Monday, April 30, 2012

being mccrary

last month jim mccrary, diy poet, ex-blogger, and great friend, sent me an email that he was planning a trip to visit his son quincy and daughter-in-law melinda who live in richmond, a city a little east of san francisco, and maybe i could drive up for a visit.

well, fuck yeah.  i am normally monkish in my habits.  i rarely drive.  i hardly go to readings.  i enjoy my family and my solitude.  i am also, i think, a loyal friend even when he thinks he's rather monkish -- a foolish notion, fer sure -- loves the company of friends.  so yeah.  i drove yesterday to richmond to visit the mccrarys.

ah technology, where would i be without you.  see, i've driven past richmond many, many times but never had occassion to visit the town itself.  so i used google maps to see what the younger mccrary's house is located and the best way to get there.  spooky to have so much info at one's fingertips but google maps was utterly brilliant in its accuracy.  i found the house without difficulty.

i was a bit late in my arrival.  obligations at home kept me from leaving sac to get to our appointed rendezvous time, 2:00 p.m.  i was about 20 minutes late.  i found jim standing in the front room as i knocked on the door.  it was love at first sight.

silly?  no man.  see mccrary is one of those dudes that i've learned the most from in my adult life.  his example, his poetics, his self-publishing, his no b.s. attitude, and his keen humor make him a singular presence not only in the small world of poetry but in the wider world of human beings.  we hugged in greeting and sat down with quincy for a long visit that didn't end till 11:00 p.m.

later melinda arrived home from work.  we went to a local thai restaurant for some delicious nosh.  what did we talk about?  all sorts of politics.  movies and tv shows and w.s. burroughs too.  but mostly politics.  i don't know why but the political banter was passionate, stimulating and refreshing.  still there was so much to say and so little time to say it.  plus melinda and quincy had to get up in the morning to go to work.  jim was heading to s.f. in the morning to spend a day with an old friend before catching a flight back to lawrence.  i can talk forever.  it's in the lopez genes.  my father and my brothers are all non-stop gabbers.  the only way to get one of us to shut up is to talk over and cut off the speaker.  it's a terrible trait, i know, and i try to remember that when i'm with friends that i need to shut up now and then.  i did my best.

i had a long drive in front of me.  i bid adieu to quincy and melinda, petted their two basset hounds goodbye, and waived farewell to ella the cat.  i asked jim to walk me to my car.  we spoke for a few minutes more as i enjoyed the warm east bay breeze.  we hugged our goodbyes.  i then slipped the cd of a electronica jam band that quincy made for me into the stereo and then drove off quietly and without urgency east to my family who i knew were firmly and soundly asleep. 

below are the pics of me and mccrary.  i couldn't decide which ones to post so i'm publishing them all.

portrait of the artist as a goof-ball

Saturday, April 28, 2012

thinking soylent green [1973]

a few weeks ago i caught this on tv.  i remember when i saw sg in the theater [it was probably the drive-ins, most probably the sac 6 drive-ins, but i really don't remember]  i recall my own reaction against this dystopian future by looking out among the leafy greens of sac [reputably one of the leafiest greeniest cities of the world and second only to paris in square acreage of urban forest] and nearly weeping in gratitude that the world was not quite so poorly off as it was for charlton heston, edward g robinson et al.

remember that was in the 1970s, an era of high inflation and energy crises, where there was an over arching sense of doom and that the u.s. had entered into an irreversible downward spiral.  the earth was -- is -- overabundant in people and scarce in her resources.  entropy was -- is -- thought to be as inevitable as death and processing the end of civilization, and/or our species, turned in some of the most thought-provoking, and pulpiest, of movies such as this flick.

what makes me think of this flick is this fascinating, pessimistic article about sg.  the author of the piece takes a very dim view of human beings and chafes at the notion that we should be horrified by the revelation made by charlton heston that the food product soylent green is made of people.  interestingly the movie despite its dated decor is rather prescient in its demands and worries of overpopulation and global warming.  even the photography is rough, grainy and depicts an over-heated city infested with people. 

