Friday, February 28, 2014

i wrote recently about the reason for watching paul verhoeven's erotic thriller basic instinct [1992] because poet michael lally had had a role in the film.  i remembered the movie as being bad; watching it again not only confirmed it but tattooed that god-awfulness on my grey matter.  no fault of lally's, as he is a good actor, as most of the actors in the film did a pretty damn good job given the crappy writing, goofy direction and chocolate frosting-like photography.

i wondered about poets and acting.  there are a few poets who also developed careers in front of a camera.  there is one poet who was a one-shot actor in a film based on his own novel.  james dickey portrayed the sherrif of aintry, a soon-to-be submerged town, in the movie deliverance [1972], a film that has become so iconic that even a humming of a few bars of its signature theme song 'dueling banjos' conveys danger and dread.

as far as i know dickey's oeuvre as an actor is limited to these couple of minutes of screen time.  what a couple of minutes!  dickey plays the sherrif as a smart man who grasped the depth of the horrors by his grin.  a marvelous performance that makes me wish the oscars -- broadcast this sunday -- should have sub-categories for acting poets.  i love dickey's face in this clip.  when ned beatty speaks behind the sheriff the reaction, how dickey moves his glance from beatty back to jon voight, is a miracle of minimalism.


not that i know

mothman grassman lizardman

chemical fire for the right-brained

digitize the obvious

sympatico for cryptids

not no never no ho ho ho

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

rain finally, rain!  it is pouring, i mean like cats and dogs, right now.  badly needed rain for california is dry to the bone.  there was clarity in the air this evening.  like everyone let their windows open and breathed deeply.  scales fell from my eyes and instead of seeing inward with just a few stray thoughts as i try to do as a kind of walking meditation, i looked up and around with the wonder of a child. 

even the asshole who nearly grazed my butt with his red sports car as i crossed the street, with a green light and in a crosswalk!, participated in the creation of tonight.  i've been thinking about the late french oulipian georges perec.  i picked up an anthology of late 20th century french poetry thinking perec might be in there.  no.  instead, i found myself thumbing thru the pages.  deeply metaphysical writing, but it's missing something.  a few of the finer poets in that anthology hit upon that something.  that something is the deeply felt awe of being fucking alive.  the luck in it.  the fortune of life.  the first noble truth: life sucks.  it does.

then what do you do about it sucking.  what with all that knowledge and you find yourself amazed to be standing on the corner waiting for the light to change the cars the trees the pretty woman walking her dog.  you find yourself hit right between the eyes with of all that, to use a phrase by elvis costello, useless beauty.  and you know it.  you just know it.  that you are damn lucky to be alive.   

Friday, February 21, 2014

depth no depth

i just met with some local poets at a nearby beer garden to share poems and, yep, drink beer.  the beers were quite good.  they were all micro and specialty beers served in various sized glasses and tumblers, depending on the variety and the vintage.  the menu was a wall sized chalkboard with details on each brew, such as alcohol content and style, like an IPA or weizen [i think that's how it's spelled].  i read about a legendary brew called PLINY THE ELDER.  i had that one.  good, yes, but it was served in a 2.5 ounce glass.  i suppose one is supposed to sip a PLINY THE ELDER rather than chug it.  i get that.  but not only do i love a good beer but i love drinking a good beer.  bring me a bigger glass!

home now and since i only had two beers i am drinking a lagunitas IPA.  a delicious brew with an alcohol content of 6.2%.  fairly high but not too much.  the beers i had at the beer garden were only about 2% higher alcohol content.  a few brews get too rich.  lagunitas has a brew called A LITTLE SUMP'N SUMP'N that i can't drink because it has an alcohol content of over 8%, and that just knocks me on my ass and makes me feel like shit the next day.

well, anyway, the poems read tonight were as varied as the personalities that wrote them.  we had a long conversation about historical verity and the rights to own particular pieces of our shared history.  how deep does one want to get regarding a subject.  would a poem be better served if the writer angled his piece not toward ownership -- in this case it was the holocaust -- of that moment of history but to a confession of it being outside his ken.

in other words, the piece in question was a documentary poetics recording the horrors of a moment in WWII.  should the poet write the text to move beyond that recordation.

my poems were brought up as examples of little zen pieces that want to be just in the moment.  for a moment i was going to protest and say that my poems are more than that.

but are they?  and does poetry need to have any depth?  yes and no.  it depends on what the writer and the reader want out of a piece of poetry. i don't have any answers to the question.  i think poetry is as large as the universe and there is more than enough room for varied poetries.  such as my no depth zen and the interrogations of history poetics.

