Sunday, June 28, 2015

notes at 11:24 pm

at the age of 48 i know i will die.  i have known since i was around 5 years old that i will die.  but yet and so i think i will live forever.  a necessary illusion?  after nick and i walked to the local fireworks stand for our ration of fireworks -- natch -- we came home with our booty.  then we took our stash of goodies downstairs to the basement.  we have a basement.  most houses in california, at least our portion of california, do not have basements.  we have leftover fireworks, sparklers and such, from last year.  i busied myself by gathering up last year's fireworks and placing them with the new ones.  then i felt a thud on my head.  i stopped, stunned.  i asked nick, what was that.  a full can of paint fell on my head.  a large knot formed on the back of my head.  i felt with my fingers and looked: blood.  shock.  adrenaline.  me shaking.  i sat down on the steps.  there was pressure behind my eyes.  yet i was lucid.  i didn't feel dizzy.  my vision was good.  i think my shaking was the result of the shock.  life can change, or end, in an instant.  i am 48.  shit can happen.  the seeming most insignificant things can take us out of this life.  no reason to obsess over our fragility even tho we can be reminded of our fragility by various domestic chores.  i know i won't live forever.  but i think i will.  later anna and i went grocery shopping.  nick was busy doing summer vacation kind of things.  my head was still feeling a bit fuzzy.  tonight's dinner was leftover pizza.  i felt like ice cream.  so i bought a half gallon of peanut butter cup ice cream, and had two scoops.  i did so not because it was healthy but because i am alive and ice cream is good.  we came home from the store.  i ate the pizza then had peanut butter cup ice cream.  anna and i watched a little TV.  we did all this because we are alive.  

Friday, June 26, 2015

notes at 11:41 pm

exhausted by the 100+ degree heat i am wide awake

* * *

on TV 48 hours [1982] starring eddie murphy and nick nolte directed by walter hill i am digging the early '80s san francisco cityscape

* * *

bathroom window open the night air soft but with an edge of heat

* * *

in the midst of insanity a couple moments of clarity courtesy of scotus

* * *

it's a drive-in movie sort of night

* * *

if you want love you must love the world first

* * *

nick on his laptop

* * *

i try to remain anonymous on my walks but i always hear from friends and colleagues i always see you walking

* * *

what Inglish shall i use

* * *

street person today sd as i passed good evening chief sir

* * *

when it gets hot like now the cats become cat puddles

* * *

it is easier to be a vegetarian today because of so many wonderful meat-free products and restaurants

* * *

reading begets writing begets reading begets loving

* * *

and how do you wish to spend yr 6 7 or 8 decades on this earth

Thursday, June 25, 2015

can i confess how packed with stuff this week's been?  perhaps i don't have to.  i am a full time dad, husband, worker bee and poet.  the order of that isn't important for these parts of my being are all important.  can one divide the self into autonomous selves?  i suspect most of try for the face i present at work is not always the face i have when i am home or the face i use when i read/write.  all are my authentic selves.  the koan, 'what is yr original face before yr parents were born?' factors into it.

well but so i spent a couple days in the bay area with anna.  anna's business.  i was happy to have a couple of hrs with anna when she wasn't on the clock.  but i managed to tear away for a few hrs in berkeley yesterday haunting a couple of bookstores and a record store.  but bay area traffic?  fuck it!  gawd traffic's awful.  how do people who live in the bay area cope?  i mean the thousands and thousands and thousands of vehicles on the roads and freeways is loco.  s.f. is now one of the tech mega cities on earth.  wouldn't all those tech workers demand the right to telework, and so avoid, or help ease, the congested freeways and streets?!

okay then i spent a couple hrs at the greatest bookstore in the world, moe's.  i bought a stack of books this high.  one of those books is a short novel by the poet owen hill.  i like hill's work.  i have one of his chapbooks published by blue press.  i know he's a bay area poet.  but when i took my stack to the counter the guy ringing me up looks at hill's book and turns to his co-horts and says, 'hill manages to sell a book and he's not here!'  what?  'hill works here.  has been working here for 20 plus years.'  coincidences.  okay.  'he coulda signed it for you.'  just tell owen that i dig his work.  and i do.  i read the book today and fell in love with the poet-p.i. clay blackburn.  blackburn reminded me of TV p.i. jim rockford if rockford was a bisexual small press poet.  i understand hill has more books in this series.  they are that delicious.

weather was fantastic in the bay area.  i love berkeley.  other than sac berkeley is my favorite town.  big but small and quite funky.  i spent a while walking thru the neighborhoods around telegraph admiring the weathered victorian and stuccoed houses.  the neighborhoods reminded me a bit of my own neighborhood if a little more funkified.  but one thing i always wondered, here in my own burg and in berkeley yesterday: i have the day off work so it's kinda like a mini-vacation, but when i am home on a weekday so it seems everyone else is home.  in berkeley the streets were thick with people of all shapes and ages.  what up?  everyone else on vacation too?

or perhaps my compatriots have found that balance of bohemia and domesticity that clay blackburn discovered that could support a house?  i haven't the foggiest.  or they could be thinking the same of me.  what is this tall grey-haired man doing haunting bookstores on a wednesday morning when he should be at work.  my neighbors may be thinking, i took the day off and that doofus down the street is outside mowing his lawn?!

ce'st la vie.   

