April 30, 2004

A supper of salt and a waltz to your empty bed

Friday poems

Ornette Coleman And Thelonious Monk At Dinner
-- by Elizabeth Alexander

When people smoked, and it hung over the table like magic
or like wisps of the talk and the music between them,

chicken bone, the best Chateaux, Coca-Cola in glass, Monk's eyes
cut left, Ornette laughing at something off camera,

safari suit and Savile Row bespoke haberdashery
circa '72 and the black globe is damn near free.

Deep sounds in the cusp and shift, in the sour and the off-notes
you bang and you blow, in the butter, in the biscuits, the bird carcass,

jelly, just what you wanted and all you can eat.

Declaration of Independence
-- by Michael Brownstein

When, in the midst of the thriving alien
Corn of congratulation for clever auspices
To spray out cruel politics like little birds
Set in rows, knocking them and breaking
The backs, just to suck out blood
Of complacency adn dumb wistful resignation
Whose dumpy quality is force-fed inward
Against the natural flow of their actual
Energies all their lives, doubly dizzy
From wheezing through nostrils of boredom
On a vacation isle they fought for frantically
Only to ruin and poison artificially
With plastic clicking hands holding mule-like
Pills of false and clotted rest, then I
Get up much earlier than the rest, and smoke
Under creaking trees shocked by ice,
Lace of sunlight, glittering fir and snow,
Hours of eating from this planet's tasty
Dwindling peace of mind.

April 29, 2004

Whatever you want from me, whatever you want I'll do

From the essay "How to Proceed in the Arts," written in 1952 by Larry Rivers and Frank O'Hara, but not published until Barney Russet did so in the Evergreen Review in 1961:

A Detailed Study of the Creative Act

1. Empty yourself of everything.

2. Think of far away things.

3. It is 12:00. Pick up the adult and throw it out of bed. Work should be done at your leisure, you know, only when there is nothing else to do. If anyone is in bed, with you, they should be told to leave. You cannot work with someone there.

4. If you are the type of person that thinks in words -- Paint!!

5. Think of a big color -- who cares if people call you Rothko. Release your childhood. Release it.

6. Do you hear them say painting is action? We say painting is the timid appraisal of yourself by lions.
10. Don't just paint. Be an all around successful man like Baudelaire.

11. Remember to despise your teachers, or for that matter anyone who tells you anything straight from the shoulder. This is very important.

For instance, by now you should have decided we are a complete waste of time. Easterners, Communists, and Jews. This will help you with your life, and we say "life before art." All other positions have drowned in the boring swamp of dedication. No one paints because they choose to.
15. In attempting a black painting, know that truth is beauty, but shit is shit.

16. In attempting a figure painting, consider that no amount of distortion will make a painting seem more relaxed. Others must be convinced before we even recognize ourselves. At the beginning, idenitity is a dream. At the end, it is a nightmare.
19. When involved with abstractions, refrain, as much as possible, from personal symbolism, unless your point is gossip....everyone knows size counts.

NewsBlues.com is reporting [no free link] that Sinclair Broadcast Group has ordered its ABC-affiliated stations not to carry tomorrow's "Nightline," which will air the names and photos of soldiers who have been killed in combat in Iraq.

Sinclair General Counsel Barry Faber tells the site: "We find it to be contrary to the public interest."

Atrios says: Contact the Sinclair Broadcast Group at 410-568-1500 and ask them why they refuse to acknowledge those who have served this country honorably.

Here is more on the Sinclair Broadcast Group.

And this guy summmarized the feelings of many when he wrote (in the FreakGirl comments section):

"Isn't it disgusting that [Bush and Cheney] get to testify in private, off the record and not under oath when it involves 3000 dead Americans, but it goes on live TV when it's about a blowjob? What the fuck is wrong with our country? Why are people not out in the streets of DC demanding accountability from these criminals?"
there are brighter things than diamonds coming down the line

* The New York Times on the president's testimony:

"It would have been a pleasure to be able to congratulate President Bush on his openness in agreeing to sit down today with the independent commission on the 9/11 attacks and answer questions. Unfortunately, Mr. Bush conditioned his cooperation on stipulations that range from the questionable to the ridiculous."
"Given the White House's concern for portraying Mr. Bush as a strong leader, it's remarkable that this critical appearance is being structured in a way that is certain to provide fodder for late-night comedians, who enjoy depicting him as the docile puppet of his vice president.

"Mr. Bush's reluctant and restrictive cooperation with the panel is consistent with the administration's pattern of stonewalling reasonable requests for documents and testimony and then giving up only the minimum necessary ground when the dispute becomes public. Today's testimony will be in private in the White House, away from reporters or television cameras. The session will not be recorded, and there will be no formal transcript. The president's aides have defended this excessive degree of secrecy with the usual arguments about protecting highly classified information and not wanting to establish dangerous precedents.

"The idea that the panel may wring from Mr. Bush some comment that may endanger national security is ridiculous. The commission, led by the respected former Republican governor of New Jersey, Thomas Kean, has already heard, in public, from the leaders of the nation's top intelligence agencies, the secretary of defense and Mr. Bush's national security adviser. It seems highly unlikely that the president knows secrets more sensitive than they do. If he did, he would certainly be free to go off the record while discussing them.

"The president's aides have also been arguing that making the event anything more than a 'meeting' or informal discussion would establish a pattern that future chief executives would be forced to follow. That is true, in a way. If Mr. Bush or any of his successors have the tragic misfortune to be in command at a time when terrorists strike the country, killing thousands of innocent civilians, they should be expected to cooperate with the official investigations, and to do so in a way that puts their statements on the record and into history."

* The Mountain Goat's John Darnielle on smog. [via largeheartedboy] an excerpt:

"Songs occasionally come along at just the right time.

"Been getting really into (smog) over the past couple of years — gradually, since Bill Callahan’s songs are more of the seep-under-your-skin variety than of the oh-my-God-I-must-have-all-their-albums-now variety. Picked up his most recent one, Supper, at a record store in South Carolina on the last U.S. tour. I really liked South Carolina – seeing it felt like meeting an old friend whose memory had been nearly obliterated by a motorcycle accident, all ghostly-familiar: it was so pretty and ancient-looking. But this has nothing to do with anything right now.

"I put off playing the album until I got home from tour, and then I put it off some more because I was busy delving into the abysmally-titled Dongs of Sevotion, which is a masterpiece. And then it was time for tour again, and on the day before I left for Europe I transferred Supper to my iPod.

"I listened to it one morning at a cafe in Paris. I know, I know — how insufferable is it to hear people talking about the things they did and the good times they had at cafes in Paris? Let a guy get his foot in the door with this kind of nonsense and the next thing you know he’s complaining about how we don’t have cafes like that over here, and how great the public transportation is over there in Europe, and then you just wanna punch him in the nose."

* "Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." -- Picasso

April 28, 2004

If songs were lines in a conversation the situation would be fine

* The Guardian remembers Nick Drake. [via the fold drop.]

* J.G. Ballard was asked in 1992 by the editors of Zone to contribute to a special issue on the body, and suggested possible topics. Rather than tackle them one at a time, he provided short reflections on each of them. Here are some of the topics Ballard discussed:

War: The possibility at last exists that war may be defeated on the lingustic plane. If war is an extreme metaphor, we may defeat it by devising metaphors that are even more extreme.

Telephone: A shrine to the desperate hope that one day the world will listen to us.

Forensics: On the autopsy table science and pornography meet and fuse.

Hallucinogenic drugs: The kaleidoscope's view of the eye.

Pornography: The body's chaste and unerotic dream of itself.

The Warren Commission Report: The novelization of the Zapruder film.

Money: The original digital clock.

Personal Computers: Perhaps unwisely, the brain is subcontracting many of its core functions, creating a series of branch economies that may one day amalgamate and mount a management buyout.

Furniture and Industrial design: Our furniture constitutes an external constellation of our skin areas and body postures. It's curious that the least imaginative of all forms of furniture has been the bed.

Genocide: The economics of mass production applied to self-disgust.

The gold stereo stretches out the sound

* David Berman has a short story in the current issue of Jane magazine. You can read "Lady in Gunsmoke" here.

* FactCheck.Org has summarized the distortions of Kerry's record that Bush is pushing in his campaign ads.

* One of the Olsen sisters sports a Velvet Underground t-shirt in a milk ad.

* Kafka may be the most important writer of the twentieth century, far more important than James Joyce. He describes the fate of the isolated man who is surrounded by a vast and impenetrable bureaucracy, and begins to accept himself on the terms the bureaucracy imposes. Human beings today are in a very similar postition. We are surrounded by huge institutions we can never penetrate: the City, the banking system, political and advertising conglomerates, vast entertainment empires. They've made themselves more user-friendly, but they define the tastes to which we conform. They're rather subtle, subserviant tyrannies, but no less sinister for that.

-- J.G. Ballard in the (London) Sunday Times, 1993.

