March 30, 2007

and the walls have ears
but the walls don't talk

Nicola Tyson, Red Self-Portrait, 1996

Poem 8
-- by Ron Padgett and Yu Jian

When I was a child
my elders taught me
that there are 24 hours
in each day
But 24 hours is
afterward too
Is a springtime
The flower opened
I look similar to yesterday
Except that I am open
and my petals
are starting to fall
O excuse me!
For a moment
I thought
I was a flower

-- by Eileen Myles

for Joan

There was a bird
on my sill
this morning
stone sill
dark grey bird
and it bumped
against my window
then it flew in
it was freaked
turned round tried
to fly out; crashed
the bird's face was huge
vanished into my tiny apartment
no bird under the bed
no bird in the kitchen
bird flying out of
bumped into the window
and dizzy zoomed
into the white day

We Real Cool

-- by Gwendolyn Brooks

We real cool. We
Left School. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.

But There Can Be An Abiding
-- by Megan Pugh

You're busy having big ideas
about the past when a cream pie
hits somebody's face and you guffaw.
Or some quaint lantern casts
phantasmagorias on the fog
and you think what carnival was like
in such colors. The same ones
you have now. Today's potholes,
relics of the weather, are still
today's potholes. But how to climb
back into it, when people walked
differently, so they don't look
like us but at us, and will say
Oh thank you for doing us justice,
for showing the others all about us—
here things you never noticed
will reach out to hold you,
to keep you from yourselves.

-- by Frank Stanford

She pours sweetmilk over me before the sun comes up
Her dress is like a tent in the desert
Her whippings don't count

She buys the young men suits
And they cross the river with someone else
And check-in at Hotel Nemo

She buries her pay in a bucket
Every new moon
She cuts her snuff with happy dust

I trace her butt in the shade
Like a Spanish Oak
We throw light bread to the fish

She mosaics the Lord's mysteries
With scales and egg yolks
Emma is a humming

March 29, 2007

Have you heard the news? he said, with a grin,
The Vice-President's gone mad!
Where? Downtown. When? Last night.
Hmm, say, that's too bad!

Mel Bochner, Money, 2006, oil on black velvet

* Bush Administration fines the Bush Administration. excerpt:

"The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday fined the federal Energy Department $1.1 million over violations of an agreement to clean up the Hanford nuclear reservation, the nation's most polluted nuclear site.

"The fine involved operations at a landfill that is the primary repository for contaminated soils, debris and other hazardous and radioactive waste from cleanup operations across the site.

"After first shutting down operations upon discovery of the failures, the EPA has permitted the landfill to resume operations under strict oversight."

* College of Southern Idaho softball team promotion materials asks "shaven or unshaven."

* Wavy Gravy once asked a Zen Roshi, "What happens after death?" The Roshi replied, "I don't know." Wavy protested, "But you're a Zen Master!"
"Yes," the Roshi admitted, "but I'm not a dead Zen Master."

March 28, 2007

Certain Flowers Persist
Don't Let Them Get Away

Charles Olson between Robert Duncan & Ruth Witt Diamant, San Francisco State, 1958

Four Poems by Ted Berrigan

Dice Riders

Nothing stands between us
except Flying Tigers
Future Funk
The Avenue B Break Boys
The Voidoids--

Time gets in the way, &
sometimes, lots of sometimes,
We get in its way, so,
Love, love me, do

To Be Serious

You will dream about me
All the months of your life
You won't know whether
That means anything to me or not.
You will know that.
It's about time
You know something.

Tompkins Square Park

All my friends in the
park speak Latin: when
they see me coming, they
say, "Valium?"

Down on Mission

There is a shoulder in New York City
Lined, perfectly relaxed, quoted really, quite high
Only in the picture by virture of getting in
to hear Allen Ginsberg read, 1961

And though the game is over it's beginning lots of
years ago,

And all your Cities of Angels, & San Francisco's are
going to have to fall, & burn again.

March 27, 2007

Sidewalk scenes and black limousines

Carlos Cruz-Diez, Physichromie No 21, 1960, metal on cardboard, acrylic, and plastic

* Time for Answers. excerpt:

"The news that Monica Goodling, counsel to the attorney general and liaison to the White House, is invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination takes the United States attorney scandal to a new level. Ms. Goodling’s decision comes just days after the Justice Department released documents strongly suggesting that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has not been honest about his own role in the firing of eight federal prosecutors. Mr. Gonzales is scheduled to testify before the Senate in three weeks, but that is too long to wait. He should speak now, and explain why he continues to insist that his department did nothing wrong.

"As the liaison between the White House and the Justice Department, Ms. Goodling seems to have been squarely in the middle of what appears to have been improper directions from the White House to politicize the hiring and firing of United States attorneys. Mr. Gonzales has insisted the eight prosecutors were let go for poor performance, and that the dismissals are an “overblown personnel matter.” But Ms. Goodling’s decision to exercise her Fifth Amendment rights suggests that she, at least, believes crimes may have been committed.

"Last Friday night, the Justice Department released a calendar entry that directly contradicts Mr. Gonzales’s insistence that he was out of the loop. It shows that he attended an hourlong meeting on Nov. 27 to discuss the upcoming firings of seven of the prosecutors. Previously, he had insisted that he never 'had a discussion about where things stood.'

"The release of the calendar entry is disturbing because it suggests not only that Mr. Gonzales may have personally approved the firings — something he has denied — but that the Justice Department has been dishonest in its responses to Congress. The department had already released what it claimed was a full set of relevant documents, and it now says it simply overlooked the ones released on Friday. But the information about the Nov. 27 meeting may have been released because Mr. Gonzales’s chief of staff, who was present at it, has agreed to testify before Congress this week.

"The more information that comes out, the more disturbing the firings look. Mr. Gonzales is scheduled to make a routine appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 17. But there is, as John McKay, a fired United States attorney from Washington State, put it, 'a cloud over the Justice Department' right now. Mr. Gonzales should testify this week. The serious questions that have been raised about improper, and possibly illegal, actions in the Justice Department need to be investigated and answered without delay in full public view."

* Classic baseball card: John Candelaria. [pic of card at link]

"John Canderlaria, 1991 Topps

"John Candelaria was so stoned during this picture, that he showed up to the park on this particular day ready to pitch, except it was Christmas Eve, a traditional 'off day' for Major League Baseball. And he wasn’t even on the Blue Jays. Luckily, a cameraman happened to be there to catch the moment. After the picture was shot, Candelaria asked the cameraman if he had any Skittles, and when the cameraman said no, Candelaria responded by saying, 'I’m just gonna crash here.' Two weeks later, a Blue Jays executive spotted 'the Candy Man' taking bong hits in the visitor’s bullpen. It was then the executive told Candelaria that he had been traded 'back to his house,' at which point an excited Candelaria finally left the Skydome....As a member of the baseball player’s association, John Candelaria once suggested “casual Fridays” for mascots."

* "We do not know yet if the Democrats who control Congress have the stomach to end the occupation, as the people elected them to do, and head off a war on Iran. Are they still baffled by the showman Karl Rove? He is our all-American, 21st-century P.T. Barnum. Think of Bush as Gen. Tom Thumb. Cheney is Jumbo the Elephant.

