even if the world could be full of shit.

* * * *

in other news do read jim mccrary's essay re the role of poetry and saving the world. i agree with mccrary. all we can do is read and write and if that makes us better people all the better, but poetry perhaps can save your soul, maybe even save your life, but it sure as hell not going to save the world.

it's raining tonight. an early fall. i saw jack o'lanterns for sale at the safeway supermarket tonight. it is time, it is the season, for pumpkins and candy corn. i am on the edge of my seat.

Monday, September 06, 2010

endless summer

ain't it real fucked up to be a grown-up and forget the pleasures of summer? we all do, grow up i mean, and those lazy, endless days of summer recede within our memories as wisps of smoke. if that, even. still, summer is cool, bad-ass even, and should we recall our glorious, misspent youths of hot days gone by, let's not forget that we are still alive and sensuous individuals. adult responsibilities need not stop the love of life and if summer is anything at all then it is that love of life personified.

perhaps i should speak for myself. i'm not a man of summer. i much prefer autumn and winter. halloween is my time and nothing gets me hotter than the color schemes of orange and black and a few jack o'lanterns. even still, summer is good and it is brief. even when i was a kid summers felt like forever but that forever was tempered by its brevity. a contradiction in terms? sure but what is living a life but not a series of contradictions?

to sum up, it's been a wonderful summer. we logged more hrs at the public pools than we have in the past two years combined. i didn't get to the drive-in theaters as much as i wanted, and the drive-in is the quintessential summer thing for me, but we spent a few weeks in sweden and enjoyed the swedish weather, that by the by, reminded me of my favorite time of year, fall. we had cook-outs, runs in the parks, sweated a shitload even if this had been the mildest summer of years record.

summer, those dog days of sweat, recall to us -- me -- that life is best savored at a slower pace. does it matter that work is fucking busy and the bills are due? yes, of course, life demands its own. however, summer is still that waiting for the ice cream truck and when we hear the old jingle 'turkey in the straw' our blood gets pumping no matter our age. let us all remember the kid inside us. summer kicks ass, even if that ass is attached to us. i'm saddened to see its passing, again. but there is always next summer, right. and to get the blood pumping nothing screams summer more than some damn good surf music. below is the ventures performing 'wipe out'.

viva la summers!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

quote unquote

Poets, you know, are always drinking in bars; I’m not drinking in bars; I’m at home reading, working, writing — that’s a modern poet. The modern poet is the poet that is involved with health, work, discipline, and which does not deny the fun of living. We are all very complex beings, but we have to be serious about the discipline of what we do. And I defend publicly and privately poetry as health, poetry as a lucidity that also depends on sweat and hard work, and a lucidity that depends on persistence.

--jose kozer


today i was reading stet [junction press, 2006] by jose kozer. the poems all beautifully translated by mark weiss, who is himself a very fine poet, got my blood, um, well, how to say this? ah fuck it -- got me hard. there is in kozer an abundance of presence, of the insistence of experiencing joy in life because that is what life demands. i suppose my first brushes with poetry were unbalanced by the late-romantic ideal that life is suffering and for the artist to be authentic in her work and her life then pain must be at the forefront of everything. you know, darkness, please, for that is the only fit subject matter for art, and if you die in a nuthouse by say age 50, then you are well on your way to becoming a serious artist.

fuck that shit. in kozer there is a whole lot of life, that includes suffering, but that pain is tempered by a bunch of sensuality. at least that's how i read him. that is bracing and a proof against pain being the prime mover in life and the work of life. i suppose one never becomes a master in either art or life. maybe the artist might be judged a master after she is long gone but, damn, i think of life and art, as they are both one and not one, as a series of mistakes and stumbling. fail better, yes. and more.

Friday, September 03, 2010

the secrets of biography

ssshhh just between you & me
i'll tell you everything i know
& what i do know i make up

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

among school children

it was open house at nicholas's new school tonight. we met his teacher and there was a bbq for the new students and their parents. what a trip. nicholas is now 5 years old and will be starting kindergarten next tuesday. that blows my mind. nick is no longer our baby but is now a growing boy, still a child, but a person who is beginning those very first steps toward a kind of independence and life outside of, well, my ken. i mean, don't get me wrong, nick still needs us big time, but if i remember my own school years at all i do remember a piece of kiddom well outside my parents' orbit. so there we were, anna and me, listening to nick's teacher fill us in with all sorts of administrative details, sitting on the floor and staring at the contents of the classroom with its posters of numbers and letters and rules and such. nick's classroom is the same one anna attended. me, i was never a good student, always anxious, socially retarded, and shyer than lon chaney as the phantom of the opera. yet, there i sat among these schoolchildren and their parents and thought of yeats' famous poem and tho i was probably much older than most of the parents of nick's classmates -- my hair is nearly all grey and even if i feel like i'm 25 i sure don't look like it. e.g. we passed our old alma mater on the way home and classes started this week. a lot has changed on campus, more development, a bigger football stadium cum track&field, a larger bookstore, i said to anna i should some day check out the old school, go to the library, look around. the library was my favorite place and i logged more hours there than any in a classroom. anna turned to me and said, do you know how you look? you certainly don't look like a student, you'll look like a creepy old man hanging around, or if your lucky maybe be mistaken by the students as a lost, and bewildered professor. well, then, there you go. i sat among these schoolchildren not as a 'sixty-year-old smiling public man,' but as the father of a young son who is starting on a long school career and as i watched these kids bounce and dance around their new teacher i wondered,

o body swayed to music, o brightening glance,
how can we know the dancer from the dance?