Friday, April 29, 2011


it was/is a busy night in downtown/midtown. i don't know why. just lots of bustle, traffic, to-ing and fro-ing. i was walking down j st and heading toward the convention center. my thought was to turn right on to k st then proceed down to 21st st where i'd stop by time tested books. i've not been to the indie bookstore for a few months.

whoa. just as i cross the street to the convention center two dudes were on the corner with big placards with pics of obama doctored up so our president has a hitler-style moustache. printed on the placards was the name, lyndon larouche. you mean to say that that guy is still alive? holy shit, you've got to be kidding me. so these two fuck-faced dweebs are handing out flyers and as i pass they stick one in my face. 'help re-institute the glass-steagall act,' they said.

huh? i take the flyer and check my hearing. i glance at the flyer before putting it into my pocket. i walk the several blocks to time tested books where i browse for about 20 minutes and buy a selected poems by anne sexton [jim mccrary is singing ms sexton's praises and it's been many, many, many years since i read a poem of hers. i did enjoy that biography published in the early '90s and thought that sexton was a winning, if more than kooky personality] and hooked!: buddhist writings on greed, desire, and the urge to consume, ed. by stephanie kaza [shambhala, 2005]. then the rest of the walk home was uneventful if fraught with all sorts of pollens since it was a very windy day and my allergies were kicked into high gear so i felt like i was floating in some sort of alternate world.

which leads me back to larouche. fucked in the head, but i agree that the glass-steagall act should be re-instated, or a version of the bill separating commercial and investment banking, but i didn't think i'd ever agree with larouche on just about anything. i'd blame it on the histamines raging in my system but it just ain't that simple. the world is in a dark, corporatized place now and we have a political party, or parties, very eager to mcdonaldize the whole of government. it is so fucked up that i even agree with larouche on at least one thing.

it was strange and i felt like the poet paul eluard in that novel by milan kundera where the poet floats above the streets of prague. i experienced a dash of surrealism at the end of a long day. i kept the flyer and thought i'd send it to a friend in the southern part of the state who i think might get a kick out of it. i'd blame it on the wind too but no, this shit nearly blew me away.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

ode to joy

director spike jonze began his career by making some incredibly wild and creative music videos. this is one of my favorites, a deliberation of bad art perpetrated on an unsuspecting public. jonze is the lead dancer here, richard, and his awful troupe and choreography is just so joyous to behold. fuck negativity. there's been a lot of that lately. i have no idea if this video was indeed a piece guerrilla street art, or scripted. what it is is something i would call generous in its attitude and spirit. the song by fatboy slim, the direction by jonze and the people who are their latent viewing public -- that includes us too -- take pleasure in the hereness and muchness of the act of song and dance. that's not a pejorative, song and dance, as it is usually ascribed. in this instance, it is a plain of wonder.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

brutal relax [2010]

mr oliveras is told by his doctor that he needs to delaminate, de-stress, relax, go on vacation like a normal person would do, and above all, do not get agitated.

thus starts this terrific spanish short. mr oliveras goes to the beach and does relax. the usual crowd of beachcombers are also present: families sunning themselves, young men and women preening, picnics and a general air of holiday. mr oliveras is doing good too. a little odd because he shows up in his underwear instead of a bathing suit and promptly sits in a mud puddle and smears himself with mud.

he's good because he's got his tunes playing on a walkman and he's on vacation dammit! all's well until. . .a horde of green zombies rise from the sea and kills everyone in their path. mr oliveras blithely does not notice the carnage happening around him as long as his tunes are playing. but when his walkman gets a hiccup mr oliveras blames the zombies and cleans up the beach.

this short is a hilarious take on the zombie sub-genre. if the filmmakers tip their hand too much to peter jackson's 2nd feature comedy splatter-fest, dead-alive [1992], oh well. this spanish piece is almost as fun to watch. the gore is heavy but very cartoonish. it's played for laughs as most of the props look like props and i think is intended to be that way.

there is something great happening in world horror cinema right now. sweden, norway, france and spain, for instance, are all countries not known, until the past 10 years or so, for horror movies, are presently creating fantastic films. these countries are making up for lost ground. u.s. horror is sort of in the doldrums. but why matter, when there are still good movies being made. besides we are in the era of globalization. are we not all citizens of the world.

it's almost summer. time to hit the beach, glop on the sunblock, get the bbq going and watch a very tense man blow off a bit of steam by taking back the beach from a band of feral zombies. if you are in the mood to watch this short just click the link at the top of this review. relax and remind yourself, it's only a movie. . .it's only a movie. . .it's only a movie. . .