"To repair the damage done by these people you have to be clear-eyed as the goosegirl and lucky as the seventh son. You must know whom you want to stand with. Your weapons are brains and mockery. Thanks in good part to citizen journalists, scrupulous reporters, and bloggers, the facts needed are available on the Internet to readers who seek right action and the good. They face an immense job of cleaning-up. The facts, and we all, are sooty from the stench-filled cloud of incompetence and secrecy belched out by the fog-machines of the administration." - Katherine McNamara

March 26, 2007

repair is the dream
of the broken thing

Andreas Gefeller, Untitled (Stadium), 2002, digital C-print

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

2. George W. Bush

"But of course this isn't about lying. It's about politics. Last week George W. Bush held a special press conference to announce that, 'Members of Congress now face a choice: whether they will waste time and provoke an unnecessary confrontation, or whether they will join us in working to do the people's business.'

"Yes folks, apparently 'the people's business' now involves the White House collaborating with the Justice Department to cripple investigations against Republican officials by firing prosecutors who don't have their noses sufficiently far up the president's backside.

"Let's do a quick recap of some of the rest of the "people's business" that the Bush administration has spent the past six years working on.

" -Allowing wounded soliders to live in rotting, rodent-infested quarters when they return home from Iraq.

" -Outing a covert CIA agent and then lying about it.

" -Making sure that we lose three American soldiers a day for an indefinite period of time.

" -Throwing hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars at a war which most of the country thinks we shouldn't be involved in.

" -Torturing people in secret prisons and refusing them access to any kind of legal representation.

" -Dramatically increasing the gap between rich and poor Americans.

" -Making sure that more children go without healthcare.

" -Ignoring the recent increase in violent crime.

" -Ignoring the very real threat of global climate change.

" -Doing nothing to decrease America's dependence on foreign oil.

" -Tossing off while Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, showing up for a couple of photo-ops, and then forgetting about the whole thing.

" -Turning Michael Schiavo's terribly difficult and private family decision into a nationwide media circus.

" -Unconstitutionally spying on American citizens.

" -Pursuing policies which have massively increased the threat of global terrorism and then pig-headedly refusing to change course.

" -Letting Osama bin Laden get away.

"You know, if that's the definition of 'working to do the people's business,' maybe Our Great Leader should take another vacation."

* Washington Post on The Cloud over Mr. Gonzales. excerpt:

"Alberto R. Gonzales's death by a thousand cuts continues. A newly released e-mail revealed that he participated in an hour-long meeting with senior Justice Department officials about a plan to dismiss seven U.S. attorneys. This appears to contradict Mr. Gonzales's assurance that he participated in no such discussions.

"A missive dated Nov. 21, from Kyle Sampson, then chief of staff to the attorney general, to Andrew Beach, an assistant in Mr. Gonzales's office, emerged in a 283-page document dump Friday night. 'Meeting for next Monday. Re: U.S. Attorney Appointments. 1 hour. AG's conference room. Thx.' It lists six people who would attend, including the AG, Mr. Gonzales.

"On March 13, Mr. Gonzales said: 'I never saw documents. We never had a discussion about where things stood. What I knew was that there was ongoing effort that was led by Mr. Sampson, vetted through the Department of Justice, to ascertain where we could make improvements in U.S. attorney performances around the country.'

"Mr. Gonzales finds himself in this mess because he and others in his shop appear to have tried to cover up something that, as far as we yet know, didn't need covering. U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president -- with the advice and consent of the Senate. The president was entitled to replace any he chose, as long as he wasn't intending to short-circuit ongoing investigations. But the shifting explanations for the eventual dismissals of eight federal prosecutors -- from no explanation to saying performance was at issue to acknowledging that performance was not the issue for all of them -- have Democrats and Republicans calling for candor from Mr. Gonzales."
"A Justice Department spokeswoman said the latest e-mail did not contradict the attorney general's previous assertions. He's entitled to explain why not, and he'll get that chance, in congressional testimony after his former chief of staff, Mr. Sampson, testifies Thursday. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) warned yesterday on NBC's 'Meet the Press' that Mr. Gonzales's appearance will be 'make or break.'"

* "My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music." -- Vladimir Nabokov

March 23, 2007

All that false instruction
Which we never could believe

Adia Millett, Passing Shadows, 2006

-- by David Lehman:

Every so often my father comes over
for a visit he hangs his overcoat and hat
on my hat rack I brief him on recent
developments and serve us coffee
he is surprised that I like to cook
once when he made an omelette
he flipped it in the air much to my delight
and it landed on the floor yes that
was the summer of 1952, he remembered
the high breakers and how fearless
I was running into the ocean anyway
the important thing is to see you doing
so well he said and took his coat and hat
and left before I remembered he was dead

In memory of William R. Fox, July 12, 1944 - March 23, 2002

Wednesday Evening Services
-- by Ted Berrigan

Blindfold shores leaving sad
an audience of dancers
Frank O'Hara's dead & we are not
The General Returns
From One Place
To Another
the program was dedicated to him
but I couldn't make it

The Great Genius
-- by Ted Berrigan

The Great Genius is
A man who can do the
Ordinary thing
When everybody
Else is going crazy

Conceived in Hate
-- by Ted Berrigan

...Your America & mine
are lands to be discovered
and nothing
stirs us to discover
so much as the real
drama of today's newsmaking people

Blonde on Blonde

It's enough to make a girl
go out & buy a bottle
of peroxide; and many did.
But not her. She loved
Mencken, her pretty sister
whose shame & sin outshone
her dark, golden curls.

March 22, 2007

And never worry if people laugh at you
The fools only laugh 'cos they envy you

Mark Mulroney, Sunsets in the Atomic Age, 2006

* From a 1980 interview of William Gaddis by Tom LeClair:

LeClair: Are there writers who were particularly important to you in your early years?

Gaddis: I remember being amazed, when The Recognitions first came out, by the number of reviewers who found it drawn from or an imitation of Joyce's Ulysses, which I had not read and have still not. I just haven't. Very few mentioned The Waste Land, I read that in college and it has never left me. Keats talks about poetry as being the finest wording of one's highest feelings. But to find in a poem perfectly articulated your vision of the world is remarkable. I was just beginning to draw together my own view of the world, and here it was. It was a juxtaposition of exchequer bonds and the South Seas and Doris on the stairs. Now, for me it is Yeat's The Second Coming, with its impending apocalypse. It's hard to believe, but where we live now is all there in Yeat's poem.

LeClair: 'Willie' in The Recognitions says he's doing for writing what Bruckner did for music. Did you have nonliterary models for your works?

Gaddis: While I do think music is the highest of the arts, totally abstract and ungraspable, why must we assume that writing is or needs to be derivative of other forms? A writer could set out to write a novel in the form of a fugue, but there is likely to be trouble with the technique overpowering the life in the book.

LeClair: How do dthe novels get to be so long, if they don't start out with mass in mind?

Gaddis: If one is involved with a complicated idea, and spends every day with it, takes notes, and reads selectively with it in mind, ramification proliferate. If one has what could be called an obsessional wish to exhaust an idea, understand it on six, seven, or eight levels, the book gets longer and longer.

LeClair: A common criticism of long books is self-indulgence, as though the writers had written at such length only to amuse themselves?

Gaddis: In JR, Gibbs complains about Schepperman's having to sell blood to buy paints and about Van Gogh's cutting off his ear. Hyde says, 'Who asked him to paint?' That's a central question. If you're going to write a book, who asked you to? It is, in fact, quite an act of ego to sit down in a room, while others are getting on trains and subways, and put one's vision on paper, and then ask others to pay to read it. Not only to pay, but say, 'Isn't he brilliant.' It's an act of audacity.

