Tuesday, December 30, 2014

how to sum up the year 2014.  not sure if i can.  besides my memory is bad.  days, weeks, months and years roll into each other so that i can't remember if what happened happened this year or last year or 10 years ago.  besides, what is in a number.  the year would be just the same, i gather, if we called it 1000014, right.  for me, the years roll by.  i look into the mirror and see me aging, my friends aging, the people i love aging.  we all can't help it for everyone alive get older.  we age anyway in whatever we choose to call this era.  we age still.  for me the years roll by yet it is always the present.  the right now.  and when right now passes it shall become the next right now.  and when i think about the past i do that right now.  and when i make plans for the future i do that right now too.

still, i saw my two favorite bands in the world perform, social distortion and slowdive.  the latter band was astonishingly brilliant and loud.  the former band, led by mike ness on vocals and lead guitar, is simply a classic sound.  as i've said before i want chiseled on my tombstone these words:  HERE LIES THE POET RICHARD LOPEZ / FATHER OF NICHOLAS / LOVING HUSBAND OF ANNA / HE LIVED AS HE LOVED / HIS FAVORITE BAND WAS SOCIAL DISTORTION.

fuckin' a!

i don't make new year's resolutions.  except maybe to drink more, eat more and take up smoking.  otherwise, i'll continue keeping going.  writing/reading/living/loving.   

happy new year!

Friday, December 26, 2014

sign o' the times haiku

even in northern california
                 on a cold clear night
nick is on his laptop and i am on mine

almost done with the holiday season. i don't mean that to sound like relief. it isn't. i love this time of year and i appreciate those few days before christmas when friends, family member, and co-workers are a bit more generous in their behavior and become almost giddy with pleasure.  as a friend said at work this week it felt like everyday was friday.

i agree.  but when my attention turns toward christmas films i am a bit nonplussed.  there are so many of them!  all variations upon the themes of redemption and miracle works.  i haven't a favorite christmas film at all.  oh sure, tell me not to love bob clark's a christmas story [1983] and i'd have to spit in your eye.  it is a very funny, lovely movie.  but i didn't see it back in the early '80s.  i saw it when it became a staple of TV.

other films, like the animated TV shorts produced by rankin and bass in the 1960s and '70s, things like rudolph the red-nosed reindeer [1964] and frosty the snowman [1969], are holiday specials i grew up with and adore.  there are other TV shows and movies too that i love.  but for this year, i had no favorite movies that i turned to and/or looked forward to watching as a rite of passage of the most wonderful time of the year.

is it aging?  i doubt it.  most likely it is the plain fact that nearly everything is available at the touch of your fingertips.  if i want to watch a holiday special in july, well hell, i simply need to type it in to my online streaming device.  and voila!  timeliness is absent.  that sense of wonder and awe regarding watching a piece of holiday fiction at the time of the holidays ain't there.  because that holiday fiction is always there via the DVD or streaming.

i'm not bitching about this phenomena [too much].  i dig the fact that i can look up halloween shit all thru the year.  in fact, i looked up a few halloween videos via online streaming a few days before christmas.  call it a perversion on my part.  i love halloween and halloween imagery.  then there is something lost when it is all available at your fingertips.  the whole universe is there waiting for discovery.  and yet, i find when the seasons change i used to seek out films appropriate to that particular time of year.  i don't no more.  i don't have a favorite christmas movie for the most wonderful time of the year.  i watched several holiday films this past month.  my favorites were the kind of TV soap opera produced for the HALLMARK CHANNEL centered usually with an attractive single woman -- sometime a single mom -- who finds love and romance rather reluctantly.  but with the help of santa or some other christmas miracle saves the day, or the town, or the dance, or herself, and finds her true love.  there are a shitload of these movies and the HALLMARK CHANNEL began to broadcast them right after halloween.  and yes, i like these movies.  i really do.

