Monday, July 31, 2017

sam shepard [1943 - 2017]

do you recall john donne telling death, 'thou shalt die.'  when i was young i believed donne.  not only would i live forever but those whom i love, my friends and family, and my favorite artists.

george romero's death two weeks ago surprised me but somehow i thought of him as mortal.  he looked like a favorite goofy professor who still lives in the working class neighborhood where he grew up.  romero looked old even when he wasn't.

sam shepard looked old even when he was young and beautiful.  when you look old all your life you seem immortal.  i mean shepard in early films like days of heaven [1978] and the right stuff [1983] was seriously handsome.  he looked and sounded like a late 20th C gary cooper.  and yet, his youthful good looks were weathered, his expressions were earthy.  and yet shepard's eyes were that of a poet.

so i knew him as an actor first.  but when i got to my late teens and discovered poetry i became an addicted reader of shepard's plays.  perhaps it was because of the rollicking music of the language.  perhaps it was because of the themes of isolation and desolation.  it could also be because i grew up poor, rough, and had a crazy family like many of his characters in his plays did.  perhaps it was because i identified with shepard himself, an artist pupped out of the rock&roll chaos and shimmer of off-off broadway where experiment was the rule rather than the exception; a human being who was raised in chaos.

hell, there are many reasons why i fell in love with sam shepard as a writer, and as an actor.  i remember in the late '80s he was on the cover of interview magazine [a warhol publication] where you could see a crescent tattoo etched on the webbing between the thumb and pointer finger on his left hand.  i was fucking amazed because i didn't know writers were tattooed [it wasn't long after that i fell in love with thom gunn's poetry, another early inked writer].  i was inked too.  i didn't have much going for me at the time.  i knew only one thing: i wanted poetry.

i remember reading shepard's play true west and when i took an undergraduate course in theater at the local junior college i took a chunk of that play for part of an in-class assignment.  my partner and i watched the filmed play starring john malkovich and gary sinise.  i can't act worth shit.  but i had a lot of fun in that class and with that play.

oh, so many plays!  geography of a horse dreamer, cowboy mouth, curse of the starving class, fool for love, buried child, la turista etc etc.

and of course there are the movies.  sam shepard was just as prolific as an actor as he was a writer.  the most recent movie i watched with him in it was jim mickle's brutal cold in july [2014], a wonderful film of blood, gore, love and betrayal.

i will end this piece by declaring my fondness for another sam shepard film that co-starred diane keaton, baby boom [1987].  shepard plays a veterinarian who falls in love with keaton's hyper-business woman.  a slight film of late 1980s yuppie-dom about having it all but it is a delight just the same because of shepard's good natured cowboy instincts and keaton's great comic timing. 

well, fuck me.  death shall not die.  we die.  i thought sam shepard would be one of the few to live forever.  i thought his face became more beautiful as the years etched more lines in it.  alas, he died.  we all shall die.  i don't know if his art will live forever.  who cares.  what matters is the love you make while you live, including the love for your art.  we are lucky.  we have his writings.  we can watch his films.  perhaps that might be enough.

[i'm not going to edit this piece.  let the grammatical and spelling errors stand!]

viva la muerte!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

something i read

we can't predict the future but when AI comes into its own it will change everything

a voice

my heart

the strange

reading a poem by another poet
written by me

Monday, July 24, 2017

i haven't been inside a mcdonald's for 20 odd years [except for a few times in sverige where you can order a veggie burger]

i'm a lifelong vegetarian

but certainly as a kid growing up in the 1970s and 80s mcdonald's was most certainly part of my daily life

now then there is a mcdonald's a couple blocks from my house that has been stripped to its studs and is now in the process of being rebuilt

i wonder if it is being rebuilt for automation so i go online and type in 'mcdonald's automation' and find on youtube videos of self-ordering kiosks as well as vids of the production line

i find a segment by a political journalist who says we are in a paradigm shift because of  automation

i agree that we are in a paradigm shift

i don't know what else to say

i suspect the retooled mcdonald's near my house will be kitted out with the newest technologies

i think in the short term in regards to automation we will get great stuff

but what automation will do to job creation, in the long term, we are probably in a world of shit

 we are at the very beginning of a paradigm shift and the troubles we see around the world will exacerbate

what then?

i haven't the foggiest idea

neither do you, or our leaders

the robots -- AI --  are here, brothers and sisters

i shit you not

what now?

