Friday, July 29, 2011

easy money [1983]

the premise of this movie is simple, and rather silly. if monty, played by the crack-up rodney dangerfield, can change is hard-drinking, smoking, wise-ass, gambling ways he gets to inherit his mother-in-law's wealth. the whole plot of the movie hinges on the question: can our man do it?

does bear shit stink? it's fun to watch dangerfield, and co-star joe pesci, clown around and mis-behave. dangerfield was a terrific comedic talent that is rare at any time; an older dude whose life is the punchline because he gets, in his dangerfield's own words, 'no respect'.

maybe so. who am i to argue with his thesis. dangerfield's persona was the everyman prole who couldn't catch a break or someone's cold. what strikes me is the dymanic between dangerfield's mother-in-law and dangerfield that aproximates class warfare. we have old blue-blood money pitched against ruddy individualism. dangerfield spouts no ideology but is an argument for spontaneous living. while his mother-in-law examplifies the desire for base control of her wealth, her environment and finally dangerfield who cannot be contained.

it's instructive to recall our obsessions with wealth 30 years ago. the new conservative thinking espoused by reagan was ascendant. there was a tv show called lifestyles of the rich and famous and some of the nighttime soap operas on tv were chronicles of rich and powerful families. one can argue that the proles have always been obsessed with the rich. it was fitzgerald who told us that the rich were different than you and me. in the '80s somehow it seemed that the obsessions became two-sided. no longer were the rich distant, aloof and unknowable. the rich were right in the spotlight and their hunger for the control of people's working and living lives became more evident.

of course all that is theorizing and not very good theory at that. yet there was a change in dymanic between the haves and the have-less that began in the '80s and is illustrated by this flick. for example the last words uttered by dangerfield's mother-in-law is, 'now i have him under my control', uttered in an oxbridge tone that screams of old money. what happpens next is for you to find out. orwell told us rather darkly that only proles and animals are free. that is not always the case. this movie was of its time and is still timely. when you get to the conclusion you might, because there is always hope --right? --, cheer as you laugh.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

quote unquote

is being an idiot like being high all the time?

--janeane garofalo

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


i've got hitched a ride on TRUCK

for the month of july skip fox is editing halvard johnson's blog and asked poets to marry their texts with writings dating before 1900

i chose the robert herrick's poem 'on julia clothes'

please click here for a ride with me and mr herrick

and while riding on TRUCK do read the wonderful editing done by senor skip fox

with contributions from anny ballardini, steve tills, patrick james dunagan, marthe reed and a whole host of some seriously kick-butt poets

i'm very grateful to be in their company

Monday, July 25, 2011

random notes

*did you read this cool interview with heriberto yepez?

*on the sad state of the world i'd rather be silent, almost successfully

*in '98 we drove from bergen norway to stockholm sweden

*i am ruminating stefan hyner's quote from the ancient chinese TO ABANDON YOURSELF TO POETRY AND WINE

*always late to the party i just discovered the blog of aussie poet ted nielsen

*via a video posted by jim knowles i've fallen in love with the band BEACH HOUSE

*i am no longer young but as adam zagajewski wrote some one is always older

*i want to master the art of wasting my time without wasted time

quote unquote

Things are so strange right now
in the world (like that will ever change)
but if you look hard enough, I mean
if you really just look,
there is so much beauty it's almost
liberating. You can handle it,
you are from planet Earth.

--todd colby

channeling thoreau*

so i sez to the dude what you been up to and he sez i'm endeavouring to rid myself of my faults but alas cannot come to the end of them and at that i want to slap the bitch upside his head

*me and thoreau aren't on speaking terms. i call him an asshole.
he calls me a phony.