April 27, 2004

Some of us can only live in songs of love and trouble

* We wholeheartedly agree with Eric Schlosser when he asks that we Make Peace with Pot. an excerpt:

"About 700,000 people were arrested in the United States for violating marijuana laws in 2002 (the most recent year for which statistics are available) — more than were arrested for heroin or cocaine. Almost 90 percent of these marijuana arrests were for simple possession, a crime that in most cases is a misdemeanor. But even a misdemeanor conviction can easily lead to time in jail, the suspension of a driver's license, the loss of a job. And in many states possession of an ounce is a felony. Those convicted of a marijuana felony, even if they are disabled, can be prohibited from receiving federal welfare payments or food stamps. Convicted murderers and rapists, however, are still eligible for those benefits.

"The Bush administration has escalated the war on marijuana, raiding clinics that offer medical marijuana and staging a nationwide roundup of manufacturers of drug paraphernalia. In November 2002 the Office of National Drug Control Policy circulated an 'open letter to America's prosecutors' spelling out the administration's views. 'Marijuana is addictive,' the letter asserted. 'Marijuana and violence are linked . . . no drug matches the threat posed by marijuana.'

"This tough new stand has generated little protest in Congress. Even though the war on marijuana was begun by President Ronald Reagan in 1982, it has always received strong bipartisan support. Some of the toughest drug war legislation has been backed by liberals, and the number of annual marijuana arrests more than doubled during the Clinton years. In fact, some of the strongest opposition to the arrest and imprisonment of marijuana users has come from conservatives like William F. Buckley, the economist Milton Friedman and Gary Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico.

"This year the White House's national antidrug media campaign will spend $170 million, working closely with the nonprofit Partnership for a Drug-Free America. The idea of a 'drug-free America' may seem appealing. But it's hard to believe that anyone seriously hopes to achieve that goal in a nation where millions of children are routinely given Ritalin, antidepressants are prescribed to cure shyness, and the pharmaceutical industry aggressively promotes pills to help middle-aged men have sex."

* Photos depicting what is happening in Iraq. [via skimble]

* Splendid Magazine has posted a long interview of the wrens Kevin Whelan. an excerpt:

Splendid: And then, the first time you ever sent out a demo, you got an invitation to open for The Fixx. The "Saved by Zero" Fixx?

Kevin Whelan: Yeah, The "Saved by Zero" Fixx, who I guess were having a comeback or something. My brother and I got the call at the house asking if we wanted to open for The Fixx. And of course, we were like "Wow, we're going to be famous. Things are going to open up for us." This is how out of it we were. So we said, yeah, sure, of course we'd do it. So we had to sell 1,000 tickets. The tickets were $15 a piece.

Splendid: Where were they playing?

Kevin Whelan: They were playing at this place called Obsessions in Randolph, New Jersey. This terrible, crazy club. [Dust Congress note: I grew up near and remember heading to Obsessions for various reasons while in Middle School and early High School]

Splendid: And then you released your first full-length, Silver, and that got you some pretty big-time attention. Then you started working on Secaucus and that's when, I guess, the hammer came down.

Kevin Whelan: Yeah, Secaucus started to do well. People liked the record. Writers liked the record. It could never have been a top-ten record. Never, ever, ever. We made it in our basement again. But the record company came in and tried to turn it into Third Eye Blind or something like that. There was just nothing there. We knew that we wanted to have a career that was mostly based on making good records -- not becoming Britney Spears or those kinds of bands. Not on being famous. So we said, look, if you want to sign us, let's do well with Secaucus and see how it goes. But they wanted to strong-arm us. They said, look, you've got to sign this big deal for all these records, or we're not even going to push this record. So it was a conflict of thinking. They wanted us to be something different from what we are. So we decided yet again to choose the other way. We are just so committed to each other and we have to believe in what we do. And you kind of can't kid yourself about what you do? You know what I mean? We're not Aerosmith. There's no way we ever will be.

Splendid: And that whole period, that's essentially what "This Boy is Exhausted" is about.

Kevin Whelan: Yeah, well, what happened was that all the major labels were coming out of the woodwork and they wanted to sign us. They were making us record for them, and saying, "We're going to sign you." And then they just never would do anything. And "This Boy Is Exhausted" that was really written at a time when Interscope was going to sign us. A guy kept coming back to the house. I think we wrote 30 songs for him. And there was just no single. And finally, with that song, Charles the guitar player wrote that song, essentially about that guy.
Splendid: Does it worry you that people are out there ripping your songs and trading them?

Kevin Whelan: I think it's wonderful. People love music. People don't mistreat music. It's the record companies that are mistreating people when they're selling records for $20. People love good music. It's people that do it right. Business does it wrong. People like you, you write about music because you love music, and it's so nice. You're not getting paid millions of dollars...

Splendid: (laughs) I'm not getting paid at all.

Kevin Whelan: Right. You're not getting paid anything. You've got it right.

Splendid: I think that for the record companies, what's important is the $20, and for everybody else, what's important is the music.

Kevin Whelan: Right, and I understand that it's a business as well. But it doesn't mean that for people like yourself that music that is hard to find is not as important, because it is.

Splendid: So, when I started listening to Meadowlands I immediately wanted to buy the rest of your stuff, and you can't because most of it's out of print.

Kevin Whelan: We're having a little trouble with that. We're trying to get it in print...
Splendid: I think your story has a lot of resonance for people who are struggling in the arts...it's like one of you got through. It's like a victory for everybody.

Kevin Whelan: Yeah, it's wonderful. The thing is that we never thought that we were going to get through. That's why the importance of what you do, the real stuff...that's why it took us so long...we had to make sure that even if no one heard it, that we could be happy with it.

Three poems by Leonard Cohen

The Rest is Dross

We meet in a hotel
with many quarters for the radio
surprised that we've survived as lovers
not each other's
but lovers still
with outrageous hope and habits in the craft
which embarrass us slightly
as we let them be known
the special caress the perfect inflammatory word
the starvation we do not tell about
We do what only lovers can
make a gift out of necessity
Looking at our clothes
folded over the chair
I see we no longer follow fashion
and we own our own skins
God I'm happy we've forgotten nothing
and can love each other
for years in the world

The Bus

I was the last passenger of the day,
I was alone on the bus,
I was gladthey were spending all that money
just getting me up Eighth Avenue.
Driver! I shouted, it's you and me tonight,
let's run away from this big city
to a smaller city more suitable to the heart,
let's drive past the swimming pools of Miami Beach,
you in the driver's seat, me several seats back,
but in the radical cities we'll change places
so as to show how well you've done up North,
and let us find ourselves some tiny American fishing village
in unknown Florida
and part right at the edge of the sand,
a huge bus poiting out,
metallic, painted, solitary,
with New York plates.

It Has Been Some Time

It has been some time
since I took away
a women's perfume on my skin
I remember tonight
how sweet I used to find it
and tonight I've forgotten nothing
of how little it means to me
knowing in my heart
we would never be lovers
thinking much more about suicide and money

April 26, 2004

I hate the big decisions that cause endless revisions in my mind

* "I think that after September 11, the American people are valuing life more and we need policies to value the dignity and worth of every life," she said. "President Bush has worked to say, let's be reasonable, let's work to value life, let's reduce the number of abortions, let's increase adoptions. And I think those are the kinds of policies the American people can support, particularly at a time when we're facing an enemy and, really, the fundamental issue between us and the terror network we fight is that we value every life." -- Karen Hughes, pretty much equating being pro-choice with supporting terrorists, after being asked how she felt about yesterday's pro-choice march in Washington.

* Quick summary of Oblivion, the new David Foster Wallace book of short stories which will be released in June. [via maud newton]

* From, This is Not a Novel, by David Markson:

Before the Normans brought despair, the Anglo-Saxon word was wanhope.

I cannot endure to read a line of poetry; I have tried lately to read Shakesperare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me. Says Darwin's Autobiography.

Thomas Hardy wrote a carefully sanitized third-person biography of himself and left it behind for his widow to pretend she was the author of.

Anthony Trollope wrote seven pages a day, seven days a week. And would actually begin a new book if he came to the end of one before his day's quota had been met.

Rousseau was categorically convinced of the existence of vampires.

Augustus John's habit of patting every passing London youngster on the head:
In case it is one of mine.

Only one person, his secretary, attended Liebnitz's funeral.

The time is close when you will have forgotten all things; and when all things will have forgotten you. Said Marcus Aurelius.

What artists do cannot be called work. Says Flaubert's Dictionary of Accepted Ideas.

Tennessee William's choked on the cap of a nasal sprayer—to death.

Life consists in what a man is thinking of all day. Said Emerson

It ain't no famous name on a golden plaque...

* About one million people march on Washington in support of abortion-rights.

* Guided by Voices to release one more album, then will call it quits.

"I've always said that when I make a record that I'm totally satisfied with as befitting a final album, then that will be it," frontman Robert Pollard said. "And this is it. I love the
guys in the band, but I'm getting too old to be a gang leader." "Half Smiles," due August 24th, will be the group's fifteenth album.

* Animals, made by hands.

April 23, 2004

Disillusioned words like bullets bark

* Need girlfriend? Like supermodels? Check out Supermodels personals.

* Likely, everything you might need to know about Converse Chuck Taylors.

* Earlier this month, the French raised their terror alert from White Zinfandel to Merlot.

April 22, 2004

I took a pen in my own hand and wrote you a hundred tunes

* Doctors in Romania are treating a 28-year-old whose penis exploded while he was making love to his girlfriend. The doctor said "It is very rare for this to happen. We call it an exploded penis because it happens when the blood cavities in the penis burst. I don't know what this couple were playing at, but there must have been tremendous pressure inside the penis to make this happen." [via karl lintvedt]

* What would Ashcroft think?