* Wolcott on Bush's press conference. excerpt:

"Quite a petulant display our president just put on. Chris Matthews may admire the "fighting tiger" spirit that Bush uncaged once he finished stammering and stumbling through his prepared text, but the very ferocity of Bush's defiance and vocabulary ('show trials,' 'klieg lights'--as if Pat Leahy were some Stalinist grand inquisitor) suggest that there may be something more to this story, something bigger buried deeper in the weeds. This mini-press conference was the most Nixonian performance of Bush's presidency, and his robotic repetition of the word 'reasonable' to characterize his proposal to let Karl Rove, Harriet Miers, and others be interviewed in a shady lagoon (not under oath, no transcripts made) could only remind Watergate buffs of the phrase 'modified limited hangout.'

That's what's so strange about this percolatiing scandal. Instead of defusing it, dousing it, sedating it, Bush & co. have amped it up to a mini-Watergate decibel level of confrontation and document spew, complete with a former Watergate cast member. When Dick Cheney famously told Pat Leahy to go fuck himself, he and the rest of the administration clearly never anticipated the day when Leahy would return to powerful chairmanship; I think they internalized Karl Rove's visionary scheme of a permanent Republican majority and thought the future was in the bag. Now they're holding the bag and it's leaking all over their laps."

* "I don't generally feel anything until noon, then it's time for my nap." -- Oliver Wendell Holmes

March 21, 2007

the Mississippi River runs like molasses in the summertime

Rob Nadeau, Untitled, 2002

The Way of All Handwriting
-- by Ron Padgett

As long as there is hair on the human head
And people wish to arrange it
There will be combs.

But I don't want to sign my autograph.
I want to follow a coil
Down into my desire
To fall face first
Into a blue-green swimming pool
The shape and size of my own body,
So the joke will fly away from my physiognomy
And the steel strings that hold it to my interior monologue
Fall into the ionosphere
Where even combs go when they die,
Perfected, like first crayons,
Bright basic colors.

-- by Ron Padgett

The New York streets look nude and stupid
With Ted and Edwin no longer here
To light them up with their particularity
Of loving them and with intelligence
In some large sense of the word:
New York's lost some of its rough charm
And there's just no getting around it
By pretending the rest of us can somehow make up for it
Or that future generations will. I hear
A dog barking in the street and it's drizzling
At 6 A.M. and there's nothing warm
Or lovable or necessary about it, it's just
Some dog barking in some street somewhere
I hate that dog.

Chastity in Gomorrah
-- by Elizabeth Skurnick

Whenever I say I'm on layover
Everyone bursts out laughing.
Suffice it to say my descent has been grim.
I thought dildoes ornamented lawns
And you scrubbed you grout with S&M.
Here they wear white, but their edges are tattering.
The lamb falls off its skewer, black
And I clutch my hands at the glass that keeps shattering.

March 20, 2007

Their voices are bringing trees to their knees

Jack Youngerman, The New School, 1969

* From Harper's April 2007:

-- Number of vehicles in the motorcade that transports President Bush to his regular bikeride in Maryland: 14

-- Amount by which the salary of Judge Judy exceeds the salaries of all nine Supreme Court justices combined: $26,000,000

-- Change since 2002in the average number of hours that the IRS devotes to each audit of a large company: -252

-- Average amount of unpaid tax the IRS discovers for each hour spent auditing a large or medium-sized company: $5,195

-- Cost to make the film Zyzzyx Road, which was released last year: $1,200,000

-- Amount if grossed at the U.S. box office: $30

* The New York Times on the bonghits for Jesus case argued at the Supreme Court yesterday. excerpt:

"The Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in a case that has attracted attention mainly because of its eccentric story line: An Alaska student was suspended from high school in 2002 after he unfurled a banner reading 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus' while the Olympic torch passed by. But the case raises important issues of freedom of expression and student censorship that go far beyond the words on that banner. The court should affirm the appeals court’s well-reasoned decision that when the school punished the student it violated his First Amendment rights."
"The Bush administration joined the school district in arguing that schools have broad authority to limit talk about drugs because of the importance of keeping drugs away from young people. But if schools can limit speech on any subject deemed to be important, students could soon be punished for talking about the war on terror or the war in Iraq because the government also considers those subjects important.

"Some school administrators would no doubt use their power to clamp down on conservative speech while others would clamp down on liberal speech. A school that values diversity could punish students who criticize affirmative action, while a more conservative school could ban students from taking outspoken positions about global warming. Religious groups have joined civil libertarians in backing Mr. Frederick because they fear schools will punish students who talk about their religious beliefs.

If the Supreme Court wants to dodge the free-speech-in-school issues, it could rule that the off-campus Olympic torch event was not a formal school activity — and that the principal had no right to limit anyone’s free speech there. That would not harm students’ free speech rights, but it would also do little to affirm them.

"The court should go further, and rule that Mr. Frederick’s rights were infringed. Students do not have the right to interfere substantially with school activities, but Mr. Frederick did not do that. The court should use this case to reaffirm Tinker’s famous pronouncement that students do not shed their right to free speech 'at the schoolhouse gate.'"

* "The only reason we wore sunglasses onstage was because we couldn't stand the sight of the audience." -- John Cale

March 19, 2007

the aisle of truth is zero and cold

Gordon Matta-Clark, The Caribbean Orange, 1978

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"7. The White House

"Perhaps the most interesting piece of testimony from last week's Congressional hearing on the Valerie Plame affair came not from Plame herself - although she certainly had plenty to say - but from Dr. James Knodell.

"Cast your minds back for a moment to the early days of the Plame Affair, when Scott McClellan said, 'The President has made it very clear that the leaking of classified information is a serious matter, and he takes it very seriously. That's why he is saying that we need to get to the bottom of this, and the sooner, the better.' That was about a week after George W. Bush said, 'I want to get to the bottom of this,' and, 'if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is.'

"Clearly the White House were trying really hard to discover the truth behind Plame's outing, because two years later Scott McClellan was still saying, 'No one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the President of the United States.'

"So what does this have to do with the White House Director of the Office of Security? Well, according to Think Progress, he testified under oath last week that, 'to his knowledge the White House has never ordered a probe, report, or sanctions as a result of the outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame.'


* If you are not watching Ian Svenonius' Sort Focus, you should be.

* Three songs by The Pretty Things, from Popside.

* "I believe in saying the truth, coming out with it cold, shocking if necessary, not disguising it. In other words, obscenity is a cleansing process, whereas pornography only adds to the murk." -- Henry Miller, 1962

March 16, 2007

Time is a Game Only Children Play Well

Mary Ellen Mark

-- by Dana Goodyear

We found (like the deserting) spacious calm,
drank a pair of Arnold Palmers underneath a palm.
Went for massage and mud, lacquer, love,
overheated minerals, a stimulating rub.
Then -- as if it could be used, as if for art --
I place a grain of doubt in your open-pored heart,
and watched what had been small dilate
and everything else evaporate.

-- by Dana Goodyear

Friday we ate quiche the color of the eclipsed moon.
We had to guess ingredients: Charlie knew
the raspberry by its inimitable seeds.
I, dull-wit, tasted only carrot
and a false idea of cream. Fall is coming on
and I'm up to my old tricks again.
Redundant conversations on Atlantic Ocean rocks,
watching the waves go the grey of sore-eyed
waking dawn. I have never gotten sick of salt--
the flavor worn into my wind rough skin
and I want to turn suddenly old
so I am stiff and sharp and permanent
a gesture: bony, unadorned,
a branch of the hydrangea tree.

