Tuesday, October 31, 2017

today is halloween

all youse boils and ghouls i hope your merry scary day was a good one.  it was pretty mellow here at casa de lopez/bronson.  this is the first year that nick didn't go out trick-or-treating.  a bittersweet experience for me because i know our son is growing in to his own person but that magical time of santa claus and dressing for halloween are over.  it is as it ever was, besides nick did carve the jack o'lantern when he got home from school.  and i was happy to hand out candy to all the trick-or-treaters tonight as we watched the haunting [1963] on TCM, a great spooky movie that set your fright senses alight by all the disorienting camera angles and deep focus photography.  as i always say, halloween is in the heart and its iconography, movies, candy etc. etc. are always available to those who seek it.

until next year, boils and ghouls.


Monday, October 30, 2017

everyday is halloween

i have not posted much but this scary season was filled with halloween style activities.  we visited our favorite pumpkin patch, cool patch pumpkins with the world's largest corn maze.  nick took the map and guided us thru the maze with a sure confidence that belies his age.

we took the candlelight tour at winchester mystery house in san jose.  anna and i took this tour about, oh ten years ago, when it was the flashlight tour where you were issued your own flashlight and the lights were turned down and you learned the history of the house.  we thought the tour would be the same this year.  nope.  a candlelight tour means that your docent is dressed in victorian garb, tells you ghost stories as she leads you room by room where in those rooms are scare actors there to say boo to you.

finally, we visited pumpkin nights in auburn.  i thought this display would be little more than racks of jack o'lanterns placed on walkways.  rather, it was a bit more than that.  i had a blast wandering the dioramas with nick, anna, and our good friends, b., c. and their son j.

lo!  i did not get to a haunted house this year.  i think i am the only idiot in my family who loves halloween haunts.  what can i say.  i love those things that howl in the night.

below are a few pics from our halloween adventures.

the maze

this year's haul

the cemetary

the door to nowhere

the endless house

sarah winchester is watching you

pumpkin nights

happy halloween


everyday is halloween

the haunted churchyard

yep, put a quarter in to visit.  i got scared!  what can i say?  i like all things that say


you know when i see a picture of a writer in his/her study i can't help but look at their stacks of books and try to read the titles

Sunday, October 29, 2017

slowdive at the fox theater in oakland

a few months ago when i read about slowdive's new album i immediately went online to check if they were on tour.  sure as shit, they were hitting oakland in october.  i bought tix and planned on taking nick to see one of my favorite bands.  really.  on my tombstone i want writ HERE LIES RICHARD LOPEZ, POET, BELOVED HUSBAND, FATHER, BROTHER & SON.  HIS FAVORITE BANDS WERE SOCIAL DISTORTION AND SLOWDIVE.  that about sums up it all up.

instead i asked my brother to come with me to the fox theater in oakland.  luckily he agreed.  my younger brother and i were -- are -- very close, best friends when we were in college and roommates.  but now we have our own families and obligations.  we don't get together for stupid shit. like seeing concerts.  tonight was a treat.

but driving in the bay area is a harrowing experience.  even so, we were using those new-fangled smart phones that use satellites to geo-position ourselves to our destination.  and even then we missed a critical off-ramp.  we were heading toward the bay bridge and SF.  fuckin' A.  fortunately there is treasure island -- a man-made hunk of rock that houses, or perhaps used to house, a navy base -- in the middle of the bay, that we used as a u-turn to get back to oakland.  the side trip added just 15 minutes to our journey.

i was about to have a heart attack.  i like to be early.  we had only a 1/2 hour to get across the bay, find parking, and get to the theater.  could we make it?  we did, and we found parking -- not a small endeavour in and of itself-- in no time.

the fox is a gorgeous theater with great details that would, i think, blow your mind if you were in a chemically induced state that allows for blown minds.

