Thursday, January 31, 2013

On a Cut-Off at the Intersection of Alhambra and H Street

'go on you jive hippie'

rimbaud etc

i needed a book to read.  i took the day off work to run some errands which required a significant amount of time sitting in waiting rooms.  the book i chose to re-read was Rimbaud by Graham Robb [Norton; 2000].  upon sitting in said waiting rooms i opened the tome and began reading the life of rimbaud after he gave up writing poetry and started his life as a trader first in aden then later harar.  recently life had become a bit more stress-laden what with the dayjob and some plumbing problems with our house that required no less than three visits by the plumber.  i thought reading rimbaud's life as a trader will rev me up a little; charge my batteries.

it did just that: charge my batteries.  for rimbaud's example in life and art is so electrifying that his boring lists and complaints in letters to his mother that often end his turgid accounts of misery with an 'etc' revivify.  rimbaud is a single force that all of us have reckoned with in our writing lives.  why he should be so compelling is a bit of a mystery.  and yet there it is.  the life of a young man of ferocious vision whose art became his life. 

perhaps that is it.  in rimbaud life and art merged.  even the later photographs of rimbaud taken in harar are awe striking.  for me at least.  especially the one with rimbaud wearing the fez.  if my troubles are of some annoyance the difficulties rimbaud endured in his life in africa inspire because rimbaud thrived upon his troubles and prospered, i think, financially and emotionally.  the dude is an inspiration to all of us who embark on the wild life of living and writing.

very few of my early loves remain with me.  dylan thomas, hart crane, berryman, lowell, all those masters of my early days do not stir my heart or meet my tastes today.  but rimbaud is still there.  i love still the illuminations and a season in hell.  this is a conceit but i take a certain amount of silly pride in knowing that rimbaud went prematurely grey too.  in that, if not talent, for who could be adequate to the task rimbaud set for himself and poetry, we have a little in common.  furthermore the exercise in the beauty and futility of life is captured in that great noun, poet.  thru rimbaud we learn that an obsession with poetry is an obsession with life.  poetry becomes life.  and that great noun, poet, is not to be shyed away from but to be embraced.  by any one who takes up pen, keyboard and language.  rimbaud excesses belied his lean 'etc'.  his life as a trader is lesson, for me at least, in how to conduct ourselves in our working days.  rimbaud taught me a life in poetry is simply a life.   

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


a little song a little dance a little seltzer down your pants


as god as my witness I thought turkeys could fly


we go so fast thru our days

and yet 200 years is but a blip

even when we think 20 years is a long time

and the modernists are an ancien regime

we are still digesting what they did

the poet anselm hollo passed away

a writer of great jubilance

what we do with our lives

these sibilant years

anna said years do fly past

but a day can take forever

Friday, January 25, 2013


yoshitomo nara's children

fuck'n a fuck yeah!

then trace with your finger

the middle one is preferred

marshall stacks and a les paul

look outside it could be spring

it could be somewhere else

other than here debating with yourself

whether to have another piece of cheesecake

or google pictures of cheesecake

the kind that you used to hide under your bed

then take them out when everyone was asleep

and you know use them

big jim dickey said genius was the invention

of a new idiom

naw genius = love

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

a place to write

thinking of the ideal place to write means too a place to think.  that place is any where.  i love lots of downtime.  daydream time.  i love being surrounded by books.  i still have a love affair with libraries.  being in those stacks making one discovery after another.  i've never written in a library.  in a library i am a reader.  robert lowell wrote in longhand prone on his bed.  a couple weeks ago i read a short interview with a young poet who was asked where he does his writing.  the poet uploaded a picture of his laptop on his bed.  i tried writing in my bed.  can't do it.  i have no set rituals.  i tried making a few but came up with nothing because i did something different each time i tried.  i write when i have a spare moment in my notebook at work.   mandelstam wrote with his 'moving lips' as he walked he composed his verses.  i am too a walker but i don't write with 'moving lips'.  when i walk i tune in to the sounds of the street and the city.  there are usually three or four songs on loop within my brainpan.  words, yes, lines too, or paragraphs, but hardly ever anything gets transcribed to ink or pixels.  walking time is daydream time.  it is a place to think.  but not a place to write.  sometimes when i try to write words are not forthcoming.  when i give up on trying words appear.  words are not ego.  they are something else.  i am attempting expression but not always my own biography.  when i give in and up i cease not to seek.  i relax and invite words.  a place to write is any where i am comfortable.  where i can express my gratitude, and sometimes bitch-a-tude, in this thing called being alive. 