Sunday, July 23, 2017


at the pool drying off with my towel i hear this guy

hey!  you irish?


yeah, man you look irish

what do you mean?

you have those features with a red nose

i say, that's my damn rosacea

well, man, you look irish

anna, sez, he's a lopez!

yep, that's me a mexican irish norwegian younameit kinda berzerker

Thursday, July 20, 2017

it's a good time to be punk

i am trying rather hard not to succumb to depression and ennui at the state of the world, the political, social and environmental instability for i wonder how can my art, any art, be equal to the troubles in the world

which sounds precious and a huge order that can't be consumated

i can't claim that art is equal to the task

i do proclaim that art, my art, our art, is utterly necessary for we are responsible for and to the state we live in

art might be the small gesture by one flawed mortal person but if it be an honest expression is more than enough for the tasks at hand

i call for an antipoetry a duchampian poetry that does not give a shit whether you call it high art or not

the world is coming apart, we are, in the language of that chinese curse, living in interesting times

however art recalls us to presence the luminous the eminent

i call for an art sans ego that works in the world shared by fellow creatures and ecosystems

i call for an art that says fuck you to authority and questions everything

i call for an art where the maker arrogates the responsibilities of creation while maintaining humility before for all living and non-living things

i call for an art in a world always dying

i call for an art that is principle to the beginning

i call for an art that knows it will fail in its tasks but fails them hopefully

i call upon art

Saturday, July 15, 2017

early internet/technology TV comercials

i watched a Q&A with elon musk today on CSPAN.  asked what future does he see for AI and transportation musk said AI is an existential threat to humankind, really, most people don't realize how profound the changes to our civilization AI poses.  AI must be regulated by governments, not to inhibit development, but to build in protections for human beings.

the transportation piece according to musk is two-fold.  first, all vehicles off the assembly will be electric.  second, they will be autonomous.  when?  in a decade or two. 

now, one could call bullshit on musk, but remember this is a man who is on the forefront of these technologies.  he sees those things that are down the pike that we mortals do not.  i recall an article -- i've told this story a thousand times, but bear with me -- i took to a professor of mine in about 1992 or '93.  the article said, in the near future we will read on a device that can stream audio and video.  i love books.  i still love books.  i was worried that books would become a redundant technology.  i asked my professor what he made of the author's prediction.  he said, sounds like science fiction to me.

guess what?  that phone you carry with you, always?  you can read on it, and stream audio and video.  has mobile technology made books redundant?  i would say no.  still, the smart phone, and broadband internet, mobile technology, has had deep, structural, and extremely profound changes to our civilization.  we have not even reckoned with these changes.

we are in a paradigm shift.  we don't know how these technologies will manifest our societies.  but stop and look around.  you will see a vastly changed world even 15 years ago.

i say, in my own humility, that the three threats to our species is AI, Automation, and Climate Change.  however, i am an optimist, by default.  below are two internet/technology TV adverts.  the first if from 1996 starring the actor/comedian denis leary about the email service lotus notes. 

i like this ad because we can see the growing importance of the internet for business.  however, this commercial was released at a time when the majority of people were not online and could give a crap about the internet.

the second is a batch of commercials from 1993 by AT&T, titled "YOU WILL".  these ads are a little crappy but i think are well worth watching because like my article i mentioned above these technologies, such as GPS navigation for your car, is downright prescient.  sure, some of the ads are a little clunky.  most public places no longer have pay phones.  the monitors are still the thick, clunky, heavy boxes.  and these ads are not touting broadband speeds.  however, these commercials are remarkable in their vision.  check them out.

think about how much the world has changed since 1993.  imagine what the world will be in another 25 years.  because whether we like it or not i think elon musk is right.  AI, electrification of our transportation hubs, and automation will be here very shortly.  we don't have TV ads purporting the advantages of autonomous long-haul trucks on our highways, but i agree with musk, who said that the first industries that will adopt autonomous vehicles are transportation industries.  transportation industries is one of the largest employers in the u.s.  what will we do when the truckers, taxi drivers, and delivery drivers are not needed? 