as my brother noted, the audience was a refreshing mix of younger and older people.  slowdive was founded in 1989 and broke up in 1996.  its core fan base hover in the average age range of late 40s and early 50s.  there was even a family with a little girl among the audience.  i suspect the girl's parents were fans of the band when they were in college -- like me -- and wanted to share their love of music with their child.  slowdive is a loud live band, but these parents provided their kid with industrial sized ear protection.  but there were plenty of twenty somethings too, which is a proof that music -- art -- breaks down generational barriers.  good music  -- good art -- finds its listeners/viewers.

but this old man rock&roller was raring to go.

i took all these pics using my iPhone.  i noticed nearly everyone i saw also had a smart phone.  say what you want about our culture but we have merged with our devices.  digital life and physical life are blended together whether we like it or not.  we live via our devices as much as we live via our physical selves.

which means we document shit in real time.  i texted a few photos to anna, who was at home with nick, and i got a nearly instantaneous response from her.  even as the band played i took my phone out to snap a couple of pics.

slowdive was magnificent.  i saw them in 2014 with my good friend, b., when they played the warfield in s.f.  b. told me the band was loud.  after a song that erupted in a wall of noise i asked my brother what he thought of the band.  he said, they are loud.

that they were which made this old punk's heart go pitter patter.

then the band finished their encore.  they played songs from all their albums including personal favorites like 'alison', '40 days', 'when the sun hits', and more.  i can die a happy man.  i saw one of my favorite bands at their peak, twice in this decade.

then we pointed our vehicle east and a little over an hour later we were back in our beloved home town and our respective families.  


Thursday, October 26, 2017

the mirror

i don't know but i look in the mirror
at my 50 year old self

and i think, it won't get better than this

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

fats domino

there was a '50s nostalgia and revival when i was a wee lad in the 1970s.  TV sitcoms and variety shows like happy days and sha na na were high rated weekly romps of life in the '50s.  Also on TV were documentaries that examined the rise of rock&roll, teen life in the 1950s, fashion and so on.  i remember that there was great alarm in the larger culture by greaser subculture and the pernicious ruin caused by rock music.  we forget how worried parents, teachers and other authorities were about the roiling changes in youth culture and the sounds their music made.  it scared the shit out of society.

but i loved it.  i was a wannabe greaser.  i guess i still am.  i think punk rock was a gesture to the grand greaser subculture.  and i loved early rock&roll, esp. rockabilly, like gene vincent and eddie cochrane, and the wild percussive piano styles of jerry lee lewis and fats domino. 

bloody hell.  fats domino died yesterday at the age of 89.  the world is quickly losing its great artists of the 20th Century.  fats was one of those greats.  but nailing him down as a 20th Century artist is unnecessarily narrowing his impact and his sound.  fats domino's sound is, to my ears, timeless.  his music was -- is -- like the fonz was, simply cool, and cool is forever.

below is a clip from a 1957 newsreel of fats domino interviewed that i first saw on TV in one of those nostalgic documentaries when i was a wannabe seven or eight year old greaser.  fats is asked if he thinks rock&roll is the source and cause of teenage riots.  listen to his answer.  it is an ars poetica.

grease for peace


Sunday, October 22, 2017

everyday is halloween

i'm a lifelong horror geek.  even when scary shit really scared the shit out of me i was attracted to the terrors and thrills of those things that go bump in the night.  but i'm an older man now.  i've seen lots of horror movies.  i've toured allegedly haunted landscapes, houses, and buildings.  i've done haunt attractions.  and i am an avid listener of tales told around the campfire.  think about that last one.  have you been in the woods after the sun dropped below the horizon and dark is not just the absence of light but dark is utter black, a kind of void where you can't see the proverbially hand in front of your face?  if you haven't -- and i don't mean to sound snide, but the early 21st C is a much different place than even the late 20th C, and i think we have a whole couple of generations who have not experienced darkness, not as an abstract idea, but as a palpable thing.  to be told ghost stories around the campfire when the light from the fire penetrates the woods only just so far.  an enveloping void surrounds you.  if you have to get up from the campfire to take a piss and step away from the circle of firelight you must have your wits about you for you can get lost even if you are just 10 meters away from your camp. and you think that the blackness that envelopes you as a worn thing might contain, well, anything, including the monsters that live in your head.  that is fucking scary.