Monday, April 25, 2011

pandorum [2009]

i'm at a loss. nearly speechless. how in the hell did this flick ever find the light of financing? this movie's been playing the cable channels for a couple months now and i've caught bits and pieces. finally, i can say i've seen it and i'm glad i didn't pay the premium ticket price demanded of a theater. otherwise i'd have choked on popcorn.

sci-fi, horror, a tip of the hat toward ridley scott's great alien [1979], this pic looks on the surface pretty good. two astronauts wake from hypersleep aboard a seemingly abandoned ship and discover horrible, pale creatures, bent on gnashing their teeth and killing whatever stands in front of them, shipmates who are not what they appear to be, and worst of all, dennis quaid orchestrating it seems the events as they happen. who knows.

you know what. this movie didn't make any fucking sense at all. when we get to the end, and here i'll spare you from seeing it because i'll tell you the ending, our two intrepid cowboys [er, technically cowboy and cowgirl], after enduring dennis quaid, a giant ship filled with all manner of greasy techno wonders, and the killer pale thingies, find out they've been aboard that ship for nearly 1000 years, and that the ship is actually under an ocean, and that they manage to make it to surface when their ship begins to implacably implode and fill with seawater. on top of the ocean now they see hundreds of others surfacing and an alien shore beckoning them. a scrawl then tells us that they populate the shore and it is year one.

huh?! how the hell did the producers pitch this one? hmmm. . .'you see, it's like jaws without the shark onboard the nostromo like in alien, but with a lot of pale humanoids that like to kill, and we'll throw in a little paul verhoeven-like total recall for a bit of mind-fuck reality bending. check please!'

they got it, the check, but they forgot to pay for a couple of writers to craft a credible script. oh well. their gain. my loss. i'm sure they're working on a sequel or maybe even prequel to pad out whatever gains this flick got. but for next go-round i hope they ask for a bit of coherence in the form of a script. i was hankering for some cheesy celluloid this past weekend and instead i got a rotten chunk of mold. i'll have to console myself with a screening of an umberto lenzi pic, say nightmare city [1980] where lenzi and crew knew they were making a piece of anti-art, and is thus more refreshing than most dreck foisted upon the viewing public by the major studios. plus pastaland gore fests like lenzi made costs a buck and some change instead of the fortune poured into making pandorum. i'm not making a direct contrast but perhaps sometimes the size of the budget goes to the filmmakers' heads and not to their hearts. passion is ruled out in favor of marketing and focus groups. well, i can only blame myself. i could've shut the tv off or at least changed the channel. rather i watched it to the bitter end.

quote unquote

And here's for the poet
who really thinks liberation means he can go
anywhere without clothes, radiant in the checkout aisle.

--john roche

Saturday, April 23, 2011

i like it loud

just watched the cinema verite episode on hbo about the loud family. the louds are the first reality tv stars when a 10-part documentary on the day-to-day doings of the family originally aired on pbs in 1972. i don't remember the series as i was just about 5 years old when it was first broadcast. what i did get from watching this film was a frisson of nostalgia for that most garish of eras, the 1970s. the filmmakers got the look and feel down to a t. from the fat, chunky, green ashtrays to the long hair and mutton chops.

tim robbins and diane lane portray the elder louds, pat and bill, and they looked pretty close to the real pat and bill. the filmmakers cannily edited footage of the original series with scenes of the movie. by the time we get to the end, and the expected hub bub of outrage from the public about the personal lives of a family put onscreen, we see the scenes of the real louds do their own media tours of the talk shows of the time, like the dick cavett show and the mike douglas show, to explain their sides of the documentary.

what amazed me, not knowing the history of the louds, is how well they turned out. they also were a deeply loving, committed family members. and frankly, by today's standards, their lives might be considered fairly standard and boring. at least that is how it seemed to me as i watched this movie version of their lives. the most dramatic part of the series was when pat loud declared her intent to divorce bill while the cameras rolled. a divorce is shattering to a family but it is not necessarily high drama for television.

i thought how would real life be filmed. large parts i think would bore the shit out of viewers. think of the cameras rolling while i sat and tapped away on this keyboard for hours on end. think of the cameras rolling as i read book after book with nary a muscle moved except to shift in my chair and use my index finger to turn the pages. or my walks to and from work, and work itself, and the ta dum of raising a 6 year old. do you think viewers could ratchet up any enthusiasm for that? i can't. hence today we get reality stars that are no where near living ordinary lives and reality shows as scripted as a sitcom.