i don't know.  you don't know.  our leaders don't know.  but we do know that we are in the midst of a paradigm shift.  we are only at the beginning of these changes.  this is an exciting time to live, as well being a terrifying time to live.  again, i'm an optimist by nature.  to paraphrase a poem by my beloved thom gunn, anyway, i'm not superstitious, the times may be rewarding.  let's reschedule!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

after a few days of mere 90 + F days the heat has returned

i've got in the habit of altering my routes walking home from work

i figure to change my life i have to change my habits

& create new neural networks & when i say change my life

i mean create the space in which change is possible

my new routes open my eyes i see my environment in a fresh way

my thoughts turn to writing & i hope that these disruptions

also disrupt my writing both negative & positive

for i am limited & can engage the world thru the limits of my mind

so i hope to chip away the edges of my habits

by subtle means & who knows if it works

but i'm telling you my default setting is joy awe & amazement

& changing my walking habits makes me see my beloved city

with newer eyes which teaches this old dog a few new tricks

that life is astonishing & our world is simultaneously ugly & beautful

which makes me wonder about the TV show on right now

about nostradamus & his predictions about how the world will end

well goddammit the world is always ending

nostradamus predictions of war is no prediction

if you want to impress me show me the quatrains

where the medieval frenchman predicts gay marriage

or civil rights for minority [an odious word for we are all on the same plain called human] u.s.americans

or the fall of neoliberal capitalism

where are those predictions?  predicting death famine disease & war is easy

making predictions about the worth of all human beings & living things & the care & nurture of the only home we will ever know earth

uh oh these might cause the revolution

but until i read/hear those predictions nostradamus & his so-called scholars can shut the fuck up

Sunday, July 09, 2017

the heat has returned triple digit temperatures kind of hot

we celebrated our friends' son, j., birthday yesterday at a local waterpark

you know the kind, with slides and a wave pool

it is a 'nite slide' and crowded, the place was crazy insane with people

it was a perfect night for a waterpark

the slide 'double dare' dared us to slide down

'double dare' is just that, a two-pronged water slide, one person on the left side, one person on the right side

you step in to a capsule, the door is closed, there is a count down to three before the trapdoor is opened and you drop at almost 90 degrees to a tube that flushes you thru a series of twists, turns and curves where you are stopped by a pool of water and you are left blinking in the air wondering, am i alive

because that fucking trapdoor is scary, there were plenty of people who chickened out, e.g. a twenty-something man in front of us in the line was loudly proclaiming his nervousness

i thought he was hamming it up for the girls behind me and nick, but no, i said, dude, look at me, i'm a middle-aged white guy and if i can do this slide, you most certainly can

nope, the dude gave me this look and made a b-line for the bottom of the stairs and to the ground

then it was our turn, yes my heart was pumping, almost in sync with the heart beat pulse pumped in the capsule, nick was in the green capsule, i was in the orange

i was proud of nick able to hold his fear and get inside, i don't know who was supporting who, at that point

the worst part is the waiting, three seconds can feel like forever

then the door opened, i dropped in to the tube, i assumed the same happened to nick

i opened my eyes, i was sailing thru a tube at warp speed, and having a great time

nick was at the pool at the bottom, he reached it at the same time i did

i couldn't take the slide wearing my glasses, i gave them for safekeeping to the lifeguards, i had to ascend the stairs again to get them

at the bottom of the stairs was the twenty-something young man, he looked at me and asked, you did this thing already

i didn't have an answer for him for this ride ain't some bucket list thing but i told him you have just this one life, how you live it is your matter, some like doing these goofy slides, some others would rather have our feet planted firmly on the ground

your choice, i said, is to decide when to slide, and when to stay on solid ground, there are no bad choices, only the choice necessary to you at this moment, but you have to make a decision right about now

Thursday, July 06, 2017

marxism + rock&roll = rage against the machine

fuck you!  I won't do what you tell me


Tuesday, July 04, 2017

last month my brothers, and their children, along with anna, nick and my father, had a bbq for my 50th birthday

it was lovely catching up with my brothers and their families we don't get together often enough

i don't give birthdays much creedence for it is not the day we need to celebrate but the persistence of living but 50 is a large number and to achieve it is a cause for celebration

anyway, the subject turned toward body art, all my my brothers, my nephew, and even my father are tattooed but i believe i was the first of the family to get formally inked, meaning the first one to get a professional tattoo from a tattoo artist

which is my panther on my upper right hand shoulder that i got from local artist bill liberty in 1986, i was 19 and an utter idiot

but i love my panther, my sister-in-law observed how faded my panther is

my panther couldn't be otherwise, for it has been over 30 years since liberty etched the design on my shoulder

anthony bourdian calls tattoos scars of living, i'll go with his definition

i don't know if i'll get more tattoos but the ink i do have i cherish  especially when they are faded from a lifetime of wear

what more could you expect from life, a few scars, a few images sketched in skin that wears out and fades over time

my panther has been a good friend to me, he's been with me all my adult life, he is not unlike rilke's panther, deep in my skin, but when the pulse reaches its heart it is gone

that is all

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Have You Met Boris?


