Friday, June 24, 2016

i still haven't found what i'm looking for

on a day that punches you in the gut should you remain silent, or should you write about that punch?  i don't know.  we are living in odd times.  but you know that already.

instead, i find myself looking for that one drive-in intermission clip that has eluded me for 30+ years.  youtube has 1000s of drive-in intermission films that make me happy to be alive.  about 10 years ago or so it was pretty damn rare to find these short commercials designed to get you out of your car and in to the snack bar in between the double feature.  now many of these shorts are available at a finger's click. 

except for one.  the live action song and dance intermission short where a patron asks for a pizza with 'mushy roomy room sauce.'  that's my golden fleece.  anna and i remember it because it was on constant rotation at the sac 6 drive-ins, and a few other local drive-ins during the 1970s and 80s. 

i know.  i'm dating myself.  there are a shitload of smart young people who wonder what the hell i'm talking about, or what my fuss is, with these old drive-in intermission shorts.  still, i look for that one elusive piece of film.  even on a day when my gut was punched.  because our own personal obsession prove that we are part of the veritable human being.  this thing that i am laughs, cries, and loves old drive-in paraphernalia. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

quote unquote

oh sweet bird of youth where the fuck hast thou fucked off to

--jon cone

Monday, June 20, 2016

1st day of summer

when nick was getting his hair cut this evening i noticed an ad for a hair product.  nothing remarkable about an ad at a hair salon but what caught my attention was the icon on the poster.  a pic of james dean.  dean died in a car wreck in 1955, 60 years ago.  he was a very young, hyper cool dude and i suppose his staying power in the agora can be attributed to the fact that the absolute coolness of james dean is without time.  even his dress, and his hair, stays in style, so that one wouldn't look out of place on any mall or street in the u.s. dressed like dean.  but then again, we live in odd times, brothers and sisters, a time when nearly everything ever recorded is available at a few clicks of a mouse.  therefore, perhaps nothing ever goes out of the popular imagination and fashions recirculate.  and some particulars of fashion, as personified by james dean, are timeless.    

today is the summer solstice.  the longest day of the year.  we are in a bit of a heatwave.  the crickets are chirring as they are wont to do in the heat of summer.  the sky is an electric blue.  and to celebrate the first day of summer i am watching bits and pieces of those classic beach movies i love so much.  the first one, Beach Party [1963] looks a little clunky, the humor is stupid, the leads are likable, and the girls are pretty damn sexy.  if these flicks are not as cool as james dean they are, in my estimation, like dean, timeless bubbles of goofy innocence and wild play.  these are flicks for the drive-in, a place to bring your pals and your girl, or guy, have a few beers, eat a crapload of junk, and partake in the summer joys of really bad movies and good friends.

i wish you, brothers and sisters, an endless summer.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

10 days ago i turned 49.  that is right in the heart of middle-age.  i'm not ashamed of it.  considering where i come from, and how i lived, i am grateful to get this far.  still, i think of growing old, all the time.  i was old when i was young.  i remember at the age of 25, when i met anna, thinking i'm getting on in years i better get my shit together.  so i enrolled in college and earned two degrees by the time i was 33.  again, i felt i was the old man in the class.  i might have been.  but perspectives change.  i am growing older.  my appearance countenances this fact.  indeed, last week as i was walking home from work i passed a gym.  my friend was just emerging from that gym.  he gives me this look that says, gee that old guy seems familiar.  only when i got closer to him did he recognize me.  and yet still i feel pretty damn young.  or youngish.  my mental age is stuck at 25.  i thought the old would hate loud, dissonant rock&roll.  but this dude loves it.  i have work to do still. poems to read and write.  reviews to draft.  movies to watch.  plus i have the loves of my life: nick and anna.  nick is 11, while anna and i have been together for 24 years.  it feels like we are still absolute beginners.  i thought the old was supposed to be wise.  instead, i discovered that we continue to learn, and that getting old means you realize how much you don't know.  becoming older means you discover how much there is left to learn.  it would take many lifetimes, but you have only one, so you take your life, all of it, its frustrations, disappointments, failures, triumphs and your sheer dumb luck, and i don't know, i have no set answers, but i do know living is our greatest gift.  at my age, from my perspective, that gift is even more precious.  don't take shit for granted.  love when you can.  call bullshit when you can.  don't be stingy with hugs and kisses.  for they are emblems of your being here, right now, on our planet.

peace, brothers and sisters, out

10 cloverfield lane [2016]

a woman breaks up with her boyfriend, moves out of his apartment leaving her key and her ring behind, and drives alone on the rural back highways of louisiana late at night.  the ex calls on her cellphone while she is driving.  she, michelle, is upset and doing her best to ignore her ex on the phone.  at that moment her car flips over.  she wakes in her underwear chained to the wall of a underground bunker.

