Saturday, August 23, 2014

putting together two chairs from IKEA

lost the instructions
lost my

sometimes i just need quiet.  so much noise surrounds us, penetrates us, permeates our environment.  heads bent to these blue screens.  pixellated faces.  eyes drawn tight against hills and valleys of data.  life in two dimension: physical/digital.  we are not centaurs.  we are creatures of the digital divide.  sometimes we create art in the division.  sometimes we need to turn off the machines, go for a long walk, and give ourselves time to daydream.

* * *

i've been groovin' on the video work of finnish poet karri kokko found here at youtube.

* * *

sometimes you gotta shut down the machines and read in print.  today i read a couple of back issues of the kansas lit journal first intensity.  particularly the reviews by poet john olson, a brilliant writer whether he is  analyzing a book, or composing his singular poems.  

* * *

what!?  summer is almost over!  the end of summer means the beginning of fall.  fall means, shorter days, cooler nights, turning leaves, and halloween.  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

practice of zen, tofu & grapenuts

cricketsong in the garden
song too of recirculated fountain water
deep blue sky with a hint of cloud
when the world is haywire is it
best to be silent
art in this mediated age
of data pixels and screens
against the practice of just enough
a bowl of grapenuts for breakfast
a dinner of tofu patties
and language of mumbles
no desire no hope
no no god
what language did you say
that in?

Monday, August 18, 2014

at swim two sharknados

a few days ago my friend tom beckett wondered why i haven't reviewed the sharknado movies.  i've seen the first movie but i haven't watched the sequel.  i liked the first movie because it reminded me of some cheapjack matinee fare.  we recorded the second one but it was deleted before i could watch it.  nick loves these pics.  who couldn't love them.  sharks!  flying thru the fucking air eating people!

if the concept of the movies are a bit silly well so are giant bug films that were dominant in the 1950s.  of course giant bug movies were the creation of a nation worried about nuclear holocaust.  and sharks eating people on land and air?  what sociological detail can conjure up that?  nothing really.  it's all marketing.  Sy Fy channel took to social media and made the first film an event.  it caught on and people began to tweet about it.  sharknado became a bonafide hit. 

why not make another.  hire the same d-list actors, write a script knowingly stupid and conjure up some cheezy CGI and presto!  another hit.

i'm curious about our late capitalist age.  the dominant genre in TV and movies are end of the world affairs, either by zombies, or viruses, or political and economic collapse, or by Rapture.  the fears these pics explore are myriad and complex in causes.  the world is always changing but our fears of climate change, socio-economic instability, exploding population, lightning fast changes in robotics and computing and artificial intelligence, are some of the reasons for our fascination with apocalypse.

no wonder we must take a break now and again and be simple and delight in a really bad movie or two.  if that means seeing a film about human-eating sharks in a severe weather event so be it.  taste is a subjective thing anyway.  delight in the bad can sometimes be divine.  

this morning

crow gave
a flying shit

Sunday, August 17, 2014

wind down of summer

i still smell of chlorine from the pool.  i'd say my hair is lighter for being in the sun but my hair is losing its pigment and is more salt than pepper, all the time.  i don't shave usually on the weekends and anna asked me today what the hell is with my hobo beard.  today was close to 100 F degrees.  but the days are getting shorter and the light is changing.  a subtle change in the light.  i've been looking at the fall catalogs coming in our mailbox with their halloween decor.  i fell asleep watching a documentary about the writer hubert selby, jr. via on-demand.  i did not fall asleep because it was boring.  rather i fell asleep because i started watching the docu at midnight, after watching 2/3rd of e.t. [1982] with anna and nick.  it was a long week.  my faith and pleasure in my fellow human beings was severely tested.  this weekend had a hard few moments too.  and yet. . .and yet. . .my love for people was affirmed in not so small ways too.  the first noble truth: life sucks.  and then what we do with that knowledge makes all the difference.  sometimes music is the organizing principle.  sometimes music can even be transcendent.  there was once upon a time a street skateboard team called JAKS that used the phrase ABSOLUTE MUSIC as its motto.  quite utterly.  slowdive reunited this summer of 2014 and hit many music festivals.  after social distortion slowdive is my other favorite band.  below they perform 'alison.'  ABSOLUTE MUSIC.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

the world according to garp [1982]

the news of the death of robin williams on monday spread thru the office like wildfire.  i felt shock.  williams was a life giver, a person whose energy and presence makes everyone he touched feel keenly alive.  he was a man who was so keenly alive it just seemed like he'd be with us forever.  i think that is why i -- we -- were so surprised and hurt by williams' death.

