Thursday, June 29, 2017

how to capture all that is you

you are a magic of many things

nationalities cultures genes

your name is a wandering border

quote unquote

It's a poem.  Don't worry about it.

--duncan mcnaughton

last poem

i couldn't help
falling in love with the world

Saturday, June 24, 2017

the mist (TV series): pilot

i have to ask, is a TV series based on the stephen king novella necessary?  how much material can be sourced to sustain an open-ended narrative?  besides, director frank darabont created a haunted, bleak version of a movie in 2007.  wouldn't that be enough?

i don't have the answers, duh!  but to get back in to the habit of movie reviewing i'm going to try to write about each episode of this series shortly after i watch them.  so far, i'm not dedicated to this show so i may skip an episode or two.  however, i do my best to be faithful to writing a review when i do watch the show.

now on to the pilot.  a soldier wakes up in the woods with his canine companion keeping vigil.  he doesn't know where he is, how he got to the woods, or why he's there, nor he remember his name.  he checks his wallet and finds out his name by his credit cards.  his uniform has an arrowhead patch, and if you are familiar with this story you know that he is integral to the mystery of the plot.  the mist is descending from the tops of the hills and the soldier, whose name is bryan, runs the hell toward the nearest town.

the nearest town, which i didn't catch the name of, is i believe a hamlet in maine, stephen king's beloved state and the setting of most of his fiction and films.  here we meeting a junkie being beaten by a drug pusher.  a family with a teenage daughter who wants what most teens want, greater freedom, independence from her parents, and the ability to make a choice or two on her own.  her mother [again, the characters' names escape me, and i do not know these actors for they are all brand new to me.  i could easily look them up, but i prefer to learn more about them as i get deeper into the series].

the parents of the teen girl have a good marriage.  the mother is a school teacher who got fired because she chose to teach her students more about sex education than the curriculum allowed.  the father is a good man and a bit of a pushover when it comes to letting his daughter get away with more stuff than her mother allows.  more about that later.

the teen girl has a gay friend who wears make-up.  his name, if my memory is not total shit, is adrian.  adrian's father hates his gay son.  so do a few others in the tiny community.  the girl also has a crush on the local hot jock quarterback whose father is the sheriff in town.  there is a football game in this burg where football is a huge deal.  the hunky quarterback wins the game.  he has a party where there are drugs and alcohol and invites the girl.

meanwhile, the soldier makes it in to town bursts into the sheriff's station to warn them about the things in the mist.  the peace officers don't take kindly to strangers bursting into their station raving about danger and promptly throws bryan in jail.  oh yes, the junky, whose name i didn't catch either, had been poking around her former digs.  she digs up a bag of money and passports in the garden shed.  however, the current owner of the house didn't take too kindly to someone breaking in to his shed.  she is thrown in to the cell next to bryan.

meanwhile, the mist is quickly descending down the mountains.  but you see there was a party.  the beautiful quarterback invited the teenage girl to his party.  her mother forbade it.  the father whispers in the girl's ear, as long as you get adrian to go with you, and you promise not to drink, you can go to the party for a couple of hours after your mother falls asleep.

the mother promptly falls asleep and the girl and adrian make it to the party.  adrian is almost beaten up by one of  the jocks, because this is an insular town and adrian is too colorful for these choked in lives.  the girl is slipped a mickey and is raped by the quarterback whose father, remember, is the sheriff.  adrian was a witness to the crime.

the girl tells her parents what happened.  they go apeshit, as i think any parent would.  they go to the sheriff and make a report.  the quarterback is arrested on campus.  the girl sees a therapist and is prescribed an anti-anxiety drug.  some of the town turns against the girl, a few jocks paint the word 'whore' on the street in front of her house.  the strain of the crime pushes the girl's parents apart.  the mother is taking the girl out of town for a few days.  they stop at the local mall to get the girl's prescription filled.

all this while the mist is just above the town.  if i hadn't made it clear by the build-up of characters it is because king's novella, and darabont's movie, is about human relationships under the strain of of intense stress.  as the main character says in the movie version, you put people in the dark and scare the shit out of them they will turn on each other.  that's what the pilot's all about.  we get to know these people, and many of their relationships are pretty nasty before the mist arrived.

