Friday, April 30, 2010

touch of grey

this morning at the intersection of j and 29th st i stop at the red light and watch an elderly lady in an adidas track suit several feet ahead of me already in the intersection when the light was green but now turned red and she is walking with such deliberation such slowness that i can feel the impatience perhaps even anger of the drivers who are perhaps running late for work or appointments as they wait for her and i think damn is that what age looks like is that what i have to look forward to when she makes it across just fine and the light turns and i take off feeling like a gazelle i'm running late too my mind tells me i'm still 25 i can run the 2 miles to work if i wanted to but then two blocks later my left leg seizes up a huge cramp and i'm forced to limp all of the way

read this

poet/blogger/editor mark young delivered today a new issue of his extraordinary zine otoliths and it's a beauty packed with textual and visual -- and now video too - poetry. young's pub is in my own humble opinion one of the best poetry journals, either print or online, now. you know about it, you got the link now, so go read it and enlarge your selves. okay.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


i've long been not only influenced but attracted to advertising as a form of art. sure, adverts are trying to sell you something, often using our base fears and desires to do so, but if you type in say '1970's commercials' [somehow people can't remember that the apostrophe before the s signifies the possessive except for the word 'its' but quite a number of people put apostrophe before the s for everything] you 'll get hit after hit after hit of them. why? nostalgia certainly but also some of those commercials are stand-alone works. the intersections in art, so-called high art and so-called low art, are to me the most vibrant and fertile. but such polarities between high art and low are so much bullshit to me anyway. what is art anyway? that is why i love horror and exploitation movies. these 'lowly' genres blast such binary pulses to pieces. for the most part, not all the time. there is such a thing as shitty art. right? anyway, poet jerome sala, who works in advertising i think, started a new blog espresso bongo and his most recent post is about poetry and advertising. check it out.

post edit

anna read my previous post and told me that the title doesn't come from coolio but snoopy doggy dog. oops! well, fuck, there goes my mind. in recompense i'll let the dog speak for himself, 'kay.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

my mind on my money and my money on mind

so sayeth coolio back in the -- hey! -- day. just watched the nova program on the psychology of the financial markets mind over money where behaviour psychologists are questioning the long-held theory that markets are best self-governing because they are, put in the broadest term but first espoused by adam smith, rational and thus stable. but then how and why are bubbles created if the markets are ruled by passionless reason?

thank god they kept the jargon and the equations at a minimum. otherwise i'd have a hard time keeping up. the program was a very good investigative piece that did not try to answer the questions of rational versus irrational. it seems to my own limited personal view of the question that at the outset the markets are created by us and thus are an extension of us. and we are both rational and just plain fucking nuts at the same time. i recall in the midst of the housing bubble sitting in a local coffee house with anna where we overheard the conversation at the next table. two youngish men were talking about house prices that were ticking up by the minute and this upward swing appeared to have no end. one guy said, that's right, i'm gonna be rich!

perhaps he did become rich in the short-term. if he got out in time. otherwise he's drowning in his properties. bubbles are not new and tonight's program began with a brief history of the first modern bubble, the dutch tulip frenzy that burst in 1637 and devastated the dutch economy. as for our own bubble that burst in 2008 it would seem by most accounts that we got very close to utter ruin. the tragedies could've been wide and deep.

nova ended the program asking that maybe bubbles are woven into the fabric of our market economies. would that make them inevitable? i recall that the late polish poet zbigniew herbert published an essay on holland's tulip mania. herbert approached the subject as a forensic psychologist interested in the mechanisms of folly, greed and our singular striving for happiness. i'll let herbert have the last word.

Tulipmania -- the most extraordinary botanical folly we know -- was an episode inscribed on the margin of Great History. We have chosen it not without reason. It should be honestly confessed: we have a strange liking for presenting follies in the sanctuaries of reason, and we also like to study catastrophes against a gentle landscape. There are reasons more important than frivolous personal and aesthetic inclinations, however, For doesn't the affair we have described remind us of other, more dangerous follies of humanity that consist in the irrational attachment to a single idea, a single symbol, or a single formula for happiness?
This is why we cannot put a period after the date 1637 and consider the matter definitively closed. It is not reasonable to erase it from memory, or count it among the inconceivable fads of the past. If tulipmania was a kind of psychological epidemic, and this is what we believe, the probability exists -- bordering on certainty -- that one day it will afflict us again in this or another form.