Sunday, June 21, 2015

so it is the longest day of the year.  also father's day.  took it easy.  watched a lot of TV today.  too much i suppose, but one of those things on the telly was the summer film wet hot american summer [2001], a loving homage of those lat 70s/early 80s summer flicks like meatballs [1979].  both are great movies.  the former is a film of tremendous warmth while the latter is a brilliant riff on youthful indolence starring the great bill murray.

well but then i read this article about poet donald hall.  accompanying the story is a wonderful pic of hall in his house surrounded by his books.  i remember in the 90s PBS aired a documentary on hall and i think also poet william stafford.  i recall a scene inside hall's house.  the rooms were stacked with books, on the shelves, on the floor, and i remembered thinking that that is a house of a writer.  that is the house i want.  a house filled with books.

i know we are entering a new age where all we want is available at the touch of our fingers via digital technology.  believe me, i think digital technology is great.  poet need not shun digital technologies.  i think we need to embrace digital life.  but for me, it is books that make a home.  i love books.  i love the physical presence, the weight, of books.  that image from the 90s of hall inside his home stuffed with books resonated with me.  hard!

i sit here in my room surrounded by my books.  the TV is on too.  I am comfortable with TV and never thought literature competes with TV.  i think competition is bullshit anyway.  i remember an interview with the actor/writer carrie fisher.  you remember carrie fisher, she was princess leia, from star wars [1977] -- oh by the by, i bought a couple weeks ago the novelization of Star Wars written by george lucas, published 1977; the same book that made me want to see the movie when my father and i were thumbing its pages a few months before the summer release of the movie at Payless, a dept./drug store;  thought i never would see that book again!].  she is also an accomplished screenwriter and novelist.  fisher in that interview said that she always writes with the TV on.

books and TV.  TV and the internet.  this brave, beautiful, terrifying new world.  I'll take them all.   

Thursday, June 18, 2015

okay; the world is in some serious shit.  will we as a species survive another 100 or 200 years.  fuck me.  doesn't look good.  still, we are alive.  right now.  we can do things, write things, love everything.  we can practice, i shit you not, lovingkindness.  we are created, but we participate in creation.  if we want change we can, with great effort, lots of will, and with tons of luck, change.

and we have poetry.  the u.s. is normalizing relations with cuba.  the door is opening.  above is one of my favorite poets, omar perez, reading from his home base in havana.  PBS NEWS HOUR shot this film.  things are changing.  for the better?  we shall see.  poetry is in my dna.  poetry makes me feel alive.  no, yes, it keeps me alive.  this vid of perez, a macaronic poet of porous borders, makes me want to hug the world.

now, it is summer time.  movie time.  the wasp woman [1959], directed and written by roger corman, just started on TMC.  i have two different versions on DVD.  but what the hell.  i'll watch it on TV.  we are living in a digital world.  a really bad movie makes me want to hug the world too.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

hell [2011]

the world ends -- again! -- in this quiet german film.  the title of this feature translates to 'bright' in english.  the sun has gotten a little too large and has roasted the earth killing off flora, fauna and most people.  survivors struggle to find potable water, food and fuel.  there are not many people left.

but there is marie and her teenage sister leonie traveling on the dessicated roads of a desert europe with philip.  they pull into a gas station to look for a few drops of fuel.  they find another survivor named tom.  after a brief tussle with philip the men come to an accord that it is better to work together for survival then try to kill each other.  soon marie, leonie, philip and tom take to the road.

the car is in bad shape.  they are almost out of gas.  drinking water is even more scarce.  they find a wreck, another vehicle to salvage.  then the shit hits the fan.  another group of people steal their vehicle and leonie who was waiting inside the car.  a rescue operation is hastily planned.  it goes awry.  now tom is a prisoner of this other group.

what is interesting is the way the filmmaker, tim fehlbaum, choreographed the action.  there is very little onscreen violence.  the survivors are filthy, their hair is greasy, their clothes look like they stink.  they bicker, sulk and resent each other.  their plans are half-assed and go south.  they look and behave like people would under such circumstances.  philip is a sniveling coward.  leonie is a teen with a bit of 'tude.  tom is a little scary.  even marie, whom i developed a crush during the run-time of this flick, beautifully assayed by actor hannah herzsprung, hesitates when she takes action.  i believe they are real people.

then there is the photography.  brilliantly shot in blasted light this film bestows a world irradiated by a mad sun, and dead.  without hope how can our survivors cope?  see this movie and find out.   