i've been a fan of robin williams ever since he battled the fonz as mork from the planet ork on the sitcom happy days.  i have a confession.  when the tv show mork and mindy spun off happy days i was such a geek for mork i collected bubble gum cards of the TV show and i even -- gulp! -- a pair of rainbow suspenders, the kind that was mork's favorite piece of clothing.

but for all the manic energy that i found so lovable i preferred williams' serious side as an actor.  roles that were less manic.  i have a long list of robin williams movies that i love but this movie, the world according to garp, is my most favorite.

another confession: i haven't seen this movie in years.  and yet. . .and yet i know this movie like a know the freckles on my son's face.  based on john irving's novel garp's world is one of wonder, sadness and is profoundly sweet and goofy.  glen close plays his mother, jenny fields, an author of a feminist manifesto that becomes a womens' movement.  john lithgow plays roberta muldoon, a transgender former NFL football star who becomes garp's greatest friend.

this might be williams' first film role after mork and mindy.  it is one of his finest performances.  it was released in 1982.  i saw this movie via VHS when i was 16.  i was not much of a student.  i've always enjoyed reading but at the age of 16 that enjoyment turned into a fierce love.  i wanted to become a writer.  garp was also a crappy student who wanted to become a writer.  he does become a writer.  this is the first movie i saw that showed the life of a writer and the act of writing onscreen.  this movie was kind of like my virgil guiding me to a new reality.

na nu na nu!    

Monday, August 11, 2014

not watching the perseids

it is past midnight.  i have the windows open.  the cats are calming down [cats being nocturnal creatures].  each time i get up for some reason i look out the window to the night sky hoping to catch a meteor.  fat chance.  the perseids are out doing their thing.  i think.  it is the time of year for the annual meteor shower.  but each day every day all year long there are hundreds of rocks from deep and not so deep space that enter our atmosphere and burn up before they hit our earth.  you want to know where the best place is to watch for meteors? at the drive-in.  say you are deep into the second feature.  it is after midnight.  you are on your second or third beer.  your right hand is deep in the bag of cheetos. your eyes wander from the screen.  you look up and lo!  there you see a brilliant light across the sky.  that light lasts but a second or two. if that.  such a sight is proof the universe is vast and beyond our ken.  meteors are only rocks, from space.  only rocks.  what could be more ordinary.  and yet. . .and yet they are evidence of a greater reality, one that is more magnificent than is dreamt of in our philosophy.  tonight i feel each time i take a piss and look outside my window i am missing something.  these rocks that are part of our universe eons older than the earth.  and then i think what can be more ordinary than meteors hurtling toward somewhere and something.  rocks are everywhere, on earth and in space.  only by their light may we glance upon an eminence.  for only a second or two.  instead i reconcile myself to my education.  i know the perseids are there.  if i stare at our sky for long enough i'll seee them.  but doing so is not a proof of existence.  rather i'll go to bed, draw up the sheets, read a few pages of the book on my nightstand, and know that the rocks of the universe are there.  like i am here.  for a while.  still.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

art is for all poetry is for everyone

we just returned from an evening with b. c. and j.  after dinner b. and i grabbed a couple of beers and drew up chairs before his laptop where he uploaded pics from their recent travels in so. cal.  below palm springs to the salton sea and a little beyond.  i am utterly fascinated by this area, its artifacts and its inhabitants.  the salton sea is the end of the line.  or its start, depending on your point of view.  once the promise of the playland of the rich, famous and those wanting to be both the salton sea was built up as a resort in the 1950s.  for a little while the rich, famous and those wanting to be both did come to the resorts of the salton sea.  then agricultural run-off and other poisons choked the sea with chemicals that caused massive algae blooms which in turn caused massive fish kills.  who wants to boat, swim and recreate on a beach that is littered with the bleached bones of fish and birds?  the stink of the sea is striking.  the resorts closed down leaving only their husks standing today.  the denizens of the various communities of the salton sea, like bombay beach, are a hardscrabble folk who like to be left alone.  or so it seems for when b. showed me the photos he took of bombay beach and other areas there was not a soul to be seen.  then again the average daytime temperature was about 100 F.  so they were probably sensibly staying in their air-conditioned double-wides.

