Friday, July 31, 2015

to observe and have fun

last weekend i saw a magazine about cuba.  such publications are abundant now that u.s. and cuba relations are normalizing.  i thumbed thru the mag in the check-out queue of the grocery store wondering if one of the profiles featured in the mag would be the poet omar perez.  nope.  but i thought someone or organ of the u.s. press would find perez and ask him about the changes in cuba.  lo! PBS found him.

below is a profile of perez that was broadcast on PBS a few weeks ago under the title 'cuban evolution'.  perez is -- if you didn't know by now [i have posted two videos of perez reciting poetry here] -- a favorite poet of mine.

the title of this post comes from perez's definition of the role of the poet.  to observe and have fun.  and then comment on what you have observed.  fun is what i think we forget to have.  at least i sometimes forget that, yes, life is pain, but it is also great good fun.  i think writers are observers and are happy to stand on a street corner and simply observe life around him/her.  we would like to be invisible.  we are happy to stand on the periphery.  but having fun is supremely important and i believe we forget that life is also a hell of a ride.

so here is omar perez in his home in havana interviewed by an american journalist about how the cuban times are a'changing.

Thursday, July 30, 2015


steal a cliche
                   by the seat of yr pants
and some
serious state of grief
w/ a cheapjack kung fu flick on TV
you know the
horrible english dub
actions sequences that defy the laws
of physics
after a night spent with father
the weight of yr ass
and the poetic line that takes as long
to write
as this

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


of course the universe is
without words

but if i fail to write does
this exist

Saturday, July 25, 2015

light in a week before august

there are those moments when the body wants to write but the mind can't think of a subject.  so you sit and stare at the screen.  for a long time.  then say fuck it.  and start writing.  something.

this morning i was reading a few zen inspired poems by jose kozer in his book tokonoma translated by peter boyle [shearsman; 2014].  call me a sucker for things zen.  i practice my own kitchen sink buddhism.  not formally.  but i sometimes fancy myself a foolish monk in the 21st century with the ordinary trials of a loving father, husband, poet and worker bee.  indeed, kozer imagines the japanese monk/poet ryokan as a reincarnated 20th century office worker. 

so there.  i was inspired by kozer's poems i rattled off a few lines in my moleskin.  so i guess i did write a bit today.  then we headed out to go back to the state fair.  this is the last weekend for the state fair.  the pop-country-rock band .38 special is performing tonight.  they had a couple of minor hits in the early '80s.  catchy enough tunes.  still video killed these radio stars and by the mid 80s they went deep into their hardcore fanbase. 

still, if a band can last the vicissitudes of time and perform as a unit kudos to them.  and yet, i was not able to hear/see .38 special tonight for the fair was crazy busy.  packed to the rafters.  we decided to forgo the scene and do something else.  we decided to meet b., c., and j. for a round of monster mini golf and dinner.

the world is a scary place.  i just bought the latest issue of esquire magazine because i had heard on NPR the author of an article in this month's issue.  the story is about how climate scientists cope with the grim news of their work.  civilization, brothers and sisters, is on the brink of collapse in the next generation or two.  i shit you not.  climate change is that big of a threat to our species.  how do we go on when we might not have any future.

as the monk said you live your life as well as you can until you can not.  be a good person.  practice generosity -- dana -- and lovingkindness.  don't worry about literary immortality.  work and live as if you are already dead.

we were heading west on the freeway going home.  we had a lovely evening.  the light in the west was this soft blue-black.  we could make out the scrim of light from the sun below the horizon.  late summer light.  the air softened from a hard heat to a pillow of down.  i couldn't help myself.  i fell in love, again.  the crazy world of 10000 things is always around us.  so is its beauty.  be positive?  i dunno what that word 'positive' means for we have little choice in our lives.  we are all here right now.  all we can do is our best, or our worst.  we might not even have to choose.  but what we have is the present now.  how will you live?  