i posit something even scarier, a holiday out of season.  today we did some shopping.  after going to our local IKEA -- i confess, for no reason at all, i am an honorary swede, it is my second our third culture because i married in to it [which means nothing at all, but to me] -- we stopped at the the home depot.  the U.S. is dotted with the same big box stores, walmart, petco, home depot et al., that i can't say 'local home depot' with a straight face.  ah, that is the nature of our mercantile culture that all the stores in the U.S. are the same wherever you are.  well, anyway, at home depot it is christmas.  i shit you not.  the halloween displays are still up, after all this is still october, but the bigger displays are for christsmas.

i shat a brick.  i mean for fucks sake it is not even halloween yet and there before my eyes are evidence of a winter wonderland.

fuck me sideways.  that is scarier than a good ghost story at night around the campfire.  and yes, i am a person who loves halloween.  halloween lives in my heart 24/7.  i even have a jack o'lantern inked on my shoulder.  and yet, i think christmas is a magical holiday.  not because i believe in the power of hay-zeus, but i think people, humanity at large, needs a time that is special to it that demands we have peace on earth and good will to human kind.  in other words, i love christmas, not as a believer, but as a holiday for people to celebrate the wonder of our fellow human beings. 

but give the holidays their own time and due.  christmas in october is not christmas.  when you find its physical trappings being sold before winter you -- i -- think upon a kind of commercial cynicism that one can argue is endemic in our culture.  i find that scary.

furthermore, old saint nick was there too

you know he is always watching you.


everyday is halloween

i've had my smart phone for a month now and it has changed my digital habits.  i do a lot of texting with friends and i am able to access my email nearly all the time.  but i have yet to find an app that allows me to post on me blog.  there are apps for tumbler and twitter but no apps for blogger.  bummer.  because my digital habits of migrated to mobile technology i am not firing up the laptop as often.  hence, i am not posting my usual array of poems, essays, movies reviews etc etc. on this here blog.

be that as it may, this month has been chock full of halloween activities for me, anna and nick.  tonight we went to the town of auburn for its pumpkin nights.  the city decorates their fairground with jack o'lantern displays.  it was a bit cheesy but it was also a lot of fun.

in addition to all the halloween style shit we've done i've also been pointing my browser to halloween videos.  and below is a recent favorite video of mine.  tom hanks plays a character named, david s. pumpkins, on SNL.  i find it so funny i nearly break my funny bone when i watch it.  anna wonders whether i've lost my mind.  she finds this skit amusing but not weezing-thru-the-laughs-gawd-my-side-hurts funny.

what the hell.  sometimes scary turns to humor and when it does we must laugh out ourselves.  i think fewer things are funnier than a goofball dressed in a suit decorated with pumpkins who has two dancing skeleton sidekicks.

behold, david s. pumpkins


Sunday, October 15, 2017

everyday is halloween


Thursday, October 12, 2017

the air is smudged with smoke the light is haze we've been watching aircraft loaded with water and fire retardant flying over Sac to and from the hot zones

Sac is not on fire but nearby Napa et al. is burning with such ferocity the mind freezes at the breadth of the destruction

how did these fires start the experts don't know they seem to have developed overnight they did explode overnight some survivors had to leave so quickly they left their phones and their shoes behind

think about that these people had to leave their homes so fast they couldn't stop for a moment to grab their phones and their shoes

fucking mindblowing

Monday, October 09, 2017

a halloween anecdote

i was a sonafabitch 
my mother took my youngest brother
and me to see the stephen king adaption of 
carrie [1976] at the sac six drive ins

i'm sure my other brother and my father
was in the car too but
what i remember is the end of the film
you recall when amy irving finds the grave of carrie

whose tomb reads carrie white burns in hell
 amy bends to the grave to deliver a bouquet
when carrie's hand bursts from the rocks of the
grave to grab amy well it was after

the adrenaline and the credits were rolling
i got directly behind my youngest brother
grabbed his neck and yelled boo
his scream was so loud my mother punched me in the arm

everyday is halloween

let's return to my annual tradition of the scary season by presenting a favorite halloween tradition of mine, watching a batch of spookshow trailers.  these crudely made trailers announced a kind of vaudeville live show of scares, magic and cornball antics that were popular in the mid to late 20th century.  these spookshows were often anchored by a cheapjack, grade z, horror flick.  and as you can see the ads promised more thrills, chills and laughs than the shows delivered.  spookshows were a little before my time.  i don't remember seeing a spookshow or watching a trailer for a performance.  i would've been too chickenshit scared to attend one even if i had.  and yet, these trailers, in spite of their goofy boasts and cheap production values sings the songs of halloween.