Sunday, June 14, 2015


and for today what will you do?

pay attention

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

horatian mantra


Sunday, June 07, 2015


when i got into work friday morning
a co-worker declared she was having
a richard morning
to whit
after dodging psychotic drivers
and hands outstretched from those
living on the street
and that time being short
[i was running late again]
after hearing on NPR
that cavendish bananas
[i have two every morning
for breakfast]
are monocultured and might
be wiped out because of climate change
and disease
that 42% of bee colonies have collapsed
[bees pollinate a lot of our food crops]
that by the time i hit the office i was
severe and feeling mean
our world is in such a bad place
she, my co-worker, meant,
goddamn and fuck it all
it is a good day to be alive
i was forced to agree 

Friday, June 05, 2015

overheard in the dvd aisle at target

she: i don't get it

he: yep

she: are these for people who don't know how to stream movies over the internet?

he: yep

she: my god

if you are not reading guillermo parra's translations of the poetry, and articles about the poetry and the poet, rafael cadenas, please do so.  guillermo's translations are brilliant.  cadenas is a venezuelan poet of major stature.  i don't use the word major lightly.  cadenas is deeply influenced by taoism.  i thank guillermo for translating and posting his translations on his blog. 

click here to read these brilliant poems. 

and check out this video of rafael cadenas reading a couple of poems.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

mad max: fury road [2015]

it was 1979 or 1980 and my brothers and i walked in on a matinee showing of mad max [1979].  i hadn't heard of the movie, nor seen a trailer for it.  but in those pre-vhs, pre-dvd, pre-internet days, there were theaters that programmed four or five movies a day, especially during the summer months.  my brothers and i would be dropped off at a matinee theater in the morning and picked up in the evening.  i sat thru tons of crap films.  some good ones too.  filmmaker george miller's movie about a cop gone rogue against bikers who killed his family and friends in a wild west kind of society tottering on the brink of collapse rocked my world.

then later i saw, again with my family, at the sac 6 drive-in theaters, the road warrior [1981] and i declared it a masterpiece.  i stand by my assessment of this singular visionary movie to this day.  i saw miller's third installment of the mad max franchise on videotape.  i won't speak about that venture but it did try to increase the mythos a bit further into an odd mystical goofiness.  i didn't care for the third pic.

now miller gives us this reboot starring tom hardy as max and charlize theron as a warrior named imperator furiosa.  she works for immortan joe played by hugh keays-byrne.  keays-byrne played toecutter, the leader of the vicious biker gang in the first film.  oh, and i dig how miller uses roman titles for his characters.  so apt, and so obscure.  immortan joe rules his community with an iron fist.  he controls the water and keeps his people in fear for their lives for a single sip of agua.  oh, he also has an army of shaven head, shirtless young men painted white called the war boys who worship joe like a god.

joe also keeps a harem of young women to breed for him new war boys.  they are, in joe's words, 'his property.'  the macguffin of this flick is this, furiosa was born in an oasis called 'the green place.'  she was taken from 'the green place' when she was a little girl.  she drives a 'war rig,' a tank-like truck for joe.  she leads the young women out of bondage.  joe and the war boys pursue furiosa and the women in a blasted desert landscape that is subject to sand and electric storms of such magnitude that should you be caught in one your vehicle and you will both blow away in the wind and blow up from the lightning strikes.

we are introduced to max at the beginning of the movie as a scraggly loner.  we see his iconic car.  we see him wearing the leather uniform of the MFP.  he eats a two-headed lizard.  he is chased and caught by the war boys.  now max is a 'blood bag' because his blood type is universal donor for an ailing war boy named nux.  nux worships joe and wants to 'live, die and live again in valhalla' in service to joe.

okay then how does he hook up with furiosia?  why spoil it for you.  they do meet and become allies.  nux too becomes a good guy.  the women, all of them, from furiosa to the rescued brides to the older ladies we meet that are members of furiosa's original family, need little help from the men.  in fact, this is their movie.  max is integral but perhaps not essential to the action.  and boy, the action starts at the first minute and does not let up until the last.

rather than fit this film in with the original max stories miller created a new mythos for max.  hardy as max barely speaks in this film.  he grunts.  tho max shouts several lines in a scene where max is strapped to the front of nux's car where max speaks a whole hell of a lot in reaction to being strapped to the front of a car speeding thru the desert.

the cars are something special.  i mean, really.  in a world where water is so scarce why would people worry about customizing their vehicles.  of course they don't paint their vehicles interesting colors.  nope.  these death machines are ruddy, rusted and mean looking.  these vehicles look like they could travel only several hundred feet per gallon.  and they seem so top heavy that leaning on them could knock them over. 

don't worry about it.  the curtain of disbelief is suspended once the movie begins.  george miller and company have manufactured a world of dizzying vision and decay.  the action sequences are so well choreographed that my jaw dropped to my seat several times.  the direction is superb.  the editing is excellent.  and the photography, done by john seale, kicks serious booty.

this is a damn good film.