Monday, January 21, 2013


reading jim harrison again and wanting a big tumbler of warm whisky

i don't drink whisky warm or otherwise but there are some writers

who make you want to eat and drink even if i sit on my ass

and polish the floor count my breaths and take my measure

thinking of a dead poet friend who told me that the difference

between poets and other people was that poets thought

about death all the time which i agree because there is

symmetry in the thought but let me say language is life

and breathing words that to enter poetry one must be

goddamn glad to be alive

Sunday, January 20, 2013

the concorde. . .airport '79

not with a bang but a whimper.  thus the end of the 1970s and its fascination with disaster films winds down with this last entry of the airport movies.  george kennedy is the only actor brave enough to star in all four films as captain joe patroni.  the rest of the cast, well. . .a mix of u.s. has-beens and european explotiation stalwarts.

still, if you like cheese then this pic is a moldy one for you.  the plot concerns the mistress -- girlfriend? -- of arms dealer robert wagner, who plays the baddie with such a lack of effect you'd swear he's taken hits of thorazine, who uncovers wagner's illegal arms dealings and subsequent murder of a former employee.  the woman has the incriminating documents and boards the concorde.  how does wagner stop her from going to the authorities?  by trying to shoot down the concorde!  first with his company's unmanned drone, then with a couple of fighter jets and finally with a bomb in the cargo hold.

even with such action packed plot-lines there is so much exposition, a lot of dialogue and un-character development that the movie is simply a hard slog to get thru.  such was the problem with most disaster movies that the filmmakers tried to create sympathetic characters so that when the shit goes down we'd care for them.  except that we viewers don't.  the reason disaster movies exist was for us viewers to see things blow up.

this movie is a study in bad filmmaking.  and barely enjoyable as well.  i must confess i fell asleep before it ended.  nick was the brave one.  we watched it together and he managed to stay awake.  kennedy as patroni is enjoyable to watch.  he's an under-appreciated actor.  alain delon is the concorde's co-pilot.  the script gives him barely anything to do.  sylvia kristel, who gained famed starring in just jaeckin's sexploitation film emmanuelle [1974], plays a flight attendant.  she's a beautiful woman but the decor and the dress of these characters makes everything butt-ugly. 

that's one of the big problems of the 1970s: it was an era of ugly.  even beautiful people and things were made grotesque by bushy mustaches, permed hair, wide lapels, muted earth tones, and shag carpets.  if you don't believe me seek out this film.  but when it was released we were heading to neo-romantic, post-punk 80s.  this pic was a box-office bomb.  the explosions were left off-screen as we who lived thru the '70s couldn't wait to shake off the chains of the horrible-looking '70s and its cheesy disaster films.  watching this movie is like staring into the abyss and not finding your character.  proceed at your own risk. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

me and paulo leminksi

were walking down the street when we see a stray dog with a taco bell wrapper in its maw / leminski turns to me and says / see that mutt / let's give him a kick / every poet finds his sign / he's you / he's me

Sunday, January 13, 2013

did a little shopping at trader joe's this evening.  felt lucky because often shopping at trader joe's on a sunday evening means a dearth of parking spots and there were three open spots one of which i crammed our suv -- the family truckster -- into one. 