so sit down, grab a drink, some popcorn, turn down the light, and discover once again the pure pleasure of grade z halloween schlock.


Sunday, October 08, 2017

blade runner 2049

it's not for nothing that filmmaker denis villeneuve, director of photography roger deakins et al. have created an epic of such vast scale that watching this flick in IMAX still did little justice to the details of a dying mid-21st century l.a.

working from a script by original BR screenwriter hampton fancher director villeneuve's vision of a noirish dessicated cityscape is, well, quite literally mind blowing.  for this flick is set 30 years after the action of ridley scott's brilliant first film and it sure looks like things have gotten worse, pollution, overpopulation, lawlessness, and an overall arching entropy as the world is dying.

ryan gosling plays officer k, a replicant [that's not giving away any secrets for that knowledge is in the press releases] blade runner who is tasked to 'retire' older generation replicants whose reliability in society is untrustworthy.  k uncovers a long buried secret that sets him in motion to find rick deckard.

gosling is an interesting actor.  i've not been a fan of his style.  his range is limited.  his smiles appear forced.  but that style of stiff acting is appropriate in the role of k.  emotions for k are small things of limited use for him and his work.  k is like an automoton.  he gets the job done and that is all.

and yet, k begins to find his soul -- if a soul humans have -- as he learns more about himself.  even more, k has a live-in girlfriend, joi, played by ana de armas.  however, joi is an AI hologram.  she feels love for k.  does she have a soul too?  that would be something to explore for another story.  but i found the character joi utterly fascinating.  and i think as AI becomes stronger in our world we might find programs like joi in the near to middle future.

another thing i admire about filmmaker denis villeneuve is his lack of hurry when telling a story.  this is a movie that moves on its own pace.  it is not a fast rollercoaster, it is a sleek roadster much like ridley scott's first iteration on this story based on the novel, do androids dream of electric sheep? by philip k. dick.  and this movie is sumptuous.

but like the original film i think this new iteration requires a couple more viewings in order to let the narrative to sink in.  i saw this flick with my brother.  he loved the film.  i admired it.  he said that this is newest movie is worthy of the first BR.  i don't mean to sound coy but before i make that pronouncement i need to see it again.  but i do greatly admire deakins' photography and villeneuve's epic sweep.  this is not a blockbuster action film.  this is a movie of david lean style proportions.  i don't say that lightly.  for this is a film for a generation that is growing up with nearly unfathomable technical leaps as well as a destabilized climate that will soon make living on earth much harder for humankind.  this is a movie with vision even if i find, for right now, the story a bit less about metaphysics than the first film.  

still, i need to see this movie a second time to properly write about it.  i can only record my first impressions.  and i need to declare my love of denis villeneuve who i think is one of the finest filmmakers of his generation.

as for dystopian visions might i make a suggestion, hollywood?  how about a 21st century revision of soylent green [1973].  that flick scared the shit out of me when i was a wee lad.  remember, it's people!, and tell me if that doesn't pucker your sphincter.  you wanna movie that can scare people regarding climate change?  soylent green is the film to do it. 