not that i agree with the above referenced article.  i think even if our moral compass was busted we would still be horrified to learn that the only remaining food source was ourselves.  but then what after such knowledge?  many movies are being remade today, and for no good reason, i think, than to make a clutch of dough.  i believe sg would make a good candidate for revision.  i've not read harrison's source novel so i'm unsure of how faithful an adaptation the film is to the book. 

the revision would start near the end of the movie where the heston character learns the truth of the matter.  then there is the horror of reckoning.  i think that when heston is carried away in a stretcher after telling his boss that soylent green is people heston is never heard from again.  in other words, the soylent corporation and the government would make him disappeared and his boss would never tell, or even believe, such knowledge.  that's what i think happens after the film fades out and in to some bucolic images taken from the suicide center called HOME where edward g robinson checks out after learning the truth of the food stuff. 

but what if the truth were leaked.  what then.  if there is no more topsoil to grow crops and our oceans are dead would we flatten our response to the truth of the food and eat it anyway.  or would we choose starvation instead.  would there be mass suicides.  would there be willful ignorance.  would there be a spike in messianic religiosity.  the mind reels at the possibilities. 

it seems every 20 to 30 years dystopian fictions become mainstream again.  especially in times of political temerity and economic instability.  literature -- and cinema, especially popular movies, are literature -- does not reflect who we are or think we are.  literature is indeed who we are -- our hopes, dreams, terrors and loves.  we are as a species continuously discovering and remaking ourselves.  words, sounds and images are not outside of us but are intertwined within the marrow of our bones and synapses of our brains.  we are now at an age where dystopian visions are beginning to populate our imaginations again.  it would be fascinating to take our contemporary worries and fears and channel them into remaking sg where the narrative is driven not out of ignorance toward truth but that the truth is the start of a new kind of horror. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

spring rain ninja haiku

dude dresses in black crouching beneath an oak tree
in rain and wind
says he's so fast he moves in spaces between the drops

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

3 anti-rules for anti-poets

apologies to nicanor parra*

1) write a lot

2) read a lot

3) make a lot of mistakes

learn to cultivate the art of stumbling thru your life so that when you bump into something or someone or some event you may learn to pause, in wonder, and say, goddamn! it's good to be alive

*okay, i am on a parra kick but the grand anti-poet is not the first writer to coin the term anti-poet, and anyway if we don't want his example to die out we should adopt anti-poet, with all due respect and with great humility, so here i am

Sunday, April 22, 2012

fucking haiku

sun and spring weeds
even in its midst
i stub my big fucking toe

2 poems about baseball

for j. hayes

1.  ontology

it is a ball.  with it i catch and throw.

2.  teleology

it is a bat.  with it i hit.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


lift the window open
mixed with helicopter searchlight

* * *

somewhere something someone playing
or crying
with the tune 'the night they drove old dixie down'

* * *

i'd go dancing if my reflexes were any good
wooden like or wooly like
i'd still watch the final episode of american bandstand

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


sleepwalking thru my day

all day bent toward the computer screen

all day explosive sun and green leaves

* * *

if you want proof of spring

look out the window and see the squirrels and crows


* * *

feel just even

like a flat-line ekg reading across the screen

in a 1970s disaster movie

* * *

as if a battle is about to be fought

godzilla vs. king kong

where you know that in the end it'll be a draw

Friday, April 13, 2012

attack the block [2011]

to my california bred, u.s.american, ear, the title of this flick sounds a bit clunky. frankly, i wasn't sure what was meant by 'block'. it's slang of course, a british term for subsidized housing, the sort of housing that we yanks call 'the projects'. not that that matters a whole hell of a lot. even the same language, english, is spoken in different tongues. there was a rhythm to the slang that became a tune that was running in my ear all of last night and all of day.

a very enjoyable indie feature that has the same energy and comedy as edgar wright's zom-com flick shaun of the dead [2004]. indeed, atb features nick frost in a supporting role as a lay-about drug dealing dude and is co-produced by wright. and yet, the energy does not come to the level of hilarity as does wright's feature. a small quibble really since this is a refreshing kind of movie.