* We have lost the war on drugs, must we lose our rights?

"Next week in Washington, D.C., opening arguments begin in a federal lawsuit that you might not have heard about. A few months back, a new law tucked discreetly into a government spending bill cut off federal funds to any public transit system that accepts advertising that advocates certain changes in the nation's drug laws. If the Chicago Transit Authority accepts an ad from a group trying to improve the terminally ill's access to medical marijuana, the CTA will lose its federal funding.

"Whatever you think of U.S. drug policy -- words like 'failed' and 'Draconian' automatically leap to my mind, but you might think first of 'expensive' and 'futile' -- you probably, one hopes, feel the matter should at least be discussed, and that people have the right to air their views and buy ads to disseminate them."

"We've lost that right, another collateral victim of our lost drug war. The warm glow associated with being 'tough on drugs' has caused politicians to fall over themselves passing inane and excessive laws, such as this law, or the one cutting off college grants to anyone with a drug conviction -- which means you can murder someone and get a Pell grant to go to college, but that ounce of pot will bar you for life. Your tax dollars at work. "

Potluck Setlist

Gloria -- Patti Smith
Life Stinks -- Rocket From the Tombs
Container Drivers -- The Fall
My Human Gets Me Blues -- Captain Beefheart
Wicked Annabella -- The Kinks
Blank Frank -- Brian Eno
Lucifer Sam -- Pink Floyd
Warm Heart Pastry -- Mike Heron
Gimi A Little Break -- Love
That's When I Reach for My Revolver -- Mission of Burma
The Modern World -- The Jam
Mars Bars -- The Undertones
Everybody's Got Nice Stuff But Me -- Dead Milkmen
What's Yr Take on Cassavettes -- LeTigre
My British Tour Diary -- Of Montreal
Something for the Weekend -- Super Furry Animals
Fireplace -- Olivia Tremor Control
Everybody Knows This is Nowhere -- Neil Young
Made Up Dreams -- Built to Spill
Silver Morning After -- Beechwood Sparks
Detriot Has a Skyline Too -- Superchunk
Neon Golden -- The Notwist
Plastic Mylar -- Spoon
The Monk at the Disco -- Bobby Bare Jr.
The Bay Shallows -- EZ-T
Jordache -- Black Nasty
Hewlett's Daughter -- Granddaddy
He War -- Cat Power
Gold Soundz -- Pavement
Jane of the Waking Universe -- GBV
I'm So Free -- Lou Reed
Lies -- The Rolling Stones
Song -- Smog
Dallas -- Silver Jews
I Don't Mind -- The Ropers
Last Caress -- Papa M

April 21, 2004

Antidote for Popculturemania
- from America: A History in Verse, Part 2, By Ed Sanders

Clement Greenberg's essay
"Avant-garde and Kitsch"
came out in the Partisan Review that fall [1939]

in which he almost chants his disrespect for
Kitsch "the epitome of all that is spurious
in the life of our times"

Kitsch which "changes according to style but
remains all the same"

Kitsch which "lies to the minds of artists"
so that they will bend under Kitsch's
profit-batty pressure

(not to mention Stalin's official Kitsch
which ate the soul of mad Odessa's paintbrush)

Go read it.
Greenberg's essay can be read here.

* POTLUCK tonight. The fun begins at 9.
this one is on the house this one is better than ever

* The Guardian article discussing the Pentagon's war on Al-Jazeera concludes:

"Sami al-Haj, an al-Jazeera cameraman seized in Afghanistan, remains detained in Guantánamo Bay to this day, and al-Jazeera's journalists in the west have been singled out. After attending the European social forum in Paris, I myself was detained for an hour by British special branch officers at Waterloo station. The questioning focused on my employer. The officers also wanted information about other al-Jazeera journalists in Paris and London, and asked if I would speak to someone in their office on a regular basis about my work contacts. I declined both requests.

"The targeting of al-Jazeera is all the more remarkable, given that it is the only Arab TV network to routinely offer Israeli, US and British officials a platform to argue their case. The Israeli cabinet minister Gideon Ezra famously told the Jerusalem Post: 'I wish all Arab media were like al-Jazeera.' Kenton Keith, the former US ambassador to Qatar, commented: 'You have to be a supporter of al-Jazeera, even if you have to hold your nose sometimes.'

"Al-Jazeera has a track record of honest and accurate reporting, and has maintained a principled pluralism in the face of brutal and authoritarian regimes within the region, and increasingly from those without. This is why it has been vilified, criminalised and bombed. It is also why it should be defended by those who genuinely believe that successful societies depend upon an independent media."

* Things Fall Apart. excerpt:

"Watching the commission hearings and especially listening to George W. Bush's utterly disastrous press conference last Tuesday, I personally have gotten a completely different picture about what left us vulnerable to a massive terrorist attack on American soil. The fact that 9/11 happened had nothing to do with 'the wall,' or with pesky legal restrictions put on the FBI and the CIA, or with the fact that we were not 'on a war footing,' whatever that really means. What we need is not a new and improved PATRIOT Act. What we need is a president.

"Unfortunately I will never make it into the White House press pool. But had I been there on Tuesday night, I know what my question would have been:

"'Mr. President, could you tell us all who's actually running this country? Because it can't possibly be you.'

"Because it can't be. Based on his performance last Tuesday I wouldn't hire him to manage a McDonald's, let alone the entire nation. Some of the journalists who were there apparently shared this opinion to some extent; at any rate, they pointed out that Bush's 'answers' were almost always nonresponsive and by and large consisted of reformulations of the 'stay the course' rhetoric he had trotted out earlier in his 17-minute opening statement.

They have generally not tried to convey something that was obvious to anyone who tuned in, which is that as nonsensical as Bush's words were - just reading the transcript would make your head bleed - his delivery was even worse. Bush went from halting and wooden to aggressive and angry, with a lot of silences, pauses, and meaningless babble in between. Perhaps the lowest point came when he was asked what he would say was his biggest mistake since 9/11/01. There was silence for several seconds as Bush racked what he calls his brain for an answer, and what he finally said was, 'I wish you'd have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it.'

"For once, no doubt, he was telling the truth."

* "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - President Dwight D. Eisenhower - April 16, 1953

April 20, 2004

Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine

"I don't consider writing a quiet, closet act. I consider it a real physical act. When I'm home writing on the typewriter, I go crazy. I move like a monkey. I've wet myself, I've come in my pants writing." -- Patti Smith

* Manifesto: You Can't Say Fuck In Radio Free America, by Patti Smith, first published in the March 1977 edition of Yipster Times. excerpt:

"We believe in the total freedom of communication and we will not be compromised. The censorship of words is as meaningless as the censorship of musical notes; we cannot tolerate either. Freedom means exactly that: no limits, no boundaries...rock and roll is not a colonial power to be exploited, told what to say and how to say it. This is the spirit in which our music began and the flame in which is must be continued. Radio Ethiopia is a symphony of experience...each piece a movement...14 movements...14 stations.

"There is silence on my radio...

"They are trying to silence us, but they cannot succeed. We cannot be 'trusted' not to pollute the airwaves with our idealism and intensity. W(New) York has proved unresponsive at best to the new rock and roll being born under its ears...a music having worldwide cause and effect...injecting a new sense of urgency and imperative. Radio has consistently lagged behind the needs of the community it is honor-bound to serve. We do not consider paternalistic token airplay and passive coverage to be enough. FM radio was birthed in the 1960's as an alternative to restrictive playlisting and narrow monopolistic visions. The promise is being betrayed."

* Smith reviews the Velvet Underground's 1969 Live. excerpt:

"That's why I love this record so much. It goes beyond risk and hovers like an electric moth. There is no question no apologizing there is just a trust a bond with time and god their relentlessly relaxed method of getting it on and over the land of strain. Like Rimbaud we rebel baptism but you know man needs water he needs to get clean keep washing over like a Moslem. Well this drowning is eternal and you dont have to track it lambkin you just lay back and let it pour over you. Dig it submit put your hands down your pants and play side C. "Ocean" is on and the head cracks like intellectual egg spewing liquid gold (jewel juice) and Lou is so elegantly restrained. It nearly drives me crazy. The cymbal is so light and the way they stroll into 'Pale Blue Eyes' not unlike Tim Hardin's 'Misty Roses' the way it comes on like a Genet love song.

"And I love the way Lou talks like a warm nigger or slow bastard from Philly that THING that reeks of old records like golden oldies. A chord so direct it eel fucks you in the heart. I write Smith Corona electric resting on a huge speaker pulsing 'Heroin.' It makes my fingers vibrate. Anything electric is worth it. We are the true children of Frankenstein we were raised on electricity. On the late show the way the white light strobed his body over and over like sex and speed and all the flash it takes to make a man. "Heroin" moving on and in like a sob.