and then the area around the salton sea attracts creative types of all sorts.  leonard knight [1931-2014] is such a type. knight constructed and painted the great salvation mountain.  it is a visionary work located near niland.  i have a deep appreciation of tramp art and self-taught outsider artists.  knight felt the love of god so keenly he was compelled to paint his message in the desert.  what is admirable and remarkable about knight's art is its affirmation.  this is an art that does not sake forsake the horrors of the world but centers on the themes of love.  repeated thru this work are the words GOD IS LOVE and also simply LOVE.  there is one section where knight wrote GOD IS LOVE and below that I LOVE YOU TOO.  the poetry and art of leonard knight gives me hope that maybe humanity might survive.  knight is a proof that you don't need a degree or permission even to be an artist and poet.  you just need the vision and desire to create.

i am in awe and b. took great photographs of salvation mountain.  there were other roadside attractions and art exhibits b. showed me.  the salton sea and the surrounding area are on my bucket list to visit before i shuffle off this mortal coil.  when i get depressed i can cheer myself up by thinking i can buy a double-wide and park it in bombay beach, fish die-off notwithstanding, and live in the heat making strange.  

for anna


Thursday, August 07, 2014

sense data

sitting on his porch hip kid typing out his epic on a selectric

squirrel splayed on its back with two Xs over its eyes

crow in its ruffled coat on the lamppost crying to all who would listen

three mourning doves evenly spaced out on a telephone wire posed in prayer

a penny on the sidewalk a penny on the sidewalk a penny on the sidewalk abe-side up

inside the bar mumbled conversations and crossed legs

a whiff of ah clove cigarettes

smudged golden sunlight from nearby brush fires

every second house crinkled brown lawns

golden lab's leg up giving a stream of pee to the modesto ash

blur of words what language did she say that in

someone waving either hello or goodbye

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

the subject was teleology

the other day nick and i were talking about endings.  like when do you know you are at the end of your life.  i said, when we are born, as we grow, we are also going toward death.  i said, if i live a normal lifespan i am then right now in the middle of my life.  nick said, but you never know if you are in the middle or at the end.  i said, yes, we are always in the variable present.  if i die now then i am at the end of my life.  we shall never know.

take for example the moron in the black BMW [i don't know really what kind of car it was but for the sake of argument let's call it a black BMW] who cut me off in the intersection this morning.  i was in the crosswalk with a greenlight and a green walk sign when this guy makes a quick left turn and whooshes past me by a foot or so between us.  i was close enough to kick his car.  he saw me.  he looked at me with a shit-eating grin as i grumbled, fucking idiot, and raised my arms in a WTF gesture.  if this proto-NASCAR driver slowed down just a bit or if i was walking just a few paces faster. . .well, you know the answer. 

it would've been bad.  i, without being melodramatic about it, would have been smooshed.  telos indeed.  we never know at what time and date our end might be.  nick has adopted YOLO, as i've written about already.  YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE.  as far as i know.  i'll add to that carpefuckingdiem.  seize the fucking day.  as rimbaud said, we have faith in the poison.  we know how to give ourselves everyday.  the subject is life.  nothing less than that.

* * *

the weather is subtropical.  it rained a bit this morning.  more like a spritz.  lovely just the same.  the halloween catalogs are arriving in the mail.  fall, yep, is a few weeks away.  the break from the hot hot heat and harbingers of ghouls, goblins, jack o'lanterns, candy corn, witches and black cats just puts a spring in my step. 

* * *

i added michael dennis' poetry review blog to my links.  not only is dennis an excellent poet he is an equally excellent book reviewer.  you will find it in the links to the right.

and might i add the australian journal cordite went live earlier this month with their collaboration issue.  among the many excellent writers, including works by john bloomberg-rissman and anne gorrick, thurston moore and john kinsella, is a piece by lars palm and me.  i am delighted to be in the company of so many wonderful poets.