Poem Written in a Copy of Beowulf:
A Borges Adaption

-- by Brad Leithauser

I wonder, sometimes, rummaging among
My motivations, why I've taken up—
Even as my night came down, and with no hope
Of mastery—the harsh Anglo-Saxon tongue.
Depleted by the years, my memory
Lets slip each uselessly repeated phrase,
And so it is with life itself—my days
Weaving, unweaving their worn history.
It must be (so I tell myself) the soul
Surmises, in its own inscrutable way,
Its immortality and how the whole
Of our existence lies within its sway—
How, far beyond my fears, and this, my writing,
The universe, inexhaustible, is waiting.

March 15, 2007

Hate was just a legend
And war was never known

Herman Leonard, Duke Ellington, Paris, 1958

* Patti Smith inducted to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! excerpt:

"Punk poet Patti Smith brought her earthy growl to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Monday, inducted as a member with the Ronettes, Van Halen, R.E.M. and the institution's first hip-hop act, Grandmaster Flash.

"Fighting back tears as she talked of family members, Smith recalled how her late husband, Fred (Sonic) Smith, told her before he died she would someday make the rock hall.

"'He asked me please to accept it like a lady and not to say any curse words,' she said, 'and make certain to salute new generations.'"

* Fox News at its finest.

* 30 year feud between Gabriel García Márquez, the Nobel prize-winning author, and Mario Vargas Llosa, his fellow giant of Latin American literature, over?. excerpt:

"It is possibly the most famous literary feud of modern times: Gabriel García Márquez, the Nobel prize-winning author, and Mario Vargas Llosa, his fellow giant of Latin American literature, have refused to talk to each other for three decades.

"Once great friends, the two writers have steadfastly refused to talk about the reasons behind their spectacular bust-up, and so have their wives.

"Now two pictures have appeared in which a youthful García Márquez shows off a black eye, and the photographer who took them has shed light on the origins of the feud. Not surprisingly, perhaps, it involves a woman.

"Rodrigo Moya, a close friend of García Marquez, took the black-and-white pictures in 1976 but has kept them secret until this week. He decided to publish them to coincide with García Marquez’s 80th birthday and has broken his silence in a tongue-in-cheek account of the night in which GarcÍa Marquez and Vargas Llosa brawled, entitled 'The Horrific Story of the Black Eye.'

"The photographs, which first appeared in La Jornadain Mexico show a shiner under GarcÍa Márquez’s left eye and a cut on his nose. In one, the Colombian novelist is looking deadly serious. In the other, he grins broadly from under his moustache, as if acknowledging that the picture would one day become a classic.

"According to Mr. Moya, various Latin American artists and intellectuals had gathered in Mexico City for a film premiére in 1976. After the film, García Márquez went to embrace his close friend, Vargas Llosa. 'Mario!' he managed to say, before receiving a 'tremendous blow' to the face from the Peruvian author.

"'How dare you come and greet me after what you did to Patricia in Barcelona!' Vargas Llosa reportedly shouted, referring to his wife.

"Amid the screams of some women, García Marquez sat on the floor with a profusely bleeding nose, as the Mexican writer Elena Poniatowska ran to get a steak for his eye. Two days later, Mr Moya took the photos of his friend’s black eye."

"After the cinema fight, however, the two stopped speaking and embarked on radically different paths. García Marquez stuck to his Leftist leanings, developing a close friendship with the Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Vargas Llosa became an ardent admirer of Margaret Thatcher and ran for President of Peru on a Right-wing platform. He has been one of President Castro’s most outspoken critics.

"Now the two appear to have buried the hatchet, with Vargas Llosa writing a prologue to a 40th anniversary edition of García Márquez’s classic work, A Hundred Years of Solitude. The text is reportedly an extract from Vargas Llosa’s laudatory book on García Márquez, written before their fall-out. The Peruvian writer is said to have blocked the book’s publication ever since.

"Despite Mr Moya’s tantalising new details, only the two men and their wives know what really led to the fight. It is rumoured that while both families were living in Barcelona, Vargas Llosa left his wife and children for a stunning Swedish woman. According to the whispered tale, Patricia sought comfort with GarcÍa Márquez and his wife, who advised her to seek a divorce. When Vargas Llosa reconciled with Patricia, she allegedly told all, leading eventually to the sucker punch.

"The long feud between the two literary heavyweights has also been one of the most colourful. The two men had been close friends – so much so that Mr García Márquez is godfather to Mr Vargas Llosa’s second son, Gabriel."

--- Other Famous Literary Feuds:

# Truman Capote and Gore Vidal feuded in interviews, on TV and in their work. Capote, Vidal said, had "raised lying into an art – a minor art". Capote’s response: "Of course, I’m always sad about Gore. Very sad that he has to breathe every day."

# Politics was at the heart of leftist playwright Lillian Hellman and novelist Mary McCarthy’s feud. "Every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the'," McCarthy said in a television interview.

* "What is surprising is that such a high percentage of those without a marked talent for any particular profession should think of writing as the solution. One would expect that a certain percentage would imagine they had a talent for medicine, a certain percentage for engineering, and so on. But this is not the case. In our age, if a boy or a girl is untalented, the odds are in favour of their thinking they want to write." -- W.H. Auden [via]

March 14, 2007

Well I'm beginning to see the light

Patrick W. Welch, Fine Art is a Crack Ho, 2005

This Song is for You
-- by Hersch Silverman

I'm feelin' high and happy
High enough to sing a reefer song
You are my lotus blossom
My sunken treasure
My stratosphere where flamingos fly
I don't know why
But it's only 3 o'clock in the morning and I'm feelin' high and happy
Must be the stuff is here and it's mellow
And it's voodoo hoodoo
That's the way it is
Where there's a jumpin' in a julip joint
A-doin' the head-rag hop
Hey let's boogie
The moon is full
This song is for you
And I don't care what time it is.

-- Frank O'Hara

If I rest for a moment near The Equestrian
pausing for a liver sausage sandwich in the Mayflower Shoppe,
that angel seems to be leading the horse into Bergdorf's
and I am naked as a table cloth, my nerves humming.
Close to the fear of war and the stars which have disappeared.
I have in my hands only 35c, it's so meaningless to eat!
and gusts of water spray over the basins of leaves
like the hammers of a glass pianoforte. If I seem to you
to have lavender lips under the leaves of the world,
I must tighten my belt.
It's like a locomotive on the march, the season
of distress and clarity
and my door is open to the evenings of midwinter's
lightly falling snow over the newspapers.
Clasp me in your handkerchief like a tear, trumpet
of early afternoon! in the foggy autumn.
As they're putting up the Christmas trees on Park Avenue
I shall see my daydreams walking by with dogs in blankets,
put to some use before all those coloured lights come on!
But no more fountains and no more rain,
and the stores stay open terribly late.

-- by Ted Kooser

Slap of the screen door, flat knock
of my grandmother's boxy black shoes
on the wooden stoop, the hush and sweep
of her knob-kneed, cotton-aproned stride
out to the edge and then, toed in
with a furious twist and heave,
a bridge that leaps from her hot red hands
and hangs there shining for fifty years
over the mystified chickens,
over the swaying nettles, the ragweed,
the clay slope down to the creek,
over the redwing blackbirds in the tops
of the willows, a glorious rainbow
with an empty dishpan swinging at one end.