"And its all past Lou just doesnt shoot anymore. And I dont know if hes dead center like he was in Texas 69 I dont know where he is at all. It doesnt matter this set stands in time like a Cartier gem. The only criticize I got is the eyes the cover eats shit. Music like this so black and white so 8 millimeter should have been wrapped in the perfect photograph -- a Mapplethorpe still life: syringe and shades and black muscle tee. L.R. + V.U. 69 are a kool creem oozing soothing mesmerizing like hypnos scooping wind down pain mountain. This double set is completely worth it not a bad cut always with it. It will relax you help it all to make sense the Sixties ended in a sea of warm puke delicate enough to be called art. And it was LIVE man with a few scattered rounds of slack applause a product as perfect as the mutualated victim. Theres no difference between after the murder and apres the perfect perform. And if Lou dont remember how it felt to shell it out you will not soon forget how it feels to hear. When the musics over and you turn out the light its like . . . coming down from a dream."

* J.P.

unlucky katie marie
what she gonna do
it's only monday
she's got six more days to get through

she gotta wait and listen
but then she'll set you straight
she knows the ethics of the road
been on it since she's eight

well they take her
they shake her
they rock her
they rape her
and when they're done they drive her down
far as san jose
then she has to fill the time there
unlucky katie

unlucky katie marie
where she gonna go
it's only monday cross the border
she got six more days to go

well she's lonely tonight
and though she lives outside the law
though she'd take on any greaser
she got no mexican numbers
she can call

Oh unlucky Katie Marie
lays in bed alone
wishing it were friday
wishing she were stoned

Copyright © Patti Smith 1971

Clipping the wings of your morning light

* On Bush, drugs and hypocrisy. excerpt:

"When President George W. Bush signed the Drug-Free Communities Act in 2002, he asserted, 'If you quit drugs, you join the fight against terror in America.' During the 2002 Superbowl, in the aftermath of 9/11, Bush's Office of National Drug Control Policy aired two TV ads asking the simple question, 'Where do terrorists get their money?' The answer: 'If you buy drugs, some of it might come from you.'

"Many marijuana activists have argued that growing your own weed is counterterrorist activity. Still, this line of thinking concedes Bush's simple-minded assertion.

"The better response to the terrorist money question should be from Friends and Family of Bush (FOBs). The terrorist network responsible for 9/11 was primarily financed by opium profits from the Golden Crescent where Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran come together. The Reagan and Bush administration policy was to allow the opium lords to launder their drug money through the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) as long as some of the proceeds went to finance the fight against the Soviet Union. Ironically, all of this is documented in a Senate Report, 'The BCCI Affair,' chaired by Senator John Kerry.

"The Bush family is close friends with Texas' Bath brothers. James R. Bath was an investor in George W.'s Arbusto Oil Company. Bath was also an investor in BCCI. The Senate Report also documents that Sheikh Abdullah Bahksh of Saudi Arabia not only held 16% of the stock of Harken Energy, a company that later bought up George W.'s Spectrum 7 oil company, but also was a key investor in BCCI. George H.W. Bush, former director of the CIA, maintained ties with BCCI despite its narcotics trafficking during both the 1970s and 80s.

"Legal documents show that James Bath served as the U.S. business representative for Salem bin Laden, brother of Osama, beginning in 1976, the same year that George the Elder took over the directorship of the CIA.
But what about the President's own actions in the war against drugs? In 1999, our President has steadfastly maintained that he hadn't done cocaine in the last seven years, no wait, fifteen years, or possibly since 1974, all reported in Time magazine. As Governor of Texas, he announced that people 'need to know that drug use has consequences.' Apparently, bad memory may be one of those consequences. As governor, Bush signed legislation that authorized judges to sentence first-time offenders with less than a gram of cocaine to a maximum 180 days in jail instead of automatic probation.

"During the height of the notorious Blowgate scandal, George W. scrambled back to his ancestral home in Columbus, Ohio to proclaim 'I'm going to tell people I made mistakes and that I've learned from my mistakes.' His mistakes most likely cost him his flight status in the National Guard when he failed to take a medical exam following the military's adoption of a mandatory drug testing policy.

"If hemp activists want to stop the insane and authoritarian War on Drugs, they've got to admit their mistakes. The movement's biggest problem appears to be lack of connections with the CIA, bin Laden, the Bush family and other known terrorists."

* Photos and two video clips of Smog @ Alleykatz, on April 14, 2004.

* 1962 BBC television interview of Nabokov. excerpt:

Q: You say that reality is an intensely subjective matter, but in your books it seems to me that y ou seem to take an almost perverse delight in literary deception.

VN: The fake move in a chess problem, the illusion of a solution or the conjuror's magic: I used to be a little conjuror when I was a boy. I loved doing simple tricks--turning water into wine, that kind of thing; but I think I'm in good company because all art is deception and so is nature; all is deception in that good cheat, from the insect that mimics a leaf to the popular enticements of procreation. Do you know how poetry started? I always think that it started when a cave boy came running back to the cave, through the tall grass, shouting as he ran, "Wolf, wolf," and there was no wolf. His baboon-like parents, great sticklers for the truth, gave him a hiding, no doubt, but poetry had been born-- the tall story had been born in the tall grass.

Q: You talk about games of deception, like chess and conjuring. Are you, in fact, fond of them yourself?

VN: I am fond of chess but deception in chess, as in art, is only part of the game; it's part of the combination, part of the delightful possibilities, illusions, vistas of thought, which can be false vistas, perhaps. I think a good combination should always contain a certain element of deception.

Q: What was the genesis of Lolita?

VN: She was born a long time ago, it must have been in 1939, in Paris; the first little throb of Lolita went through me in Paris in '39, or perhaps early in '40, at a time when I was laid up with a fierce attack of intercostal neuralgia which is a very painful complaint-- rather like the fabulous stitch in Adam's side. As far as I can recall the first shiver of inspiration was somehow rompted in a rather mysterious way by a newspaper story, I think it was in Paris Soir, about an ape in the Paris Zoo, who after months of coaxing by scientists produced finally the first drawing ever charcoaled by an animal, and this sketch, reproduced in the paper, showed the bars of the poor creature's cage.

April 19, 2004

still the searcher must ride the dark horse

* "I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved -- the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!"
- John Adams (letter to Thomas Jefferson, Sept. 3, 1816) [via wood s lot]

* U.S. Military revolt against Bush War policy. excerpt:

"A revolt within the military against Bush is brewing. Many in the military's strategic echelon share the same feelings of being ignored and ill-treated by the administration that senior intelligence officers voice in private. 'The Pentagon began with fantasy assumptions on Iraq and worked back,' one of them remarked to me. Reflecting the developing consensus at that level, the Army War College has just issued a new monograph in which a senior Army strategist accuses the Bush administration of seeking to win 'quickly and on the cheap' while having 'either misunderstood or, worse, wished away' the predicted problems.

"As the iconic image of the 'war president' has tattered, another picture has emerged. Bush appears as a passive manager who enjoys sitting atop a hierarchical structure, unwilling and unable to do the hard work that a real manager has to do in order to run the largest enterprise in the world. He does not seem to absorb data unless it is presented to him in simple, crystal-clear fashion by people whose judgment he trusts. He is receptive to information that agrees with his point of view rather than information that challenges it. This therefore leads to enormous power on the part of the trusted interlocutors, who know and bolster his predilections. Thus Rice fulfills Bush's idea of the national security advisor as the comforting briefer.

"At his press conference, Bush was a confusion of absolute confidence and panic. He jumbled facts and conflated threats, redoubling the vehemence of his incoherence at every mildly skeptical question. Whenever he could, he drove himself back to the safety of 9/11 -- and then disclaimed responsibility. He attempted to create a false political dichotomy between 'retreat' and his own vague and evolving position on Iraq, which now appears to follow Sen. John Kerry's of granting more authority to the U.N. and bringing in NATO.

"The ultimate revelation was Bush's vision of a divinely inspired apocalyptic struggle in which he is the leader of a crusade bringing the Lord's 'gift.' 'I also have this belief, strong belief that freedom is not this country's gift to the world. Freedom is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman in this world. And as the greatest power on the face of the earth we have an obligation to help the spread of freedom.' But religious war is not part of official U.S. military doctrine."

* Interview of the fugs' Tuli Kupferberg. excerpt:

PSF: What were you working on before the Fugs?

TK: Well, I was the world's greatest poet before I became the world's oldest rock n'roll star. I wasn't with the Fugs until I was 42 but before that my life was trivial. I went to graduate school for sociology in Brooklyn. I dropped out and became a bohemian, living in Greenwich Village. The rest is mystery and history. It's all one blur now.

I was a free-formist. I never took to the traditional forms. I never bothered to learn them. It's OK to learn the old forms though and study what you've inherited in any art. I valued spontaneity a lot and being young, you're always afraid that you're going to be overwhelmed by the masters so you try to avoid it.

PSF: What kind of things were influencing you then?

TK: The usual things. Ego, sex, money, in that order I think. Money wasn't actually up there though. You could actually live on much less than you can today. I was sort of influenced by anybody I read.

PSF: How did you get interested in politics?

TK: I was very political at an early age. When I was in my pre-teens they had those 'Hoover-villes' during the Depression. My father had a retail store that failed three times. We were just on the brink of going on welfare. You'd be amazed at how that can make you politically and economically conscious. My generation really experienced adversity so a dime is still big money to me! You had to be REALLY STUPID not to be political then. Even when things got better, you didn't see it was better for you personally. It could always happen again and it always does. Besides the economy, you also had wars. When there's a crisis in society, sometimes you see things more clearly. Otherwise, it just kind of waves right over you, especially when you're young.