even watching this film about the louds i saw how much of cinema verite is still made up, constructed and edited. but perhaps that is true to life too. as we move thru our days and nights we make it up as we go along, but we write our own private scripts, even if those scripts aren't shared with others but ourselves. we construct ourselves, and we are blindly guessing, at the same time. it's lovely to see diane lane as pat loud dressed in period clothes and smoking cigarettes, because people, a lot of people, did smoke in the '70s. it was also lovely to see her as a real, flesh and blood person. she is aging well, and so is tim robbins. greying hair and slight wrinkles. then again i have a vested interested in aging and aging well. but then i look around and say, we all do. we all are getting older and older still. the '70s was my childhood and i remember it well. it might seem like history as ancient as the chronicles detailing the exploits of king henry v, but it happens, and will happen shortly to everyone, that what was once young and fresh turns and grows old faster than you could think possible. a popular expression in the '70s was, 'hold on, baby'. indeed, hold on.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

hush your mouth!

'what? i left my heart where?!'

just a thought

last night i watched frontline's piece on chinese artist and political ass-kicker ai weiwie, who's afraid of ai weiwei?, [you can watch it by clicking here] and i was awed by that quality of weiwei's, what joseph brodsky described in himself when asked what kept him going when he was a young man running afoul of the state apparatus, obstinacy, and also fear as weiwei freely admits that he feels fear and that is why he keeps doing what he's doing. the man's a badass, hands down. what i also admire is how the artist uses technology, blogs and twitter feeds, to document his life and work, which is the work of life. i wonder why most if not all artists and writers don't also use blogs and twitter feeds. yes, yes, i know, quite a lot, including me, utilize technology for our writings. surely weiwei is a testament to the efficacy of technology. but there is it seems a stern resistance among some writers that electronic publishing, self-publishing, is not authentic writing. should it be so? i wonder if roland barthes, were he alive today, would publish a blog.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

quote unquote

I pursue no objectives, no system, no tendency; I have no program, no style, no directions. I have no time for specialized concerns, working themes, or variations that lead to mastery. I steer clear of definitions. I don't know what I want. I am inconsistent, non-committal, passive; I like continual uncertainty. Other qualities may be conducive to achievement, publicity, success; but they are all outworn - as outworn as ideologies, opinions, concepts, and names for things.

--gerhard richter

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

my supermarket in california

is that you, joey ramone
among the heads of lettuce
tomatoes heinz 57 and miracle whip

rough but sweet
like this lot of artisanal bread
we asked for it

not to be
released because this
is our america

where i look into faces
lost in thought
weighing to buy

a few oranges
and oscar meyer weiners
you know the drill, joey

thick chords clustered like fists
and that voice
i find you

and me here
thronged and haloed
not as angels

but free to choose
between either fat tire
or the anchor steam beer

Thursday, April 14, 2011

quote unquote

This has been my mantra as a poet: Be generous.

--tim kahl

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

a little promotion

a couple of months ago i had the pleasure of meeting james maughn and hearing him read his poetry. his second full-length collection the arakaki permutations is just published by black radish books. i'm here to testify it is a great read. i've written a little piece on the book that you can read by clicking here. you can purchase the book via spd by clicking here. so get clicking!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

porkchops & applesauce

when peter, on the 1970s tv show the brady bunch, was told by a girl he was keen on that he had no personality peter then spent the remainder of the show trying on different personalities to fit. hence, he did a weak humphrey bogart impersonation and when he asked his mother and alice what was for dinner he then repeated porkchops & applesauce with bogie's nasal vowells and hard consonants. did it work? i think personality is protean but also fixed.

personality is that core of our being that remains when we stop performing. but when do we stop performing? some of us are better actors than others but all of us do our pose in some fashion or another. in other words, what is the fundamentals of an artistic personality. i mean artistic in a very limited sense since i think creativity is not confined to those of us who write, draw, paint or make music or images. one can make a household with as much flair and verve was rembrandt creating an etching.

but what is make-up of the personality of the artist. much has been written and speculated and analyzed and profiled about it. one thing i've always thought common to most writers is that writers are by nature loners. but that is not always the case. i am a loner both by nature and preference but even loners crave company. i'm happiest when i can sit, read, watch, and write all by myself. but that doesn't mean i want to be alone, all the time. when i suggested that writers are loners to a poet friend he gave me a sidewise glance and said that he wasn't a loner. or something to that effect.

and but so anyway the personality as i've said at the beginning of this post is both fixed and also changing. the richard lopez writers friends meet is not always the same richard lopez co-workers know. both groups would of course recognize me since there are many things about my personality that are unconscious. however, probably there are certain dynamics of my personality that are emphasized with one group or another. there might be a personality profile for artistic types but i'm pretty sure that that profile is often turned on its head.

