Friday, December 30, 2016

i'm de-laminating after a short, but hectic work week, and sit between two holidays, last week christmas, tomorrow new year's eve.  i like new year's eve, even if i think the numbers we give our years are arbitrary.  e.g. what year did the 21st century begin, 2000 or 2001?  for many our new century began in 2000.  but we don't count from zero.  we begin our count with the number one.  so the 21st century began, if we want to be academic about it, on jan. 1, 2001.  but that's not how most of us counted the start of this bright, shiny century.  it started on jan. 1, 2000.  and if that is the case then the 20th century is the ony 99 year century of our civilization.  oh, yes, i remember the brouhaha over all this shit.  i recall the late scientist and writer stephen jay gould weighing in with all this nonsense.  gould wrote -- i'm paraphrasing, of course -- we can call time whatever we wish.  there is a thing called absolute time, but how we label the passage of time is entirely our making.  we can call any year anything we wish so if the 21st century begins on jan. 1, 2000, leaving the 20th century with just 99 years instead of 100, so be it.

well, what a year it was. lots of deaths.  political upheavals.  our near, and far, future perhaps not so bright.  still, i read poetry, to misquote the polish poet adam zagajewski, for stability, serenity and strength.  anna and nick are in the next room watching one of our favorite TV comedies.  i'm watching/listening to performances and interviews of favorite bands: my bloody valentine, sonic youth, guided by voices.  anthony bourdain's travel show on CNN, parts unknown, is on the TV as i type.  i make the world as it makes me.  as tomas transtromer wrote, 'task: to be where I am/even in this solemn and absurd role/I am still the place where creation works on itself.' 

in short, the world is our creation as we are the products of the world.  if it is going to shit we have the ability to change in whatever image we choose.  i agree with the climate scientist i quoted a few posts back who said, 'we're fucked'.  but i add we are also lucky to be alive, to read, to write, to think, to love.  i have no idea what the new year will bring.  thom gunn in a poem for the new year 1997 said, 'I'm not superstitious/the new year could be very rewarding/Let's reschedule!'

let's reschedule, brothers and sisters.  let us create and love and have sex and eat and drink and share and insert your favorite things here because i'm almost 50, motherfuckers, i'm getting old, or older, and i'm telling you the world is a breathtakingly beautiful place.  as rimbaud said, now is the time of the assassins. or, at least, now is the time to not give in to despair.  now is the time for love.

peace and happy fucking new year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

what the fuck, 2016!  this has been a very freaking sad, bewildering, scary, heartbreaking year.  i'm nearly at a loss for words.  i haven't written much this year because of. . .of. . .oh to hell with it.  this is the year that climate change set its frightening weight upon my psyche.  i fear we've reached a couple of tipping points and sooner than we should like the shit shall hit the fan and we shall know a little of the damage we have done.

and now, this weekend two of my childhood icons died: carrie fisher and george michael.  oh, you bet.  i loved fisher as a writer as well as being princess leia organa.  i remember an interview fisher did when her novel, postcards from the edge, was published.  i think she was being interviewed by david letterman.  fisher described her writing habits.  she said she wrote with the TV on as background noise.  i was a young man falling in love with language and my own mental health was pretty rocky.  i was learning to read, for goodness sake and i didn't know if writers were supposed to watch TV.  i know i watched TV and grew up with it.  now here is a writer being interviewed on TV telling me how much she loved the medium.  that was music to my ears.

as for george michael, okay, i admit i was not the largest fan of Wham!  my brother was the greater admirer.  but i knew michael's music quite well.  he has a beautiful voice and his late '80s solo work was pretty damn good, particularly the song 'father figure', of which the video got heavy rotation on MTV and VH1.  i rediscovered that song this year via youtube, and developed a mini-crush on michael and the gorgeous woman who is the object of his attention.  still, fucking 2016 took michael too.

here is a duet of george michael and elton john performing john's song 'don't let the sun go down on me.'  i think this is a pretty damn great song superbly performed by michael and john.

as for the outgoing year, you suck!  fuck you, 2016!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

quote unquote

say hi to everyone

--nicanor parra

quote unquote

poetry is what is found in translation.