March 13, 2007

Stimulate the open chords

Cindy Sherman, Untitled, 1987

* Clusterfuck Nation. excerpt:

Here's an idea: when the securities markets go south along with the rest of the US economy in 2007, maybe the smoothies on Wall Street should receive end-of-year 'cash-negative' bonuses, meaning instead of a check for, say, $25 million the day before Christmas, they get an invoice saying 'please remit $25 million.' Who to? Good question. One might suggest the nearest firefighters' or teachers' pension fund -- except the idiots who run those retirement funds bought mortgage-backed paper with their eyes open. Okay then, let's say the Wall Street boys send their checks into Amtrak. Maybe then the cafe car between Albany and New York City will re-open so that in the course of a 2.5 hour trip a person might get a drink of water.

"A tsunami of nausea seems to be sweeping across the media now in recognition that the Potemkin edifice of mortgage finance is imploding like a discarded Las Vegas casino. What it comes down to is that several species of newly-engineered financial Frankenproducts have been based on loans for houses that will never be paid back. Not just a few loans. Massive numbers. These, in turn, have been bundled, swapped around, and leveraged into other plays which now depend, for instance, on x-number of unemployed car dealers and underpaid busboys ponying up the 'vig' for some piece-of-crap collateral that will soon be a third its previously appraised value. It will be easier for the car dealers and busboys to walk away from these deals than it will be for the smoothies who used all this bundled bullshit to hedge credit default swaps and play the yen-to-Euro carry trade game to wiggle out of their positions. And the unwinding of all this fraud will almost certainly leave the nation economically spavined.

"The amazing thing is how standards and norms for lending collapsed as completely as they did the past five years. One day you had bankers who retained a notion that lending per se required some prudent evaluation of the borrower's character and of the thing or enterprise borrowed for -- and the next day these protocols vanished. Once again I challenge the punctilious physicists out there by asserting that this astounding transformation is the product of entropy. Basically, you get a given system -- e.g. the US economy -- over-stoked on cheap energy (and even at $3 a gallon gasoline is cheap), and the system will throw off gobs of entropy. The more profligate the energy consumption, the more entropy results. It then expresses itself in various kinds of disorder, meaning anything from the immersive ugliness of the American built-up landscape to the behavior of people formerly attuned to such governing principles as moral hazard to retain the functional legitimacy of their livelihoods."
"The story will be the same all over the nation. The owners of these things will get into terrible personal financial trouble. The property market will re-value the buildings, discounting all the previous wishful thinking about price. And the financial markets will stagger and collapse as the process thunders through the mendacious operations that all this wishful thinking spawned."

* Mel Zerman remembers Fred Exley, author of A Fan's Notes. excerpt:

Interviewer: How did Fred react to being a first time author at forty?

Zerman: He complained all the time that the book wasn't properly publicized: They are not advertising the book, they are not getting it reviewed. He said he had been on three programs, none were major stations. He was very bitter. On the other hand, he was very happy to be in New York and drinking.

Interviewer: Did he talk to you about some of the themes in A Fan's Notes?

Zerman: He said to me the same thing he said to the interviewers on the rare occasions my friend Lisl was able to get him on a program. He would answer questions by saying, 'It's all in the book.' His feeling was that everyone should read the book. The book is very true, even though he never made up his mind whether it was a novel or not."
Interviewer: Did Fred ever talk about Frank Gifford?

Zerman: Of course. Frank invited him to a party on one of those occasions when Fred was in New York. He insisted that I come. I believe Fred had probably sent the manuscript of A Fan's Notes to Gifford even before it was published. Fred was no dope when it came to selling books. It was clear that Frank liked him. Why shouldn't he? The book is very worshipful.

Interviewer: Did you visit Fed Exley in Watertown?

Zerman: In 1971 my wife and I were visiting upstate New York. I insisted we go to Watertown and look up Fred. It was a Saturday night. We went to a bar. It was the only place in town. There was no time when Fred wasn't drinking heavily and when you went there, you understood why. There is nothing else to do in Watertown except drink.
Interviewer: Did Fred admire any contemporary writers?

Zerman: He had very little to say about most writers that was good. He liked William Styron, but maybe that was because they shared an agent.

Interviewer: How did you learn of his death in 1992?

Zerman: I believe he was in a hospital, somewhere in upstate New York. He called me and without quite saying so, he made me feel he would never be leaving the hospital. I would call but could never reach him. Every time I asked for a progress report, there was none. One day I called, and they told me he was gone.

* "All I need is a window not to write." -- Tobias Wolff, 2004

March 12, 2007

do we need our obsessions

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"10. Glenn Beck

"And finally, it's two in a row for Glenn Beck who made last week's list after trying to out-sexually-harrass Bill O'Reilly. So what's Mr. Beck been up to in the past seven days? Well, according to Media Matters:

"On the March 8 edition of his CNN Headline News program, Glenn Beck issued the following warning to members of Congress who support the Democratic leaders' plan to set a date certain for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq: 'If your bill goes through, I hope you can't go to bed any single night without the images of body bags of our American soldiers coming off those planes. I hope they dance in your head every single night, because you will be just as responsible for their deaths as anyone who has ever strapped a bomb to their chest and screamed, 'Allah Akbar.'

"Er, yeah. So the people who are trying to get the troops out of the Iraqi meatgrinder are as responsible for their deaths as suicide bombers, whereas the people who are trying to keep the troops in the meatgrinder are good, upstanding patriots. I guess that makes sense.

"If you've had your brain replaced with a dog turd.'

* “The other night I watched some politicians on television talking about Vietnam. I wanted very much to burst through the screen with a flamethrower and burn their eyes out and their balls off and then inquire from them how they would assess this action from a political point of view.” -- Harold Pinter, 1966

March 9, 2007

I might sleep through the technology preview

The Caribbean, DC9, Washington, D.C. November 2005

The Caribbean is motoring towards Austin for SXSW, and will be playing shows on the way. Be sure to check them out:

-- Saturday, March 10, 2007: Swanson Reed Contemporary (w/Shedding, Nick Butcher), Louisville, KY

-- Sunday, March 11, 2007: Ruby Green Gallery, (w/Shedding, Nick Butcher, Deluxin {members of Be Your Own Pet}), Nashville, TN

-- Monday, March 12, 2007: White Water Tavern (w/Shedding, Nick Butcher, Slaraffenland, American Princes), Little Rock, AR

-- Wednesday, March 14, 2007: SXSW (Hometapes Showcase), Austin, TX

The World and I
-- by Laura Riding

This is not exactly what I mean
Any more than the sun is the sun,
But how to mean more closely
If the sun shines but approximately?
What a world of awkwardness!
What hostile implements of sense!
Perhaps this is as close a meaning
As perhaps becomes such knowing.
Else I think the world and I
Must live together as strangers and die--
A sour love, each doubtful whether
Was ever a thing to love the other.
No, better for both to be nearly sure
Each of each--exactly where
Exactly I and exactly the world
Fail to meet by a moment, and a word.

Child on Top of a Greenhouse
-- by Theodore Roethke

The wind billowing out the seat of my britches,
My feet crackling splinters of glass and dried putty,
The half-grown chrysanthemums staring up like accusers,
Up through the streaked glass, flashing with sunlight,
A few white clouds all rushing eastward,
A line of elms plunging and tossing like horses,
And everyone, everyone pointing up and shouting!

Blue Song
-- by Tennessee Williams

I am tired
I am tired of speech and of action
If you should meet me upon a
street do not question me for
I can tell you only my name
and the name of the town I was
born in. But that is enough
It does not matter whether tomorrow
arrives anymore. If there is
only this night and after it is
morning it will not matter now.
I am tired. I am tired of speech
and of action. In the heart of me
you will find a tiny handful of
dust. Take it and blow it out
upon the wind. Let the wind have
it and it will find its way home.


