Saturday, June 30, 2018



Thursday, June 28, 2018

we are in the shit, but we have art

this video brought me to tears it is so joyful i hope it brings you a little happiness too

Sunday, June 24, 2018

frank o'hara & rudyard kipling at the movies

mothers tell yr children the movies
are just movies
& poetry is
a line

poem ending with a line by john lennon

i couldn't miss her
talking to the trees
her loose skin braised on the arm
light brown hair
kept in shape by a red bow

i was barely holding on
to the end of a long day
but our paths crossed
as we waited for the light to change

she turned to me & said,
you are my grandfather
oh, how i've missed you
she grinned
& caressed my arm

the war is over [if you want it]

quote unquote

I am only the result, the fruit,
what's left, rotting, among the remains;
what you see here,
is just that:
tenacious trash resisting
its ruin, fighting against wind,
walking streets that go
nowhere.  The success
of all failures.  The insane
force of dismay. . .

--angel gonzalez ['before I could call myself angel gonzalez' tr. by steven ford brown & gutierrez revuelta]

after jaan kaplinski

i am
a citizen
of the international republic
of poetry 

searching for an ATM
                  at the Sac 6 drive in
i see a shooting star

        happiest place on earth


Friday, June 22, 2018

you know i love me the b-movies.  d & z grade flicks too.  i've gotten into the habit to write & read with the TV on in the background.  the late wonderful writer/actor carrie fisher said she wrote her novels & screenplays with the TV on too.  who am i to disagree with a great icon?  so it ain't no accident that the fantastic homage to '50s monster movies, tremors [1990], is playing on the TV as i read blogs and catch up on emails.  i love this flick.  i have the series on DVD.  but  i saw this movie in the theater with a supersmart girl [i apologize if i forgot your name.  we are talking almost 30 years ago.  i am no longer young & my brain works slower than usual. but you were a good friend to me at that time] & i fell in love with this movie.  i am crazy for horror, exploitation, & cheap jack movies.  & tremors celebrates its heritage of horror, exploitation & cheap jack movies.  maybe it is an accident that i power up my laptop & turn on the TV to find this movie playing.  who cares.  after all, i have the franchise on DVD.  i can watch this pic anytime.  & yet,this movie is on TV tonight, the hottest night so far in northern california which would mean this movie broadcast tonight as i try to make sense of our world is a fortuitous accident.  that sums up my philosophy, a fortuitous accident is the definition of life on earth.  & yet, i have this movie playing in the background as i read poems, essays & rants by my brothers & sisters in the art, & in life.  accident or no, i'll take this as an affirmation of living on this planet in the here & now. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

summer solstice

today is the longest day of the year, the official start of summer.  modern communications being what it is i was reading the twitter feed of a new zealand poet today who stated today is the shortest day of the year, middle of winter.  an estranged sense of being.  that reminds me of something i asked an australian poet friend, do you have the same winter imagery for christmas, santa claus and icicles and snowdrifts, rudolph and sleigh rides etc etc. even tho it is high summer?  yes, he said.

nature is pretty wild.  and cool.  so is our perceptions and delusions.  but in my part of the world summer is just kicking in to gear.  and man! the temperature did not disappoint.  hots!!!!! high 90s F [30s C].  the heat made me cranky.  i got home from work and had to run a few errands.  sweaty, clothes sticking, exhausted from the heat, stick a fork in me because i was done!

but i was not feeling that summer feeling.  you know, a kind of pleasant triste when you have nothing but time and little to do.  days of drive in movies, hanging out at the river, aimlessly driving with your friends looking for. . .anything.  these are the things of youth.  and i sure as hell am no longer young.  i left young 20 or so years ago.

and yet, i love life.  i love being alive, old and older still.  i am a crepuscular creature.  my preferred season is autumn and winter.  i dig short dark days and long nights.  i like it when it is cold.  but i like summer too.  later this summer we will spend our annual week in cayucos, located in central ca, the beach town time forgot.  there time will dilate and slow to a crawl.  i will have nothing to do but swim in the surf, walk the beach, gaze out to sea, and read what books i bring.  if you haven't seen the light in cayucos, and sac, then you haven't lived.  for california produces a special kind of light in summer that i think the impressionists and post-impressionists would have killed for.