['The Bitter Smell of Tulips' Still Life with a Bridle; ecco press, 1991. translated by john and bogdana carpenter]

quote unquote

my ignorance is larger than your ego which has some chance

--jim mccrary

Friday, April 23, 2010

i'll hug the moon

yeah it was a long weird fucked day so what's new

the day was redeemed by putting the telescope nicholas got for his birthday together and taking the boy out in the garden to look at the moon

it is a clear night and the moon is brighter than freshly laundered linen

after a few adjustments and some the moon came in clear and bold

i'm pretty sure we were looking at the sea of tranquility

and even if we were not it still was beautiful and so bright it hurt the eyes

i came to understand ol' silly li po who in a moment of drunken love

saw the moon reflect on the surface of a lake

and according to legend fell out of his boat and drowned

trying to give it one big hug

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

assholes and just plain holes

a couple of months ago we played a game during our monthly get-together. see, every month or so a group of writers come together at a local brew pub to drink, bullshit and share our latest texts. i'm lucky to belong to this group as it boasts some damn good poets. at any rate, the game went like this: what poet, dead, would you like to have as a roommate.

you could even go further i suppose and speculate what poet, dead, you'd like to have as a lover. we didn't go that route. i mentioned rimbaud, he'd be endlessly fascinating company but that poet was a dick, a major asshole, and certainly one does not need to be an asshole to be an interesting companion much less a good writer.

but a group of writers wondering aloud about writers, dead, we'd like to hang and live with and not want to kill? a tall order? perhaps not. tho as writers we tend to look into our mirrors as if we were staring into the abyss, right?

as for me i mentioned mina loy. i think she'd be helluva lot of fun to be around. she was blazingly smart, attractive and possessed an earthy humor of the kind i admire. plus she didn't give a shit about fame. sure she was selfish but i recall reading in that biography about her that was published in the late'90s when she and poet-pugilist arthur cravan were flat broke and hadn't eaten in a few days. one afternoon cravan and loy were in bed when cravan was at the end of his tether suggested they consider suicide. loy replied, but we haven't even finished talking.

that is a lust for life i want to be around. she was far from being an asshole. one doesn't need to be an asshole to be interesting or brilliant. you don't need to be an asshole to be dull either. to be sure, you don't need to be an asshole period. she was a deeply complex individual who wrote some of the best poems of the last century. loy made a map of the moon that i'm still unfolding.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

what is time

just got back from dropping my mother-in-law at the airport. her 6:00 a.m. flight turned into a logistical nightmare on account of the plane needing a spare part and none was to be found. luckily this happened while she was still in town and not on some connecting flight elsewhere otherwise she'd have spent the 18 plus hrs waiting for the midnight plane at the airport.

on the way to and from the airport i tuned the dial on the satellite radio to the '50s station. marvelous tunes by bobby rydell, little eva and the platters were among the selections. i like early rock&roll, a lot, esp. rockabilly. the sounds are raw, stripped, filled with sexual desire. they are in my mind timeless.

in the world of pop culture anything over 50 years old is ancient and lost any relevance. but is that so? currently there are bands that are mining '50s song structure and harmonies, such as the raveonettes from denmark. and in the world of poetry writers such as jimmy the jam schuyler, frank o'hara and countless others are read and emulated as if they were writing today.

certainly my mother-in-law wouldn't think of the platters as being old. she was a teenager in the '50s. that is part of her own history and currency. and tho she might tell you that she is older she certainly wouldn't say she is old.

what pray tell does time mean anyway? not that i really give a shit when i can listen to a voice as angelic as roy orbison, where a piece of orbison lyric recently found its way into a poem of mine, and that voice transcends time. or does it?

james dickey wrote, my life is made of the world / i will do what i can. i suppose that is all i can do and ask a little of the same of others. things do age and some age badly, like people, ideas, trends, and so forth. perhaps what i'm seeking is a level of cool, fonzie-type cool, and cool is timeless, however we wish to define it. i also think that we live in a continual present. and the shallow trappings of pop culture are available to take and discard as we wish because as thom gunn wrote, we are all the same in different ways / we are different in the same ways. at least i hope we are and that finally time is what we do with our these our lives.

Monday, April 19, 2010

short essay on the efficacy of art

in the third grade we were making art out of paper glue wooden sticks and glitter each of us working diligently without any ideas or notions that the subject of art is in the eye of the beholder nor were we aware of the battles waged over every form of art regarding form content viability and durability when a classmate turns from his work and says to us that we’ll all hate his piece because it is ugly we comforted him as best we could and said no it’s not it can’t be when he smiled turned to us with his piece held high with UGLY written in large glittery letters and so thus began our education of the bigger world