what happens is this: a young lady walking home from a long shift as a nurse is mugged by a group of teens who are as nervous about committing the crime as the woman is frightened by the crime itself. after the mugging victim escapes an object crashes at high velocity into a nearby car. when the leader of the teens investigates the wreckage -- and looking for whatever he can nick from the demolished care -- he is attacked by an unholy creature that scratches the shit out of the kid's face. the gang chases down the creature, kills it, then carries it off as a trophy.

the teens, and the woman, all live in the block located in south london. the inner-city -- get it? -- meets outer space [i think that was the tag line]. the creature the boys kill is a female alien ready to mate. potential suitors begin crash landing all over the neighborhood and are none too happy that their mate was murdered. the shit, my friends, hit the fan.

not really a new concept. the woman and the teens buddy up to battle the baddies. the cops think that the bodies piling up are the work of the kids -- because they are inner-city, deprived youths [get it?] and frost's drug dealing boss is also trying to kill the kids. why? because of a major hole in the plot. such is the life in movies. sometimes the flicks don't make a helluva lot of sense but are still fun to watch.

i think this is filmmaker joe cornish's first feature and a good one at that. i'd like to see what he does next. the actors who played the kids were utterly believable as kids. a very good job they did. this pic is a strong cup of tea that not everyone may enjoy but if you are nuts for monster movies you'd be hard pressed to find a like kind of entertainment in the movie landscape today.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

how do you say 'potato'?

it seems every one is reading the hunger games trilogy and raving about the movie of the same name. sure, the thought of teens trapped in a wooded area forced by an oppressive regime to kill each other until there is only one kid left standing appeals to my atavistic side. i haven't seen the movie -- yet -- nor read the books so i can't really comment about them. the idea of kids forced to kill for sport and entertainment is not new.

in 2000 a japanese flick called battle royale was released on a tender viewing public. the theme runs this way: japan is in economic, political and social turmoil. the government chooses a class of high school students, drops them on a remote island, puts explosive collars on their necks, gives them food and a weapon, and forces them to kill until one is left alive and declared the winner.

i've not seen this movie but have heard and read about it over the years. this flick was never released here in the u.s. too controversial even for violent u.s. standards, i guess. my times have indeed changed for the hunger games is the biggest grossing film this year. and now battle royale was just released on dvd and blu-ray. oh yeah, i wanna see this flick.

will br get the love that the hg is receiving? unlikely since americans really don't care for movies with subtitles. even if the pic is a bloody social satire. plus i have a bias for asian genre flicks. the originals, such as the grudge and the ring, are so much better than the american remakes. perhaps that's just me.

here's the trailer for the dvd release of br.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

the hindenburg [1975]

how could i forget this flick? i'd seen it the first time around when i was a wee lad and it was the 1970s and disaster movies were all the rage. producer irwin allen was the king of disaster movies, such as earthquake [1974] [viewed in glorious sensurround sound system that made the theater horribly shake. i remember when the first temblor hit there was a girl sitting in the third row who jumped over the aisles and flew toward the exit], and towering inferno [1974], that director robert wise had to get on the act too.

like every other disaster pic there had to be an all-star cast. this movie featured george c. scott, anne bancroft, charles durning, gig young, and a bunch of other actors. like every other disaster movie the producers and writers were tasked with wrapping a narrative around the money shot, the reason people went to see these movies in the first place: the chaos and destruction. usually that narrative was boring as hell.

the hindenburg is no exception to being boring. i remember that the story of the tragedy of the nazi zeppelin bursting into flames as it tried to dock was a big thing in the 1970s. as a kid i remember seeing the newsreels and hearing the radio announcer register his horror broadcast on tv. filmmaker wise i suppose attempted to latch on to the story and create a piece of fiction that will build up and up till the final pay-off.

so wise and his writers concocted a conspiracy theory. the zeppelin exploded thru the agency of conspirators who planted a bomb. scott's job as an actor was to uncover the conspiracy, find the bomb and save the day. but to get there the viewer had to sit thru reel upon reel of the cinematic equivalent of watching grass grow, paint dry or flies fucking.