at any rate, let us enjoy summer, as much as we can, even in these fucking crazy times.  do i need to point to the news to illustrate how weird it is to be in america?  i don't think so.

june is also gay pride month and my brother in life and in art, alex gildzen, is part of a project where older LGBT artists and writers read letters to their younger selves that you can find here.  the letters are an affirmation of living on this planet and accepting the love of who we are.

so fuck hate.  fuck bigotry.

let us make another summer of love.  soon.

in the meantime, i do feel a little summer triste.  that puts me in mind of a song.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

one of the most enjoyable classes i had at university was a course on chaucer.  my classmates were smart & funny.  the professor was erudite & crafty.  the text was that big red riverside edition of the complete works of chaucer.  a great book.  indeed the professor [i'm sorry if i have forgotten his name, we are talking 20 years ago now, so my apologies to you professor, you were a wonderful teacher] read us the poems, gave us their history, explained that one does not have to literally translate the word 'yclept' because one just needs to grasp its feeling in much the same way we feel the word 'cool' to mean good or well or okay or great or special.

in other words, accept chaucer on his terms & read him historically.  he was not a 21st C sort of dude.  still, chaucer was a humanist, & earthy, & very funny.  so imagine my delight to learn that chaucer tweets.  his account is chaucer doth tweet.  who says social media is used only for evil.  for on this platform the earthy, loving humanist poet writes for the denizens of the 21st C.

i love this recent tweet from the great poet

Be kynde
Be weirde
Read olde stuff and newe stuff
Make art  

how do you top that?  that is so well said it should become a tattoo on all of us who live by & in art.

& so for this father's day let me wish all parents, mothers & fathers, & children, & grandparents, & grand babies, & families of all shapes, sizes & persuasions, peace, love & kindness.

we are here only once, & for such a short time.  best to be kind to each other.  i think chaucer has tweeted about just that thing.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

notes on summer [drive in intermission shorts]

anna asked me last weekend if it felt like summer to me.  i answered in the negative.  i suppose as a grown-ass man deep in to middle age summer is just another season.  i mean, i still have to get up to go to work every weekday.  no three consecutive months off for me, thank you very fucking much.  still, summer does have a flavor all its own.  the light outside changes to a bright fluorescent that has been known to blind un-sunglassed people.  the heat in Sac can get intense.  but at least it is a dry heat.  find some shade and you can sweat it out.  this city has two rivers, the American and the Sacramento, and a long bike trail on the American that is both respite from urbanity and a lure to the adventurous where you can see deer, coyotes, hawks, turkey vultures etc etc.  i hear the fishing in both the American and the Sacramento is pretty good.  oh!  you can rent kayaks to paddle about in Lake Natoma, and rafts to float down the American.

these are a few of the summer things that my beloved city has in abundance.  Sac also has one of the few working drive in theaters in the U.S.  casual readers of this blog know that i think the happiest place on earth is the Sac 6 Drive In.  a few years ago the manager of the Sac 6, earl, gave me and nick a tour of the projection booth.  a true bucket list sort of thing for me.  and it ain't summer in the city without the Sac 6 Drive In.

but the Sac 6 no longer plays drive in intermission shorts.  these are the live action and cartoon commercials to get patrons to the snack bar to load up on goodies like sodas, candy, popcorn, pizza, burgers etc etc.  i love these intermission shorts.  some are artless, a few are art.  the Sac 6 had a live action musical short about going to the snack bar where you could get pizza with 'mushy roomy room sauce' that played so frequently at the Sac 6 it has become something of a folk legend.  I haven't seen this particular intermission short for over 35 years.  youtube has thousands of hours of intermission shorts, i've watched many of these hours, and i have yet to find this 'mushy roomy room sauce' commercial.

still, it is summer time, and the living, if it ain't easy [and it ain't], is at least vivid.  i love the drive ins, i love drive in exploitation movies, and i love very much drive in intermission shorts.  these shorts are the personification of summer for this old man who grew up in a northern california city that was once the home of up to a dozen drive in theaters.    