Thursday, July 23, 2015

100 days to halloween

anna is more connected to the 21st century than i am.  to wit: she has an iPhone.  i don't have any phone.  not even an old-fashioned flip phone.  the world has changed so much to digital life we just watched a sitcom where the entire show was films via a computer screen.  the characters, texted, skyped, facebooked, and emailed each other for the whole show.

indeed.  and on anna's iPhone is an app that countdowns the days to halloween.  as of today there are 100 days to the spooky high holiday.  whenever anna plays that app for me, complete with spooky music and maniacal laughter, images of spiders, ghosts and a smiling jack o'lantern, i feel an increase in my serotonin uptake.  there are some stuff that makes us feel good and for me that stuff is things halloween.

yes, we are in the middle of summer.  but summer is different for an adult than it is for a child.  first of all adults don't have 12 weeks off work like children have 12 weeks off of school.  i love summer.  i do.  i am looking forward to spending a week in cayucos next month.  this will be our third summer in cayucos, the beach town time forgot.  i mean, in cayucos i half expect to see frankie, annette and the gang go-go dancing to dick dale's surf guitar on a.m. radio while eric von zipper and his rats and mice looks on with anger and envy. 

but when we get back from cayucos it will be september.  nick will be back in school.  the weather will still be hot but the light will be changing from a harsh glare to a warm gold haze.  then slowly, but really it ain't slow for time moves at light speed and what happened five years ago seems like it was just yesterday, the weather shall cool.  pumpkins will appear in the markets.  halloween adverts will be all over the media.  and i will be in heaven because as i said halloween is my favorite day of the year and the spooky season, autumn, is my favorite time of the year.

100 days.  and those days will go by just like that.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

for lars palm

perhaps i'm not back to full speed after last week's blaze of activities

perhaps it is the weather cuz it's been hot and humid i don't do well in humidity

perhaps it is the lack of fudge in my diet

perhaps my homegrown cure of an extra dessert and more chips isn't working

perhaps it is an addiction to netflix and watching lovely crappy movies one after another

perhaps it is because i have bought stacks of books and read them until my eyeballs fall out

perhaps when i think of poetry i am inadequate to its task but then i think all poetry is just words

perhaps long walks in my beloved city to and from work are not clearing my head

perhaps i use the word 'i' too many times

perhaps the long stare into the future looks bleak as hell

perhaps my theme song vacillates between 'sex dwarf' by soft cell and 'lust for life' by iggy pop

perhaps i feel guilt for not writing enough to and for my brothers and sisters in the art

perhaps my dead eye stare is saved for late nights

perhaps i need to learn again the great gift of a fully belly laugh

perhaps my kitchen sink buddhism does not include the kitchen sink

perhaps i should dye my hair but let everyone know that i dye my hair

perhaps i need to give more hugs

perhaps i need to look into the mirror and perfect my sneer

perhaps i know too damn well my impermanence and flux

perhaps i know when i am here and you are there i am astonished at the wonder of presence

Sunday, July 19, 2015

last night we were over at b., c. and j.'s house for dinner.  afterward b. and i fired up his laptop to look at music vids.  b. is a great collector of music with fantastic taste.  we grew up on punk, early rap, and other indie and outre genres. 

b. was playing for me a song by the outlaw country-rock band molly hatchet and attempting to convince me why it was worth my time and effort of listening.  that was when i noticed a police helicopter hovering overhead.  we went outside.  the chopper had its spotlight focused on the ground down the street.  the chopper's police p.a. made a few commands, like 'come outside with your hands up.'  over the noise of the chopper's blades we could hear police sirens.

some serious shit was going down and it was nearby.  a few neighbors came outside.  we talked to a few.  turns out it was a minor thing.  a fight i think.  one of the fighters was chased by the police into his house.  i think it was a he.  b. checked social media for any news but found little.  at any rate it was over after a few minutes and the police chopper flew off.

but then i was thinking what would it be like if this scenario was a movie.  an apocalyptic film.  we see the chopper's spotlight but we can't see what it is focused on.  we hear the commands of the police.  then we hear an explosion.  out of the distance and racing toward us is a car on fire.  that would be spooky as hell.