thus begins this earnest, spiritual sequel to the found footage monster movie cloverfield [2008].  michelle, played by the very talented actress mary elizabeth winstead, is chained by howard, played by john goodman, an older man and survivalist, who tells michelle that he found her unconscious after her car accident, and that the world has been destroyed, the air outside his bunker is toxic, and everyone she ever knew is dead.

interesting set up to a chamber piece that involves three people trapped in a confined space.  the third person is emmett, played by john gallagher, jr., a young local with an arm in a sling.  later when michelle asks emmett if howard had abducted and hurt him emmett says no, he fought to get in.  something is amiss and the plot thickens.  for howard is one odd duck.  his stories about his daughter, who is absent from the bunker, and howard's paranoid, erratic behavior tightens the tension.  howard gets our hackles up, too, because he appears to be lying, about something or everything, while michelle suffers from the trauma of the auto accident as well as either being one of the lucky ones who get to live after a world-wide cataclysm, or be the prisoner of a crazy man.

this is a sequel to the earlier monster movie so are there monsters?  the tagline for this flick reads, 'monsters come in many forms', which may or may not be howard.  he is an unlikable chap with many many failings. his actions lack empathy for his young companions.  but is he a sociopath, or just an awkward man with few skills dealing with the end of the world.

there is one scene that ratchets up the tension to an nearly unbearable degree.  the trio are playing a game where the guesser has to figure out the subject printed on a card.  the only hints the guesser gets are a few words by the holder of the card.  the director, dan trachtenberg, does a good job of keeping things very tense.  the script is well done.  but it is the acting chops of winstead and goodman that keeps this vehicle running right down to an obvious if interesting denouement.  because sometimes the monsters we fear are found within, as well as outside, of us.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

what's going on: right now

i'm watching BIG JOY: THE ADVENTURES OF JAMES BROUGHTON on PBS right now & am delighted to see my friends in life & art alex gildzen & jim cory in it too

i can't remember the last time a program about a poet was broadcast on national television

been a long while

back in the early ''90s when i was dating anna the cable channel bravo would program documentaries, profiles, performances & biographies of writers like seamus heaney, david mamet & painters like david hockney

those shows were a good introduction to the creative life for a young pretension really confused poet

yeah we have the internet now everything is available at a couple of clicks if you are looking for it

if you want art but don't know where to look TV is a good place

it was for me but then again what the hell do i know i'm growin' old & once upon a time composed my poems on a -- get this! -- typewriter

you can carbon date me!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

30 for 30: believeland [2016]

once upon a time i read the heavy glossies, magazines like esquire and gq and, dare i say it?, playboy.  back in the '90s i ran across the journalism of scott raab.  i recall a piece about the actor mickey rourke.  raab was with rourke's entourage, and because raab was a large guy with tattoos, was mistaken for the actor's security.  then there was a long piece about the writer's difficult relationship with his father, an old man who was incontinent, diabetic, tattooed, and still ready to kick your ass.  i read that piece when i was in the periodontist office waiting to get some serious work done on my chompers.  i became a fan of scott raab.

raab is from cleveland, a former manufacturing powerhouse in the 20th century that has long since seen those manufacturing plants close down.  the city began its decline 50 years ago.  50 years ago was the last time cleveland had seen its team win a championship game   cleveland has three major teams pro ball teams: the cavaliers, the indians and the browns.  neither team has won a championship for so long the losing streak is deemed by more than a few as a curse.

but raab is no ordinary fan.  he is a rabid fan of sports.  he has a chief wahoo tattoo inked on his forearm.  i know.  i read his book the whore of akron [harper perennial; 2012].  i checked it out of the library last summer when i spent a couple days in the bay area sitting in a hotel with anna.  the book is about raab's fury at lebron james' defection to the miami heat.  but the book is way more than that.  raab tells his stories of hard living, loving and fatherhood.  when i read that piece about raab's father in the periodontist's office raab admits and laments the fact that at his age [late 40s, early 50s?] there were no books by him.  and yet he got by as a writer.  i know that feeling.  i could barely read the print on account of the water swelling in my eyes.

yet, everyone who knows me knows i do not like professional sports.  i hate the culture of sports.  turns my stomach.  i hate the dichotomy of winners and losers.  i hate the irrational tribal identifications of sports fans to sports teams.  i hate the violent emotions often displayed by sport fans.  and i hate the self-identification of sports fans to winners, as in the phrase, 'we won that team by a knife's edge'.  you rarely hear a sports fan say, 'we lost.'  no, rather you hear that fan say, 'they lost.'  'we win' and rarely 'we lost' is relayed toward an enmity of the losing team.  in my line of work as a poet and human being i think every human endeavor is achieved by degrees of losing.  therefore the mentality of sports fans, and mind you i'm not talking about all of them only what i have observed in my own limited way, is a way of feeling toward the hatred of loss and the tribal identification of the win.