one more thing, there is a motif of the insect casually squashed or flicked off.  the soldier is awakened by a spider crawling across his face.  he flicks it away without a second thought.  the mother of the teen girl punts a caterpillar from her leg as she sits in a park with her husband as they discuss options after she was fired from her teaching job.  and so on.  is this motif relevant because the creatures in the mist will also exhibit similar indifferent cruelty to humans as humans do to insects?  there are a few other characters we get to know who become mist creature chum.  like an older couple, neighbors to the teen girl's family, who are in to gardening and bicycling.  a bunch of frogs leap out of a stream as if they were chased out of the water.  one of those frogs chomps on a moth that alighted upon the older woman's hand.  the older couple are curious about such a sight of frogs so they go to the library to search the newspaper archives if something like the frog force happened before.

then the mist descends.  and a few weird things happen.  like a man who is in the mist and bumps into the older couple as they stepped out of the library.  the man with a gun points his gun at the older man and asks, are you real?  the older man says, yes.  he is shot.  the man with a gun sees that the older man was real, he apologizes to the older lady, then puts the barrel under his chin and pulls the trigger.  the older lady runs into the mist and finds herself at her church.  the mist is filmed with a hallucinogenic filter that makes it seems that the mist is not only home to homicidal creatures but might even fuck with your head making you doubt what is real.

the teen girl and her mom is trapped in the mall.  her father is at the sheriff station where bryan and the junky woman are held.  adrian is at the station too because law enforcement need to take his statement because he was a witness to the teen girl's rape.  the mist trap everyone in place.

and that's when the show ends.  you can see this series is taking great liberties with the source material.  indeed, king's novella is more an inspiration than a partial treatment.  i'm guessing that many of these dysfunctional relationships are going to get more estranged as the series progress.  still, i was reading stephen king's twitter feed last week -- he is an active, prolific twitter user -- and he totally tweeted this show up.  i thought the pilot was interesting.  tho i have no idea where this show will go or how it can sustain itself.

i'll stay tuned.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

man, is it hot!  my walking to and fro is taking quite a toll on this old man.  even the birds are sitting out the day.  i don't know if they could even take to the air cuz a couple days ago it got so blazing hot that they grounded flights in phoenix, arizona.  planes were not allow to take off or land!

okay, i'm used to triple digit temperatures in the summer.  nothing really out of the ordinary about extreme heat, but this one feels a bit different.  a greater intensity.  zaps you silly.  you can't think straight.  nor can you concentrate very long, and even when the air is chilled it still feels hot.  an ambience of heat.  the air looks smudged.  the light is haze.

still, i am doing what i can.  anna got me two tickets to see slowdive in october at the historic fox theater in oakland.  i am taking nick and sharing with him a live performance of one of my favorite bands.  we'll make a day of it.  maybe hang out in berkeley for the day, then drive down telegraph ave to oakland in the evening to see the show.

well, okay.  i'm officially moving to geezerville but i still feel youthful and my loves and obsessions have not diminished.  after 30 years of reading/writing poetry i still get a chemical charge from the art.  poetry is a way of life.  but i was debating last night to purchase the biography of philip whalen, a hero of mine, that was published last year, or the year before.  anyway, i read a few reviews at amazon that said the book is good as a history of the beat era but whalen is such a minor figure that he faded from view.

curious then, i wondered why bother reading bios of writers at all.  because the life of reading/writing is an interior life.  the writer finds the courage and strength to take up language, becomes obsessed with certain authors, then spends the rest of her life sitting still reading/writing.  of course she must make a living doing something.  of course she will probably fall in love, have affairs, experiment with drugs, maybe drink too.  perhaps she loves her children and does not hate her parents etc. etc.

in fact, her life, other than the merging of living with reading/writing, is quite ordinary and dull.  but life, every life, is not minor.  what i love about whalen is how the ego is diminished.  writing is the way of living.  it is, to use the taoist phrase, wu-wei, non-action.  whalen's poetry is goofy, cranky, but it is not sanctimonious, gravely self-important, holier than you, sort of verse.

