August 24, 2011

It was then that I got up to leave
But she said, “Don’t forget
Everybody must give something back
For something they get

Chris Martin, Ganges Sunrise Asi Ghat Varanasi, 2002

Building and Earthquake
-- Jane Hirshfield

How easy it is for a dream to construct
both building and earthquake.
Also the nine flights of wooden stairs in the dark,
and the trembling horse, its hard breathing
loud in the sudden after-silence and starlight.
This time the dream allows the building to stand.
Something it takes the dreamer a long time to notice,
who thought that the fear was the meaning
when being able to feel the fear was the meaning.

The End of It
-- Kim Addonizio

I have foresworn desire.
I am become as a stink bug.
Yea verily I am a roly poly.
No more for me the hanky panky.
I neither lick nor moan.
I neither swallow nor spit.
I'm through with all that.
Moonlight on the ocean
is as soap scum to me now.
Beavers of love,
build not your lodges in my waters.
Snails quit sliming your kisses
over the cabbages.
I have delivered up my clit
to be disarticulated.
Now I'm going to be very quiet
and wait for that little marble squirrel
set among the tomato vines
to run away.

-- Adam Zagajewski (translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh)

Lost, lost in gray hallways.
At night the lightbulbs hiss like signals of sinking ships.
We read books forgotten by their authors.
There is no truth, wise men repeat.
Summer evenings: festivals of swifts,
peonies erupting in the suburbs.
Streets seem abbreviated
by the heat, the ease of seeing.
Autumn creeps up surreptitiously.
Still sometimes we surface for a moment,
and the setting sun sometimes gleams
and a short-lived certainty appears,
nearly faith.

August 22, 2011

so drunk in the August sun

Stephen Shore, West Palm Beach, 1973

* From Harper's September 2011:

-- Percentage of Americans who say their household couldn't come up with $2,000 in thirty days: 47

-- Years it will take lenders in New York State, working at their current rate, to foreclose on all houses currently in default: 61

-- Percentage of Americans who think pornography is "morally wrong" : 66

-- Percentage who believe in the death penalty: 28

-- Hours more media consumed each day by the average minority youth than by the average white youth: 4.5

* Sorta Uninspired: Malkmus covers Smogs' Cold Blooded Old Times.

* In DC? Tomorrow at Bella (9 & U) is the Plums record release party. With Obetrol.

* "Art keeps us honest about how badly we screwed up...or about the few times we get something right." -- Percival Everett

August 18, 2011

Promise me
You will always be
Too awake to be famous
Too wired to be safe

Rob Stolzer, Four Heads, 2001

* Hunter S. Thompson on breakfast:

I like to eat breakfast alone, and almost never before noon; anybody with a terminally jangled lifestyle needs at least one psychic anchor every twenty-four hours, and mine is breakfast. ...

The food factor should always be massive: four Bloody Marys, two grapefruits, a pot of coffee, Rangoon crêpes, a half-pound of either sausage, bacon, or corned-beef hash with diced chilies, a Spanish omelette or eggs Benedict, a quart of milk, a chopped lemon for random seasoning, and something like a slice of key lime pie, two margaritas and six lines of the best cocaine for dessert... Right, and there should also be two or three newspapers, all mail and messages, a telephone, a notebook for planning the next twenty-four hours, and at least one source of good music... all of which should be dealt with outside, in the warmth of a hot sun, and preferably stone naked.

August 17, 2011

she was tall
she was high
she almost touched the sky

Wim Wenders, Lounge Painting, Gila Bend, Arizona

Burning the New Year
--Naomi Shihab Nye

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.

See Under:
--- by Joanna Rawson

There's a word for a beggar who fakes being blind.
Another for amnesia about all events underwater.
For the exact center of gravity in a skyscraper.
Without motive, a bullet whittled from ice
utters murder into a toddler's chest.
The sun makes a pool of water around her body
that will evaporate by noon, a shadow
advertising the precise time of death.
There's a word for a cannon fired from a camel's back.
Another for a rain gauge fueled by the sun.
For anything that lasts all night.
The rumor of a violent stormfront
keeps arriving,
but somewhere else.

Rita's Dream
-- by Kim Addonizio

We're in a bar together
It's dark but there's a mirrored ball
in the middle of the ceiling.
Somebody move the pool table,
it's like a dance floor. Jimmy's
wearing a suit jacket,
the one from our wedding.
Some women from the shelter
are looking for their babies.
One's in the dumpster and everyone goes
outside to look. Then I'm in
the bathroom, a man's in there and tries
to hand me a rat, it's big and dark,
slippery, I won't take it, I run out
to find Jimmy again. We dance
and I smell his cologne and feel safe.
Some kind of fight is happening,
someone says fuck you loud
and then Get away, get away.
But we just keep dancing.
My dad takes our picture and the flash
makes me close my eyes,
and when I open them
Jimmy is looking at me and I know
he loves me, I know
he isn't ever going to stop.