well know okay.  it was a long day yesterday.  when i sat down i opened up netflix and scanned the what's new section.  i found this documentary produced for espn.  because it was about cleveland i knew scott raab must be in it.  and he is, along with his son, for he is a producer of this piece of film.  it opens with raab and his son at a deli counter, burgers on plates before them, talking about their love of cleveland and its sports team.

and i tell you this is a watchable documentary even for one who doesn't like sports.  it's watchable because the documentary is more about cleveland and its curse.  i am the native son of a city that is likewise, well, i won't say cursed, but we get a lot of flack because we are not SF or LA or San Diego.  my beloved city is currently spending 10s of millions of $$$ on a new stadium for the kings basketball team.  i work downtown.  i have a front row seat to the construction and the changes wrought to the city's core.  the kings have not gotten close to a championship in several years.  i don't know if the new stadium will be the economic shot in the arm the city wants.  if history is a guide then it probably won't be that economic boost.

but yet and still sac is my city.  it is becoming well known for its food scene.  midtown is crazy insane with young people and restaurants and bars and beer gardens and music venues.  midtown is a hipster happening.  i believe scott raab would recognize and understand my love of sac, and its purpose for a new basketball arena.

that doesn't mean i'll be getting a kings tattoo anytime soon.  i might go to a game.  i'll probably see U2 in concert.  they are a band who plays stadiums and now that we have one there is no earthly reason why they should skip out on sac when they are on tour.  who knows with all the construction going on downtown maybe i will be able to find a decent place to have lunch.

Thursday, June 09, 2016


i watched proserpina on a skateboard kicking toward 24th st while the traffic stopped at the red light & she wore cut-off jeans which focused the spring upon her thighs & left a trail of six pomegranate seeds for which the fact of it nearly left me gasping for life

poetry is a form of prayer when there is no god

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

short poem about growing old

yes i can vouch every thing old
was once brand spanking new

Monday, June 06, 2016

anti-poet jim mccrary

even a casual reading of this blog uncovers my love of jim mccrary.  i'm not the only one who loves this poet.  okay, i called him, in the phrase of nicanor parra, an anti-poet in the title.  there was a profile of mccrary a few years ago titled 'poet and anti-poet' so i'm not the first to arrive at the appellation.  and i think the noun fits this one of a kind writer.  anyway, jim's life, poetics, and life in poetry has long been a bedrock foundation for me.  and here is a video made by a fellow lover of jim's work, esp. the poem 'edible pets', which she first read when both jim and the filmmaker were students at sonoma state university.  behold!  lovely short film about jim mccrary, his stint as a grad student at sonoma state, and his poem 'edible pets'.  holy crack-a-doodle this film has made me happy!

Friday, June 03, 2016

nothing is exotic

i sd recently in a poem no matter where you are or how exotic the locale people live there and they watch TV which is a very normalizing activity for we are human and most humans like to watch TV

joseph brodsky sd he was writing or translating in the u.s. and he reached for the dictionary and he realized that he would make that gesture no matter where he was because the physical place he occupied was an extension of all the space we share and the act of reaching for the dictionary grounds him to the ordinary world

when i travel i like to go where people do their shopping get their food buy their clothes because going into a supermarket in a different country is a ground to the commons for we might do things a little differently each of us with unique smells flavors and sounds but we are not beyond our ordinary human being

watching TV in paris is similar to watching TV in des moines the flavor is different but the expression is the same and the land is remarkable for being an ordinary extension of space 

Thursday, June 02, 2016

--i came to poetry much like thoreau came to walden, to learn how to live 

--i have my doubts about my own art

--i do not doubt poetry, or my life in poetry 

--i am currently caught in a struggle of my own design regarding the arc, scope and vision of my own writing 

--i am trying my level best to lose my ego

--i am doing what i can to live in the world as a good citizen 

--i think upon the size of the universe and my own personal sized micro-speck in it and i am awed 

--i am awed at my own insignificance

--i am astonished that i was given this opportunity to be alive at this time 

--a time when we have the technology and the brain wattage to look up into the sky and see both the future and the ancient past

--a time when technology is becoming something out of a sci-fi movie 

--a time when i can use my own limitations beyond the scope of simple words 

--i came to poetry to learn how to live

--and learn how to be a good man, husband, father, citizen 

--i say fuck the ego

--success is an illusion 

--what is real is you, me, us

--poetry belongs to everyone