in the end peter did find a more perfect fit for a personality. he found it when he stopped looking. tho i'm sure there could be just a dash of bogie and a smidgen of whatever else personality he was trying on. for we are always changing into something else. i is an other, as the poet said. i is you.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

the fifth element [1997]

i can't remember if i wrote about this flick before or no. no matter. i have a fondness for this movie for reasons i can't quite fathom myself. i mean, it is pure goofy pulp and the director, i think talented as he is, luc besson, created a mess of of picture. but it is a gorgeous mess. and it stars bruce willis, who i think is an underrated actor, and the fantastically lovely milla jovovich. plus costumes and set designs by a famous fashion designer [i can't remember who at the moment] that bring to mind the costumes and set designs of another sci-fi fantasy, roger vadim's barbarella [1968], and if you love the latter movie your sure to at least like this pic if only for its visual gumption.

if you want more than visuals than i'm afraid besson and co. can't help you. there's nary a plot to be found. rest assured, i looked. jovovich is supposed to be a supreme being, the fifth element, to save the world. what's that you say? oh that's laughter? fine. don't believe jovovich is the supreme being than all you have to do is gaze into her eyes and stare at her manic panic red hair. that'll make a believer out of us all.

still, everyone is game in this pic and i think realize that they are not remaking christopher marlowe. there was something in the air during the late '90s when sci-fi movies were revisions of kind. starship troopers [1997] took robert a heinlein's novel as source material but somehow forgot to add heinlein's fascist state. instead we have a boneheaded action/adventure caper of future soldiers against giant bugs. what little socio-political climate is either placed into the background of the pic, such as the frequent newscasts during the run-time of troopers, or the bald reality of a unisex army where both men and women behave like meatheads wired on meth. the sci-fi movie still hasn't recovered from these intrepid works.

element is a fun time watching all the same. will the world look and behave as it does 250 years from now as this movie suggests? i don't care. i won't be around to judge. but there's something rather visionary about how besson managed to refresh and make new fritz lang's metropolis [1927] with its hi-rise buildings and flying cars. that might be worth a watch of itself.

oh yes, it's april, national poetry month. what am i doing about it? nothing. at all. geof huth writes on his blog he is celebrating international poetry year. let me declare it international poetry span of our lives. why not. we are all in it for the long haul. don't need no stinking month to tell us how central poetry is in our lives. as geof writes: 'poetry is a cupcake.' it's that delicious.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

and to quote mavis staples, 'beautiful'

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

the big

i think it is, big i mean, since it's one of my very favorite pubs published today. the 16th iteration of galatea resurrects is live and ready for your reading. in a world gone mad, or at least seems it has, to me, at times, the efforts of its contributors and the care that eileen tabios takes in curating, formatting, editing and gently, stubbornly coaxing easily, at times, distracted writers [like me] into writing pieces is a cry of sanity. eileen deserves a special nobel prize all her own. read it by clicking here.

Monday, April 04, 2011

the trade

walking down i st tonight i heard them before i saw them. about 3 to 4 blocks of members of various unions lined up and demonstrating in support of unions in wisconson, and unions -- working people -- everywhere. si se puede went the chant for some groups. solidarity was the sign for others. i felt my heart lift. might there be hope, still?

Sunday, April 03, 2011


reading fuller's interview
about his dayjob and his poetry
made me think about
the best job i've had
working as a janitor
at sac state but what i want
to know is why when i
was cleaning the bathrooms
would someone drop a turd
on the side of the toilet
rather than in the toilet

might be for some leaving
a little scat is a form
of art like a crude finger
painting or a limerick
grossly sung as horrible
auto-tuned against misery
well we all must eat shit
and die and not always in
that order of excretion
and consumption which
we can never recede from
either making our dinner
or making dirt on the pot
black matter that makes us
as we make it however much
we'd rather not think it thru

[revised on 4/4/11]

Saturday, April 02, 2011

quote unquote

This is first and foremost a social place. We spend our days talking about, working with, and getting annoyed by each other. Years ago, a poet-friend commented on some of my memo poems from Avoid Activity—which Douglas Rothschild read for me in absentia at the Ear Inn—that they reminded everyone of “how frightening that world is,” by which I assume he meant the business world. I clearly don’t have the luxury of being outside that world, to make such observations. I encounter people here as people; I have my favorites and my not-favorites. I don’t see them as manipulated by a discourse whose motives they don’t understand—many of them have acute understandings of the most subtle nuances of that discourse and offer hilarious insights. So to stand outside and comment ironically on the whole of it would seem adolescent to me.

--william fuller, on poetry and the workplace. for more please read this fascinating and, to me, uplifting interview with fuller here.