Saturday, July 01, 2017

the mist (TV series): withdrawal

i don't know if i can go on.  i'll go on.  our family are split.  mom and teen daughter [i'll learn their names soon enough.  and yes, i can easily check on, but i'm a lazy git and i really haven't invested much in these characters to care if they have names.  too harsh?  bear with me.]  are trapped in a shopping mall.  dad and teen daughter's best friend are trapped in the police station.  dad and bf are about to make a break from the police station to reunite with mom and td.  bryan the soldier and junkie woman are in tow.

meanwhile, other survivors are sheltering in the local church.  the deacon of the church is a frightened, confused, and i would guess, weak man.  perhaps he's the more realistic character of the show.  because the family members have found within their selves a well of courage, leadership, and a sort of badassery that i find false.  for example, the mist descends on the town.  weird shit is happening.  the mist has hallucinogenic properties so when a person is in the mist you see either apparitions from your imagination and/or real people from your long gone past.  at any rate, when the camera is in the mist the frame becomes woozy as if we are viewing the scene thru a kaleidoscope.  yet, our heroes have the presence of mind to get the fuck out of the mist even when they don't know what it is or what might be in it.  i don't know about you but i'd be curious as hell about the mist and i'm sure i'd think of it as some heavy fog-like substance and investigate it by stepping outside.  i'm sure i would be the first to get chomped but, hey, what i'm saying is that there would be hundreds, thousands, of idiots like me.  and this show doesn't have any of those idiots.  instead we have groups of people hunkering down, sheltering in place.   

well, if you haven't guessed, bryan, jw, dad and bf crash their car in the mist.  they were carjacked.  were the carjackers' real?  doesn't matter.  oh, yes, before i forget, this is the critical piece of the mist.  it causes collective hallucinations.  a group of people can see the same things.  which beg the question.  what the hell is the mist?  i'm sure that question will be teased out thru the life of the show.  it might not be answered.  it wasn't answered in the source novella or 2007 movie.  anyway, our group work their way to the church and shelter in place.  to complicate matters, the sheriff, father of the boy accused of raping td, is also sheltering in place at the church.  oh man!  this is getting tense.

meanwhile, mom and td are stuck in the mall with scores of people.  the group draws names from a hat.  the chosen name is given the chore of going to the management wing of the mall where a window was kept open and the mist got in.  in a room of the management wing is a government issued radio.  the mall group want to get to that radio to communicate to the outside world.  guess what, mom is a badass.  she gets to the room accompanied by a young man who volunteered to go with her.  the young man is from a group of three who are strangers in town.  something is afoot.

the young man knows how to operate the radio.  he checks a few channels then tunes in to a channel and inquires about the arrowhead project.  remember, bryan also has an arrowhead patch on his fatigues?  except this young man in the mall is in plainclothes.  he has a pistol.  mom inquires after the pistol.  the young man tries to kill mom.  mom prevails and returns to the group claiming the young man got lost in the mist and died.  the radio didn't work.

then the mall group beds down for the night.  the young man who is accused of raping td wanders in to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  he discovers the companions of the young man radio operator hanging in a stall, a suicide.  recall that the soldiers from the arrowhead project also hanged themselves in the novella and 2007 movie.  the shit is getting real.

still, the characters are barely fleshed out even if the first show was all about their dysfunctions.  the danger of the ever-present mist creates a barely buzzed tension in the viewer.  we still haven't seen the creatures that live in the mist.  both groups of found dead bodies.  mom and td saw a woman dragged by something back in to the mist.  all of the deceased were ripped open bloody pieces of meat.  the 2007 movie had the decency to show us a mass of large tentacles when the shit hit the fan.  this TV show is going for a slower style of storytelling.  the mist is and is not.  it is all that is the case, and then some.

before i declare this show all hat let me say it is interesting.  i am curious about the nature, origin, and the properties of the mist.  what happens to the characters is another matter.  i am on this side of giving a shit.