Friday, July 22, 2011

life in the digital age pt. deux

okay, i've been an active, even heavy, internet user for close to 14 years now. i use computers in my day job and in my writing life as well. geof huth recently posted a lovely essay on how social media, the 'net even, is so woven in our creative, in the writing, reading and living, lives. i whole-heartedly agree with geof. i'm puzzled why some writers might resist digital life. all the good stuff is published online. blogs have connected me with writers all over the world. i am an american, a californian, but also profoundly a world citizen poet.

i'm still astonished by technology. so much so i'm like a giddy little kid. not by the devices of our digital age, but by their applications. e.g. i've been having difficulty with my anti-virus software. it started last night. so i went to the tech support and began an online chat with a technician. my first of its kind. then the technician asked to remotely control my computer to speed up the fix. i was apprehensive but then agreed. it was amazing. i couldn't believe what i was seeing. the problem was fixed in no time.

yeah, sure, ho hum. after it was done i nearly skipped into the next room and told anna. she laughed. she uses the technology all the time. me, i'm sorta like a neo-luddite who loves the digital life. i need books. i need to be surrounded by books. i need to read books. i need to hold them and smell them. i also need my laptop. but i don't have a mobile phone or an ipod. i don't want any of those things. when i walk thru my beloved city i want to hear the sounds of the city. i need to be integrated into the whole of life. we are witnessing a change in our culture[s], i think, when our fleshly lives merge with our digital lives. that merging is not a wave of the future. that merging is happening right now.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

electra fry

one of the great pieces of modern art is 'star-spangled banner' performed by the very fucking great jimi hendrix at woodstock. the performance is now what 42 years old and it is still as fresh and vital today as the moment hendrix shocked the shit out of everyone. the nation was incredibly divided at the time -- like now, but even more so -- and was both a love letter to this nation as it was a harsh critique of it. i don't know how else to say it but in my pantheon this performance ranks as one of the very best in achievement in any art form. i'd link to a performance at youtube but you know the song. seek it out. it will still fry and free your mind.

Monday, July 18, 2011

hobo with a shotgun [2011]

how i love summer movies! this little peccadillo is so redolent of mom&pop video shops where i'd peruse the selections of vhs tapes and take them home solely because the box cover art and the title of the film are totally gnarly that i can smell the popcorn machine that was often situated on the front counter of almost every '80s rental shop.

ah, thems were the days, oh yeah. you might have heard of this flick. i picked up my copy a couple weeks ago at target so this is not some rare cult film but an homage to those '80s video nasties that kids like me salivated over. canadian filmmaker jason eisener created a fake trailer for the grindhouse competition quentin tarantino and robert rodriguez did in support of their two-pronged features that were in themselves homages to neo-b flicks of yesteryear. eisener won the competition and a few years later got the funding to stretch his trailer into a full-length film.

essentially a vigilante justice movie rutger hauer stars as the eponymous hobo who rides the rails into scumtown. the town is ruled by a psycho called drake and his two idiot sons who inflect lots of bloodshed and mayhem to keep the denizens of scumtown in fear. eisener wastes little effort in the gore department and the atrocities rock like an extended solo by jimmy page. hauer takes the hoods of the town and drake to school with his shotgun. hauer is also befriended by a young woman named abby whom he saves from one of the two idiot sons.

crisply edited and lighted in day-glo reds, oranges, blues while smudging in more than a bit of greys and blacks to keep the contrasts sharp. it is a fun little flick that doesn't take itself very seriously and will have you, if you have a strong stomach, laughing at the gags. this is a movie-lover's kind of film that keeps its wits just above the surface and wouldn't know irony if it bled into eisener's coffee cup. just as well. since i couldn't imagine the tone any different. if eisener wanted to make a hard-rocking study of psychopathology he'll have to angle for the funding for that feature. rather, the director made a movie you could imagine finding at the mom&pop video shop, not expecting much, and discover that you've stumbled upon a hidden treasure. eisener sure seems to be that kid when the era of vhs video nasties is almost like a gilded age. so much so that this movie appears to be set in the 1980s from the decor, the technology and the music on the soundtrack. hauer is as always magnificent and it is wonderful to see him in this film. a nice little bit of summer stock.

electronic surf

there is a rock&roll exhibit at the state fair

when i went inside i noticed the sign stating dick dale

will be signing autographs between noon and 3:00 pm

drat missed him

then as we were ready to leave i heard the familiar chords

of the maestro of surf guitar

listened for a bit as dale turned in crunchy glissandos

tried to take a pic but it came out like shit

i came away singing another song but so apropos 'maybe i'm amazed'