PSF:What did think of the Beat movement when it first started happening?

TK: I remember being shocked by it. I guess I was still in some sort of traditional mode. Shocked, jealousy and then adaptation. It was liberating. I was shocked by Ed Sander's freedom of sexual expression. I'm sure people were shocked by mine when I started. Ginsberg is your best example of a liberating force. It's not just the language or the freedom of the language because that just reflects character structure. A person who drops dead or wants to kill someone would use all those words you're not supposed to use. It's more than language. It's attitude towards sexuality and human relations along with domination and love. It's not that people who shout about sexual freedom understand everything that's involved. In order to have good sex, you have to have good human relationships and vice versa. When I grew up, in my community, you weren't going to have sex until you got married- this was a middle-class Jewish community. Maybe you went to a prostitute... But that gradually broke down. That was all for the good and not just for me but also for most of America.

PSF: Before you said the Fugs were about dope and fucking. What about now?

TK: No, I said that the Fugs were about dope and fucking and any kind of mind liberation that didn't kill you or damage your internal organs. I was always careful about that because I'd been a medical librarian and I knew all about that. My phrase was 'better to be a live ogre than a dead saint.' I knew a lot of dead saints. It was about politics and it was about life and relations between people and 'freedom,' meaning the ability to explore and express yourself and other peoples' feelings. We were all about creating a utopia and we had our ideas about what it was. We tried to work for it and to live it because we weren't going to wait- 'we want the world and we want it now.' We were impatient, especially in the sixties where young people faced death and they weren't going to wait to enjoy anything after they were dead.

It's a mistake to put it (freedom) in terms of physiology. Nothing wrong with that. The basic unit of human society is the human body. You have to know how to use it and enjoy it. That's only part of it though because if you have a human body and you put it in the dark and leave them there, you get something that isn't quite human. It needs nourishment and human society. It doesn't have to be the patriarchal family. In the age of AIDS, I recommend group marriages with four couples. More than eight people would be too much.

Bascially, the Fugs are the same except we're more refined and more clever and more worked out and more beautifully put and less listened to.

I guess we’re done/cause every win on this record’s hard won

* From Harper's Magazine:

Minimum number of misleading statements on Iraq made by the Bush Administration's top officials since March 2002 -- 237

Percentage of these that contradicted, made selective use of, or mischaracterized existing government intelligence -- 100

Percentage of the 958 same-sex unions granted to Vermont residents since July 2000 that have since been dissolved -- 3

Percentage of U.S. heterosexual marriages that are dissolved within five years -- 20

Amount that Tom DeLay's political action committee spent at the Washington, D.C. Hooters last November -- $117.19

* More from Falluja. excerpt:

"There is this terrible sadness in Falluja but also a strong community feeling. People are making every effort to help evacuate others, to distribute food, to negotiate for a ceasefire. There is a huge number of unqualified volunteers at the clinic.

"There is much outrage too, at what the Americans have done. One of the doctors said to us he was happy when Saddam was got rid of, but then everything that had gone on since was worse.

"Both sides have been firing, despite the ceasefire. On Wednesday night some mojahedin were trying to shoot down a drone plane. There are young children involved in the fighting. I saw boys, about 11 years old, masked up and holding AK-47s.

"There is nowhere in Falluja that is safe. The only place people can go is Baghdad. At the checkpoint leaving Falluja towards Baghdad, women and children have been trying to leave, but in cars driven by men (women don't drive here) so they weren't allowed out. They are not letting men aged 14 to 45 - of 'fighting age' - leave the city.

"We negotiated so that one male driver was allowed per car through the checkpoint. But people fear that once a large proportion of women and children leave, the Americans will destroy the city."

* Bob Herbert: The Wrong War. excerpt:

"President Bush may truly believe, as he suggested at his press conference last week, that he is carrying out a mission that has been sanctioned by the divine. But he has in fact made the world less safe with his catastrophic decision to wage war in Iraq. At least 700 G.I.'s and thousands of innocent Iraqis, including many women and children, are dead. Untold numbers have been maimed and there is no end to the carnage in sight.

"Meanwhile, instead of destroying the terrorists, our real enemies, we've energized them. The invasion and occupation of Iraq has become a rallying cry for Islamic militants. Qaeda-type terror is spreading, not receding. And Osama bin Laden is still at large.

"Even as I write this, reporters from The Times and other news outlets are filing stories about marines dying in ambush and other acts of mayhem and anarchy across Iraq. This was not part of the plan. The administration and its apologists spread fantasies of a fresh dawn of freedom emerging in Iraq and spreading across the Arab world. Instead we are spilling the blood of innocents in a nightmare from which many thousands will never awaken."

April 16, 2004

Join Us, Its Free!

everything that can sing is singing its mating song

More from Joe Brainard's I Remember:

I remember how good a glass of water can taste after a dish of ice cream.

I remember the first ball point pens. They skipped, and deposited little balls of ink that would accumulate at the point.

I remember learning how to play bridge so I could get to know Frank O'Hara better.

I remember the outhouse and a Sears & Roebuck catolog to wipe off with.

I remember the organ music from As the World Turns.

I remember being disappointed the first time I had my teeth cleaned that they didn't turn out real white.

I remember that Lana Turner was discovered sipping a soda in a drugstore.

I remember not being able to fall asleep on Christmas eve.

I remember bathroom doors that don't lock and trying to pee fast.

I remember sex on too much grass and the total separation of my head from what's going on down there.

I remember inching myself down into water that was too hot.

I remember awkward elevator "moments."

I remember the exact moment, during communion, that was the hardest to keep from smiling. It was when you had to stick out your tongue and the minister laid the white wafer on it.

I remember little wax bottles with sweet liquid inside.

I remember once when it was raining on one side of our fence but not the other.

I remember hating myself after adult gatherings for being such a bore.

April 15, 2004

I feel like a robot by the river looking for a drink

* Blumenthal on the Bush press conference: Hear no evil, read no evil, speak drivel. excerpt:

"On April 21 1961, President Kennedy held a press conference to answer questions on the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion by Cuban exiles that he had approved. 'There's an old saying,' he said, 'that victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan ... I am the responsible officer of the government and that is quite obvious.'

"On Wednesday, President Bush held only his third press conference and was asked three times whether he accepted responsibility for failing to act on warning before September 11. "I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference with all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer, but it hadn't [sic] yet," he said. 'I just haven't - you just put me under the spot here and maybe I'm not quick - as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one.'

"Bush's press conference was the culmination of his recent efforts to staunch the political wounds of his bleeding polls since the 9/11 commission began public hearings and violence spiralled in Iraq. Bush had tried to divert blame by declaring that the August 6 memo he was forced to declassify at the commission's insistence contained no 'actionable intelligence', even though it specifically mentioned the World Trade Centre and Washington as targets.

"Bush, in fact, does not read his President's Daily Briefs, but has them orally summarised every morning by the CIA director, George Tenet. President Clinton, by contrast, read them closely and alone, preventing any aides from interpreting what he wanted to know first-hand. He extensively marked up his PDBs, demanding action on this or that, which is almost certainly the likely reason the Bush administration withheld his memoranda from the 9/11 commission.

"'I know he doesn't read,' one former Bush national security council staffer told me. Several other former NSC staffers corroborated this. It seems highly unlikely that he read the national intelligence estimate on WMD before the Iraq war that consigned contrary evidence and caveats that undermined the case to footnotes and fine print. Nor is there any evidence that he read the state department's 17-volume report, The Future of Iraq, warning of nearly all the postwar pitfalls, that was shelved by the neocons in the Pentagon and Vice-President Cheney's office."
"At his press conference, Bush was a confusion of absolute confidence and panic. He jumbled facts and conflated threats, redoubling the vehemence of his incoherence at every mildly sceptical question. He attempted to create a false political dichotomy between "retreat" and his own vague and evolving position on Iraq, which now appears to follow senator John Kerry's, of granting more authority to the UN and bringing in Nato.

"The ultimate revelation was Bush's vision of a divinely inspired apocalyptic struggle in which he is the leader of a crusade bringing the Lord's 'gift.' 'I also have this belief, strong belief that freedom is not this country's gift to the world. Freedom is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman in this world. And as the greatest power on the face of the earth we have an obligation to help the spread of freedom.' But religious war is not part of official US military doctrine."

* Issue number Two of the Land Grant College Review is available here. In the issue are stories by: Arthur Bradford, Alan Cheuse, Jonathan Goldstein, Jim Hanas, Roy Kesey, Jeff MacGregor, Nelly Reifler, Jeffery Renard Allen, David Schuman, among others. check it out.

* Long Seattle Weekly article on the Sun City Girls. excerpt:

"It?s Not Over ?Till the Skinny Arab Lights the Fuse is one of a mind-numbing number of releases by the impossible-to-pin-down, travel-addicted, mystically inclined, cantankerous, and often- brilliant musical trio of professional margin walkers. For 22 years now, brothers Rick and Alan Bishop?bass and guitar, respectively?and drummer Charlie Gocher Jr. have delightedly pushed the boundaries of music, art, and good taste. Originally formed in Arizona and named after a retirement community just north of the Tempe/Phoenix area where they lived in the ?70s and ?80s, the Sun City Girls have called Seattle home for the past 10 years.