what does that say about me?  perhaps i am an older dude that is becoming softer with age.  perhaps i have seen the rankin and bass specials and bob clark's movie so many times i can almost close my eyes and play them in my head.  perhaps i am getting too cynical about the holiday season [nah!].  there is always next year for rediscovery of these films we hold most dear for this most wonderful time of the year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


the reason why i love the TV show californication starring david duchovny as the often soused novelist hank moody is because moody is a good father to his daughter.  he screws up big time.  a lot of the time.  yet moody is a good person who is loyal to his family and friends.  so when i watched the premier for season three the other night it begins with moody falling asleep while in the arms of a young woman.  the woman is mighty miffed about that.  moody awakes with a start and explains to his date, sorry, but it is exhausting making sure becca [his daughter] takes showers, get dressed, make lunches, drop her off at school, pick her up at school, prepare reasonably healthy dinners, and monitor her texting and internet activities, i hardly have time to get high myself!

i fucking love that guy!  family is what matters the most to me, and that is why this show resonates with me.  the dude, a very flawed man, is a father first.  i so dig that.

so my writing has slowed apace a bit.  i work all day, am a father to nick and husband to anna, and so when i get home and spend a couple of hours with my family i sometimes wanna watch a bit of TV or a slip of a movie or simply crawl into bed with a stack of books.

well then, so what.  poems get written.  and read.  blog posts too.  correspondence as well.  if a bit slower.

tonight is the eve of christmas eve.  i wish all of you, and your families, a very merry christmas.  i leave you with what i think is the greatest christmas song ever composed, performed and recorded, 'fairytale of new york' by the pogues with the late great kirsty maccoll.  this song is a work of utter genius.

Friday, December 19, 2014

rain rain rain but when i left work no rain a little drizzle lots of wet streets grisaille clouds against the inkblot black sky a night for prayer or maybe a little gratitude

am i the only one who does not comprehend the abundance of digital devices and how we have become tethered to them as if they were our lifeline?  perhaps they are our lifeline.  when i walk the streets of my beloved city i think i might be the only one who is not lost in the flashing screens of a phone.  phone?!  no, a computer that links us, well, everything and everyone.

still, one must adapt.  i am thinking of getting an iPad that i can take it to bed so i can watch movies, surf the 'net, and do a little reading and writing on it.  but even still, i think it is vitally important to allow some space and time for daydreaming and staring into space.   the mind, the creative mind, requires empty time.  i love my walks because i can daydream.  or not.  i try to do a walking meditation.  often a song, or songs, loop in my brainpan.  i try to let thoughts come and go and not follow them.  sometimes lines of poems arrive, fresh.

but even so, anna and i went to the mall this evening to finish up our holiday shopping.  we have not been to the mall in a year or two.  i go to the barns & noble bookstore on the other end of the parking lot a lot.  it is on the only commercial bookseller left in the area.  the mall on the other hand is huge and located in another, larger, building.

holy shit.  inside the mall, navigating thru the crowds, seeing the video monitors, security on segways, and l.e.d. lights clad on the side of an elevator that when lit up displayed dancing silhouettes and abstract designs, and people using their phones and other devices, i felt like i was on the set of the film blade runner.  any moment i thought i would see deckard chasing down a replicant.

my has this wold changed.  in such a short time.  i'm not lamenting nothing.  just musing and giving my impressions.  i think the changes are fantastic.  i don't know where we are headed.  one guess, surely, is that we are headed toward hell in a handbasket.  then, we are, historically, headed toward hell in a handbasket.  like i said, one must adapt.  the rate of change from an analog to a digital culture is headspinningly fast.  mine is the last generation to be born in an analog world.  what are we missing today?  i'm sure a lot.  what have we gained?  a lot.

even so, i think it utterly necessary to turn off the devices and stare off into space.  daydream a little.  go for walks without a destination in mind.  i don't mean to sound didactic.  take this advice as the musing of a man who grew up without all this sci-fi culture.  we dreamed about it.  now that culture is here.  and the rate of change is mindbending.  anna wondered aloud what kind of job nick will have as a teenager.  i don't know.  for robots and automation will take over many of those traditional menial jobs that i did when i was a kid.  this is a different land now.  how shall we inhabit it?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

interstellar evolutionary poem written after watching a ted talk given by theoritical physicist brian greene

o starry night of the van gogh type full of cold violent mystery
after billions of years the stars will have traveled trillions of light years
that if one were to look up into the night sky she would see
but only inky blackness a vast wasteland situated in nothingness
nothing here or there and no where can we stretch our imagination
for interstellar travel but for a static void of utter darkness