Thursday, October 05, 2017

portrait of the poet as an iPhone

on not winning the nobel prize in literature

the nobel prize

The Nobel Prize for Reading
should be awarded to me
I am the ideal reader,
I read everything I get my hands on:

I read street names
and neon signs
bathroom walls
and new price-lists

the police news,
projections for the Derby

and license plates

for a person like me
the word is something holy

members of the jury
what would I gain by lying
as a reader, I am relentless

I read everything -- I don't even skip
the classifieds

of course these days I don't read much
I simply don't have the time
But -- oh man -- what I have read

that's why I'm asking you to give me
the Nobel Prize for Reading
as soon as impossible

-- nicanor parra [antitranslated by liz werner (antipoems: how to look better & feel great; new directions, 2004)]

[by the by, i was hoping the great antipoet would win the nobel prize today.  he didn't; i didn't win either.  let's call the whole thing off]

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

this morning i read a few poems by the great 20th C polish poet zbigniew herbert who lived thru the horrors of WWII, the terror of soviet control & still made poems of great strength & lucidity

i turn to poets & poetry to give me strength, to remind me that i am -- you are -- we are -- human & creatures who share this closed-system little blue planet with fellow creatures

but fuck it too, i've had a hard time writing this past year, writing poems, writing about movies, because the world is shit

climate change is the clincher, how do we create art in a world when our civilizations are in peril & in danger of collapsing, yes, it is the serious & that deadly, we've screwed our home, brother & sisters, & it will only get worse

then when i was feeling my favorite holiday, halloween, on sunday night, when i wrote my first entry in my annual everyday is halloween pieces, a fucking psycho shot over 500 people killing nearly 60 at a concert in las vegas

i'm at a loss, brothers & sisters, i'm at a goddamn loss

i know what herbert would've done, he'd bend his head to his desk, dip his pen in the inkwell, & compose poetry because that is how he lived his life

i've not given up poetry or movies or halloween but i am heartbroken

my friend, john b-r, expressed my feelings better than i could in his piece published a few days ago, I haven't written poetry and this is why 

'I make my poems to save the world. I don't want to save it. Today I root for global warming. I have no words for poetry. I've taken up weaving. Maybe I'll write again, or collage again, if I can figure out how to channel this rage.'

i share with john my love of people along with a hatred of our species

i was born during the summer of love, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the summer of love was a moment when it appeared we as a species were becoming kinder, loving, better beings then that illusion was shattered against the hard fact of our destructive nature

but i am with john, 'i make poems to save the world', the world cannot be saved & we humans shall perish too perhaps in the ongoing sixth mass extinction

& again, to quote john, 'how to channel my rage' & my horror of our age, i ask how to be like herbert & make an art equal to these times

Sunday, October 01, 2017

everyday is halloween

yep; it's my favorite time of year.  the scary season.  the turn of the year when red and gold leaves go belly up [i know, leaves don't have bellies, sue me!] and drop like hanged men from trees, the air gets cooler and sunlight switches from the harsh blue glare of summer to a softer, particulate, hazy brown and gold.

and halloween, the best holiday humans have created, is 31 days away.  it is time to celebrate.  so to kick off the spooky season i've been watching some of my favorite halloween haunts on youtube.  yes, there are production companies that specialize in making travel videos for the armchair theme park enthusiast.

my favorite production company, sharp productions, is, i think, based in southern california and always makes entertaining videos of tours of haunt mazes.  the company, or person in charge of the company, employs entertaining guides who are the ciphers of the viewer's experience of these mazes.

i shall try to get to a haunted house this year.  i got an iPhone -- which is my introduction to the 21st Century -- so i can record my thoughts and take pics and, being the intrepid reporter that i am, make a full report back to you.  in fact, on my bucket list -- a very short one since i generally abhor the idea of bucket lists, life, even at its most mundane and ordinary, is the greatest adventure -- is taking nick to halloween horror nights in hollywood.  i have a friend at work who has been to this attraction a couple of times with her son and tells me it is very crowded but the mazes are freakin' amazing.  she recommends the r.i.p. pass, which allows for multiple front of the line privileges, along with dinner with wine, or your drink of choice, and parking.  parking can cost you your wazoo.  so the extra price for the pass balances out the price of parking and admission to the park, which combined can cost the attendees either their arms or legs, removed by a texas chain saw!

i'm a sucker for that kind of shit.  i love halloween and all things that go bump in the night.  so fuck yeah!  here we go!