Sunday, July 17, 2011

life in the digital age

we went to the california state fair today. stayed the whole day and night until closing. our dawgs were barking! i noticed the ever-present mobile phone and how laptops are part of the very fabric of commerce and displays, from the hawking of souviners round to the insects exhibits, laptops are woven into the background of our environment. this was especially pronounced at the industrial arts exhibit. industrial arts are the artifacts from shop classes that were, or are -- i don't know -- however many of the participating schools were not high schools but junior colleges, part of every high school curriculum, i.e. woodshop, auto shop, metal shop, electrical shop et al. where the students get to display their wares. gone are the extra-sized bookcases and bed frames made in woodshop, or huge metal filing cabinets contructed in metal shop. now, students use CAD programs to create blue prints and schematics for houses and buildings and these are pinned to the walls of the exhibit areas. a lot of robotics too and publishing ventures. but no crafts at all that needed manual labor. the world has changed. is changing still.

Friday, July 15, 2011

ballad of the [b]old punk

i had to get thru the day. that was paramount. then after i left the office with the thought of heading to the newsbeat to see what periodicals i can find. i had to get there first and first i needed to walk down j st packed with traffic and people. coming up to the bus stop often used as shelter by street people i see someone's walker rolling, slowly, from the covered bus stop. the walker picked up speed and dropped from the curb to the street and in front of a bus about to pull out from the stop and into traffic. the owner waved his arms in alarm. the bus stopped and honked for someone to retrieve it. that someone was me. i ran the half-block to get the walker and when i handed it to the old man it began to roll back down the sidewalk again. i gave it back to the man and his fingers clenched the object with such surprising strength. i muttered something like, take care, and continued my perambulations.

i made to to the newsbeat, bought the newest issue of rue morgue and lungfull!! and a couple of house mags for anna. nothing interesting in that because those are the very sorts of magazine i usually buy. i'm sure if there is a profile of me in some marketing database [and i'm sure there is] i wonder if my obsessions causes some headscratching. horror and poetry and home decor?! i imagine the analysts of marketing asking. who is this fucking guy?! but for the fact that the young lady who works at the newsbeat and who has rung up my purchases many, many times before has these very lovely fine black-line tattoos on her wrists and hands. i ask about her ink. i say, i'm an old guy and don't know where to get such work done but i love black fine-line tattoos. she tells me about one. i ask, is it too personal to see it? no. it's on her right hand. a very finely drawn reproduction of a drawing by jean cocteau. i want to ask her about the tattoo artist. instead i thank her and go on my way.

now i'm on k st. lots of clubs, mostly gay, and bistros. the street is packed. it's a lovely evening. a cool breeze and sunny. i recall a new shop, phono select i think it's called, that specializes in vinyl. i don't have a record player but noticed on an earlier jaunt that the record shop also has books. tonight i step inside. a few books and lots of zines. a cool coffee-table book of pictures of joy division. a new study on swedish exploitation films. then i hear the song. 'out of vogue' by the late '70s punk band middle class. i love the song. haven't heard it in years. i laugh in delight and spin around to the guy working the counter right behind me. i say, my god i've not heard middle class in ages! he's the owner of the shop, del. he grew up in the area. knew all the punk bands and the scene as i did. i think we might be around the same age. we talk for some time about punk music, the old shit, hardcore bands and records. i'm delighted to talk to del as we travel time together. after a while i thank him and go on my way.

back down k st where it dead-ends into alhambra blvd and the safeway supermarket where i stop to pick up beer and vittles. happy to be ensconced in my little burg and even in my own little life. outside the store is a young lady looking for citizen volunteers for a charity that helps in-home care recipients. she says to me, did you know unemployment rose 10% last year as corporate profits rose? yes, i say, i know that. i ask if they have a website. no, she tells me. i take her flyer and walk the couple blocks home thinking that maybe if she and her group want greater equity and a fairer distribution of wealth then her and her group might do better to try to organize labor and try to wake people up from whatever is preventing them from demanding a fairer share of what this very rich country offers its top earners. a start might be to demand fewer working hours and an increase in real working wages. i think all this. i am thinking about all this. how in some times in our past politics does become metaphysics. i think that the presence of the young activist woman might not be a bad start.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

