Thursday, March 31, 2011

doppler effect

they say winter in northern california is the longest spring, compared to the east coast that is. last week it was what passes for winter here, and it was very wintery, where the snow dropped at a very lowly 2000 ft and the rain in the valley didn't let up. what a difference. as i type the windows of the house are open to the clement weather and everyone it seemed were dancing in the streets with joy that spring has sprung. except that we usually transition from winter to summer blast furnace. nick had his first t-ball game of the season tonight. and the day was just right for baseball.

when the weather turns to summer thoughts i think about movies. summer movies. and being at the drive-ins. the sac 6 is still up and running despite the threat that every year will be its last. no doubt one year soon it will be its last. in the meantime i have the drive-ins to go and hang with my bud b. and a place to share with nick.

when the weather is warm and we have the windows open in the house and i have to go outside to take out the trash or something i get this doppler effect from the sound of the tv, especially if there are two tvs tuned to the same channel in different rooms. the effect reminds me of the old car speakers drive-in theaters used before they turned to fm radio tuning. it's no surprise that i lived at and for the drive-ins. i'd beg my parents, especially my old man, to take me and my brothers every chance i got. even in winter. but mostly we'd go in the summer. the car speakers stood on poles. when you're a kid at the drive-in movies in the 1970s you spent a lot of your time at the snack bar and the playground, complete with slide and sets of swings. every drive-in theater had a playground. the sac 6 still does, in fact they have two playgrounds. at the playground i would get that doppler effect from the sound of a movie played from many different speakers at many different locations. at home when i get that effect i am transported.

yesterday was open house at nick's school. he'll start first grade next year. his teacher says he's more than ready for the task. the budget sucks for california schools, schools all over the u.s. if you want to see your tax dollars at work don't go to a public school. even tho a big chunk of the state budget goes to education, i hear, you'll not see the evidence in the classroom. you'll weep in frustration and wonder how come we can allow schools to be understaffed, overcrowded, and little provided for. nevertheless, there are three first grade teachers to choose from. really two and a half. one teacher is responsible for a class of both first graders and second graders. one first grade teacher was bright and cheery. she told me that one of the activities she planned for her students was a day to bring in a few fathers to explain what they do for a career. she said for this school year one dad who came in to explain his job was a soldier and the kids ate him up. there was proof in a slideshow of the soldier all in battle fatigues before the class. i thought, i can't participate in that. the kids would ask me what i do for a living and i'd tell them i sit at a desk and stare at a computer screen all day. sometimes i click a mouse.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

quote unquote

all there is
is blood and thump.

jimmy 'the jam' schuyler

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

lookie see

after my post below about middle-aged skaters i headed over to youtube and found rather serendipitously this video by dinosaur jr. the band's been around in one carnation or another since 1984. watching j mascis, who i think is about 45 now, skate makes my aging gen-x heart swell.

falling asleep over the new yorker

it's like a switch gets turned off, and i'm down for the night. might be because i'm aging [ain't we all] or i just run myself too hard. whatever the case i was reading an article about the catastrophes in japan last night and then it was as if an anaesthesiologist hooked me up and flipped the switch.

i'm aware of the passage of time, of time passing. how long an hour takes is no longer an hour. to say time flies is to miss the cliche. time moves at light speed. a moment ago i was 20. now i'm staring into middle age. it's not a complaint. or regret. what i want to do is get a few scientists at m.i.t. to work on a new calendar, one where the work week is collapsed and the weekend expands.

i'm serious too about getting a skateboard. oh i know. i've been jawing about skating for years. i haven't been on a board in over 20 years. i may just kill myself. but if i'm gonna have a mid-life crisis then let it be a matter of rediscovery and i so loved skating. when i turn 45, which is a little less than 2 years from now, that's when i will found my own street skating gang. THE SKEEZERS. skating geezers. why 45? because that's when i think i'll admit to myself that i'm right in the middle of my life.

