Sunday, September 11, 2016

punk rock reading glasses

we have a teen in the house.  or near-teen.  at any rate nick is growing so fast, and his mind is developing into a beautiful, sophisticated instrument, my own pea-brain is down-right boggled.  i look at our son and see a young man, not the beary, cuddly, chubby baby he was once such a very short time ago.  and now, right now, i have to deal with a stottering internet because he is updating his gaming computer and hogging all the bandwidth.

bear with me.  you see, nick makes me happy.  he is developing into a very decent human being with a keen mind [he takes after his mother regarding his sharp mental abilities].  and yet still, i'm trying to watch videos and the damn connection keeps sputtering!

well okay then so what.  i'm at that age when shit just pisses me off, and shit amazes the hell out of me.  watching/listening/seeing nick amazes the hell out of me.  but why go on like this about my son?  i don't know why.  i am simply recording my gratitude.

earlier tonight nick and i ran around doing a few errands.  i wanted to stop at Barnes & Noble, the last big chain bookstore in the u.s., because keith morris, punk rock icon and founder of black flag and the circle jerks, who is huge in my personal punk rock pantheon published a memoir, my damage w/ jim ruland (the story of a punk rock survivor) [da capo press; 2016], and i needed to get a copy.  i did that and read the first several chapters.  if there is anything punk rockers have in common it is a rough childhood.  morris had that in spades.  so did i.

between the years 1982 -84 i'd seen the circle jerks at least a half dozen times.  i remember one show at the clunie hall [located in mckinley park, a historical sacramento park that dates back to the 1920s] when morris pulled down his jeans and stuck the microphone up his anus during the song 'i got the world up my ass'.  i just met this very cute girl.  i was i think 15 years old and a total blob and was beside myself that this pretty punk girl would even acknowledge my presence.  but the beauty of punk is that every punk was a blob, and you can celebrate your strangeness in the punk rock subculture.  you didn't need to have a college degree or have some bona fides conferred upon you.  you just needed to be sincere in being punk [whatever that means for you].

which brings me to poetry.  i've tried to bring my punk rock attitudes into writing and publishing.  i wish there as more of it.  what charles bernstein calls 'official verse culture' and critical 'frame-lock' is not the end-all-be-all of poetics.  we are living in a globalized culture[s].  yes, we are.  what poets do to publish, commune, and the manners that reading, writing, publishing and gathering together are by increasingly digital means.  sure there are some drawbacks to this but it also is a means to bypass established modes and create your own.  morris et al. made their own music, recorded it and distributed on their own channels, without the blessings of official channels.

well, then so i'm nearly 50 years old and still i am still under the influence of punk.  many of my poet heroes would know the punk ethos, writers like catullus, contantine cavafy, rimbaud, villon, horace, du fu, mina loy et al.  be a poet, be punk.  no one, except for yourself, can tell you no.

but writerly influences are complex beasts.  the late, great raymond carver wrote an essay about literary influences.  he listed several, but the most important influences on his writing were his children.  when i was a young man in my early 20s i didn't understand carver's thinking.  i do now.  nick, and anna, in short my family, have had the greatest influence in my life, and when i say life i mean also writing/reading.  for i do not separate writing/reading from the ordinary daily tasks of living.  especially if that means nick is hogging the bandwidth to update some program on his gaming computer and i'm stuck with a stuttering connection.  as james dickey wrote, 'my life is made of the world/I will do what I can.'     


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