Saturday, August 31, 2013

a week at the beach

i am still adjusting to life on the land, getting my landlegs back.  i'm telling you each time i get near running water i feel the drift of the surf and the pull of the waves.  hey now what the hell.  we spent a long [too short] glorious week at a small, laid-back beach town called cayucos.  the town is situated about 30 miles north of san luis obispo and right next to morro bay [famous for its huge rock in the surf].  hearst castle is nearby too.  indeed while we took the cottages and kitchens tour at hearst castle leon panetta was also taking a tour, albeit privately, with a small contingent of i guess secret service [?] and park rangers.  but it was nice to see that even the powerful of our nation are also tourists too.

cayucos is the kind of town santa monica must've been in the 1950s.  if i squinted hard enough in the middle distance, between the sun and the surf, i swear i could see william asher filming another beach movie.  the town is just that cool.  i loved it there.  so did nick and anna.  we are all sunburned and had to scrub the sand from our hair.  no wifi, no movies, no newspapers, just us and the beach and the sea and a little tv with basic cable.  we were out of it and made all the richer for it.  cayucos had two surf shops, one quite oo la la in prices and another very reasonable.  behind the reasonable surf shop was a half pipe for skating.  nope, i didn't dare try to skate, i don't like pain.  i was stoked to see it anyway.  the sight of it made this old punk swell up in tears of joy.

why worry anyway as i had plenty of beer and food and the beach was right outside our patio.  i spent a few nights under the scaffolding of stars and the milky way spread into the distance.  i kept a journal and jotted a few things but otherwise i read, watched, swam and enjoyed the pace and rhythm of life in cayucos, california.

below is a video by the band cayocas.  the song is titled 'cayucos' and all the imagery is from cayucos and morro bay.  yes.  the chill sound of the music is almost like sitting at the beach in cayucos.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

the conversation at lunch steered toward the fucked-upped-ness of the world.  then i stopped myself.  because there are so many good things, so many beautiful things, in and of this world.  i stare out the window and see a huge white moon.  it's presence is astonishing.  i go to run some errands and i find halloween decorations marking their seasonal appearance.  i have a beer for it is almost the weekend and the taste is hoppy, rich and delicious.  i am a man, a father, husband, employee [for we all have to have some sort of work], and poet.  i live in language and delight in it.  i am blown away by how big nick is growing.  i am humbled by my partner's eyes and how she has chosen me -- this fool -- as her mate.  i read an essay by cuban poet omar perez where he calls himself half an idiot in love with the world, and i am forced to agree, for i also identify my idiocy and love of the world.  it's not like a can help it.  i think i understand dickinson's metaphysics, how being alive is an art and wonder. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


trip out on the blue moon stumble

dizzy and wide open

Sunday, August 18, 2013


shall i remove myself from this daily world

news depress me images are horrifying

shall i remove myself like the ancient chinese

to their hermitage poetry and wine

last night i drank too many Rampant IPAs [8.2%]

the house tilted toward the bed

i dreamed of tom beckett

we were driving thru ohio

with many adventures that shimmered than faded

by morning toward an anti-solution

for life cannot be settled or completed

no matter how old we get


the late polish poet zbigniew herbert has a poem included in an early edition of his selected poems [i don't own a copy but have read the book in both the university library and the downtown central library ] titled 'on translation' which likens the art of translation to a bee that is covered in pollen.

if someone asks me of my literary forebears, my influences, i'd have to go with foreign poetry in translation.  i've even likened myself [silly, yes, but bear with me] an eastern european poet for i'd read so much eastern european poetry in translation beginning with my first picking up a pen and writing my first line that the influence of writers like herbert can not not be given their due.

besides, i'm hopelessly a monoglot.  translations of foreign poetry had opened up many many doors to my perceptions.  i've always thought of myself -- even when i was a wee lad -- as a citizen of the world.  translations had given my citizenry in world poetry a valid passport.

later my love of the world included the classical chinese poets [who in turn became great teachers to me] and writers like tomas transtromer and jaan kaplinski and cesar vallejo and nicanor parra and on and on and on.

lately, the great german buddhist poet stefan hyner -- who writes quite a lot of his work in inglesh -- has become a kind of virgil to my own homely dante.  should i be so bold. 