i know the corporations have a profile of my shopping habits and probably consider them a bit boring.  i buy the same shit every time.  i know where everything is and if the store happens to get a directive from 'headquarters' telling the store employees to rearrange the shelves well hell i feel like dustin hoffman character in rain man [1988] when he can't watch judge wapner. 

but being the kind of person i am i love watching people.  back in my salad days i read the letters of van gogh.  van gogh was not a people watcher.  van gogh loved the things made by people. he says somewhere in a missive to theo that he'd rather be among things than people.  i'm the opposite.  things are just things.  but people are endlessly fascinating.

like the people who work at and shop in trader joe's.  the tattoos, the hipsters, the oldsters who still wear chuck t's [me!], young families, you name it.  if you want to see a slice of a certain kind of 21st century u.s.american stop by a trader joe's.

my love of people watching probably extends to my love of movies.  because who else populates the movies?  hell yeah, people.  and when it comes to art and artists i'm more inclined toward the conceptual sort such as the dutch/mexican artist francis alys whose work is mostly videos of himself and others doing all kinds of wacky things. 

even language is coded people.  maybe that's why i love language so.  i can't read your thoughts so i am forced to read your words.  i am utterly fascinated by people, their movements, their sounds.  so much that an ordinary shopping trip to trader joe's becomes an expedition of storied delights.

as the elderly poet sat on a cushion in the middle of the room with a can of budweiser in his right hand and a parker pen in his left he regaled the room with stories of a long life in poetry but when a younger poet asked him how she could improve upon her writing the old bard said

don't be boring


as if by a different name

holy and not

longwave light in california

its arc

among the surging pacific

and somewhere the smell

of one stinky tobacco pipe

Thursday, January 10, 2013





[homage to lew welch]

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

cave of forgotten dreams [2010]

finally watched this excellent documentary yesterday at my mother-in-law's house.  she recorded it for me as she knows i love the work of werner herzog.  what impressed me the most about these electrifying paintings on the walls of the chauvet caves were not their age, 32,000 years old, but a moment in the film where herzog says that one painting was touched up by another painter 5,000 years later and that history was not a fact of these artists lives.  we make an artifact of the past while the chauvet painters lived within the present.  5,000 years between painters was a continuation of the present.  but for us that is an unbelievably long time.

of course herzog made this film for viewing in 3d.  i watched it on television without 3d, and really i think 3d sucks.  the gimick is soon old and often gets in the way of storytelling.  in other words, i am not missing anything when i say i'm not missing the 3d.

herzog hints at what music the culture of these painters might have created.  i wondered about their poetry.  what might their poems and stories have said and sounded like.  herzog has a way of finding individuals who are just at the edge of society.  exploring music of these cave painters the director interviewed a scientist who recreated an ancient flute of the same vintage of the paintings.  the scientist was wearing inuit furs and boots because it was the ice age and the clothing was probably the closest we can come to the cave painters' dress.  when the scientist made notes on the flute he made a little tune that was very like 'the star spangled banner' which made me think of faulkner's line that the past is not past because it hasn't even passed. 

what dreams there are still.  the fact of the works of art are a proof that dreams and waking sometimes blend into the present.  it was a gorgeous detail to have another scientist point out the hand print of a painter who posessed a crooked pinky.  such a detail brings that painter nearer to corporeality.  he was -- i suppose i and the scientists and herzog assume that the painter was a man, maybe the painter was a woman?  who knows -- a human being who lived and created.

and those handprints are what i think of as the signatures of the artists.  the handprints are the evidence of their creators and the force of creation.  these handprints are signal events in the currents of time.  we humans create because we live today and 32,000 years ago.  it matters not that we don't know the names of these painters -- for yes of course they had names -- because we can witness their works and marvel at their will to endure.  art is a human endeavour.  we do it singly and collectively because we are alive.   