"Unless you?re a devoted fan, you probably have no idea they live here?assuming you?ve heard of them at all. The Sun City Girls have toured Japan and performed with some of the world?s best-known out-there musicians, including San Francisco violinist Eyvind Kang, members of Japanese avant-rock gods the Boredoms, and experimental guitarist-banjoist Eugene Chadbourne. They have scored soundtracks to films by Larry Clark and Harmony Korine. They are widely credited as godfathers of multiple schools of indie rock, from the tribal hippie ethno-prog school of bands like Sunburned Hand of the Man and No Neck Blues Band to Asian garage bands like Neung Phak and Dengue Fever. And on the rare occasions when they?ve played out, fans travel across the country to see them play."

April 14, 2004

Of war and peace the truth just twists









Respectfully Yours, Philip Whalen 10:III:65

Lies and Betrayal/George Bush has failed/Impeachment is a must

* A shocking report from a medic on the goings on in Falluja concludes:

"And then we're in Baghdad, delivering them to the hospitals, Nuha in tears as they take the burnt man off groaning and whimpering. She puts her arms around me and asks me to be her friend. I make her feel less isolated, she says, less alone.

"And the satellite news says the cease-fire is holding and George Bush says to the troops on Easter Sunday that, 'I know what we're doing in Iraq is right.' Shooting unarmed men in the back outside their family home is right. Shooting grandmothers with white flags is right? Shooting at women and children who are fleeing their homes is right? Firing at ambulances is right?

"Well George, I know too now. I know what it looks like when you brutalise people so much that they've nothing left to lose. I know what it looks like when an operation is being done without anaesthetic because the hospitals are destroyed or under sniper fire and the city's under siege and aid isn't getting in properly. I know what it sounds like too. I know what it looks like when tracer bullets are passing your head, even though you're in an ambulance. I know what it looks like when a man's chest is no longer inside him and what it smells like and I know what it looks like when his wife and children pour out of his house.

"It's a crime and it's a disgrace to us all."

* Bush's performance last night was an embarrassment to democracy as well as our country. [But all was not lost as Mark E. Smith saved my evening with rock and roll.]

April 13, 2004

We are private detectives onward back from a musical pilgrimage

* Mehr News Agency says US may be planting WMD in Iraq. excerpt:

"Sources in Iraq speculate that occupation forces are using the recent unrest in Iraq to divert attention from their surreptitious shipments of WMD into the country.

"An Iraqi source close to the Basra Governor’s Office told the MNA that new information shows that a large part of the WMD, which was secretly brought to southern and western Iraq over the past month, are in containers falsely labeled as containers of the Maeresk shipping company and some consignments bearing the labels of organizations such as the Red Cross or the USAID in order to disguise them as relief shipments.

"The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that Iraqi officials including forces loyal to the Iraqi Governing Council stationed in southern Iraq have been forbidden from inspecting or supervising the transportation of these consignments. He went on to say that the occupation forces have ordered Iraqi officials to forward any questions on the issue to the coalition forces. Even the officials of the international relief organizations have informed the Iraqi officials that they would only accept responsibility for relief shipments which have been registered and managed by their organizations.

The source added that some provocative actions such as the closure of Al-Hawza periodical by U.S. administrator Paul Bremer, the secret meetings between his envoys with some extremist groups who have no relations with the Iraqi Governing Council, the sudden upsurge in violence in central and southern Iraq, a number of activities which have stoked up the wrath of the prominent Shia clerics, and finally, the spate of kidnappings and the baseless charges against the Iranian charge d’affaires in Baghdad are providing the necessary smokescreen for the transportation of the WMD to their intended locations.

"He said they are quite aware that the White House in cooperation with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has directly tasked the Defense Department to hide these weapons. Given the recent scandals to the effect that the U.S. president was privy to the 9/11 plot, they might try to immediately announce the discovery of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in order to overshadow the scandals and prevent a further decline of Bush’s public opinion rating as the election approaches."

* On a lighter note, check out the streaking hall of fame.
I’m nowhere near what I dreamed I’d be I can’t believe what life has done to me

* Eighth grader writes letter to editor against the war on drugs:

"Time and Money Are Wasted Now

"I think drugs should be legal because of all the people that use drugs. The war on drugs takes a lot of money from the government that could be used for other purposes, such as education. Cops spend time trying to bust drug users instead of real crimes like rapes, murders and child abductions.

"Since drugs are illegal, smugglers must smuggle the drugs into our country and that would cause violence. But if drugs were legal, there wouldn't be a need to smuggle drugs in and have conflict about the drugs.

"Government could tax the drugs if they were legal. If companies make drugs, it will make the drugs safer because of better and cleaner equipment and supplies. There would still be an age limit if drugs were legal.

"Tony Wang, eighth-grader, Pershing Middle School"

* Il Cavallo Cattivo posted a photo of David Berman and Rian Murphy from last month's Chicago event.

* In DC: The Fall tonight at the Black Cat; Smog Thursday at Iota.

April 12, 2004

On New Terms
-- by Deborah Garrison

I'd like to begin again. Not touch my
own face, not tremble in the dark before
an intruder who never arrives. Not
apologize. No scurry, not pace. Not
refuse to keep notes of what means the most.
Not skirt my father's ghost. Not abandon
piano, or a book before the end.
Not count, count, count and wait, poised -- the control,
the agony controlled -- for the loss of
the one, having borne, I can't be, won't breathe
without: the foregone conclusion, the pain
not yet met, the preemptive mourning
about which
nothing left of me but smoke.

April 9, 2004

Swinging Nachos Like You Just Don't Care

Three poems from Richard Brautigan's long out of print June 30, June 30.

Orsen Wells

Orsen Wells does whisky commercials on
Japanese television. It's strange to see him
here on television in Tokyo, recommending that the
Japanese people buy G&G Nikka whisky.

I always watch him with total fascination.
Last night I drempt that I directed one of the
commercials. There were six black horses in the

The horses were arranged in such a position
that upon seeing them and Orsen Wells
together, people would rush out of their homes
and buy G&G Nikka Whisky.

It was not an easy commercial to film. It
had to be perfect. It took many takes. Mr. Wells
was very patient with an understanding sense of

"Please, Mr. Wells," I would say. "Stand a
little closer to the horses."

He would smile and move a little closer
to the horse.

"how's this?"

"Just fine, Mr. Wells, perfect."

Taking No Chances

I am part of it. No,
I am the total but there
is also a possibility
that I am only a fraction
of it.

I am that which begins
but has no beginning.
I am also full of shit
up to my ears.

Meiji Shoes Size 12

I woke up in the middle of the afternoon, alone,
our love-making did not lead to going to bed
together and that was ok, I guess.

Beside the bed were my shoes covered with Meiji
mud. I looked at them and it felt very good.
It's funny what the sight of dried mud can do
to your mind.

April 8, 2004

A Letter From Iraq

[via a view from the classroom.]

"This is a note my friend Scott sent to his wife the day after the four contractors were killed in Fallujah. Scott was in the Armed Forces for years and is now working in Iraq as a contractor helping to rebuild Iraq while his wife and kids are in Flordia. He has a ground-level view, and his words are chilling and scary and powerful.


'I know about the news. We need Collin Powell back in charge. Discipline is slipping in the forces and it reminds one of the Viet-Nam pictures of old. Instead of a professional military outfit here we have a bunch of cowboys and vigilantes running wild in the streets. The ugly American has never been so evident. Someone in charge needs to drop the hammer on this lack of discipline, especially that which is being hown by the Special Forces, security contractors, and "other government agencies". We won the war but that doesn't mean we can treat the people of this couotry with contempt and disregard with no thought to the consequences. Those contractors, just like the last ones who were killed, were out running free with no military escort. Armed or not, that is a breach of protocol and a severe security risk. While I grieve for the families of those persons I would like to see the person who decided that it was alright for them to convoy out there without the military brought up on charges, unless of course that person was in the convoy, in which case at least he won't be getting anyone else killed. I'm angry about how we're treating peope here. I know it's not the entire military, in fact it is a very small, select group that believes they are somehow above the law of not ony this land but also the law of the military and those laws we hold dear in ouor own country. If someone were to try to treat our fellow Americans the way some of these people are treating the Iraquis the courts would certainly lock them away. I would phrase that last line harsher, but in light of recent events that would be cruel. Discipline is needed here, and I'm not certain that our current administration is prepared to take the steps necessary to crack down on all of this. In order for discipline to be restored I do believe Donald Rumsfield would have to admit that perhaps Powell's rules of war were in fact valid.

Please feel free to send my comments to any Senator, Member of the House,
Governor, President, or Secretary of Defense that you would like.'

'I don't know how to contexualize these words. I'm embarrassed to be an American because of the acts of the few that he speaks of, but I remain of my country because I am proud to know Americans like Scott who have served our nation in ways I can't imagine doing. I am angry that he is there, away from his wife and kids, seeing what he is seeing. I am angry that this job was the best thing he could find after giving the Army many years of service. I am angry that this administration has created this situation, that now seems more dire by the day.'

Posted by Chris Lehmann
a railroad runs through the record stores at night

* Interesting Washington Post document that lists White House Staff, their positions and salary. Condi Rice and Karl Rove each make $151,000.