August 16, 2011

expect fun, you might learn how it runs

Marlene Dumas, The Visitor, 1995

* You can stream the new Malkmus record, Mirror Traffic, here. And to learn a little backstory on what David Berman thought the title should be, click here.

* Check out these Disney educational films, which include The Story of Menstruation (1946) and VD Attack Plan (1973).

* Religion can never reform mankind because religion is slavery." --Robert Ingersoll

August 12, 2011

well the week is to short
but the days are so long
livin' with sick people
makes me feel so strong

Marti Peterson, untitled

-- by Mark Halliday

The very fact that her skirt swirls
bespeaks something that compels my interest
as if not because the skirt covers her ass and thighs
as if I mean not only because given a chance I’d want
very very much probably to help her take the skirt off
in a fantasy bedroom, but for some more lovely reason
more lovely I mean because more mysterious
when she swirls my head turns on my not-merely-biological neck
to follow the play of shadow in those folds of cloth–

in the swirling there is some meaning that draws me
without specific reference I’m saying to her vagina
somewhere beneath the skirt and what my penis might get to do;

it’s about a flowing quality in life I’m serious
about something flowing like light among branches
on a windy day, the truth or a truth of how
the beauty of our life is like a winding river
under rapid shifting clouds and how the river is change
and change is possibility and our infinity of possibility is
what makes us not just banal dogs wagged by our tails.
There across the crowded room she turns and turns,
her hair swings, her skirt swirls, she doesn’t know
I’m standing here with these deep insights into everything
but if I write it all down with a lovely
swirling of its own she might read it and see
that if I stare at her it is not just the usual but
because I am interesting here alone at the edge of the dance.

When I Was a Jersey Girl
--by Maureen Seaton

When I was a Jersey girl I hid
my Jersey ways. Predictable as milk, I
paled predictably when New Yorkers said:

Jersey? and they were right. They despised
my yellow Jersey plates, my Garden State
cockeyed, solipsistic, anesthetized

take on pig farming in that isolate,
Secaucus, my bowling with extended
family at the Elizabeth Lanes—

Pizza, Rheingold, Lucky Strikes. Uncle Ed
disappeared for years in his Acme
apron with the chop-meat stains. I bled

red clay. Mosquitoes binged around me
like bulimic fiddles. At night they popped
through bedroom-window screens, small Harry

Houdinis, spiraling for my sopping
hairline, my ears and eyes, tiny vampires
of shrinking shoreline, stinking sucking swamp.

I tunneled and bridged myself away, tired
of Mammoth and Union, crewcutted, baffled
boys in a state without a real team. My

accent grew anonymous, stifled.
My cosmopolitan tongue swelled. I lied:
Born, not raised. I said: water, wash, castle

inconspicuously, as if I
were a famous radio announcer paid
to sound generically benign as pie.

August 8, 2011

Channelling through aviation transport
Derelicts rely on red light slums
Scandals interlock, linking all the patrons
And tourists intertwine in effortless lumps

Richard Misrach, Untitled, 2005

* The Guardian chats with Daniel Johnson. Excerpt:

Q: What do you most dislike about your appearance?
DJ: My hair looks awful bad sometimes.

Q: If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
DJ: King Kong.
Q: Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
DJ: All the dead rock stars.

Q: If you could edit your past, what would you change?
DJ: I wish I had never got manic depression. When I was in junior high I didn't know what was the matter with me. It was as if I'd died or something. Now that I go to a clinic and get the right kind of medicine, I am not as depressed as I used to be.

Q: If you could go back in time, where would you go?
DJ: To when there used to be 10-cent comics.

Q; How often do you have sex?
DJ: All I can. It's hard to see girls because I don't have a car and I live out of town. When I had a van, there were lots of girls around.

* Watch Andy Warhol eat a burger, from 1982.

* "The avant-garde makes more sense to me." -- John Cale

------------back Friday

August 5, 2011

I stand for language
I speak for truth
I shout for history

Ed Ruscha, You're a Dead Man, 2002

-- by Laura Kasischke

Like a twentieth-century dream of Europe—all
horrors, and pastries—some part of me, for all time
stands in a short skirt in a hospital cafeteria line, with a tray, while

in another glittering tower named
for the world’s richest man
my mother, who is dying, never dies.

with one wing
in Purgatory, flying in circles.)

I wake up decades later, having dreamt I was crying.
My alarm clock seconds away
from its own alarm.

I wake up to its silence
every morning
at the same hour. The daughter
of the owner of the laundromat
has washed my sheets in tears

and the soldiers marching across some flowery field in France
bear their own soft pottery in their arms—heart, lung, abdomen.

And the orderlies and the nurses and their clattering
carts roll on and on. In a tower. In a cloud. In a cafeteria line.

See, cold spy for time, who needs you now?

What Are Years?
-- by Marianne Moore

What is our innocence,
what is our guilt? All are
naked, none is safe. And whence
is courage: the unanswered question,
the resolute doubt, -
dumbly calling, deafly listening-that
in misfortune, even death,
encourage others
and in it's defeat, stirs

the soul to be strong? He
sees deep and is glad, who
accededs to mortality
and in his imprisonment rises
upon himself as
the sea in a chasm, struggling to be
free and unable to be,
in its surrendering
finds its continuing.