i should.  so should you.  for poets are all brothers and sisters of the Word. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

a jean reno kind of day

i don't know what to make of the title of this little rant but it was that kind of day.  every morning i scan the tv channels seeing if there is anything interesting to record.  this morning i caught a little, in between shaving and the rest of getting ready for work sort of things, of just visiting [2001] starring jean reno and christina applegate.

it's not a very good movie.  but i am ga ga for reno.  and applegate is, as the saying goes, easy on the eyes.  the movie is about a 12th century knight and his squire transported to late 20th century chicago and all the shenanigans a pair of 13th century dudes can wreak for the space of an hour and half or so.  the movie is an american remake of les visiteurs [1993] starring  jean reno and the same actor who plays his squire in the u.s. remake.

i've no idea if the french original is better than the u.s. version.  but i'll watch anything with jean reno in it.  reno is movie magic who possesses both a physical dexterity with a depth of intellectual bravado.  there hasn't been a film yet to match reno's talents, i think.  someone should write a script with him as a poet who embodies both the rarefied ego of the mind and the lusts of the body.

does that sound goofy?  perhaps, yet i think jean reno is that rare actor who can bring to life the life of writing onscreen.  i've long loved his acting and his charisma.  i looked him up today and didn't know that he's spanish, not french.  little matter, and yet there was a smidgen of self-identity for people mistake my own name for being latino when it is hispanic.  my great grandfather emigrated from spain in the early 20th century and shorten his long name to lopez.

little matter there too.  yet the world is filled with connections, or perceived connections.  i watched jean reno in a really bad movie this morning.  and the viewing of it sustained all the usual crap of the day we all must endure.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

what a fucking day

i'm about to throw in the towel and say fuck everything and fuck people what with the media saturated with the horrors we are doing to each other and to ourselves the violence the panic the bodies and the bullets oh fucking god

then i see the following video of a flash mob in a madrid unemployment office performing 'here comes the sun' and the simple beauty of the song and its performers' act of generosity brings tears to my eyes and i am reminded again that were are capable sometimes of kindness and beauty

[tip of the hat to michael lally who posted this video yesterday at his blog lally's alley]

quote unquote

 One thing for sure is that I am not as talented as I think I am sometimes. I try to not encourage my ego because I think that encourages bad writing. I am willing to go public with a not so good poem IF I think something better will come along. But I don’t believe everything I do or say or write is good. There are persons today who DO think everything they do is “special” and I dispise them.

--jim mccrary from a recently published interview [i love this quote because it is both a lesson in writing and a lesson in humility in the life of writing while arrogating the responsibilities and the necessity of a writing life] 


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

the host [2006]

 caught this south korean gem on THE CHILLER channel last night.  it was dubbed into english which gave the characters a wooden ear.  no matter for this movie is outstanding in every way.  i'm pretty sure i've already written about this movie so this patter won't be much of a review.  rather i'll just lodge my love of this movie.

director joon-ho bong is a younger filmmaker to put on your radar and watch.  this movie is about a monster that rises out of the han river and captures a little girl.  the family does everything to get the girl back.  that's a simple enough plot but bong's [or should i say joon-ho's] camera transcends the limits of the monster movie.  the filmmaker instead crafted a deeply feeling movie of family dynamics, selfish and selfless love, and utter wonder at the miracle of living.

i shit you not.  this movie is that good.  the creature cgi fx looks a bit dated compared to the wonders cinema fx make now.  the lighting, photography, editing and sound are not dated.  when we hit the final battle between the creature and the family along the banks of the han during a political protest rally bong slows down his camera.  the effect is a miracle of emotional pitch and action.

i only know this one film by joon-ho bong.  that's my fault.  for this is one moviemaker who refreshes the art of cinema and makes one glad to witness his creation. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

28 days later [2002]

what blows my mind is that this flick is 13 years old, already.  i have the dvd and have watched this flick scores of times.  my disc is full-frame rather than wide-screen.  no matter except that you miss a hell of a lot in the movie if you are watching full-frame which crops a lot of shit out.

i remember when i bought this movie on dvd.  the store, suncoast dvd, is way out of business.  there was a suncoast in the local mall that i'd frequent after work.  that store is long gone.  it's business model was subsumed by online streaming.