* Robert Reich imagines a second term for Bush. [via freakgirl] an excerpt:

"Domestic policy will swing further right. A re-election would strengthen the White House's hand on issues that even many congressional Republicans have a hard time accepting, such as the assault on civil liberties. Bush will seek to push 'Patriot II' through Congress, giving the Justice Department and the FBI powers to inspect mail, eavesdrop on phone conversations and e-mail, and examine personal medical records, insurance claims, and bank accounts.

"Right-wing evangelicals will solidify their control over the departments of Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services -- curtailing abortions, putting federal funds into the hands of private religious groups, pushing prayer in the public schools, and promoting creationism.

"Economic policy, meanwhile, will be tilted even more brazenly toward the rich. Republican strategist Grover Norquist smugly predicts larger tax benefits for high earners in a second Bush administration. The goal will be to eliminate all taxes on capital gains, dividends, and other forms of unearned income and move toward a 'flat tax.' The plan will be for deficits to continue to balloon until Wall Street demands large spending cuts as a condition for holding down long-term interest rates. Homeowners, facing potential losses on their major nest eggs as mortgage rates move upward, might be persuaded to join the chorus.

"In consequence, Bush will slash all domestic spending outside of defense. He will also argue that Social Security cannot be maintained in its present form, and will push for legislation to transform it into private accounts. Meanwhile, the few shards of regulation still protecting the environment and the safety of American workers will be eliminated.

"Justice Sandra Day O'Connor will surely step down from the Supreme Court, possibly joined by at least one other jurist, opening the way for the White House to nominate a series of right-wing justices, a list that could easily include Charles Pickering Sr. and William Pryor Jr. After Chief Justice William Rehnquist resigns, Bush may well nominate Antonin Scalia for the top slot -- opening the way for Scalia and Clarence Thomas to dominate the Court. Such a court will curtail abortion rights, whittle down the Fourth and Fifth amendments, end all affirmative action, and eliminate much of what's left of the barrier between church and state.

"Karl Rove and Tom DeLay, meanwhile, will have four more years to fulfill their goal of transforming American democracy into a one-party state. Congressional redistricting across the nation will make Texas' recent antics seem a model of democratic deliberation. Automated voting machines will be easily rigged, with no paper trails to document abuses. Changes in campaign-finance laws will permit larger 'hard money' donations by corporate executives and federal contractors who have benefited by Republican policies.

"Finally, the Federal Communications Commission will allow three or four giant media empires -- all tightly connected to the Republican Party -- to consolidate their ownership over all television and radio broadcasting.

"Nothing is more dangerous to a republic than fanatics unconstrained by democratic politics. Yet in a second term of this administration, that's exactly what we'll have."

* "When I write a sentence, oftentimes what I do is try to treat it like a kernel of popcorn. I'll keep packing more and more words in there. Sort of refine it, until it explodes. When it does, it has all this surface area. It's kind of complicated to trace the whole shape of the thing. But if you do, you get the whole round shape of it. And that's the way it has to be. Some of the earlier stuff is the most grammatically complex. I just try to come up with the right sentence for the right job."

From this old william t. vollmann interview. [via white boi at the silver jew bb]
Everybody's talking 'bout the stormy weather

* A secret pact regarding war in Iraq?

"President George Bush first asked Tony Blair to support the removal of Saddam Hussein from power at a private White House dinner nine days after the terror attacks of 11 September, 2001.

"According to Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British Ambassador to Washington, who was at the dinner when Blair became the first foreign leader to visit America after 11 September, Blair told Bush he should not get distracted from the war on terror's initial goal - dealing with the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

"Bush, claims Meyer, replied by saying: 'I agree with you, Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.' Regime change was already US policy.

"It was clear, Meyer says, 'that when we did come back to Iraq it wouldn't be to discuss smarter sanctions'. Elsewhere in his interview, Meyer says Blair always believed it was unlikely that Saddam would be removed from power or give up his weapons of mass destruction without a war.

"Faced with this prospect of a further war, he adds, Blair 'said nothing to demur.'"

* Thurston Moore's New York Times op-ed: 'When the Edge Moved to the Middle' concludes:

"Nirvana made a point of touring with challenging groups like the Boredoms, the Butthole Surfers and the Meat Puppets and presenting them to a huge audience — one that was largely unaware of those bands' influence. But only the Meat Puppets would click a little bit. Without MTV or radio support, no one was likely to reach Nirvana's peak.

"When Kurt died, a lot of the capitalized froth of alternative rock fizzled. Mainstream rock lost its kingpin group, an unlikely one imbued with avant-garde genius, and contemporary rock became harder and meaner, more aggressive and dumbed down and sexist. Rage and aggression were elements for Kurt to play with as an artist, but he was profoundly gentle and intelligent. He was sincere in his distaste for bullyboy music — always pronouncing his love for queer culture, feminism and the punk rock do-it-yourself ideal. Most people who adapt punk as a lifestyle represent these ideals, but with one of the finest rock voices ever heard, Kurt got to represent them to an attentive world. Whatever contact he made was really his most valued success.

"You wouldn't know it now by looking at MTV, with its scorn-metal buffoons and Disney-damaged pop idols, but the underground scene Kurt came from is more creative and exciting than it's ever been. From radical pop to sensorial noise-action to the subterranean forays in drone-folk-psyche-improv, all the music Kurt adored is very much alive and being played by amazing artists he didn't live to see, artists who recognize Kurt as a significant and honorable muse.

"The kid who looked like him sat next to me in the basement where we were playing and I knew he was going to ask me about Kurt. This happens a lot. What was Kurt like? Was he a good guy? Simple things. He asked me if I thought Kurt would've liked this total outsider music we were hearing. I laughed, realizing the kid was slightly bewildered by it all, and I answered emphatically, 'Yeah, Kurt would have loved this.'"

* And, over at The Minor Fall, The Major Lift's comments section, Ingrid Sichy weighs in on the art critic Robert Hughes.

April 7, 2004

where art improves upon life, call it background music

* "The only unequivocally good policy option before the American people is to dump the president who got us into this mess, who had no trouble sending our young people to Iraq but who cannot steel himself to face the Sept. 11 commission alone." [via talking points memo]

* "America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves.... It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters."
- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five [via wood s lot]

* The White House will not allow the 9/11 Commission to see the full text of the speech National Security Advisor Condi Rice was supposed to give at Johns Hopkins University on September 11, 2001, claiming "draft documents" are confidential. "The Washington Post, citing former U.S. officials who have seen the Rice speech, reported last week that the speech was designed to promote missile defense as the cornerstone of a new national security strategy. It said the speech included no mention of al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden or Islamic extremist groups."

* 1985 New York Quarterly interview of Charles Bukowski. excerpts:

NYQ: How do you write? In longhand, on the typewriter? Do you revise much? What do you do with worksheets? Your poems sometimes give the impression of coming off the top of your head. Is that only an impression? How much agony and sweat of the human spirit is involved in the writing of one of your poems?

CB: I write right off the typer. I call it my "machinegun." I hit it hard, usually late at night while drinking wine and listening to classical music on the radio and smoking mangalore ganesh beedies. I revise but not much. The next day I retype the poem and automatically make a change or two, drop out a line, or make two lines into one or one line into two, that sort of thing—to make the poem have more balls, more balance. Yes, the poems come "off the top of my head," I seldom know what I’m going to write when I sit down. There isn’t much agony and sweat of the human spirit involved in doing it. The writing’s easy, it’s the living that is sometimes difficult.
NYQ: When did you begin writing? How old? What writers did you admire?

CB: The first thing I ever remembered writing was about a German aviator with a steel hand who shot hundreds of Americans out of the sky during World War II. It was in long hand in pen and it covered every page of a huge memo ringed notebook. I was about 13 at the time and I was in bed covered with the worst case of boils the medics ever remembered seeing. There weren’t any writers to admire at the time. Since then there has been John Fante, Knut Hamsun, the Celine of Journey; Dostoesvsky, of course; Jeffers of the long poems only; Conrad Aiken, Catullus…not to many. I sucked mostly at the classical music boys. It was good to come home from the factories at night, take off my clothes, climb on the bed in the dark, get drunk on beer and listen to them.

NYQ: Do you think there’s too much poetry being written today? How would you characterize what you think is really bad poetry? What do you think is good poetry today?

CB: There’s too much bad poetry being written today. People just don’t know how to write down a simple easy line. It’s difficult for them; it’s like trying to keep a hard-on while drowning—not many can do it. Bad poetry is caused by people who sit down and think, Now I am going to write a Poem. And it comes out the way they think a poem should be. Take a cat. He doesn’t think, well, now I’m cat and I’m going to kill this bird. He just does it. Good poetry today? Well, it’s being written by a couple of cats called Gerald Locklin and Ronald Koertge.
NYQ: You have a fairly distinct persona in most of your poems, and your strong voice seems to come out of that persona. It’s the mask of a bored, dirty old man who’s boozing it up in Li Po manner because the straight world isn’t worth taking seriously. Usually there’s an hysterical broad banging your door down while the poem is taking shape. First do you admit to this persona in your poems, and then to what extent do you think it reflects Bukowski the man? In other words are you the person you present to us in your poems?