Friday, December 12, 2014

life is too short to be in a hurry

if      you      don't      slow      down      now
and eat the flowers

Thursday, December 11, 2014

the rover [2014]

an utterly fascinating film.  marketed as a post-apocalyptic movie this pic is structured as an old style western.  guy pierce portrays eric [in the movie he doesn't have a name; he never gives his name] an anti-hero set upon the australian outback searching for his last possession taken from him: his car.  eric is a man of no morals or scruples.  he bulldozes his way thru the narrative.  he is a man of violent action and little self-reflection.

but that is simply the surface of this movie.  the film director david michod allows eric the space to show us his humanity.  robert pattinson -- a pretty boy more famous as a lovelorn vampire who sparkles when exposed to sunlight in the twilight movies -- plays rey, the feeble-minded younger brother of scoot mcnairy, the leader of a criminal gang, who is left for dead after a botched robbery.

the gang of dumb-ass thieves steal eric's car.  eric scorches the earth in search of his last remaining possession.  rey helps eric find his car and the morons who took it.  that's the plot.

the violence is thick and swift.  this film takes place 10 years after an economic collapse.  in the austrailian outback there is very little law and a barely functioning economic infrastructure.  goods are purchased with u.s. dollars rather than austrailian dollars.  but if there is a global economic collapse wouldn't u.s. dollars be the first to go?  it is not made clear because of a scene when eric is trying to buy petrol for his car.  the seller wants u.s. dollars.  eric argues that money is just paper and is all worthless.

still, this is not a post-apocalyptic movie.  it is a lawless film.  eric rips thru the story as if he were a cattle rancher whose livestock was stolen and he will move hell and highwater to get his stock back.  director michod is languid with his story.  the violence is sudden and swift but the characters are given ample time to thicken with complexity.  eric and rey form a bond.  eric, it might be argued, thru his relationship with rey, rediscovers his humanity.

the pace is this movie is as spartan as eric's vocabulary and yet the violence is spectacular.  the combination might put off some viewers.  and yet at the end of the movie we come to know eric a little better.   this is a fantastic movie.  i can't recommend it enough.

a very wet haiku

rain rain rain
         rainy wet rain
rain rain rain phew

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

life at mid-punk 

my father is 20 years older than me.  he will be 68 this spring.  i will be 48 in june.  for someone in their 20s and 30s the number 48 sounds ancient.  perhaps it is.  there is no doubt about it i am middle-aged.  all a matter of perspective.  age is not just a number.  it is everything you are.  when you hit your late 40s your mind might be telling you that you are still 25 but your body will start to ache when you walk those five miles a day.  your dogs will bark, your left knee will sometimes give out, and your lower back will tell you in a loud squelch, here i am, motherfucker!

still, my old man reminds me that getting old is a privilege.  previous generations did not have the luxury of growing old.  just a century ago the average age of an average person was 42 or so.  the average age today is the mid-70s.  we are lucky to have the opportunity to grow old.

at any rate, i am happy to be a middle-aged poet, husband and father of a 10 year old son.  yes, dig that, nick turns 10 this friday!  i am also a gen-xer.  now, i rarely think of generations as separate entities.  i prefer individuals over groups.  but i just read this wonderful piece about being a middle-aged gen-xer at the buddhist blog full contact enlightenment and the writer asks what you -- i -- might think about being a gen-x oldster.

hell, i still want to found my street skate gang for old-skool skate punks called SKEEZERS: skating geezers [credit goes to anna who thought up the name].  i am navigating oldsterhood as best i can.  i listen to NPR and CDs of old hardcore punk like black flag and d.o.a. at work. i am tattooed, ears pierced and grey-haired, like many of us.  each year goes by faster than the previous year.  i can't imagine life not being a father.  i am in love and have been in love with the same woman for 22 years.  oldsterdom suits me, i think, like a glove.  i just pray that if i have a mid-life crisis it takes the form of a skateboard.  it won't take the form of a convertible sports car and dyed hair and leisure suits. 

there are poems to write, books to be read, movies and TV shows to watch, and family and friends to love.  as long as i have those things i am happy growing old.