--charles bernstein

Thursday, December 15, 2016

have you seen patti smith sing dylan's 'a hard rain's a'gonna fall' at the nobel prize ceremony?

smith is beautiful

Sunday, December 11, 2016

los punks: we are all we have [2016]

i remember the backside of the double lp not so quiet on the western front of mostly northern california punk bands which had a photo of a punk doing a stage dive with the caption, if punk is dead what the hell is this?  way back in 1982 the eternal question was asked, is punk dead.  the answer, then and today, is fucking hell no as evidenced by that seminal record, and by this documentary about the latino punk scene in compton, east los angeles, watts et al and their diy backyard shows.

as an aging punk i was delighted to find a scene thriving in the margins of l.a.  i was surprised that most of these young, and youngish, punks dressed in the same gear that the punks of my era dressed in: mohawks, spiky hair, leather jackets, bdsm wear, spiked wrist bands, and jackets and pants graffittied with the names of bands.  what is fashion anyway but a system of agreements based on the group who decided to wear them.

still, watching this flick of latino punks, the vocalist for the band, the casualties, jorge herrera, said, because punks who also endure discrimination and oppression, punk rock is latino.  i can dig it.  i kept thinking about the great graphic novel series, love and rockets, created by los hermanos hernandez, while watching this documentary.  the comic is about latino punks in los angeles, and their extra ordinary lives.

same goes for the participants of the current punk scene in l.a. chronicled in this flick who prove punk is not dead.  these young people have developed a scene out of necessity.  life is goddamn tough, especially for us misfits.  punk is a medium and an arena where not fitting in is championed.  nearly all of these young punk rockers live in poor and/or working class homes, many from broken families.  punk rock is art.  making art is a value in and of itself.  these young misfit punks prove that making art is absolutely critical for the health of our species.

punk is not dead.  punk, i would argue, is for everyone who is skeptical about our socio-economic structures.  here is a movie that documents a movement that has survived, nay thrived, for over 40 years in the lowest portion of those structures.  here they are.  come see them.  

Saturday, December 10, 2016

'her pet' by thom gunn

i'm up late on a youtube jag and i find this clip of thom gunn reading his poem 'her pet'.  this reading is taken from the VHS tape of gunn's lannan foundation reading in, i believe, 1994.  i have a copy of the video cassette, but as far as i know this reading has not been released to DVD, nor is it available via online streaming.  bummer.  gunn is a hero of mine.  but you know that.  i can't believe gunn passed away in 2004, which seems like yesterday to me, but is nearly 13 years ago.  so, in that light, who is writing his biography?  we are long past due for a volume of thom gunn's letters, and a biography.  c'mon, i'm waiting!

Thursday, December 08, 2016

there are no secrets to life but a lot of fumbling around, and a lot of gratitude, motherfucker   

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

quote unquote

Keats said that a poet's life is one of continual allegory.  I am a poet.  I'm not at the level of Keats or Stein or even Tim Dlugos, but I walk the same path.  And I believe that my life is a kind of symbolic narration that holds clues to the secret meanings of things.  Most people choose not to pick up on these clues.  Bully for them.  But those who take the time to study the lives of the poets can learn something valuable.

--owen hill [the chandler apartments; creative arts book company, 2002]

Sunday, December 04, 2016

theory of TV

yes we are here in between the space of a few breaths

why pretend we are not tourists on earth

when we are tourists everything around us is in sharp relief

we are strangers here & we are ordinary citizens on earth

e.g. we plan for a holiday in paris where its history

architecture literature art & people beguile us by their beauty

the blvds and boits in sharp relief against the days of our lives

everything & everyone we see in paris turn exotic strange & beautiful

when we vacation in a place that place takes a significant resonance

i recall standing in a queue w/ anna waiting to board a boat to tour alcatraz prison

2 very goodlooking young men standing in front of us

& 3 or 4 chinese girls were behind us talking & giggling madly

one girl approaches the boys and translates for the girls

we are here in california & my friends want to know if you are movie stars

& what is more ordinary then the desire to be dazzled by difference

but even in the midst of the exotic are its citizens who find their home

look out our windows at the scenery we see everyday & then turn on the TV

thus by this common act everywhere we live & everyone on earth whomever we are

or wherever we are ordinary


quote unquote

 couch poetato

--mark young [from his wonderful pwoermd blog won des laits]

Thursday, December 01, 2016

i want to write a poem/essay/manifesto and title it A SURVIVOR GUIDE which would outline how to navigate these soon to be darkened waters but i don't know how or what my guide should say cuz like you i'm flummoxed, scared & confused by the mess we are in, climate change is the larger worry, we will not, can not, are not able, to do what is necessary to cope with a changing climate, & even if we wanted to make those changes, i fear we have passed a couple of critical tipping points, we are, in the words of a climate scientist writing recently in the guardian, 'fucked'

so i will have to take a leaf from my notebook of the damned & hold off on writing that survivor guide

i make a confession, i am an optimist by nature, by default even, i think our human being is good, even if we do & behave in manners that are evil, destructive

poetry is life

'being a poet is not writing a poem but finding a new way to live', sd paul le fleur

it is time to find new ways to live, brothers & sisters

quote unquote

when you have something to say
say it clearly
& otherwise shut the fuck up

--stefan hyner