Sunday, August 03, 2014

it came from the trailer park!

below is the third trailer for christoperher nolan's sci-fi film, interstellar.  the gist of the movie i get is that climate change makes the production of food on earth quite impossible.  a few humans take advantage of a wormhole to travel thru interstellar space to found a planet to continue the human species.  nolan is a very gifted filmmaker.  his most famous movies are about a man who thinks he is a human crime-fighter bat. i shall see see about this movie, but the trailer quotes a poem by dylan thomas.  and it is about the end of the world and the beginning of a new world.  behold!


le divorce [2003] vs. a love song for bobby long [2004]

normally when i think of lovely, really bad movies, i tend to go for horror and exploitation flicks, natch.  but i am a movie lover in total, sans genre.  some really bad movies were meant to be good movies.  but are not.

hence, the two above films.  i love them both.  they are exceptionally flawed but lovely movies.  i'm sure i've written about these two before.  so i won't go into great detail regarding these pics but instead register a few impressions upon their occasions when i watched them.

first, le divorce is i think the last film helmed by director james ivory before his death.  for arthouse filmgoers of the 1980s/1990s the brand, merchant/ivory, meant a kind of storytelling sometimes based on the works of novelist e.m. forster with wonderful period detail, masterful editing and beautifully shot.  novelist ruth prawer jahbvala wrote the screenplays for their movies.  she co-wrote the screenplay for this film.  ismail merchant produced the movies.  james ivory directed them.  together these three made some brilliant films.

this is not one of those brilliant films.  it is slack, meandering storytelling.  why do i love it?  it stars the gorgeous noami watts as an american poet married to french asshole who initiates divorce proceedings.  the story is incidental to the brilliant scenes of paris as a living thing.  watts is a pleasure to watch.  so is kate hudson who plays her sister as a young woman who is the mistress of a public french intellectual.  the tone of the film is light and playful even when serious while the locations in paris can't be beat.

i've seen this movie several times.  last week i had about an hour before i had to leave for work.  i watched this flick to the end and delighted in its badness.  the acting is great.  the characters are not so great because you really want watts' character to get a backbone.  she does come out on top.  not thru her own actions, but what the hell.

* * *

friday night i got home pleasantly drunk after my monthly writers' meeting.  we shared poems, talk and beers.  i was wide awake.  on-demand allows one to watch movies at the touch of a button.  i watched bits and pieces of a love song for bobby long.  i do not know the director shainee gabel.  this movie is confused.  but it is sweet natured.  john travolta is bobby long, a drunken ex-professor and poet, who lives in the dilapidated house owned by his recently deceased great love with his protege played by gabriel macht.  travolta is a great actor.  bobby long is a great character.  there are some actors who are so charismatic that they could play a rubber band and be fascinating to watch.  travolta is one of those characters.  director gabel moves this film thru its paces.  the action takes place in new orleans.  the plot hinges on the return of long's great love's daughter, played by scarlett johansson, to her mother's house and the men who live there. 

this pic is, like le divorce, a series of scenes that add up to a plot rather than a plot worked thru its conclusion.  are macht's and johansson's characters lovers or family members?  we never now.  tho the plot advances both possibilities.  what does travolta's character die from?  we are given quite a bit of evidence in the movie but we are never told. 

i have a soft spot for poetic drunks.  long quotes poets and prose writers.  he is an open soul with a large mouth.  he is not an asshole.  he is a sensitive soul too much in love with drink and the sound of his own voice.  and there is long's look.  white hair, handsome face, a good body, with a mind that is sharp if sodden.
this was the perfect movie to watch after a night with my poet friends.  one can get too much into one's head and meaning with one's poetry.  i am the voice for all, is the temptation, and if no one agrees with my own assessment of my worth i am a failure.  all bullshit thinking.  this movie brought back the meaning of literature in a life.  long quotes writers because he lives their words.  poetry is not a game, or a career advancement.  poetry is, for those who want it, a way of life.

this is a lovely pic for poetic souls.  i watched this movie until my eyelids began dropping and my waking world turned toward a dreamworld.  i do not remember my dreams that night.  or most nights.  i know i fell asleep thinking that if bobby long was a real person i'd want to know him.  i do.  i know him from this movie.  i know, for both these films, of no higher praise.