i also want to slow down. read more. write more. correspond more. tell those whom i love that i love them. what else. i don't know. i'm getting old. i forget. not get stuck in my ways? that's for certain. this evening i stopped at the library. i was looking for a particular anthology. what i did was what i have loved doing since i was a kid. pulling a book from the stacks and lean against the aisle and read. i read a batch of poems by kit robinson in an anthology edited by douglas messerli. i can't recall the title. robinson's poems make me happy. combing the stacks is a pleasure i'd forgotten. it is a lesson in going slow. life is too short to be in such a hurry. that's a lesson i'm always learning.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

the ghost and mr. chicken[1966]

mr. chicken is the legendary comic actor don knotts. nick wanted to watch a scary movie this evening and i suggested this flick as i knew it would be just his speed, the plot involves knotts as a wannabe newspaper reporter who to prove his reporter's chops must spend the night in a haunted house. i told nick that this movie was just a year older than me. he said, whoa! to which i concured. yep, a movie older than your old man. grasp that! still, i said, there are lots of movies older than even grandpa. to which nick said, double whoa! of course, it's all a matter of perspective. the world has changed a great deal in the intervening 40 odd years. we don't drive edsels for example, or wear three-piece suits and matching headgear. nor do we address each other as mr. or mrs. nevertheless this movie is a delight. comedies, back in the old days, were slower and more deliberate in their pacing. there are no gross-out gags. language is pretty dull, unless you consider the word 'heck' to be menacing and offensive. it's easy to be lulled by such decorum. but that's just the point, i think. knotts was nothing but a brilliant physical comedian. his slim frame simply hums electric. the movie is built on knotts' persona. his name on the marquee is a harbinger of what awaits us, nervous energy, stuttering speech and an everyman gestalt that most of us can relate too. plus the flick is rich with spookhouse couture, spider webs, creepy organ music, an old house, and an old story of a murder/suicide. by the second reel we know pretty much who is behind the hauntings, but it is a terrific ride to the end all the same. oh, i also wanted to mention knotts' love interest, played by joan staley. i have to admit that she is an unknown quantity to me. she is in this movie the straight man to everyone's zaniness, much like jerry seinfield in his eponymous tv show, and she is absolutely lovely to look at. at least to me. what i kept thinking as i watched this movie tonight was that this was the world as it stood as i entered it. or at least it was the world as it wanted to be viewed. we must take art on its own terms and not view it, perhaps, within our own historical perspective. but i couldn't help but think about hippies, the vietnam war, lsd, free love etc. etc. as i watched this movie. those are things absent in this movie. rather we have an old-fashioned spookhouse flick reified by a great comic actor. does a dork get the girl and save his newspaper's reputation? does a bear shit in the woods, might be an answer. do spooks go boo in the night? watch this flick and you tell me.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

death of an icon

it was duly noted, and sadly observed, onthe death of the great icon elizabeth taylor yesterday. she was an eyeful, and something very special. but for me the real money was when she and richard burton were together both in life and in film. quite honestly i am a rabid admirer of burton and went thru a very heavy burton phase once upon a time, watching as many films i could that starred and/or featured the great actor.

my burton obsession led me to the movie who's afraid of virginia woolf [1966]. i read the albee play before seeing the movie, as i think most english majors do, and heard nothing but accolades for mike nichols' adaptation. not only did the film star richard burton, but it also featured george segal, sandy dennis [a very much under appreciated actor], and elizabeth taylor. absent was the usual hollywood glamor and instead we are witness to a beat down.

trailblazing some call the movie. others find it liberating both for the theater and for cinema. i can't argue with that, but for me this film is a hard slog to sit thru. expertly crafted as a movie with a top-notch cast it is the subject that i really have litle stomach for. of course it was brave for the very beautiful taylor and the dashing burton to take on these roles as a married couple locked into an eternal war with each other. there may even be a sliver of love displayed at the end of the film when both leads turn a bit tender. but for the duration of the run-time all there is rancor, anger, and a self-destructive rage that can't be appeased.

that's the point of the matter both for albee and nichols. for me as the viewer i can better spend my time doing any thing else than watching two fairly privileged characters boil in self-righteous anger. i want to scream at the screen, get a fucking divorce you losers! life's too short for their explosions. i suppose i need to meet the movie on its own turf and take it on its own terms. that's what art does, i think, make you live outside of yourself while being yourself. but this crazy punch in the gut is an exercise in narcissism, after all we are witness to a couple who, in my eyes, have a very pampered life, but would rather bitch and blame each other for their failures.