there were valid arguments for both sides of the question.  i want a poetics of everything.  that includes a poetry of brushing teeth, and a poetry of the lightest and the darkest parts of the human heart.  

not that i am an expert on these subjects.  but i left my friends a little amped up on finely crafted beer and good talk on poetics.  i say it was a good night.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

i think i read somewhere that ernest hemingway was called papa in his 30s.  that makes ol' hem a very young old man.  along with a big ego that demanded he be the patriarch.  still, as i race toward the very very very mid-point of my life embracing age might be the healthier option.  who really wants to be 20 forever?

don't answer that.  because our mental age stops at a point.  for me that age is 25.  so i am quite surprised to see an older gentleman gaze back in the mirror.  i wonder, who is that old man!?

then there is that larger part of me that is quite happy to be middle-aged.  as my father reminded me we live in an age where growing old is common.  it wasn't always so.  in the not distant past humans would drop dead in their 30s and 40s.  by 50, you were considered a real geezer.  growing old, my dad said, is a privilege.

then there are the quite old among us who are still very much alive, kicking and creating.  i read this wonderful article by roger angell in the new yorker about his life in the 90s.  desire, lust, abilities are still possession for angell and, for me, knowing that even in relatively pretty advanced age one can still enjoy life is a great source of happiness for me.

after a long day yesterday i found myself at the late poet billy little's blog.  little passed away from cancer in 2009 and wrote his blog during his treatments.  the poet with the moniker zonko lived so fully that the words are practically humming with the live energy.  i love his disdain for being correct in grammar and spelling.  these are texts in bas-relief against the dreariness of what we think of as our ordinary days.  for zonko even the ordinary is exciting. 

would it be a conceit to take that great noun antipoet from vicente huidobro and nicanor parra?  can we use it too?  and if not, why?  should antipoetry disappear if we don't practice it too?  and what is antipoetry?  well, i think a life in poetry is an anti-career.  poetry is an obsession and passion and intellection.  it will not pay your bills or provide for your mortgage.  in fact, if you are serious you will arrange your life, in whatever endeavour you choose to pay your way in life, so you can practice poetry. 

which is a long way of saying that the great antipoet nicanor parra was born in 1914.  he's almost a hundred and is still writing the good shit.  there is a good website with his work both in spanish and english here.  old age is a privilege.  embrace it finally! 

oh and because i love it here is parra's milk commercial broadcast in chile a few years ago.  i've posted it before.  i am doing it again.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

saturday night is alright for channel surfing

i'm toggling between 28 days later [2002] and the birdcage [1996], comedy and horror.  oh, yes, these movies seem diametrically opposite but i think comedy and horror share a common trait.  the emotions for fear and pleasure -- sometimes they overlap [think of S&M as sexual play] -- i think are pretty close to each other.  the metaphysics of funny and scary are quite similar.  like how the old metaphysical poets worked their poems, as eliot said, by yoking two heterogeneous things by violence to arrive at that a ha moment.

so too with comedy and horror.  and yet right now i prefer the great comic performances by gene hackman and nathan lane.  anna and i saw the birdcage upon its initial release.  at the time i didn't care for it because it is not a gross-out comedy.  it's humor is a bit more mellow.  it is not subtle but the comedy is not so broadly drawn outrageous.  but on many viewings thru the years i think this movie is a near perfect comedy.  lane's performance as albert, the drag queen partner to robin williams mellower night club owner, is a great performance.  and unlike some of the more broadly drawn comedies where the humor is blunted by repeated viewings this film gets funnier on every viewing.

it's near the end of the film and i stopped toggling between movies and settled on the birdcage.  now is time for the big reveal.  it is a magnificent movie.  when lane takes off his wig and hackman doesn't understand that he was entertained by two gay men is great comic performance.  the scene right now is when hackman and family are about to leave the house and he says, i hope this evening doesn't influence your vote!  now it is time for the family to relax into the crisis of the senator and the media.  until they all, hackman et al., frock up to sneak past the reporters camped out in the gay club hoping to snag the senator.

well, hell, i should mention that this movie is broadcast on the ABC FAMILY channel.  times are a'changin', indeed.  no longer are the subjects of gay couples and their families and culture[s] those things for mature audiences only.  i don't know how to conclude this piece but say that hackman looks fine as a drag queen and the tone of the movie is of loving acceptance for all the characters, including the senator.

i've toggled back to 28 days later a movie i bought on dvd in 2003.  i've seen it many many times.  i've written about this film a few times too.  the pic hasn't aged a day for me.  but then again maybe that's is part of the aging process.  the things i love become ageless.  or not.  i posted a berlin video last night.  the fashions in the video are so '80s identifying markers.  so some things are pegged to their times.  for other things perhaps not so much.  whatever.  i have a movie to watch.                

