Tuesday, June 28, 2005

As I haven't bought or stolen any packing boxes yet, the most productive thing in that direction I can do today is go through the file cabinet I've had for years, simultaneously alphebetizing material that may be of use and seeing what I can (a) toss or (b) leave in California for a while. Some of this material goes back to high-school, but there's a lot of college/0pb era detritus:

Lecture handouts (when? where?) on Wittgenstein's architecture, on which I've written two notes:
"The Bauhaus followed the logical positivists around -- Vienna, [unreadable], Chicago," and "I like the typography but hate the ideas -- Rudolf Carnap."

Poems clipped from magazines, by poets I've never encountered since -- S.J. Sackett? Jared Carter?

A printout of a post from the old Indiepop listserv (of which I was never a member, this was forwarded), in which someone writes that "Nothing Painted Blue means as much to me as Pearl Jam or Luther Vandross," before comparing my work unfavorably to music "from the heart of the sun" -- Chrome, Keiji Haino, and so on. Guilty as charged.

Various 'zine interviews. I come off especially jerky in For Paper Airplane Pilots, c. '94, and seem to mention chili fries from The Hat on no less than three separate occassions -- though one, to be fair, was for the food 'n' indie 'zine Gourmandizer

Script for a performance of WCKR SPGT's rock opera The Charles Mansion, for Jim Bogen's aesthetics class at Pitzer; Mark and Joel drafted me to say no more than one or two words and eat cereal throughout.

John Ashbery's "The Poems," an uncollected piece between Some Trees and The Tennis Court Oath, Xeroxed from A New Folder -- which I found a damaged but readable copy of about a decade later.

Simon Reynolds' enthusiastic Melody Maker review of Beat Happening's first full-length.

Schematic drawings of Plato's cave, an assignment I had a community college intro class do in 1992.

Comics panel of Sarge from Beetle Bailey walking between two tanks, with a pensive look. Speech balloons: "Countries all over the world are becoming democracies." (Next balloon) "Democracies never start wars." Probably intended for a flyer.

Two very early (just pre-IPU, from internal evidence) issues of riot grrrl.

List of band names, undated:

The Winter Coats
The Visiting Scholars
The Shaftesbury Rules
The Meaning Holists
The Terms
The Rosicrucians
The Summer Separates
The Dry Bachelors
The Blithe Spirits
The Social Function
The Deadline Poets
The Simka Prunes [??]

VIP Club card, 11worth Cafe, Omaha, NE (valid Mon.-Thurs.)

A letterpress broadside of "To the Harbormaster" Moe's was giving out on some visit North.

One page essay "In Defense of The Spice Girls," handed out by Sally Timms on some Mekons tour.

William Gass' "And," clipped from Harper's, Feb. 1984.

Advertisement for seminars on "The Aura of Your Future You" and "The Seven Gem Stations of Human Evolution," offered for "the first time ever in California" by Universe Online Seminars, introducing "The Art & Science of Electrobics" from a Claremont address.

Handout from seminar on Elizabeth Anscombe's Intention, featuring totally impenetrable diagrams.

Lyrics, written out by various hands other than mine, to Mike Neelon's "Foundation Slips," The Bux's "Yes I Been in Love," The Only Ones' "Miles From Nowhere."

Scattered attempts at concrete poetry (often involving Letraset).

Purity test.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Fri: Descanso Gardens; downtown Montrose; El Chavo [old-line Mexican restuarant w/ glowing upside-down sombreros, immense signed photo of Dolly Parton, slightly out-of-tune harpist playing "Jingle Bells," most socioculturally heterogenous clientele I've seen in an area restaurant in some time]; home too late for Madlib -- walked around corner (literally) to venue, which was already clearing around 9:30. Is there some undie-hip-hop early-show convention that no one told my supposedly "old and tired" ass? Sat.: Practiced for Mtn. Goats show; packed car for Mtn. Goats show; Mtn. Goats show [The Double's keyboardist could cut me, I suspect]. Sun: Bree to LAX; sandwich from Bay Cities Importing, on way to The Smell; reading w/ Stephanie Rioux [recent Cal Arts MFA, reading a fairly remarkable unperformable feminist masque in a deceptive tiny-girl voice], Steve Gregorapolis [of Wild Stares/W.A.C.O.], self [sorry I did not announce this, it came together very late; I may read again in August]; Suhiro. Today: Reordered misplaced ATM card; read portions of Autonomy and Estrangement, Some Mountains Removed, Indigo Bunting. No fixed plans for evening, though there's a great deal to do in the next two weeks; will probably just read more.