maybe that's why i usually skip the opening chapters of writer bios because the experiences of childhood are indeed important, critical even, of the development of a person but it is not very interesting because every person has had a unique childhood.  what i'm interested in are the choices writer makes to arrange her life so she can read and write.

no life is minor.  all life is ordinary.  every life is an event.  at least i like to think so.  i was watching a reading on youtube by the british poet jamie mckendrick.  mckendrick was one of those NEW GEN poets, a phrase and image manufactured by the poetry society in the 1990s that included simon armitage, don paterson, roddy lumsden, gwenith lewis et al.  it was declared by the poetry society that poetry was the new rock&roll.  i guess the reason was because this group of poets were young, sexy, and took a page from thom gunn where they wrote about rock&roll and comic books and so on.   well, anyway, poetry is not the new rock&roll, and mckendrick in that reading i watched said he doesn't read poet bios because they are boring.  the life of a poet is to obsess about things that other people don't notice.  the life of a poet is to think about poetry all the time.  during the life of a poet sits in his chair, daydreams, reads, writes, looks at dirty pictures, drinks a few beers, worries about the state of the world and his family's place in it, watches horror/exploitation/all genre movies, is addicted to youtube, and loves his friends and family.

in short, other than the poetry, the life of a poet is quite ordinary.  

Sunday, June 18, 2017

'tarzan couldn't take this kind of hot'

i have a cold.  i have that stitch you get in your side when you have a cold.  i have a low persistent cough that doesn't hurt but it is damn annoying.  and it is very hot outside, still, even at this hour. i watered the plants in our garden and the heat is heavy.  we didn't do anything today on account of the heat and not feeling well.  i read sven birkerts' most recent collection of essays changing the subject: art and attention in the internet age [graywolf, 2015].  birkerts' writings worry about digital culture vastly changing our reading/writing habits.  how digital culture -- now the dominant culture -- rewires our neural circuits.  i agree with birkerts.  we are experiencing a vast and far ranging paradigm shift.  i don't know what will happen in the near and far future.  neither does birkerts; the essayist and lit. critic does not shy away from the internet.  he is a prolific twitter user.  but, the changes that digital life are making on and upon us are so great i fear we don't understand it.  nor are we really talking about it.  still, poetry is found in the pixels.  birkerts recognizes that fact when he records his amazement when he learns that the poet seamus heaney, who was born in 1939, the year wb yeats died, thus preserving a kind of continuity in irish letters, had a cell phone and was a prolific texter.  indeed, the last text heaney wrote was to his wife from his hospital bed just before the poet died.  the text read, in latin, noli timere.  be not afraid. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Hello, It's Bread!

sometimes a word or phrase is uttered at the right time and place it becomes indelible, and hilarious.  the phrase above was uttered by a friend yesterday that still makes me belly laugh.

this is one of those moments of perfect timing.

we were walking back to the office after lunch.  there is an old phone booth that has long been stripped of its phone and signage.  yet the booth remains.  yesterday, we saw a loaf of bread, in its plastic wrapper, hanging in the spot where the telephone should be.

it was an odd sight.  my friend, who always cracks wise, said, if you whipped out your mobile phone and called the booth you'd get the bread answering, hello! this is bread!

is that surrealistic?  what it was the perfect absurdest situation that immediately rocketed my mood in to lunar orbit and had me doubled up in laughter that not only did i almost break a rib, but i nearly peed my pants.

such is the spirit of survival in our dark age, for i took his joke as a method of surviving.  sometimes bread wants to hang out.  sometimes it will answer your call.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

s l o w d i v e

okay, without being oblique about it i turned 50 last friday.  that's right.  fucking 50!  that's like old, right?  well, that depends on where you sit on the age spectrum.  for me, i feel like i'm 25, but for the aches and pains, energy level, and the grey hair.  other than that i'm a whipper snapper!

only in my mind, okay, but that counts too.  one of the bands of my holy trinity, slowdive, released their fourth album in 22 years.  the band reformed about three years ago and i was fortunate to see them live at the warfield in s.f. with my good friend b., who told me he didn't expect slowdive to be so freakin' loud.