Friday, February 14, 2014

for all you lovers on valentine's day

listening to NPR today i heard stories about the physiology and biology of sexual desire and life partnership, aphrodisiac food such as oysters and all other manner of valetine's day sundry.  what was not broadcast was the following song 'sex [i'm a]' by 1980s synth band berlin.  i had -- i have -- a huge crush on singer terri nunn's voice.  it is a remarkable instrument, clear, clean, lusty and sexy.  this music was called back in the day, techno sleaze.  take a listen and you'll see that the description is apt.  let it rock you and your partner's day or night.

basic instinct [1992]

poet michael lally [you can find his blog via the links on the right] was also a working actor.  he was in this film.  so when i saw this on the TV the other night i watched it only for the parts lally played as a detective.  but this movie stuck in my craw.  in 1992 i was a returning student and befriended an even older student.  he was also a poet and was a great guy.  we saw this movie together in the theater.  when the lights came up i asked him what he thought.  my friend, the older student, said, i liked it.

let me tell you what i think of the pic.  it stinks.  awful tripe.  worse than awful.  it is like an ancient piece of gum you step on the sidewalk, sticky, gooey, and refuses to yield to your attempts to scrape it off.  barring lally's performance -- which is solid -- the direction, sound and the writing would make even the findlays' [roberta and michael, 1960s -- 1970s exploitation filmmakers, google them!] movies appear professional, cool explorations of the human propensity for lust, obsession and perversion.

not that i think director paul verhoeven a bad filmmaker.  he's not.  there is a glitz and sheen to this movie that asks for your attention.  the acting by the cast is pretty solid.  and yet the set pieces and the overall narrative arc are just silly.  even the famous sharon stone crotch expose scene is rather goofy.  i don't find it erotic, or even pornographic.  the filmmaker's reached toward a shocking, sexy set piece that everyone would talk about.  it worked.  the scene is notorious and made an impression on our collective pop consciousness.

but there is a parallel scene where stone's nemesis and paramour, michael douglas, is interrogated by the people he works with in that same room.  douglas even dares his fellow cops to stop him from smoking just like stone did when she was questioned in that same room on the same chair.  we are meant to see by these parallel scenes that the cat and mouse game played by these soon to be lovers douglas and stone that they are two sides of the same coin.  they are yin and yang.  douglas and stone are a perfect fit.

i think verhoeven wimped out on that scene with michael douglas.  douglas should have adjusted his legs so his colleagues got a crotch shot too.  all balls to the wall.  instead we get a tepid response and a quick smoke break while douglas chases his doppelganger in a nightclub while stone snorts coke, dances dirty with another woman, and gives douglas the googly eye.

i couldn't take no more.  i turned off the TV.  i know how it ends.  i remember the last scene when douglas and stone are having sex.  stone's hand reaches under the bed.  for the killer's icepick?  the camera follows the arc of the hand.  their breathing heavy.  then. . .then. . .oh, to hell with it.      


serious hardcore moonlight

flecks of grey clouds

city alive and beating toward a valentine's evening

on the news california is fucked for being so dry

oh my candy heart and chocolate hugs

i can't wait to get home to my loves

anna and nick

the advice i heard today get out of your comfort zone


still the heart beats even if irregular

and i wonder who that old man is reflected in the mirror

still so much to learn

i don't even know what is hegelian porn

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


data chump in a clump staring at the screen

read the letters to richard by araki yasusada

there's no man's land down there!

no woman's too

so surmised and woke with a bump

while a voice said what a maroon!

Saturday, February 08, 2014

quote unquote

"My spirit longs to be free."  How naive, and yet how true!  Here a man sits with his self-pity, in shirt and tie, a harried middle manager with nothing for the moment to do, at parking lot picnic table, under a summer sun.

-kit robinson [from 'rushes the sun parts daily', the messianic trees: selected poems 1976-2003; adventures in poetry, 2009]

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

read rain in      thru what     i don't know

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

walk home
look at

the trees
a murder

of crows 
instead leaves