CB: Things change a bit: what once was is not quite what it is now. I began writing poetry at the age of 35 after coming out of the death ward of the L.A. County General Hospital and not as a visitor. To get somebody to read your poems you have to be noticed, so I got my act up. I wrote vile (but interesting) stuff that made people hate me, that made them curious about this Bukowski. I threw bodies off my court porch into the night. I pissed on police cars, sneered at hippies. After my second reading down at Venice, I grabbed the money, leaped into my car, intoxicated, and drove it about on the sidewalks at 60 m.p.h. I had parties at my place which were interrupted by police raids. A professor from U.C.L.A. invited me to his place for dinner. His wife cooked a nice meal which I ate and then I went over and broke up his China closet. I was in and out of drunktanks. A lady accused me of rape, the whore. Meanwhile, I wrote about most of this, it was my persona, it was me but it wasn’t me. As time wet on, trouble and action arrived by itself and I didn’t have to force it and I wrote about that and this was closer to my real persona. Actually, I am not a tough person and sexually, most of the time, I am almost a prude, but I am often a nasty drunk and many strange things happen to me when I am drunk. I’m not saying this very well and I’m taking too long. What I am trying to say is that the longer I write the closer I am all hell in the stretch run. I am 93 percent the person I present in my poems; the other 7 percent is where art improves upon life, call it background music.
There must be something wrong boys they're dragging me down

* Washington Post's Anne Applebaum on The Literary Divide. an excerpt:

"I should know, since I've recently been to two literary award ceremonies -- this week's was just an announcement -- and both times I've lost. Maybe losers bring their own bitter, twisted emotions to their recollections of such events, but I still don't think it's wrong to describe the 'literary' contingent at both events as, well, bitter and twisted. On both evenings, prize committee chairmen got up to praise the novel or historical work they'd selected, invariably adding a phrase or two about how, in 'today's world' such works are "ever more necessary." Anyone talking about criticism described the lonely life of a critic; anyone talking about poetry became downright defensive. Most of the winners, in fact, were very brief. It was as if the gap between the nice things being said about them inside the room and the hostility of the world outside was too unbearable to discuss.

"I'm not quite sure how it got to be this way -- writers of heavy books on one side, mass media on the other -- because it wasn't always so. The great American cultural blender once produced whole art forms, such as Broadway musicals and jazz, that might well be described as a blend of the two. But nowadays, that gap is so wide that I'm not even sure the old descriptions of the various forms of 'culture' -- highbrow, middlebrow, popular -- even make sense any more. Does Edward P. Jones, the Washingtonian whose eloquent novel, 'The Known World,' won a Pulitzer Prize this week, even inhabit the same universe as MTV? Does anybody who reads one watch the other?

"There are surely multiple explanations, but the main one concerns money: the large amount you make, if you can cater to a 'mass market,' the small amount you make if you can't, and the fact that everyone in the publishing industry knows who is who. Occasionally, this tension emerges into the open. At the National Book Awards ceremony last fall, a special lifetime achievement award was given to the horror writer -- and mass-market success -- Stephen King. He returned the favor with a slap in the face. In an extraordinary acceptance speech, he claimed that he had been snubbed all of his life by snooty critics; that wonderful writers such as John Grisham were regularly ignored by snobbish prize committees; and that never, ever in his entire life had he written a word for money."

* The Onion: point-counterpoint.

* Bob Dylan appears in a Victoria Secret ad. an excerpt:

"There could be blood on the tracks for Bob Dylan after he appeared in a television commercial yesterday for luxury lingerie.

"sked in 1965 what might tempt him to sell out, Dylan replied: 'Ladies undergarments.' Now the the Woodstock generation has been jolted by the sight of rock's most enigmatic performer appearing alongside model Adriana Lima as she slips into something sheer to cavort in the Palazzo of Venice.

"The author of Lay, Lady, Lay stays fully clad, all in black, with plenty of eye-liner, a pencil thin moustache and goatee beard, while leering at Lima, who is in bra, panties and spike heels. Dylan then sings a remix of his 1977 song Love Sick, surrounded by other scantily-clad models, who wear feathery angels' wings."
"Just how much Dylan was paid is being kept secret, but he will have asked for a tidy sum. Noted, with Mick Jagger, as one of rock's most astute businessmen, he often gleefully charges journalists to cover his concerts, demanding £100 from each critic for his 25th anniversary gig at New York's Madison Square Garden.

"The move is a long way from his origins as the pianist with Bobby Vee's backing group who travelled to New York down Highway 61 to visit Woody Guthrie. His music set a trend in a world caught in the doldrums between the advent of rock 'n' roll and its 1960s apotheosis.

"Since then, he has become one of entertainment's most curious figures, never explaining himself or why he constantly performs. His latest concert, at the 9.30 Club in Washington DC this week, was typical. The place was packed, but he barely acknowledged the crowd, crouching behind a keyboard, facing his band instead of the audience."

April 6, 2004

Idiot Wind: minds are filled with big ideas, images and distorted facts

[via skeptomai]

Skeptomai says "I recently purchased a high-quality computer sleeve from a small boutique manufacturer. I was checking if it could be washed. The photo is the attached tag with the washing instructions in both English and French. The English is exactly what you would expect and so is the French, for the first 6 lines. The last three lines of French are most interesting. "We are sorry that our President is an idiot. We didn't vote for him."
Two Poems by George Oppen

From Disaster

Ultimately the air
Is bare sunlight where must be found
The lyric valuables. From disaster

Shipwreck, whole families crawled
To the tenements, and there

Survived by what morality
Of hope

Which for the sons
Ends its metaphysic
In small lawns of home.

World, World—

Failure, worse failure, nothing seen
From prominence,
Too much seen in the ditch.

Those who will not look
Tho they feel on their skins
Are not pierced;

One cannot count them
Tho they are present.

It is entirely wild, wildest
Where there is traffic
And populace.

'Thought leaps on us' because we are here. That is the fact of the matter.
Soul-searchings, these prescriptions,

Are a medical faddism, an attempt to escape,
To lose oneself in the self.

The self is no mystery, the mystery is
That there is something for us to stand on.

We want to be here.

The act of being, the act of being
More than oneself.

mirror glasses iconoclastic

* How the Bush Administration handles global warming: deny, and deny aggressively. an excerpt:

"The Observer has obtained a remarkable email sent to the press secretaries of all Republican congressmen advising them what to say when questioned on the environment in the run-up to November's election. The advice: tell them everything's rosy.

"It tells them how global warming has not been proved, air quality is 'getting better', the world's forests are 'spreading, not deadening', oil reserves are 'increasing, not decreasing', and the 'world's water is cleaner and reaching more people.'

"The email - sent on 4 February - warns that Democrats will 'hit us hard' on the environment. 'In an effort to help your members fight back, as well as be aggressive on the issue, we have prepared the following set of talking points on where the environment really stands today,' it states.

"The memo - headed 'From medi-scare to air-scare' - goes on: 'From the heated debate on global warming to the hot air on forests; from the muddled talk on our nation's waters to the convolution on air pollution, we are fighting a battle of fact against fiction on the environment - Republicans can't stress enough that extremists are screaming 'Doomsday!' when the environment is actually seeing a new and better day.'

"Among the memo's assertions are 'global warming is not a fact', 'links between air quality and asthma in children remain cloudy', and the US Environment Protection Agency is exaggerating when it says that at least 40 per cent of streams, rivers and lakes are too polluted for drinking, fishing or swimming."

* Is this the beginning or the end.

"Mark your calendar: 04/04/04, the day the Iraqi house of cards stamped Made in America collapsed. That it has collapsed hardly comes as a surprise. The only surprise is that it stood for as long as it did. Nor will it be a surprise if the administration apologists in Washington and elsewhere, as well as their alter egos in Baghdad, try to dismiss the events of this bloody Sunday as representative of the "up-tick" in insurrection which they have long anticipated as the date for transfer of political authority draws ever closer"
"If the American political and military command does authorize a full-scale assault on Fallujah in retaliation for the inhumane treatment of our people, they will be faced with battling a hostile population in their own backyards. As any military tactician will tell you, street fighting in an urban environment can be the most difficult and costly assignment any force has to face. But as daunting as this challenge is, suddenly with the eruption of violence in cities from one end of Iraq to the other, it now seems to be only one of many such deadly challenges facing the young men and women of the American Armed Forces.

"It has long been believed by military/political analysts that as long as the Shia went along with the occupation then the American plan would be viable. As the Shia make up approximately 60 percent of the Iraqi population, their cooperation has been central to the success of any American strategy. Now that they have joined the battle, all bets are off.
"The United States, a nation which has long, and rightfully so, taken great pride in its track record as a liberator from tyranny, is now in the eminently unenviable position of trying to suppress a nationwide insurrection waged against it as the foreign occupying power. This is something that we have tried only a few times in our history. And we all know how it turned the last time we were so blinded by hubris to put ourselves in a similarly wretched position."

* "I feel like part of the vanishing breed that thinks a writer should be read and not heard, let alone seen. I think this is because there seems so often today to be a tendency to put the person in the place of his or her work, to turn the creative artist into a performing one, to find what a writer says about writing somehow more valid, or more real, than the writing itself. "

- William Gaddis on attention paid to the author rather than the works, from his acceptance speech for the National Book Award in Fiction for J R, April 1976.