An unknown poem by famed playwright Tennessee Williams was a fortuitous find for Henry I. Schvey, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences (at Washington University of St. Louis). In 2004 in a bookstore in New Orleans, Schvey found the 17-line poem penciled into the back of a blue examination booklet Williams used for a Greek final as a student at WUSTL in 1937.

"It is clearly the work of a young man who doesn't know his next move in life," Schvey said of the poem. Schvey's find also was fortuitous for Williams' fans, who otherwise might never have known of its existence. Titled "Blue Song," the long-
lost work had never been published" and possibly never read until The New Yorker magazine ran it in December. The blue book now is part of the University Libraries Department of Special Collections.

March 8, 2007

where will you spend eternity

Henry Wessel, Oklahoma, 1975

Wessel first gained critical attention in the 1970s as part of a generation of young photographers who questioned and expanded two seemingly fixed categories: landscape and documentary photography. Since that time, he has continued to draw his inspiration from the aesthetics of the everyday, turning the least monumental of subjects — traffic lights, advertisements, suburban homes — into a kind of personal poetry. Wessel's keen-eyed observations share the spontaneity and honesty of snapshots, but are inflected with his own wry humor.

* New York Times:

"Americans often suspect that their political leaders are arrogant and out of touch. But even then it is nearly impossible to fathom what self-delusion could have convinced Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico that he had a right to call a federal prosecutor at home and question him about a politically sensitive investigation.

"That disturbing tale is one of several revealed this week in Congressional hearings called to look into the firing of eight United States attorneys. The hearings left little doubt that the Bush administration had all eight — an unprecedented number — ousted for political reasons. But it points to even wider abuse; prosecutors suggest that three Republican members of Congress may have tried to pressure the attorneys into doing their political bidding.

"It already seemed clear that the Bush administration’s purge had trampled on prosecutorial independence. Now Congress and the Justice Department need to investigate possible ethics violations, and perhaps illegality. Two of the fired prosecutors testified that they had been dismissed after resisting what they suspected were importunings to use their offices to help Republicans win elections. A third described what may have been a threat of retaliation if he talked publicly about his firing.

"David Iglesias, who was removed as the United States attorney in Albuquerque, said that he was first contacted before last fall’s election by Representative Heather Wilson, Republican of New Mexico. Ms. Wilson, who was in a tough re-election fight, asked about sealed indictments — criminal charges that are not public.

"Two weeks later, he said, he got a call from Senator Pete Domenici, Republican of New Mexico, asking whether he intended to indict Democrats before the election in a high-profile corruption case. When Mr. Iglesias said no, he said, Mr. Domenici replied that he was very sorry to hear it, and the line went dead. Mr. Iglesias said he’d felt “sick.” Within six weeks, he was fired. Ms. Wilson and Mr. Domenici both deny that they had tried to exert pressure.

"John McKay of Seattle testified that the chief of staff for Representative Doc Hastings, Republican of Washington, called to ask whether he intended to investigate the 2004 governor’s race, which a Democrat won after two recounts. Mr. McKay says that when he went to the White House later to discuss a possible judicial nomination (which he did not get), he was told of concerns about how he’d handled the election. H. E. Cummins, a fired prosecutor from Arkansas, said that a Justice Department official, in what appeared to be a warning, said that if he kept talking about his firing, the department would release negative information about him.

"Congress must keep demanding answers. It must find out who decided to fire these prosecutors and why, and who may have authorized putting pressure on Mr. Cummins. And it must look into whether Senator Domenici and Representatives Wilson and Hastings violated ethics rules that forbid this sort of interference. We hope the House committee will not be deterred by the fact that Mr. Hastings is its ranking Republican. The Justice Department also needs to open its own investigation. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s claim that these prosecutors were fired for poor performance was always difficult to believe. Now it’s impossible."

* From a 2001 interview of Robert Pollard excerpt:

Q: I understand you've been making some mix tapes, of the best albums of the late sixties, early seventies?

Pollard: I actually did, I took them along on one of our tours not long ago. I made 75 ninety-minute cassettes, which came out to be close to 150 albums from like '66 to '70.

Q: Well, what did you put on those tapes?

Pollard: Odyssey and Oracle, by the Zombies; Sgt. Pepper's and the White Album, obviously. The Who Sell Out. King Crimson's first album, that was '69. The Bee Gees' first album. All my favorite records from that period of time. I just wanted to have something to listen to on the road, and also I kind of wanted to educate some of the younger members of the band about some of the good stuff that I listened to back when I was a kid. And they weren't even born yet.
Q: Do you have any favorite album covers from the past?

Pollard: I just mentioned the King Crimson first album. I love that album cover; it's actually a water color painting. Let's see... although I don't like the album, I like the Blind Faith cover with the little naked girl holding the plane. That's cool. I used to like Hipgnosis. Remember Hipgnosis used to do covers? I liked all their stuff, Pink Floyd covers. One of my favorite covers is a single by a band called Killing Joke, War Games. It's a collage of Fred Astaire dancing across dead bodies on a battlefield.
Q: Who's the tougher audience, fourth graders, or rock fans?

Pollard: Oh, fourth graders. For one thing, I couldn't drink when I taught. (laughs) I wish I could have. Fourth graders are tough. You have them all day long, you really have to keep things varied to keep their attention for seven hours, and that gets rough. We play for a long time; we play for like two and a half hours. But the audience, they drink beer, and it's kind of proportionate, their level of drunkenness with ours. And as it goes along, it gets better. It's not too difficult to keep their attention.

Q: So if the fourth graders were drinking, they might not be such a tough audience.

Pollard: If they were drinking with me, it might not be too bad, you know. Might be some fights breaking out, though.

* "When I started out I wouldn't write a poem until I knew the first line and the last line . . . I was a tyrant and I was good at it." -- Jack Gilbert

-- admin question: anyone have a clue on how to locate my archives - they were lost when I made the mandatory transition from old to new blogger. any help is appreciated.

March 7, 2007

Scooter Libby, Convicted Felon

Jenny Holzer, Action, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, England, 2000

American Flag
-- by Jack Anderson

This is an American flag.

Here it is. Let these words be spoken or read, and if you
know this language you recognize this flag. Look, here are
the thirteen alternating red and white stripes and the
union of white stars upon a blue field.

A match is approaching the American flag. The American flag
is being set on fire. The match touches, first one stripe,
then the rest. The American flag starts to burn.

The reason why the American flag has been set on fire is to
protest American policies regarding the Vietnamese war. But
should this be read at some later date when the situation
has altered, then the flag is to be burned to protest any
subsequent evil caused by these American policies in Vietnam,
or to protest any other evil, anywhere in the world, in which
America may be involved.

The American flag is burning. It blazes. The flames leap
higher. Hear them crackle. Feel the heat rise.

Listen, listen and look: whenever you read these words, or
whenever these words are read to you, then an American flag
has been set ablaze. You can ’t stop it. The word has been
given. Right here you will always find that an American flag
is burning. Watch it burn and think upon evil.
Think also upon justice, prudence, and mercy.
Now the flames subside. The flames die out. The flag is ashes.
An American flag has just been burned.

--by Klipschutz

Will George give Scooter a ticket to ride?
If anyone knows Monopoly, these boys do.

Stay tuned.