Will fulfill outstanding promissory notes, and otherwise attempt to be worthy of your visit, when head clears. The "Jack and Diane" sample, by the way, is in Jessica Simpson's "I Think I'm in Love with You"; not all that recent, an index of how little attention I was paying around 1999. (Thanks to Roy Kasten.) I still think someone should sample "Oblivious." Killed multiple postings, don't know what's up with that, made some other small corrections. (Thanks to Liz C.)

In memoriam, Tigger and Piglet.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Can anyone i.d. for me the (fairly?) current R&B track that samples the rubbery acoustic bit from John Cougar's "Jack & Diane"? When I first heard it, I thought it was from Aztec Camera's "Oblivious" (a similarity I'd never thought of before).


Jane returns to the sphere, just in time to take me to task (with appreciated civility) for threads dropped and distinctions effaced in the covers album piece. I think I will wait to take this up in substance until Mon., when my head is clearer.

Also, am holding myself in check re the developing back-and-forth between Sasha and Rob Sheffield. Will wait until there's more on the table. If the convo goes where I think it might (must), I give fair warning that what I say will be of two minds, and pass through more idiosyncratic history than I usually indulge in.


Packed weekend: Madlib/P.B. Wolf tonight, right around the corner at Qtopia/The Vanguard; Mtn. Goats/The Double/Sarah Dougher Sat. (must relearn piano parts); possibly reading at Smell Sun. (will post details if so); Bree's departure from the landmass, two weeks in advance of my own; concomittent farewell quality time throughout. Would also like to hit a 7:30 reading at Skylight tonight w/ Miranda July, Carol Treadwell, and others for Cloverfield Press, but I doubt it's going to happen. (July's also supposed to show up for the opening of her film's run at The Nuart [I'll see it next week], around 10:00, but I think someone has misjudged the layout of the city -- this is what the phrase "pending the artist's schedule" was invented for.) Oh, and the bldg manager is constantly in and out of my apt. trying to close up the wood-rotting leak from the unit above, not good for concentration -- it's not "The Humpty Dance," let me be clear, it's the bandsaw.


A placeholder post, I know.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Hey, so I still complete a thought once in a while, to the best of my ability: Recent cover albums. (NB: Couldn't include Cobra Verde's new Copycat Killers b/c it's co-released by Scat; and I got wind of Paul Anka's new Rock Swings, on which more later, here or somewhere else, after this piece was waiting to be posted -- no time to do more than add a link.)

Also worth a click, if you're at Slate: This infamous-in-some-circles clip of Uri Geller squirming on the Tonight Show, after Carson and The Amazing Randi conspired to replace his props w/ ungaffed ones. (Part of a piece on Randi and the skeptic's movement; ah, the Martin Gardner columns of my youth.)


Odd: Had been practically strafed w/ weekly emails about Oxford Collapse's L.A. shows from their publicist. Last night, they were supposed to be at Silverlake Lounge, but the listing had disappeared from The Fold's website. Went by around 10:00 last night, no sign of a show, bartender knew nothing about it. (They were at The Smell the previous night -- or were they? -- but I was at the Berdoo Black Angus with the family. Grandma rec'd Casanova in Bolzano, large print, by the way -- possibly a little more high-toned than her usual (and copious) novel-reading, but it seemed like the best possibility Vroman's had to offer.)

[Preparing to wrap presents Tue. afternoon, couldn't find a pair of scissors anywhere in the apt.; after dropping Bree off in the eve. -- took an extra 1/2 hr. to get home b/c of various freeway closures -- stopped by a 24 hr. Rite-Aid to buy a pair. Got home, happened to open a kitchen drawer for something else entirely, instantly saw scissors.]


Sorrentino's Little Casino -- more noxious, less cohesive than Lunar Follies, yet it's the one that got shortlisted for a Pen/Faulkner after relative "years of neglect," to use a phrase regarding which GS would be typically corrosive.