i would love to see the beginning of the end mediated thru our digital landscapes.  what would the TV news broadcast as the start of the zombie apocalypse be like.  how would social media report it.  the confusion, fear and budding paranoia.  well now.  a spin-off of the TV show the walking dead titled fear the walking dead is scheduled for broadcast next month.  i don't know what to say about this spin-off except that it is set in l.a. at the beginning of the zombie plague.  interesting premise.  below is the comic-con trailer for fear the walking dead.  i have been reluctant to post trailers for upcoming TV shows and movies for fear of them sucking hard and ruining my love of the horror genre.  but then again they are just shows.  like poetry is just words.  love them but don't get to hung up on them.

so with that attitude below i present the trailer for the spin-off zombie apocalypse TV show fear the walking dead and, even if it sucks boiled balls, it does look pretty damn interesting.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

i'm up at 1:22 a.m. saturday morning.  i'm amped a bit.  went to the california state fair today with nick, anna, and anna's sister.   the daytime high temp. was 103 F.  at least that was the measure the prius gave as we pulled in to the cal expo parking lot.

and the fair?  same as always, with a little changes.  which is what i love about the fair.  it barely changes.  or, it changes with the rest of our culture.  e..g. a tech expo that had demonstrations of virtual reality, titled occulus rift.  nick was first in line for it.  what did he see?  i'm not sure tho i was able to see a monitor of what he was seeing, a bunch of stars and asteroids.  but how did it feel to be wearing the VT device?  nick could only say, in so many words, it was mind blowing.

thus there was a prediction.  by 2025 -- 10 years from now -- robots will occupy the space low-wage human workers now occupy; computers will be so integrated in our society we will not notice their presence; computers will possess an intelligence that shall integrate them in our society.

i'm not frightened of computers or AI.  i find it all absolutely thrilling.  i can't wait for my self driving car.  i shit you not.  i hate driving and if i have a vehicle that can safely navigate city streets and rural roads without my so say i say it is for the greater good.

still, predictions are hard to make with any accuracy.  i do think autonomous vehicles are right around the corner.  as for the other predictions about robots i don't know.  but if you ask me now i think robots will be in many low wage worker jobs, like flipping burgers at mcdonalds, making burritos at chipotle, running the check out kiosks at walmart and target etc. etc.  i say look around and you will find that robots are already doing some of these jobs.

but then what when robots do all these things for us what will people do for a living.

i believe we are in a paradigm shift in our society.  we don't know where we are  going but we know the destination is different from what we envisaged.

hang on with all you got.   

Thursday, July 16, 2015


and what did you want?

to be at peace with my limitations and deficiencies

and what did you want?

to be at peace with the limitations and deficiencies of the world 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

30 years ago

can it be 30 years?  i was an 18 year old fuck up doing god knows what.  i remember this day, july 13, 1985 fairly well.  i mean i don't remember what the hell i was doing.  i do remember it was a hot summer day and i was running around like any idiot teen.  but then i stopped at the house of a friend.  i was with other friends.  the TV was tuned to live aid, a dual concert organized by midge ure and bob geldof to raise funds for relief with the ethiopian famine.  the concerts were held philadelphia and london.

all the top acts of the day performed either in the u.s. or london.  bands and artists like duran duran, queen, madonna, simple minds et al. rocked the world in the effort to help ease some suffering in ethiopa.  phil collins earned the reputation as the hardest working man in rock&roll because he performed on continents courtesy of a transatlantic flight via the concorde.

i think it was a signature achievement in popular culture at that time, and at any time.  i would have posted this memorial on july 13, the exact date of the concert, but i was happily camping with nick and his fellow cub scouts  learning the hard way that my 12 year old self clashed with my nearly 50 year old self when i tried to ride a bmx bike.

below is a video of 'heroes' performed by david bowie at live aid.  i posted this video before.  i do it again because i think the song is beautiful and the performance is jaw-droppingly brilliant.