Recovering Amid the Farms
-- by Jack Gilbert

Every morning the sad girl brings her three sheep
and two lambs laggardly to the top of the valley,
past my stone hut and onto the mountain to graze.
She turned twelve last year and it was legal
for the father to take her out of school. She knows
her life is over. The sadness makes her fine,
makes me happy. Her old red sweater makes
the whole valley ring, makes my solitude gleam.
I watch from hiding for her sake. Knowing I am
there is hard on her, but it is the focus of her days.
She always looks down or looks away as she passes
in the evening. Except sometimes when, just before
going out of sight behind the distant canebrake,
she looks quickly back. It is too far for me to see,
but there is a moment of white if she turns her face

by C. D. Wright

A girl on the stairs listens to her father
Beat up her mother.
Doors bang.
She comes down in her nightgown.

The piano stands there in the dark
Like a boy with an orchid.

She plays what she can
Then she turns the lamp on.

Her mother's music is spread out
On the floor like brochures.

She hears her father
Running through the leaves.

The last black key
She presses stays down, makes no sound
Someone putting their tongue where their tooth had been.

March 6, 2007

You're sick of yourself, a fucking government darling

Barbara Reinhart, Fat Man with Red Pipe, 1989

* Case regarding 'Camaro Joe's' 'Bong Hits for Jesus' banner to be heard by the Supreme Court. excerpt (but read the whole thing):

"The long journey started five years ago, on a quiet afternoon at Juneau-Douglas High School, as a student sat alone in the commons area reading Albert Camus' novel 'The Stranger.'

"In mid-March the road ends at the U.S. Supreme Court, where the nationally watched 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus' case will test the limits of free speech in public schools.

"Joe Frederick was an 18-year-old senior back then. His classes were done for the day, and 'Camaro Joe,' as some kids called him, was waiting for his girlfriend to finish so he could give her a ride home. As Frederick recalls the story, a vice principal approached and told him he couldn't stay in the commons without supervision. He would have to leave the campus to wait for her.

"Frederick refused. He insisted he had a right to sit quietly in his own school and read a French existentialist. Two Juneau police officers were summoned, and Frederick left after they threatened to arrest him for trespass.

"The next morning at school, Frederick turned his chair around and sat with his back to the flag during the Pledge of Allegiance.

"'This was my symbolic protest against a school administration that clearly lacked common sense and abused its power to retaliate against anyone who dared question their authority,' he wrote later in a mini-autobiography where he quoted Thoreau, Voltaire and Martin Luther King.

"Frederick said his father was summoned to the school to discuss a possible suspension. School officials say they have no record of the incident.

"Regarding a suspension at that point, the Supreme Court was already clear. In the unsettled world of free speech rights in public schools the right to refuse to salute the flag is one of the few established points.

"After that, Frederick said, he resolved to find a free speech protest that would draw wider notice.

"He found one. On Jan. 24, 2002, Frederick and friends unfurled a 14-foot paper banner with duct-tape letters reading 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus.' They were standing on a sidewalk opposite the high school during a public Olympic-torch parade attended by students and teachers.

"The phrase, which they'd spotted on a snowboard sticker at a local ski slope, was meant to be funny, provocative and nonsensically ambiguous, Frederick said. To school officials, it was an open challenge to their anti-drug policies, at what they deemed a school event.

"Principal Deborah Morse crossed the street and crumpled up the banner.

"Frederick's move -- and the school's stern response -- had more impacts than he ever imagined. The incident gave way to his suspension from school, several arrests by Juneau police, a lawsuit against the city settled in his favor, the loss of his father's job and, eventually, the departure of father and son from Alaska and the United States."

"It also resulted in a court case, Morse v. Frederick, that has climbed through the federal system and will be up for oral argument in the Supreme Court on March 19.

"Frederick, now 23, still sounded like the defiant student existentialist Friday in a teleconference from China, where he is teaching high school English.

"'I wanted to know more precisely the boundaries of my freedom,' he said when reporters asked why he'd raised the banner. 'I feel that if you don't use your rights you lose them.'"
"Backup at this point has come to include the National School Boards Association, former federal drug czar William J. Bennett and the solicitor general of the United States. Arguing for free on behalf of the Juneau School Board is Kenneth Starr, the former independent prosecutor whose investigation led to the impeachment of President Clinton.

"Frederick has drawn reinforcements, too. The American Civil Liberties Union has worked with Juneau lawyer Doug Mertz since the original case was filed in April 2002. They went to court after the school board refused to erase Frederick's eight-day suspension from his record.

"Among other friends-of-the-court on Frederick's side are a half-dozen Christian and constitutional rights organizations who say they are looking past the 'ill-advised stunt' to worry about future censorship of religious or 'pro-family' expression in public schools. Also submitting briefs for him are groups supporting drug-policy reform and gay rights as well as booksellers, librarians and feminists.
"Meanwhile Frederick's father had lost his job, in part because of the federal lawsuit his son filed against the school board.

"Frank Frederick was in a tight spot, to be sure. He was a risk manager for the school district's insurance company. The company was facing big legal fees because of the federal suit. The senior Frederick agreed to shield himself from anything touching on the legal case. But after refusing to intervene with his son, he was demoted and eventually fired, according to his lawsuit against Alaska Public Entity Insurance. The case, which turned on other issues as well, ended with a jury award to Frederick of $200,000 plus interest and fees.

"Frank Frederick has since found himself unable to get a job in the insurance industry, said Mertz. With no aid from his father, Joe Frederick said, he dropped out after his first year of college. His father eventually found work teaching English in China, and Joe recently joined him there."
"Juneau lawyer David Crosby, who represented the schools in the early rounds of the case, said Frederick has 'delusions of grandeur.'

"'The Bong Hits case is an interesting one, and the district has not gotten a whole lot of sympathy from the press. So be it,' Crosby said via e-mail last week."

* "I believe that political correctness can be a form of linguistic fascism . . . The only way to react is to get up in the morning and start the day by saying four or five vastly politically incorrect things before breakfast!" -- P.D. James

March 5, 2007

I heard so much about London
I decided to check it out

Clarence John Laughlin, A Strange Situation, 1938

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

"3. The Bush Administration

"Seymour Hersh, the man who wrote the piece in the New Yorker exposing Abu Ghraib, which I excerpted above, dropped another huge bombshell last week. He revealed that the Bush administration has been 'pumping money, a great deal of money, without congressional authority, without any congressional oversight' into the hands of 'three Sunni jihadist groups.' Why? Because these groups are aligning themselves against Hezbollah and are opposed to the spread of Shiite influence in the Middle East.

"Just one problem: these Sunni groups are also connected to Al Qaeda. That's right - according to Hersh, 'We are simply in a situation where this president is really taking his notion of executive privilege to the absolute limit here, running covert operations, using money that was not authorized by Congress, supporting groups indirectly that are involved with the same people that did 9/11.'

"It seems that the Bush administration believes that these Sunni extremists will cause significant damage to the Iranian regime, and to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Makes sense - if we just fund the right terrorists then everything will work out fine. After all, it worked really well when we funded the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviets, right? That didn't cause any problems later on.

"So, yeah, the Bush administration is bypassing Congress in order to hand American tax dollars to radical Sunni groups that are connected to Al Qaeda.

"But never mind that. Haven't you heard? 'Anna Nicole Smith once urinated in a pet litter tray, her friend has revealed.'"