i do recall the reason for their anger underlying their made-up world to cover that void in their lives. still, the script is, to my ears, too shrill and ultimately the characters are unlikeable. but in my loathing for this movie i will admit that it is an astonishing piece of cinema. taylor showed the world some serious acting chops, and burton is astonishing. the world is a poorer place without elizabeth taylor. she was a star unlike any other and was i think sui generis. we shall not see her like again.

cupcakes & ramones cds

yesterday listening to npr the discussion went something along the lines of the high cost of war and i thought damn bombs and shit costs a crapload of money to kill destroy and maim i'd rather have my tax dollars go for something less expensive and with a greater degree of good will and yes possibly even love and i remembered that henry rollins said something to that same effect when my good friend b. and i saw rollins in sf on one of his spoken word tours rollins said that he'd rather use his tax dollars to not drop bombs on people but to unload cupcakes and ramones cds on people imagine if you dare the wonder of the people to have a plane fly over and not get a rain of fire but instead get a yummy pastry and a great punk band

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

quote unquote

On other lunchtime occasions I typed my lunch-receptionist poems a la Frank O'Hara a la Nicholson Baker a la Wallace Stevens a la Dilbert.

--jason camlot

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


i was simply two legs walking to the office this morning with my head down i was lost i think i was lost in thought i may have been but what rimbaud said of himself that i had a look so lost that perhaps no one could see me

it came down to this

the city scrubbed clean and looking good after a strong spring storm that dropped a couple of inches of rain threatening some areas with flooding it stopped the rain just for today

passing the park where the bums sit the hours i witnessed this etched into the concrete of the sidewalk


instead of mocking it and going no doy i thought yes that's right as a proof and buffer for the day that was ahead of me i'll take every affirmation even if it is unwarranted a small gift a slight sigh

Thursday, March 17, 2011

st patrick's day massacre

i left the office a quarter to six tonight. on my usual route i noticed that the streets were thick with crowds. normally mid-week in mid-town is pretty quiet. not tonight. throngs. gangs. hordes of people, all in various shades of green. shuffling and moaning from one club to another. it was surreal. like a movie. they were everywhere. shuffling. moaning. some even throwing up what looked like their own lungs. they were holding some things in their hands. in my panic i couldn't make them out. beer bottles? cigarettes? shillelagh? some one said, kiss me i'm. . .i couldn't make out the rest. i felt like a refugee among the faceless, green throngs. i zigged and i zagged thru the streets but i couldn't avoid these people, green, shuffling, shuffling, some let out whoops. others yelled out something like, yeah! it was better once past the clubs but even in my neighborhood i saw green. everywhere. i barely made it home alive!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

quote unquote

To write a poem you must first create a pen that will write what you want to say. For better or worse, this is the work of a lifetime.

--jim harrison, from the introduction to his collection after ikkyu

Monday, March 14, 2011

my double-wide in bombay beach on the salton sea

well, not really. but i've long been fascinated with the place. located below palm springs, california the summer temperatures hover in the low triple digits and was once considered the riviera of california. the sea is actually a large lake that was once a dry bed that had flooded in 1905 with water from a swollen colorado river. with no natural drainage the lake became the salton sea. agricultural run-off and other chemicals so polluted the water that annual mass fish die-offs are common. thus the resorts that were humming in the 1950s and 1960s were abandoned and their signs and buildings rotting in neglect. a hardy core of people call bombay beach their home. the salton sea resonates with me because of its decrepitude. it is one of my goals to visit the area. there are places that hum for us. at least for me. when the shit sometimes gets thick i imagine my family pulling up stakes, purchasing an airstream trailer, and moving to our dotage in bombay beach. a man can dream, can't he? anyway, i'm not the only one fascinated by the salton sea. a few years ago a documentary was made about the area. john waters narrates. here is the trailer.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

quote unquote

Sometimes I look at people and think: wanna make out?