Monday, January 07, 2013


the thing is i was approaching the erotica section of a bookstore

when i spot two kids rummaging thru the stacks

the kids looked up guiltily and stuffed a book back in

i didn't see what they were looking at

when one kid smiles and says, 'i was only trying to learn about sex!'

quote unquote

[b]ecause artefactos attempt to suppress the distance between art and life, and a most immediate consequence of this suppression is to cancel the difference between the public and the private. In this way, Parra appeals to the unavoidable democracy of speech, to its shared and communal property. The elimination of hierarchies of speech, along with the liberation of all the creative potential of language, all of its desacralizing and, simultaneously, enchanting power, causes us to see a common ground where human beings, like words, are, ultimately, profoundly equal. Those who discredit Parra’s artefactos—dismissing them as juvenile jokes, for example—always share a belief in a hierarchy of language, one that projects itself like a reflection of the “natural” division of men into social classes. But that’s precisely the symbolic and democratizing role of artefactos: they liberate the worker words, the words that each day ground the lives of human beings, from the submission imposed upon them by sacred words.

--raul zurita on the antipoetry of nicanor parra

Sunday, January 06, 2013

quote unquote

I imagined I would enter the work force, but doing what, I had absolutely no idea. What does a French symbolist poet do in a world of cars, computers, and gasoline?

Chase chimeras. Write bold, new, innovative poetry. Discover a new aesthetic. All the while earning money by doing something else. Something, hopefully, not too taxing, or time consuming. What that would be, I had no idea. I would simply have to find out by looking.

--john olson

Saturday, January 05, 2013

who the hell . . .

directed this video by the french electro-pop band m83?  it is so sweetly composed with teen angst and redemption that when the girl gets the boy of her dreams their embrace is so sincere, so beautiful it brings tears to my fucking eyes. 

x: the unheard music [1986]

i bought the dvd at the x gig a couple weeks ago.  i've seen this documentary once before on my girlfriend's family's satellite tv in 1986 when i had a cold and couldn't sleep.  i switched on the tv and there it was.  i was at the swag table during the show looking for something but x really -- i think -- never really a commercial band and never really developed the kind of iconography that is easily reproducible on t-shirts and other kinds of ephemera.

no matter.  for their unconventionality, and limited commercial success in the mid-80s, is on full display in this utterly beautiful profile and homage to a very great band.  x is a band that was fully vested in the punk rock of l.a.  they even drop band names like d.o.a. and black flag in the lyrics of their songs.  further even the song 'unheard music' -- where this documentary takes its title from -- decries the limitations of commercial appeal and says in the chorus, 'no hardcore on the car radio.' 

as much as i dug the band in my teens i love them even more as an old man.  to me this is ageless music and the personalities of the band members, each one a kick-ass musician, scrapes the scunge off punk music and lifts the genre -- even if one can argue that punk need no lifting at all, it does just fine with three chords and an attitude -- into harmony. 

still, it is mindboggling to recall that in the mid 1980s x was the next big thing.  and then was not.  because they have the chops, the charisma, and the songs for mass appeal.  b. and i were talking after the show with ringing ears about why maybe x never got the commercial success it was so primed for.  perhaps they were a decade too early.  if they appeared even a few years later as grunge music gained mass popularity and slightly younger punk bands like rancid and the offspring also became fm radio staples then maybe x too. 

but no.  and really, so what.  they had more commercial success than most bands have had.  they created great music that sounds as fresh as it did 30 years ago.  they were featured in one of the first great documentaries on punk rock, penelope spheeris' decline of western civilization [1981] and this documentary too made when commercial popular music was in a shithole.  i might be getting soft as i age but music and movies like this one gives me hope for the human species.     

Thursday, January 03, 2013

notes on watching amores perros [2000]

el chivo hates people but loves dogs

* * *

mexico city/is it the/21st century/city?

* * *

o my love))))))

* * *

she is so pretty

* * *

no not without bullets

* * *


* * *


* * *

parallel lines

Tuesday, January 01, 2013


she said, if you want to make change
                         dress like a republican and
                                             have a hippie soul