Monday, December 08, 2014

quote unquote

The aim of the poet is to live to eighty
--tim atkins [on fathers < on daughtyrs]

Sunday, December 07, 2014

wherever you go there you watch TV

in a video interview of joseph brodsky the exiled russian/u.s. poet said that one afternoon he was sitting at his desk writing or translating and he reached for the dictionary.  brodsky's mind flashed toward that gesture and he said to the interviewer no matter where he was on earth he would make that same gesture and that a country is only the extension of the space.  brodsky, in other words, is a poet wherever he found himself. reaching for a dictionary is a gesture of centering the mind and the body no matter what the landscape looks outside the window.

i was reminded of brodsky's insight last month when b. and i were in an s.f. cab going to see slowdive at the warfield.  we zipped thru neighborhoods and because it was a mild lovely night many windows were open.  now when i travel i am less interested in the touristy places.  i want to visit the local supermarkets and shops, the bookstores, the places where people live and have their basic needs met.  where you buy your food matters more to me than a statue commemorating the local hero or founding father. 

when we were in the cab i looked at the beauty of s.f. -- and it is a phantasmagorical feast for the senses and the eyes.  i looked in the windows of the houses and apartment buildings.  you know what most of the people inside their homes were doing?  yes, that is right, they were watching TV.  can there be a more ordinary, less dramatic, thing in this world?  people were watching TV amidst the splendors of a world-class city. 

TV viewing is hardly a thing to -- in the words of george harrison -- get hung about.  and yet it is one of the most basic, homely things we do.  watching TV does indeed center us wherever we are.  in other words, no matter where you live you will probably focus your attention to a little, or big, blue screen.  why do some of us when we want to change our minds and our souls need to change our scenery?  if there is a republic i occupy it is the international republic of poetry.  i firmly believe if you want to change your mind and your soul you must change your language.  a country, or neighborhood, is only an extension of the space.  i don't mean we should not cherish beautiful countries and cities and neighborhoods.  i love the neighborhood and city i live in.  sacramento, california is a place where i hope to die in.  but whether i live in sac or s.f. or l.a. or nyc or paris or london it is still only an extension of the space.  wherever i live i will still be a human being living in the international republic of poetry and watching TV. 

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

going nowhere

the conversation at lunch today turned to our frustration of not feeling the freshness of life.  well, my companions wouldn't have put it quite that way, but that is what we talked about.  when we were younger the time was a great vista full of endless possibilities.  as we have grown older time contracts and possibilities become fewer.  life has become dulled by age and the quotidian demands of living.

does it have to be so?  i don't know what the trick is to feel the freshness of life.  i think a few of our fellow human travelers have figured it out.  we live in an accelerated age.  sometimes we need to slow down and do as our late cat, ernie, would do, stop and eat the flowers.  sometimes we need to go nowhere.

our conversation put me in mind of travel writer pico iyer's TED TALK that i watched last weekend.  i believe aging and our quotidian demands of living need not dull the thrills of life.  i also think that one does not have to travel far to go the furthest.  the poet thom gunn ended his famous poem about bikers with the line, 'one is nearer by not keeping still.'  i have taken that line and rewrote it for my own mantra, 'one is nearer by keeping still.'  staying still and going nowhere can, i think, refresh and make life wonderful again.

tho i don't have the answers and feel as much frustration as my fellows this afternoon i do have a few rituals to keep me sane.  walking is one of those rituals.  reading is another.  staring off into space is one more.  below is iyer's talk.  after you watch it perhaps you might want to turn off your machines and do a few minutes of daydreaming.

i can't seem to embed this video so click here to view it.


almost christmastime
and i'm wearing a squirrel thong
and dancing the blues!

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

ruff last night toss and turn trying to find the sweet spot on the pillow instead feeling time tick slowly slowly slowly that when i finally found a bit of sleep the loss was too great i was a zombie at work at home right now words i can understand but even language is rumpled tossed and used to small effect

it was a tuff walk home the rain soaked city cars stuck in traffic people on sidewalks blots of umbrellas bumping their way with such little light

pants soaked glassed fogged to weariness and frustration i have arrived