from way up late

slow the works and hit the vein

some motherfuckers will believe anything

be it a ufo that lands in dc

or a tea party made bitter

by the loudest of the morti viventi

--4/21/11, 12:11 am

from way up late

summer sun flash

i am the cartographer of stillness

working seriously on being both a man and a mouse

bring a ghoul friend

the shortest distance between here and there

--3/31/11, 12:46 am

quote unquote

all over the map of Tuesday in a black Batman t-shirt & shades

--kevin opstedal
from kevin's just published selected poems,
california redemption value [u. of new orleans press, 2011]
i can't recommend this book enough!

Monday, July 11, 2011

6 1/2 views of super 8 [2011]

1) in the beginning is a small camera
telling the story

2) the camera fits in the hand
it also scans the feet

3) in the beginning are kids making a movie
like kids making a movie

4) the camera shoots stuff
--a robust alien arachnid

5) there are adults that resemble
the kids most clearly

6) the camera must blow things up
to tell the story

1/2) to see the story thru the camera
you have to squint

Saturday, July 09, 2011

on the down [s]low

i've mentioned here before and i'll say it again that i think part of my task, mission, art, however we wish to define my writing/life, is to go slow. slow down. way down. stop and eat the flowers, as our beautiful cat, ernie, taught us to do. in other words, carpefuckingdiem. i'm still working on it. by going slow i don't mean, nor do i even hint at, not striving for personal excellence. to be awesome. to do our work and live as best we can at the first intensity. by going slow i am saying that you can be awesome and live at the first intensity without being an asshole. by going slow we learn to savor our lives, our reading, our writing, our loves. by going slow we can practice lovingkindness and encourage our friends and loved ones that they too can be awesome without fucking over any one. i'm still working on it. you can practice competition without being competitive. a perfect day for me is to sit in one spot surrounded by my books, movies and laptop and get up only now and again for food and bathroom trips. that is paradise to me. CREATIVE NON-ACTION, is another term for the art of going slow. again, i'm still working at it. i was born in the summer of love. perhaps some vestigial hippiedom became embeded with my dna. whatever the cause i am, in the phrase of john bloomberg-rissman, happy because i am so damn glad to be alive.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

miminum smash*

the box
you opened it
we came
no time for
no body
escapes us
this isn't for
your eyes
taste our
we have such
sights to show you

*lines from hellraiser [1987]

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

cat puddles

cats make great thermometers. when it's cold they curl into a ball. as the temperature rises they elongate then finally stretch out into languid, liquid poses when the heat index goes thru the roof. it's been hot this past weekend. triple digits. summer's bitchslap saying, yo i am here!

we spent the weekend at the public pool. we've been doing a lot of time at the pool. we all have deep tans. the deck was so hot that my feet burst into flames between removing my shoes and getting to the coping. blisters galore.

reading stefan hyner last night he quotes a chinese phrase that translates to abandon oneself to poetry and wine. yes, that's it exactly. read the wine part as a metaphor if you want, or as a literal call to arms. the classical chinese poets did love to drink didn't they. they also loved poetry. like me. like you.

cy twombly passed away today. r.i.p. maestro. you lived a long, good life. we have your work. that should be enough.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

the combustible man/the dissolved man

off his meds i gather/i'm waiting to cross the street to get to safeway on alhambra blvd/i've seen him before/don't remember if i've given him money/exchanged a few words/trying not to look but look anyway/jerky movement/reverse moonwalk/righthand pointing to the sun/a disco king with busted wiring/i look to the street light/lose sight/have a feeling/turn round and he's right behind me/eyes spun and mouth gesticulating toward something/he's assumed my stance/my posture/when i cross the street

Friday, July 01, 2011

Sounds of Summer
for kevin opstedal

lawnmower buzz
electric cricket whine
late-nite tv infomercial drone
1970s drive-in speaker static haze
ghetto blaster pumping grandmaster flash & melle mel jams
skateboard trucks grinding against the street curb
whoosh & clang of basketball hoops at mckinley park
& quick explosions of opening the doritos bag