it's that boring. i was lucky tonight. i caught the last half hour and didn't sit thru roughly an hour and half of tedium to get to explosion. wise spliced in the real newsreel footage with his movie. to pull that off he switched the film from color to black and white. wise probably thought by switching to black and white would lend his movie a certain weight, a gravitas, that would bring home the tragedy.

it sorta works. if a disaster movie can be sentimental tripe than this is as sentimental as a greeting card. by sentimentality i mean that the viewer's emotions are baldly and rankly manipulated. we are expected to feel the horror because the movie is telling us what is happening is horrible. to prove it the movie is in black and white, is using actual footage of the disaster, and also concludes with the actual recording of the radio announcer's grief in 1937.

oh, and there are little mugshots of the actors posted on the screen at the end with a narrator giving us a body count. oh and oh again, the narrator decries the possible causes of the explosion. one of those possibilities might be an act of sabotage. oh and oh and oh again, the last shot is a deep shot of a cloudy sky with an intact hindenburg flying into the middle distance only to slowly fade from the frame.

a b-movie par excellence. perfect for the drive-in. which is where i first saw it way back when. at the sac 6 drive-in. which is still, hallelujah, still in operation. the last of its kind in northern california. or one of the last. the weather is getting warmer. it is almost time to go to the drive-in. and watch some movies.

Monday, April 09, 2012

great moments in philosophy

steve martin as socrates on saturday night live

after drinking from the cup of hemlock

and then learning what he consumed says

what?! you guys coulda said

socrates, hemlock is poison!

on language of the street: a post script

the day after writing the poem about violent language and the homeless i was walking down k st mall. it was getting close to 6:00 pm and the mall -- which used to be a pedestrian only outdoor mall, but now allows cars in the hope that vehicles will mean more commerce for the ailing mall -- was packed with people waiting at light rail stops in order to commute home.

lo, i happened upon a rather rough looking fellow shouting red anger at a man with his children in tow. i've no idea what the source of the altercation and i don't know if the rough looking dude doing the angry shouting at the man with the kids was homeless. it was a violent outburst and the guy with the kids began yelling back whereby the rough looking dude said something that alluded to wanting to fight.

no fisticuffs were exchanged and after a couple of minutes the rough looking hombre went his way. there was a vibe in the scene that was not violent, physically, at least. it seemed to my passing sense that no one was in danger of physical violence. and yet, there was tension that expressed itself in language. violent words.

then down the street i saw a homeless person, this man clearly in need of psyche medication, railing against i don't know what. the depth of his despair and anger was clearly evident in his choice of words. every third one, that i could make out, was the word, fuck.

the language of the street is violent, i think, because living on the street is a tough life. i wrote my poem out of an observation and wish fulfilment. i want the homeless to get the help they so desperately deserve. the guy who wanted to fight at the light rail stop, well, i don't know what his problem was. and yet. . .and yet. . .as the poet said, the world of dew is the world of dew. i know i'm turning into a hippie. i want there to be peace and love. that video of nicanor parra drinking milk is great because he flashes a double peace sign at us. i can dig that.

that's it. nothing else.

weather report

why do the cats
when it rains
act utterly deranged?

Wednesday, April 04, 2012


on language: passing a homeless woman this morning

i listened in to a scrap of her speech

the woman was florid

why don't you fucking get my head

motherfucking fuck fucker goddamn


* * *

call me hippie:

why is the language of the street so mean and so foul

i left the scene imagining otherwise

howdy sir and a fine morning

i'm not feeling bright

but am feeling like a dull sheen

Monday, April 02, 2012


i stubbed my toe against the grain of wood

--don't cry for spilt coffee

should i feel guilty when i see a man sleeping in the street

--two plus two equals four

there comes a time when you must stand up

--clack one then clack two

i can't tell when you are being deliberately obtuse

Sunday, April 01, 2012

check this shit out

just read this profile on antipoet nicanor parra where the interviewer mentions a milk commercial where the poet was paid 30 grand for his appearance. hmm. . .i can't quite grasp this happening in the u.s. who among us would do a milk commercial? a show of hands, please. in any case, here is parra in the commercial.