my 12 year old self in combat
with my nearly 50 year old self
infra dig redline make bmx bike
i had to do it i had to get on that bike
on the newly constructed dirt track
and ride like that kid at the end of
stephen king's IT
and declare that i can still make magic
yet the hard fact of earth
and the cold insistence of gravity
declared my ride a bust
as i overshot that last turn
my front tire dug into the loose dirt
and i flew over the handlebars
the last thing i knew i was pulling up
my pride from the dust and nettles
of the forest my left arm shredded
my left hip and chest deeply bruised
and i limped toward an infirmary
of belated adolescence 
married to an idiot's resolve
to live as if you were already dead

Sunday, July 12, 2015

notes at 11: 59 p.m.

watching a movie starring william powell from the late 1930s i check for the birth year of the actors and discover some were born in the early to mid 1870s

and there they are vivid alive fully in the present 

just like we are vivid alive and fully in the present

the present present

not the present past


Saturday, July 11, 2015


waking from a light sleep
nick reminds me

light from the sun
is already 8 minutes old

thus nothing can ever be
still or secure

or flashed into meaning

tho my studies in
the theory

and practice of gratitude

my eyes grow dim
i tire easy

and a midday nap
is the greatest pleasure

to be had
i do what i can

crack the books
and study as if

were it would
the great exam

Friday, July 10, 2015

joy ride 3 [2014]

don't piss off trucker rusty nail.  oh because if you do you are fucked.  nail is the bad guy in this horror franchise.  is rusty nail an apostle of satan?  is he the avenging angel making right in a world gone wrong?  is nail just a dude that has gotten lucky from death or capture by police in his pursuit of hurting relatively innocent victims?

who knows.  because when you get to the third movie in a bottom-rung franchise the movie takes on a kind of interior anti-logic of its own.  since i've not been witness to the other two films in the joy ride series i am unable to compare the wrath and righteousness of the villain rusty nail.

still, the production of this feature is solid.  but the direction is limpid and the writing could use, um, a couple of writers.  i mean seriously.  the set pieces between nail and his victims, erstwhile twenty somethings on the road to race their race vehicle at the national level, is not bad.  the fx is good.  but when nail taunts the leader of the young people over a mobile phone and the young man doesn't say, i have had my tetanus shot and have a big hammer to pound your nail, fucker, i wondered about the efficacy of our education institutions ability to teach writing.

well now then i have a preternatural fondness for small budget horror films, especially cheap shit horror movie franchises.  i see a number after the title of a grossly under-budgeted horror movie and i'm on it like bees on honey.  can i tell you this is a movie worth an hour and half of your time?  are you fucking kidding me?!  seriously this pic is for movie masochists only.  proceed at your own risk.  

Thursday, July 09, 2015

the other richard lopez

i have a common name.  when a kid i didn't know how common my name is.  particularly in california.  when you are a child you respond naturally to that group of words that identify you.  however, throw a stone on any street in any city or town in california and you will probably hit three people named richard lopez.

i remember years ago i googled myself -- c'mon, we've all done it, right?! -- and found many richard lopezes.  one was a landscape painter.  one was a jazz pianist.  another was a physician.  still another was an attorney.  and another had a rap sheet.  i told my friend, the late poet pearl stein selinsky, in an email about my various richard lopezes and she responded, you do all that stuff?

naw.  when i began putting sentences together in my late teens i toyed with pen names.  i discovered the poetry of paul celan and how he made his surname out of an anagram of his birth german surname.  i admired punk rockers like richard hell and tom verlaine who were literary men who self-consciously changed their names.  but then i thought my birth name is a good one.  i like it.  my name suits me.

plus there is a comfort in a name so common it is almost anonymous.  a writer becomes a textual creature.  your name takes a life of its own.  but no matter how unique or common your name someone shares it with you.  i was reminded of this notion of shared names when i read this piece, my literary namesake, by irish poet billy mills.

poet mills' literary namesake is the track & field olympic gold medalist, member of oglala sioux nation, billy mills.  i have books by both men.  poet billy mills talks about the shock of finding his precise name, not william mills, not will or bill mills, but billy mills, in a poem by colin simms.  one think of him/her/hir self as unique and that includes your name.  to find out someone also has your name is a bit . . .of a surprise.