hell, movies are still made, right.  i own the dvd of this pic but it was playing on BBCAmerica tonight.  what got me was how director danny boyle shot many of his scenes.  for the lot of these scenes were filmed at an angle, askew to the viewer.  i'd not noticed the tilt of most of the scenes before.  or if i had i'd forgotten the camera tilts.

boyle's neo-zombie movie were the first of the new millennium to employ a faction of zombies in our, to borrow a phrase by george bush i, the new world order.  the new world eats the survivors.  the survivors are us, post capitalist, post enlightenment.  we survive by clinging to what we know, whether that be mcdonald's fast food or post-industrial manufacturing.  boyle's camera tilts are reminders of how our world[s] gone all kinds of awry.

that's the thick of it.  boyle i think was more concerned with a post-epidemic feature.  for when this movie was made mad-cow disease was ravaging europe.  and yet boyle made a movie more in tune with our post-911 sensibilities and fears.  we have become afraid of the other.  even if the other kicks down our doors.    

Sunday, August 11, 2013

unoriginal [what is strange]

every time i laugh
my father's voice is in mine

Saturday, August 10, 2013

late summer haiku

fly buzz on windowscreen
is it
assurance or annoyance

this is just to say

two of my favorite poet/bloggers are
juliet cook's doppelgangrene
and john olson's tillalala chronicles
both are so alive in the practice of writing
and the arts of living


there's that scene in bladerunner

deckard examining a photo with a computer

sees into the surfaces

around the corners of the room

in the photo into a mirror

sees a woman in the bath

surfaces with nothing

on them

and depths that are never there


Tuesday, August 06, 2013

not really paying attention

to the movie playing right now on CHILLER station.  the movie is called the shadow.  an army vet is on a mountain biking excursion with his girlfriend.  they are hunted by two rednecks armed with M-16s and a vicious dog.  then all three are captured by a psychopath who lives in a castle with lots of sophisticated but gritty tools to do some meat work.  then it turns out it is all an illusion as the young vet is in the hospital recovering from wounds sustained in combat.

not a bad pic.  pretty well acted, edited and photographed.  the direction is solid.  the movie doesn't break new ground.  it quotes a shitload of previous movies like deliverance [1972] and any garden variety 1980s era slasher flick.  the pace is even and taut.  the filmmakers know their genre and created a worthy entry for it.

not that i can make a direct comparison between this movie and all the fuss about avant-- and conceptual poetries is kinda, for me boring.  i did see kenneth goldsmith on the colbert report last week.  pretty cool to see a poet on TV.  goldsmith said he never writes his books.  i believe him.  according to robert archambeau in his article charmless and interesting conceptual poets like goldsmith are not after a readership for their work but a 'thinkership.'

all fine and good if you dig that kind of thing.  that's not a diss.  i was thumbing thru paul hoover's american postmodern anthology 2nd edition at the library last week and read a few pieces by robert fitterman i think are quite good.  but if goldsmith is making books to think about vs. reading then i won't be buying them and putting them on my shelf.

for me poetry is not a either/or.  poetry is a large AND.  last night i read henry gould's terrific piece natural poetry.  how i read gould he advocates for a poetry of AND.

not that i'm really wading into these debates.  i am reading these various pieces and essays as they appear.  i'm sure i'm missing something in all this.  for my life and art [sounds hi-falutin' i know but fuck it because if you dedicate your life to something it becomes a life and frankly i don't care if i sometimes sound pretentious because life is short and if you want to make reading/writing a life do it and don't apologize never mind a theoretical audience or the import and magnitude of your calling because really you must finally ask yourself how do you want to spend your life] i learned from thom gunn who called himself a derivative poet.  i am too.  i am the sum of all that i read.  and i take my reading very serious.

which might explain the making of shadow [2009].  the filmmakers are probably lovers of horror.  they've taken what they've learned from older horror movies.  the film is a sum of movie quotes honestly made.  it won't be for everyone but for a few lovers of the genre the flick might be, to quote a poet, the music of what happens.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Thursday, August 01, 2013

art project

take the stoned-looking teddy bear
from the Crafts Exhibit at the State Fair
place it on a brown leather couch
set an opened bag of Doritos
and a half-chewed Abba Dabba bar
on the TV tray before it
place in the right paw a ceramic bong
and loop a segment of 70s sitcom
Chico & The Man on the faux wood console TV