--todd colby, from his thursday top 10 list, that made my crappy day a good one

the question for today

what ever the fuck happened to norma rae?!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011


you spend the day hunched in yr cube & when you get up & wander thru the corridors of identical cubes you run into others who when you ask how their doing they say i'm tired & so you are too slogging along until the end of the day when the bell rings & you can go home you wonder if you can make the long trek thru the city its streets its traffic its denizens who are also on their short march to their homes heads down furrowed & narrowed in self-combustion when you find that spring is almost here & you can hear the birdsong under the traffic horns see the buds shoot green red & purple from tree limbs & you discover that you are no longer zapped of energy & you say to yourself as if it was a prayer yes it was all worth it the whole slog of the day all of it just for this walk home & this life at home

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

art brut iii [post-xmas worksong]

get it
for sleighing it

Sunday, March 06, 2011

art brut ii

get it
by slaying it

quote unquote

To tell the story, one would need an account of where value actually comes from. This is not impossibly complex; unlike the niceties of derivatives, it's not rocket science. If value is generated by people laboring to produce stuff that gets sold, and profit comes from exploiting the productive value of labor—this is a simplification, of course, but not a mistake—sooner or later people will have to labor productively to make good on any extended credit. By people I mean people.

But this becomes decreasingly likely, until it is impossible. Promises to do all that work later will reach limits, particularly as companies cut labor costs, replace workers with machines and outsource work to overseas markets. New value, arising only from the discrepancy between wages and productivity, appears elsewhere when it appears at all (witness the growth of India and China). Or it appears to glimmer in the future: credit is the name for spending it now. But even the future has a limited number of hours, technically. Meanwhile, over in the finance sector, where the money seemed so recently to reside, there is only a genteel, bloody struggle over how existing value is divided; no new value is created. The gap between value that can be realized and "fictitious capital"—claims on future value, all those derivatives purling through the purportedly new economy—has become a chasm. No one can vault over it any longer.

-- joshua clover, on the economic bust of 2008. do read all of clover's illuminating essay here.

weather report

it was raining so hard
when anna opened the door to get the paper
she was eye to eye
with a racoon sloped to the porch

Saturday, March 05, 2011

quote unquote

I have faith, hope, charity & a bottle of pills

--kevin opstedal

difficulties of the flâneur

when walking down the street and you get to a corner someone else turns that corner at the cross street and walks beside you

do you

a) continue walking side by side and ignore the other walker

b) cross the street and walk on the other side

c) vary your pace to either be behind or ahead of the other walker

sometimes you just gotta rock!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

today on the radio i heard a republican politician

who wants to defund the epa
strip it of all its regulatory powers
because it is 'job-killing'
and will raise prices in kansas
among other places

and i think of something said
by a scientist on a program
about global warming

he said the scientist

anytime you hear a politician talk about the economy over ecology you are listening to an idiot because the economy is wholly a subsidiary of ecology.

spring & stuff

how could anyone not want to break out
into spontaneous song & dance in yr cube

after a good soaking off & on
the city is scrubbed new

the weather is warm
the sky brilliant blue

let it be plain this homily
i suppose

spring arrived nearly 3 weeks early
for a bit

until the next storm

& my only complaint is
after getting new prescription eyeglasses

with bifocals
2 months ago

i now need a newer pair of reading glasses
because print somehow

got even smaller
in my domestic bohemia

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

below is a poet i've long admired

the republican's cry upon her first published poems


you don't get paid for poetry?
you can't get rich?!

it's time to privatize!!!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

random openings

Our relative discomfort with any single piece of pornography will be directly related to whether we feel ourselves to be the object or subject of the work -- and to how comfortable we feel being the object or subject of anything. Do we feel like actors, or the acted-upon? Which is more comfortable? Since pornography springs directly from an unfiltered and unedited (and still almost completely unanalyzed) imagination, eliminating porn wouldn't actually accomplish much, anyway. "[We] would still be left with the content of our fantasies," writes Richard Goldstein, who wants "excess and extremity" because that's what he doesn't have in his real life. "Those who long for realism in pornography -- ordinary acts with plausible partners -- ought to be condemned to dream that way." Porn is excessive in its emotional as well as its physical expression. Rarely does any sex act contain the intensity and the dramatized states of surrender, fear, anxiety, desire, and satisfaction that porn shows. We the lumpenproleteriat disappear into it as into a dream.

--sallie tisdale, talk dirty to me: an intimate philosophy of sex [doubleday, 1994], pp. 164-165

quote unquote

Don't fuck my shit up with your sullen animal bullshit;
you are not a rockstar--you are a animal, like me.

--todd colby