Sunday, April 18, 2010

modern girls [1986]

think of this as an anti-review, or a non-review, for this is not a good movie or even a fiendishly really bad good movie. this movie sucks. my primary complaint is that the flick is simply boring. not much happens even tho i know that the director was going for the kind of teen comedy that was popular in the mid-80s [think john cusack flicks such as the sure thing and better off dead or the tom hanks vehicle bachelor party]. instead this movie is flat and the characters, essayed by the usally good actors virginia madsen and daphne zuniga, are uninteresting. the plot concerns three hip, even modern, girls' night on the town and the crazy shit they get into.

which ain't much. club-going, food fights, drug-taking and drinks that glow like neon. ah yes, i remember the '80s. zuniga especially is coiffed and dressed like she stepped out of a nagel print. not that that is a bad thing. i liked nagels back then but nowadays looks rather, um, goofy and kitsch. but that was the '80s, i guess. and that is what makes this flick fascinating to me. it is a document of a bygone era. every frame is ripe in day-glo pink, blue and rounded out in goth pancake make-up and black lipstick. in other words, i love looking at the movie despite itself.

which is another thing i find curious about the era, the word modern that was so much in use is now dead on the tongue. what is modern today? post-modern? post-post-modern? the end of modern? who knows. i recall when alternative rock stations, like l.a.'s kroq and san franscisco's the quake, and even for a brief but glorious 6 or so months here in sac kpop, called themselves modern rock. but that was when there was alt-radio. i don't know what's on the dial now. i stopped listening to commercial radio years ago.

there you have it. if you want a vivid document of a lost time then have at it. if you're looking for a good movie then seek one elsewhere. and yes, zuniga and madsen are as lovely as you might remember them. they are lovely still.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

hard boiled [1992]

i'm a little late coming around to watching a movie by hong kong [now hollywood] director john woo. especially this flick that i've heard and read about for so many years. but i did watch it, finally, and lived to tell the tale. not much happens in this flick. ostensibly about loyalty, i think, the movie is the story of a tough-as-nails cop played by the magnificent chow yun-fat who like clint eastwood's titular cop in the 1970s action-cum-vigilante pics manages to make people dead faster than he can say howdy.

that's it. there's a bad guy who operates a crime syndicate that chow yun-fat is charged to make dead thru the agency of many bullets fired from a lot of guns. then there's a mole who is deep undercover in the syndicate that our hero becomes friends with and together they, our hero and the mole, make many more people dead thru the art of firepower.

it's a great action flick. the set pieces, particularly the opening sequence in a tea shop is spectacular, are adrenaline rushes of balletic precision. the story on the other hand, limps along. no character development but not that you'd give a shit because you watch this sort of movie because of the action.

woo knows how to drive the action and this film is adroitly edited and shot. but what made the dirty harry movies so great is that you genuinely like and care about the clint eastwood character. the characters here in woo's movie are flatter than a dominoes pizza. even chow is a little on the boring side.

big deal. as the old ac/dc song goes, you want blood, you got it. splatter by the truckload. the guns the characters used were mystical because they were all nearly true and never needed reloading. would it were so. during the run time i kept repeating, it's only a movie, it's only a movie.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

the best wednesday ever

i don't know how to qualify that at all

it ain't that nothing good happened today

unless you think being alive verbal and conscious is a good thing

and i do think

just that i heard the old saws it's humpday

and also just 2 more days till friday

which i think is a real drag

consider if i died tomorrow

or suffered some catastrophe of whatever imagining

and i'd look back at today

which was beautiful

sunny warm w/ birds and squirrels running and rutting

and i came home to my wife and child

waiting for me

and i'd think that damn this wednesday was the best day ever

carpefuckingdiem as horace sd

even if it does sound like so much horseshit

because we are on this ride only once

and our turn goes so fast

quote unquote

aliveness jars me
--d.a. powell

* * * * * * * * *

in the beginning was nothing, that exploded
--terry pratchet

Friday, April 09, 2010

sprung spring

situated between safeway and rite-aide
on the corner of alhambra and l st
nicholas and i stopped to watch finches
[i think they were finches / they
were damn small and fast buggers]
build nests on the rain gutter of rite-aide
and on an ancient disused traffic light
hanging from two thin wires
and left to dangle above the street
like an afterthought of no use
that it happened
a finch flying right above us
carrying a twig so large it looked
for all the world to be a tree branch
and slipped from its beak
to land right at our feet

Thursday, April 08, 2010

creepshow 2 [1987]

once upon a time i was a certifiable nut for all things stephen king. i tried to read everything he wrote [i even had a copy of a magazine whose name i can't remember that was devoted to cross word puzzles not because i liked cross word puzzles but because the publication published an article by king along with an author photograph of him in his studio sitting beside a giant word processor (remember those things? word processors were sorta like the betamax for writers, they made typewriters obsolescent and predate regular computer use by a few years)]. and the movies that were based on king's books, like christine, cujo, silver bullet and the stanley kubrick masterpiece of real dread the shining were seminal viewing of my earlier life.