* The War on Terror and the terror of war. excerpt:

"The world it is at war: an open ended 'War on terrorism'. Leaders across the world have repeated the declaration ad nauseam. We have been told just as many times that it is a 'war like no other'. The stakes are high. If Usama Bin Laden is to be believed it is the 'Third World War'; for George W. Bush the war is nothing less than a 'fight for civilization'. As to whether the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001 were in fact an act of war demanding a military response, or a criminal act demanding a legal and justice based response is open to question and debate. Secretary of State Colin Powell's initial response suggests that he regarded it more in terms of a crime than an act of war: 'you can be sure that America will deal with this tragedy in a way that brings those responsible to justice', he is reputed to have said. But President Bush had other ideas, later telling journalist Bob Woodward that his immediate reaction was: 'They had declared war on us, and I made up my mind at that moment that we were going to war'. And thus, we are at war.

"The casting of the war on terrorism as a war fought on behalf of or for Civilization against some less-than-civilized Other--terrorists and their cohorts--is a significant point that cannot be allowed to pass unexamined. The image being generated and marketed here is one of a war between the civilized defenders of everything that Civilization represents and the barbarous terrorists who oppose it and want to tear it down. Right or wrong this image is not exactly new, and thus the war on terror is not exactly a war like no other. Rather, history and precedents have a lot to tell us about the present and the conducting of this war on terror."
"It seems that what is really going on here is that in response to atrocities or acts of savagery by an uncivilized foe--the first being September 11 and then Madrid and Bali and London, and then Bali again and on the ground in Iraq everyday--the West, in the name of Civilization and the battle of good over evil, is seeking to justify a turn to any means necessary, including more brutal means of warfare. A war against such an evil and unscrupulous barbarous enemy cannot be won by conventional means; rather we must fight fire with fire--so the argument goes. Or at least this is what we try to convince ourselves. But perhaps it is more the case that those more base instincts and uncivilized means have been at our disposal and employed by us--the West--all along. History seems to suggest as much. All too regularly we dehumanize our enemy--the uncivilized savage who lacks virtue, chivalry, is beyond the pale materially and morally--in order to justify to ourselves the recourse to the more brutal means we claim to abhor and claim to be antithetical to our very ideal of Civilization. The dichotomy between the civilized, uniformed, chivalrous combatant and the opportunistic, treacherous barbarian is a false one. Perhaps there is something in the argument that all people, fundamentally 'good' people included, are capable of doing bad or evil acts given certain circumstances. Just as 'bad' people are capable of random acts of kindness.

"As Immanuel Kant reminds us in Perpetual Peace, 'even some philosophers have praised it [war] as an ennoblement of humanity, forgetting the pronouncement of the Greek who said, "War is an evil inasmuch as it produces more wicked men than it takes away"'. We would also do well to take note of Walter Benjamin's poignantly made point that 'there is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism'. As with every other war that has been or will ever be fought, no belligerent has a monopoly on the barbarism and terror of war. The war on terror is no exception."

* "I often wonder if I am suffering from some mental dysfunction because of how weird and baffling my poetry seems to so many people and sometimes to me too." -- John Ashbery, 1983

March 2, 2007

all the citizens began to dress in his style

Richard Renaldi, “Sonya (Los Angeles)”, 2003

Listening to President Kennedy Lie
about the Cuban Invasion

-- by Robert Bly

There is another darkness,
A darkness in the fences of the body,
And in moles running, and telephone wires,
And the frail ankles of horses;
Darkness of dying grass, and yellow willow leaves;
There is the death of broken buttonholes,
Of brutality in high places,
of lying reporters,
there is a bitter fatigue, adult and sad.

Wanting to Experience All Things
-- by Robert Bly

The blind horse among the cherry trees --
And bones, sticking from cool earth.
The heart leaps
Almost up to the sky! But laments
And filaments pull us back into the darkness.
We cannot see --
But a paw
Comes out of the dark
To light the road. Suddenly I am flying,
I follow my own fiery traces through the night!

As the Asian War Begins
-- by Robert Bly

There are longings to kill that cannot be seen,
Or are seen only by a minister who no longer believes in God,
Living in his parish like a crow in its nest.

And there are flowers with murky centers,
Impenetrable, ebony, basalt...

Conestogas go past, over the Platte, their contents
Hidden from us, murderers riding under the canvas...

Give us a glimpse of what we cannot see,
Our enemies, the soldiers, and the poor.

Smothered by the World
-- by Robert Bly

Chrysanthemums crying out on the borders of death,
Lone teeth walking in the icy waters,
Once more the heavy body mourns!
It howls outside the hedges of life,
Pushed out of the enclosure.
Now it must meet the death outside the death.
Living outside the gate is one death,
Cold faces gather along the wall,
A bag of bones warms itself in a tree.
Long and bitter antlers sway in the dark,
The hairy tail howls in the dirt...

March 1, 2007

the toothless kiss of skeletons
in summer hail
i'm the king of nails

Tam Ochiai, Frisbee, 2005, pencil, colored pencil and acrylic on wall

* License to Torture. excerpt:

"For some critics of George Bush's war on Iraq--especially those within the political establishment--the treatment of prisoners of the 'war on terror' is last on their list of concerns.

"But make no mistake: the abuse suffered by Padilla is no less a war crime than the massacres committed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"And it is happening not just to one man or a handful of men, but to hundreds if not thousands of detainees around the globe. Similar prolonged isolation and abuse has been used against prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. And this does not include the unknown numbers of people the U.S. has "rendered" to foreign governments like Saudi Arabia or Syria--to be subjected to torturous interrogations."
"Despite rhetoric to the contrary, the Democrats helped pave the way for such abuses--by helping to pass the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which stripped detainees of their right to trial.

"Padilla's prosecution is critical for the Bush administration--a 'slam-dunk' case it hopes will offset the series of failures documented in a recent audit by the Justice Department's inspector general, which concluded that the White House routinely overstated its successes.

As Klein points out, it's not as if the government is unaware that the interrogation 'techniques' it subjects Padilla and others to constitute torture. Even a revised Army field manual issued last year warns of the extreme psychological damage that prolonged sensory deprivation and other documented U.S. interrogation tactics can cause.

"'If these techniques drove Padilla insane,' Klein concludes, 'that means the U.S. government has been deliberately driving hundreds, possibly thousands, of prisoners insane around the world. What is on trial in Florida is not one man's mental state. It is the whole system of U.S. psychological torture.'

"If the Bush administration gets its way, even more detainees will be subjected to such dehumanizing treatment."

* Tommy Lasorda out of uniform. [via]. excerpt:

"SportsByBrooks has grabbed a hold of some of those excerpts from that madam book involving Tommy Lasorda and ... uh ... holy crap.

"Sasha/Gibson: 'She's a sweetie. Her name is Nanna. She's Swedish, about 5'6'', nice perky 34b, slim and terrific company. Perhaps you can tell me what you're looking for? Anything in particular I should know?'

"Lasorda: 'Actually, Sash, I'd like to have some porn for me to watch while she sucks my (expletive). I'm into watching two gals together in a movie. Can she have that there?'

"(Edit: Nanna reports to Sasha/Gibson after Lasorda encounter)

"Nanna: 'He was super easy and a really nice guy. You were right on all counts, Sasha. First he requested I pop in my girl, girl porn movie. ... He just loved watching all that! I noticed though that he wasn't the aggressive type. ... Here I had this real hot porn movie on. He enjoyed watching the girl, girl bisexual sex scenes best. He started to take his (expletive - penis) out and (expletive - masturbate). Then when I saw he was good and hard I started to suck his (expletive - penis). He really liked that! Then I used your 'swirly' move and relaxed my throat muscles so I could take him deep into my throat."

* "God is this huge creature who we must know, love, and serve, though actually you feel like you want to kick the son of a bitch." -- Robert Stone

* Finally, after 12 years of listening, am excited to see Sparklehorse tonight in Baltimore.