that they are, and they are returning to the bay area, oakland at the fox theater, in october.  i've saved the date.  i want to take nick.  he's 12 but he's got good taste in music and i hope slowdive can blow his mind as the band has done to mine.

but furthermore, it is quite lovely to see/hear a band of mid to late 40-somethings reform and create gorgeous music.  age is but a number, but it is a state of mind, and age can work for you too.  as the punk band nomeansno sez, 'old is the new young'.

below is a chamber piece of the newest single by slowdive, 'sugar for the pill'.

viva la rock&roll!

crap!  i can't seem to embed this video so please click here for the song.

the poet klipschutz

the san francisco based poet klipschutz has a cool website

please click here to read/see it

+ you can find a recent interview with klpschutz conducted by jon cone here

Sunday, June 11, 2017

quote unquote

"The big fifty is something.  Once you get there you can handle most anything.  After fifty, it's like each year is a free one to play with.  It's a great feeling.  The older you get the more you learn how to duck shit you wouldn't have ducked before.  It gives you more time for the essentials.  And one of the essentials is not letting other people waste your life."

--charles bukowski [as quoted in The Holy Grail: Charles Bukowski and the Second Coming Revolution by a.d. winans (dustbooks, 2002)]

Saturday, June 03, 2017


on my way to work
she showed herself
on the branches
on the roof
cawing cawing
a flash of black
i had to duck
she went straight
for my head
a kamikaze
a blitz
of beak
and feathers
she chased me
for two blocks
and again
it happened on
the way home
when i forgot
her madness
her drive to protect
her nest her space
of earth
against my fumbling

Friday, June 02, 2017

goin' down to ol' geezerville

sounds like a country song, no?

today is the 50th anniversary of the U.S. debut of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by the beatles

i discovered this album when i was 10 years old when the album was a mere babe of 10 years old too

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is a masterpiece, i was obsessed by it, the music, and esp. the lyrics, i knew i was going to be a writer when i studied those lyrics, i didn't know what kind of writer, but somehow i was able to sync the complexity of the songwriting by lennon/mccartney with writing, i was a shitty student, but even in my essays in grade school began to take on the color of this music, i even pasted them into my own texts, while a little later i started writing my own lyrics, which led, obviously to poetry

i knew i wouldn't become a musician but i knew language, even if i didn't display any outward talent, was my thing, but i did entertain for a while of becoming a lyricist, such are the fancies a boy in love with the beatles

but i titled this little essay goin' down to ol' geezerville for the hard fact of this album turning 50 today, while Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band heralded the Summer of Love, which itself is observing its 50th anniversary this summer, this was the season when peace, love and understanding, as practiced by the hippies in the Haight, among other places, seemed more probable than perhaps any other moment in popular history, and in that space and time of hope, innocence, renewal, sex, drugs, rock&roll, anti-war and civil rights movements, this was when i made my own debut, i was born 50 years ago in the Summer of Love, when the beatles released their great album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and for a moment or two perhaps we could, in a violent age, sue for peace, get it, and build a juster, fairer, more equitable society

but that seems like such an antiquated notion for our day, only geezers who think like hippies, like me, still believe in the common decency of human kind, and that we may still build a better society

so yes, i turn 50 next week, and for my pains i get an AARP card in the mail yesterday, no, this is not some junk mail addressed to the household, this was a membership card with my name, and a letter addressed to me, and we all know what that means, an invitation to join the AARP is proof that i am now joining the geezerly ranks and heading down to geezerville

Thursday, June 01, 2017

i've been running at light speed these past couple days for reasons i can't divine rather i found myself online last night wanting to respond to emails and write a few lines but instead i jumped from one video to another on youtube and googling current favorite poets without reading their verse in other words i was unable to relax into myself which is no big whoop however when i hopped in bed the blankets and pillows felt so good i immediately fell into a deep sleep i know i dreamed but i don't remember them here is another thing i wonder why i have not seen a t-shirt with rimbaud's visage and captioned je est un autre