So he who strongly feels,
behaves. The very bird,
grown taller as he sings, steels
his form straight up. Though he is captive,
his mighty singing
says, satisfaction is a lowly
thing, how pure a thing is joy.
This is mortality,
this is eternity.

Saturday Morning
-- by Hugo Williams

Everyone who made love the night before
was walking around with flashing red lights
on top of their heads-a white-haired old gentlemen,
a red-faced schoolboy, a pregnant woman
who smiled at me from across the street
and gave a little secret shrug,
as if the flashing red light on her head
was a small price to pay for what she knew.

August 3, 2011

you wrote a book about yourself
the people left it on the shelf

Vivian Cherry, Book Table NYC

* Advice from the 1971 best-seller by "M," The Sensuous Man:

-- from the chapter titled "What Turns a Women Off"

"The Bad Timer

Many men get refused not because they are lousy lovers, but because their timing is bad -- and this includes thousands of husbands. Tune in to what she's doing a few minutes before you pounce. If the sink is overflowing, your youngest child has just broken and swallowed his front tooth, the oldest is smoking pot on the front porch, her bridge club is due any minute, and that's when you walk in and grab her, is it any wonder that she refuses you? Being rather small-minded and inconsiderate, she may not be able to juggle thirteen crises and ball you at the same time. How would you like it if she walked into your office while you were trying to meet a deadline on an important report and started making passes? Unless you're the coolest exec going, you wouldn't be able to get it up. Timing is of the essence."

-- from "miscellaneous turn-offs"

4. Careless smokers, who burn holes in women's clothes, upholstery, and rugs. These junior pyromaniacs wield cigarettes like torches, dropping ashes on rugs, grinding butts out on table tops, resting lit cigars on the lady's coat. And, to top it all, they give the lady a kiss and an embrace while holding a lit cigarette behind her back. Result: one burned dress. If you smoke, be considerate and be careful. Any rule of Smokey the Bear goes just as strongly at home as in the forest.

5. Men who don't say who they are on the telephone. "Guess who?" Guessing games are strickly for preschoolers. If you're a good lover, she'll recognize your voice eventually, but in the beginning say, "Hi, Mary, this is Bob Soandso."

* The Caribbean are playing some Pacific Northwest dates this weekend:

-- Thursday, August 4: The Woods, Portland, OR
-- Friday, August 5: The Rendezvous, Seattle, WA (w/Ormonde and Slow Skate)
-- Saturday, August 6: Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver, BC

* "All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling." -- Oscar Wilde

August 1, 2011

guard my bed
while the rain turns the ditches to mirrors

Rasha Kahil, Caledonian Road, N7, London, 2011

* Interesting article on Mary Foote Henderson, the castle she built in the late 1800s on 16th Street NW and her influence on the construction of Meridian Hill Park. excerpt:

In May 1906, Mary famously decided to dispose of the plentiful and expensive stocks of fine wine that Mr. Henderson had accumulated over the years in the cellar of Boundary Castle. Her butler was a member of the Independent Order of Rechabites, a Christian temperance society, and he had asked for the use of the castle grounds for an assembly of his group. With Mrs. Henderson's acquiescence, members of the butler's "tent" brought armfuls of wine bottles up from the castle's cellars and smashed them on a large rock in the front lawn. There was so much wine that it ran down into the gutters of 16th Street. The newspapers loved the story. With racial insensitivity typical of the day, The New York Times reported:
Along the gutter down the hill Negroes gathered, and with tomato cans and other utensils scooped up what they could of the liquor and drank it. As they enjoyed themselves they sang old-time plantation melodies, while the Rechabites within the courtyard sang stirring temperance hymns....

Soon, however, there would be many fewer African-Americans in the neighborhood to benefit from Mary Henderson's accidental largesse. After many years of persistent lobbying, Mary succeeded in 1910 in getting Congress to authorize the purchase of land for construction of Meridian Hill Park across 16th Street from Boundary Castle where she had previously hoped a new Executive Mansion would be built. She argued that the stunning views from this site as well as the opportunity for elegant terracing and cascades made the spot ideal for a formal park. As Congress and city officials were won over, no one seemed to care that the site was already densely occupied by African-Americans living in mostly single-story frame houses. Since Civil War times, African-Americans had settled in this area, which had been just outside the city limits. The future park site had been subdivided in 1867, and many of its residents owned their own homes. They were all forced to leave. Later Mary Henderson would boast to a reporter that "we bought out the owners of the shacks on our hill and pulled them down." Once the land was cleared, it took many years to construct the park, one of the most beautiful in the city.

* Yo La Tengo performs The Fugs' Frenzy at the 2011 Calgary Folk Festival.

* "Love? What is it? Most natural painkiller what there is." -- William S. Burroughs