below is one of my favorite drive in shorts.  i might have posted this video before.  and yes, this was a mainstay at the Sac 6.  i think the short was produced in the late 1950s.  hence the emphasis on flying saucers.  flying saucers were often in 1950s sci fi/exploitation movies that played in drive ins.  viva la summer!  this shit makes me happy.

poem [the secret to poetry]

just kidding!
you thought i'd dispense the wisdom of the ages?
what wisdom?
there is no secret to poetry

poetry just makes me very fucking happy

Saturday, June 09, 2018

an ordinary day

saturdays tend to be chores day
so it was today
as we got to the business maintaining
our lives on this little patch of earth
nothing really happened
i kept the TV tuned to the news
hoping for something wonderful
i.e. a cure for cancer
or our politicians unfurl
flags of surrender
i helped anna with this
and that
i helped nick with this
and that
a mouse died in our backyard
and i took care of that
then we had dinner out with
the family
in the end it couldn't be helped
i turned a year older
51 years on this clamshell
i can't explain the quick passing
of these years
i don't know how many years
are in the future
i only know that the present
begins right now
and the present asks
in the words of david byrne
well how did i get here

Friday, June 08, 2018

anthony bourdain [1956 - 2018]

anna woke me at 5:30 AM and asked me if i heard the news.  what?  anthony bourdain is dead.  a suicide.  there are a few celebrity suicides that shocked the shit out of me.  writer david foster wallace was one.  anthony bourdain is another.  why?  the reason is because of their work.  a good writer, and bourdain was a very good writer, gets into the marrow of your bones.  some writers might even go deeper and seep into your DNA.  writing is a deeper life experience and those writers whom one falls in love with become a part of our lives, our bodies and our minds.  and when a loved writer kills himself/herself the shock of their action knocks you on your ass.

i was introduced to bourdain by my friend b. who loaned me his copy of bourdain's memoir kitchen confidential.  then b. said, you have to watch his TV shows.  those shows, a cook's tour, no reservations and the current iteration broadcast on CNN, parts unknown featured, written and narrated by bourdain were more than travel and cooking shows.  they were tone poems.  if i might even go further and call them extensions of bourdain's writings for these shows were essays.  bourdain showed us a world that is crazy, colorful, flavorful, and very human.

and that was bourdain's gift.  he was a flawed individual -- who isn't -- but he was a man who ate life and showed his audiences that wherever he went on this, our,beautiful planet the people he visited in his travels were people who also loved and feared just like us.  bourdain was a man who did what every great essayist does, tells us a human story whether it be about war, famine, refugees, or the abundant rich, that makes us both feel deeply and think widely.

so it is double punch in the gut to discover such a man who so loved life as he also suffered in silence and his suffering was so great that he killed himself.  mental illness is a silent killer.  we cannot know the inner life, the inner nightmare, of our fellow humans unless they tell us of their suffering, or unless we are trained to see the signs of suicidal behaviors.

so let me be an advocate for kindness and compassion.  the dude who cut you off on the highway might seem like a dick but who knows the cause of his suffering.  we all suffer.  life is suffering.  life is fucking tough.  life is unfair.  what we can do is practice kindness and forgiveness.  including the asshole who cut you off on the highway.

i dug the work and persona of anthony bourdain.  his death is a shock to me because he was probably suffering in silence for a long time.  i hadn't seen that suffering in bourdain's work, either on TV or in his books.  for god's sake, mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of.  it is a real physical illness.  there is light at the end of the tunnel.  if i might, be open about your suffering.  you'll be surprised to find others who suffer too.  we are human.  humanity is flawed.  humanity suffers.  that is our condition.  practice humility and forgiveness.  you don't have to suffer alone.  

Monday, June 04, 2018

quote unquote

Sit quietly, you Happy Lucky idiot

--nanao sakaki
[i fucking love this line of poetry!]

Saturday, June 02, 2018

doing a few lines at the sac 6 drive-in

it's intermission time
    hurry hurry hurry folks
        come to the snack bar
where you can try
our mouth-watering hot dogs
        enjoy your favorite beverages like
ice-cold coca cola & piping hot coffee

we have all your favorite candy bars

our italian-style pizza w/ zesty sauce
can be delivered right to your car
    & our bbq is so sassy your momma
will slap you in the mouth

the show will begin in 5 minutes