i have known that surprise.  i still toy with the idea of using my nickname, bo, or using the shortened version of my name, rich -- that i'm more commonly known by friends and co-workers.  then again, names are important.  the euphony of names is a music of the spheres, even common names possess magic and beauty.

or so i hope.  i just asked anna to order me a few books.  one is by jose kozer -- a gorgeous name! --, another is a study about the estonian buddhist poet jaan kaplinski -- another gorgeous name! -- and a book by zen writer, translator and sinologist red pine/bill porter.  the book by porter is published under his name bill porter.  i think there is a beauty too of that fairly common name.  not william, not will, but bill porter.  a solid, cool, steady name.

i think names are critical to our humanity.  all of our names.  you are you but you are also what you are called be it common or not.  we create and are created by our names.  what is identity but that to which we call ourselves.  identity, as jose kozer claims, might be a trap, but we seem to have that need to name you something.  for me learning how to live with my common name is like learning how to be comfortable in my own skin.  it takes a lifetime's habit.  when i hear the name, richard, i always turn towards the sound. 

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

mad ron's prevue's from hell [1987]

i''ve been watching more movies this week than i have watched movies last month.  a bona fide celluloid/video/digital junkie i find junk and treasure galore via netflix.  when i get home from work and finish doing those domestic things needing to be done i plop myself before the TV in the back room [my sanctuary that houses most of my book and dvds; well, really, it's mine and nick's sanctuary for he's back here with me quite often] turn on netflix and get to exploring.

the thing is the algorithm netflix employs to create a profile of your viewing habits is pretty spot on.  not like totally spot on of course but so far it has recommended a few films i had no idea existed in our universe.  such as this one under review.  now okay, really, i've been aware of mad ron's prevue's from hell for a few years because the dvd distributor GRINDHOUSE often placed the trailer for this pic as an extra on its discs.  GRINDHOUSE would take years to lovingly restore horror/exploitation films so it wasn't a wise idea to hold your breath when the company announced a pending dvd release.  so when it had announced about 10 years ago that they were going to restore this trailer compilation cum video release i thought i'd never get to see it.

well now, dvds are on their way out.  it's digital downloads and online streaming now.  i don't know if mad ron's was released on dvd, or even vhs.  it is available via streaming on netflix.  this movie is a compilation of horror movie trailers with wraparound scenarios of zombies watching the trailers in a theater.  the wraparound scenarios are shot on video.  the projectionist of said trailers is, yep, mad ron chained to his projector because he is, like, nuts, you know.  the movie is hosted by a nerd named nick and his talking undead ventriloquist dummy named happy.  the zombies in the audience are an enthusiastic bunch eating brains for horror movies.

now the year of this video's production, 1987, is the tail end of the mom&pop video store era.  chains like blockbuster were putting the mom&pops out of business.  but mad ron's is a straight-to-video release tailored for the mom&pops.  i haunted video stores at that time and i don't recall seeing this movie on the store shelves.  perhaps i did see it on the shelves and the video sleeve art made no impression on me.

still i love trailer compilations.  i own several dvds of them.  youtube was created for music and movie clips and trailers.  mad ron's is grainy, cheap, goofy, and stupid fun filled romp thru the dark side of horror films.  the shot on video zombie theater ron nick and happy crap is part of its delight.  the producers of this flick do stoopid reel good.  the trailers look like 4th generation bootlegs.  either you love them that way, or you probably wouldn't even think of watching something titled mad ron's prevues from hell.  trailers from hell?  not for this horror movie nut.  they are drops of heavenly delight.     

Thursday, July 02, 2015

every once in a while advertising becomes art.  thus it is with the above TV ad for a VW cabrio car circa 2000 - 2001.  i asked anna what TV commercials she remembers best.  she said this one.  agreed.  for it captures that moment of youth, wistful, sad and happy.  those lazy, pregnant days and nights of summer when everything was possible.  driving without a destination.  with your friends.  the pink moon within arms reach.  the person you so desire is sitting right next to you.  nick drake on the soundtrack.  beautiful, happy and sad.  a brilliant piece of film.