creepshow 2 is another matter. i was very much looking forward to seeing this when it was first released. at the time i was suffering from panic attacks so severe i couldn't stand being in my own skin. i worried that i wouldn't be able to sit in a theater long enough without running out in fear not from the movie but from the cocktail of bad chemicals that made my mind a froth of horror. which might've influence my opinion of this flick. i did manage to sit in the theater and did manage to enjoy the movie enough but this piece of celluliod is second-tier king and does no favors for filmmaker george a. romero who directed the first creepshow and penned this sequel.

creepshow is one of my favorite films, an anthology piece penned by king and directed by romero. the idea was to bring the old e.c. comics to the screen. e.c. comics were macabre affairs that specialized in horror stories with an ironic twist at the end told with a gut-level glee. e.c. comics freaked out parents and politicians who worried over a generation reading such ghoulish delights and so helped usher in the comics code in the 1950s to make safe impressionable minds.

too late because writers like king and filmmakers like romero were already under the influence and pop culture's never been the same. creepshow has a thrilling matinee movie flavor that is both fresh and nostalgic. watching the flick is like spending an evening at the drive-in and to this viewer delivers me to a level of movie-watching bliss.

creepshow 2 feels like it was made for the money. the direction sloppy and too hurried while the stories are not fully realized. this sequal is still an anthology of three stories, none are particularly interesting or gory, but even so there is a certain base level of enjoyment. but even the animation, which successfully mimicked the art of the comics in the first film is slap-dash and woolen in this go-round.

call me a glutton for punishment. i can't tell you who stars in this movie except for george kennedy and dorothy lamour who portray an old couple who own a general store in an economically depressed desert community in the first story called 'ol' chief wooden head'. the story is not bad but my favorite is 'the raft' which is based on king's story of the same name and is about four college kids going to a remote lake for a last swim at the end of the season and are plucked off one by one by some mysterious thing that looks like an oil slick but behaves like a floating pile of sulphuric acid. the last story, 'the hitchhiker' is about an adulteress who runs over the eponymous hitchhiker, over and over and over again.

some of the lines in this movie have over the years entered my own private lexicon. if that might give you an idea of what i think of this movie you must recall that i'm a celluloid masochist and this is flick is good in its badness. not real good but it does hurt kinda good.

not that i'd recommend watching it. i don't have a copy in my collection. i watched it on one of the movie channels last night. i think there's even a creepshow 3 lurking in the delete bins. i haven't worked up the nerve to pick up a copy and watch that one. i don't know. dare i eat a peach? i can hear cleavon little in mel brooks' classic blazing saddles whisper in my ear, dare dare!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

short essay on symmetry

the day was long and turned into evening past dinner time almost nighttime the city pulling

down the blinds rolling up the streets and i was spent but my mind still spinning at 1000 rpms

after 10 plus hrs on the job going full-speed the world tilted at angles and i was vectoring my

usual route all boilers lit and no stopping straight thru midtown down i st and pass a small coffee

house BUTCH AND NELLIE'S where a worker was bringing in the tables and chairs from the

sidewalk closing up shop when he turns toward me i read on his t-shirt CHILL BRO

Monday, April 05, 2010

sunshine cleaning [2008]

amy adams is a single mom with a wacked-out younger sister and a dad who happens to be alan arkin reprising the role of the dad/grandfather in an earlier, slightly quirkier, and better film, little miss sunshine [2006]. adams' character rose needs cash, enough of it to get her endearingly eccentric son out of public school and into a private one. what to do? simple. start a bio-hazard cleaning business and because this is an endearingly shallow yet sweet slice of life call the biz, sunshine cleaning.

there you have it. you don't have to endure the run length of this flick. i've done it for you. and i've lived to tell the tale. now, this is not a bad movie, at all. it is an unsatisfying little indie feature that throws metaphors like a young poet who has yet to read any poetry. there's the dead cb radio in the broken down van rose buys for her business that is used like an after-thought. first her son tries to talk to god with it. then apparently gives up because never does he use, or even is fascinated by the cb before or after his slight interrogation of the almighty. then rose uses it later to talk to her dead mother. and that's it.

there's also model helicopters picked up then set aside like a bored 5-year-old that symbolizes i don't know what but it seems that the filmmaker meant them to be some kind of portent. of what is never developed beyond a vague hint. so it goes. adams is a lovely creature. very lovely. in fact we get to see her in her knickers on at least three separate occasions. not that i'm complaining about seeing adams in her underwear only the filmmaker seems enamored of her too well and no one else appears in underthings even when other people, like the gifted steve zahn who plays a detective having an affair with rose, is in her bedroom when she is wearing nothing but bra and panties. if it seems i'm making too much of a barely clad adams it's because the director seemed to not know how to frame an intimate scene, whether it be with lovers or waking up in the morning alone in bed. in fact the whole of the picture is awkward as hell.

which is a shame for the movie is a good idea if it weren't so over-written and flabbily directed. the cast does well with what they are given. perhaps the director just graduated from film school and threw everything she knew into this film, the good and the obvious that is presumably taught in film school. the ending is a let down as if the director didn't know how to end it and just simply stopped in mid breath. maybe the director wanted to make a slice of life and life itself is often anti-climactic. perhaps. what i want from a movie of this sort is not necessarily closure but at least some kind of resolution. if the movie is to end on a still-drop then the flick must be built to that suddenness. not meander around it.

another undeveloped idea was the sister's sexuality and her relationship with another woman. it's picked up then dropped as quickly as the idea was announced. pity. since the sister definitely needed some kind of stability other than her more reliable older sister and slightly befuddled but wise old sage of a father. not that i should be ragging on this flick. i was disappointed by it but i liked it well enough. not to see again but the range of adams as expressed even in this limited film was a pleasure to behold. adams has a little of i don't know what that makes her immediately, at least to me, likable. her likability was barely enough to carry this film. as for the filmmaker, christine jeffs, who i just learned by clicking on her profile at made the earlier biopic of the poet sylvia plath, and which i've not seen so can't comment on it, perhaps needs to make a few more films to hone her craft. as for her movie under review, well, as the late joe e. brown once said, nobody's perfect.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

man of letters

anna asked me yesterday while we were out doing errands what would be my ideal job if i didn't have to work for money. we're not talking careers or jobs even, the kind of work we must do to pay our way in this world, but something done out of love, i guess, work that is like a career but more so. i don't know what i'd do. movie critic? that's not really a job or career even tho some writers try to make it so. travel blogger? that would be cool if i didn't have to work for money and could write about whatever i pleased. but i could do that now albeit on a vastly reduced scale. how about poet? anna reminded me that poetry is not a career or job. it is what one makes a life. i'm doing that right now with varying degrees of failure. so i came up with the antiquated phrase, man of letters. why not. i couldn't put that on my tax returns. that is until i can retire from my dayjob. i thought about going all west coast laid-back post-modern and call myself, in the style of the coen bros' flick the big lewbowski, dude of letters. however, that sounds rather precious, and living in the world of words might be cute but it ain't precious. so man of letters it is. until i can think of something else.

until then, happy easter, all y'all.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

quote unquote

language is love

--robin blaser

Thursday, April 01, 2010

i do eat a peach, i eat all the time

it's national poetry month, which is all well and good but to me, and probably to you as well, every month, hell, everyday is poetry day. do you do as i do and think about it even when you are not consciously thinking about it. do you watch movies, look at paintings, make a meal, eat your food, engage in all your senses five, use your critical thinking skills and even when you flatline in front of the tv, do you do as i do and still think about poetry, as a writer and reader?

which means that i'm not going to engage in the writing a poem a day exercise. not that there's anything at all wrong with writing a poem a day. this week i've been working 10-11 hrs days and coming home zonked out. i still think about poetry. no matter how exhausted i get i read poems all the time. i mean all the time. when i read i mean. not all the time like when i'm driving or doing my dayjob which this week i've been working 10-11 hrs days.

to paraphrase basho even reading poems, i hear the poems cry. i'm thinking how i can use this or that technique or subject or you name it in poems. i'm sure you do the same. i'm writing even when not writing. alex gildzen posted a terrific essay of his life in poetry here. i second his emotion. i've received this week three poems he'd just composed based on a recent trip to las vegas and alex's poems are brimming with life, eroticism and the love of words. reading them makes me happy to be alive.

that's what poetry does for me, makes me happy that i'm alive. i don't care for fame, fortune [there ain't any in poetry, and for that i'm grateful as hell, really i am] but only to live my life in the service of my art just because it illuminates me and makes me happy. there are very many who don't know what to do with their lives and therefore unhappily exist. i do not make any claims of superiority at all or even sound like i'm gloating. far from it. as duncan mcnaughton wrote in a poem about the poet's life, ours is the cheapest in the world. but i know what i want from life and know what i want to do in my life. it is to live in the world of words. i do that, and i've been lucky enough thus far to do just that, i'll die a very happy man.