Go-Betweens last Sat. @ Troubadour. Crowd not as uniformly old-like-me as I might have predicted, certainly not as homogenous as, mmm, a Soft Boys show. Heartened that they've managed to get over here w/ a rhythm section for the first time since, what, '90?, and Adele Pickvance seems to be having as much or more fun as the principals) but, to be honest, it didn't allow as much space for their performing personalities (esp. Robert's) as the acoustic set-up -- big exception being "Draining The Pool For You" (such, such a great song, dedicated tonight, as Rael noted while I was distracted by something, to Billy Wilder) with the "I've been hired, I've been fired" fade extended to incantatory length. Some of the "let's play the new ones" imperative in effect -- one could sense a "we don't know this one" vibe from a chunk of the crowd -- though "Make Her Day" and "Boundary Rider," most notably, improved on the recorded versions. Good show, but not the central event of my entire month the way it might have been -- no, was, at the Roxy and the long-vanished Texas Records after Tallulah -- once.


I doubt you have the time to waste, but if you happen to be an invalid, or so overwhelmed by the thought of moving halfway across the country in a couple months, during half of which time you'll be on another continent, there's a new freeware widget called Archive (you'd think I'd like that, right?) which will play a number of public-domain full-length movies in a (tiny) quicktime viewer. Resupplied w/ 7 or so movies every Monday. Last week's included a film based on the OTR comedy Lum & Abner, one of Oscar Michaux's continuity-challenged all-black movies, and Inner Sanctum (no relation to the Rod Serling show) a pretty sharp Detour-ish noir from '48 w/ Fritz Leiber Sr. -- he keeps popping up -- and Mary Beth Hughes.* Those are gone, but this week you can watch Dishonored Lady, a '47 Hedy Lamarr vehicle -- she's your typical post-war career-girl/nymphomaniac. (The word "excitement" is the flick's key euphemism.) Why are the "neurotic" women (mainly in "not being able to decide on a man") in these movies so often in fashion/fashion-magazine-art-direction? Cf. Ginger Rogers in Lady In The Dark (which this film most resembles), Lauren Bacall in Minnelli's Designing Woman, and, to a degree, the great Kay Thompson in Donen's odious Funny Face (her character based closely on Diana Vreeland).

*Who, decades later, apparently played the mother in an item called Tanya, a.k.a. Sex Queen of the SLA, a 1976 softcore quickie "based" on the Hearst kidnapping. I doubt I'll ever see this, but David Trinidad ought to, don't you think? (Well, he probably has, come to think of it.)



Trygve Simon Givens, 6/10/05, 8 lbs., 5.5 oz.
Bunker Guy Rohrbaugh, 6/15/05, 7 lbs., 1 oz.
Henry ("Hank") David Guffey Callaci, 6/20/05, 10 lbs., 9. oz.

All fortunate to be born to parents who won't raise fools or creeps.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Dead-heat between two candidates for Press Release of the Week:

"Guitar legend and Aerosmith founding member Joe Perry has found a new way to 'rock your world' … with a pair of signature hot sauces."


“We found great locations in the east side of Hollywood that doubled for the Silverlake [sic] area of LA,” says line producer Ruby Zack. “This area is full of small bars and clubs where young, music loving artists hang out, and live life on their own aesthetic." [from one-sheet for DVD release of a movie called East of Sunset.]


Boilerplate lease-language: "the premises shall not be used as a 'boarding' or 'lodging' house, nor for a school, nor to give instructions is music, dancing or singing...."


Maybe more later, but likely not. Out to Berdoo for mid-week compromise between Father's Day and Grandma's birthday. 1 1/2 hrs. each way. New Eco for dad, need to pick up something on the way, probably in the large print section of Vroman's, for grams.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Not a chance in hell that Henry Hills' "Emma's Dilemma," recently praised by Gary Sullivan, Nada Gordon, and Nick Piombino, (should link, am lazy) will play in L.A.. It does sound like coterie art of a high order (which I have no problem with, if I'm interested in the coterie). Chicago, conceivably? Won't hold my breath.


Coffeehouse full of people who look like people in an ad for a coffeehouse (or more likely, some product or service, say wi-fi, that one would use there). Nirvana's Meat Puppets cover comes on, takes me forever to recognize it. One youth unwrapping The Fall's Peel Session box -- maybe on the strength of Douglas' Believer review?


Purple Noon, by the way, was just ok. That glossy "international production" look, almost as if the New Wave had never happened; hard to accept that several of these French and Italian-speaking characters are supposed to be Americans. Can't say much about the psychology (and haven't seen the other adaptaion of "The Talented Mr. Ripley" to compare them), but one of the attractions of the book, as I remember it, is precisely that Ripley has no interest in stealing the girlfriend of the friend he murders; what he wants is his life in some fuller sense. Alain Delon is the reason to see it, sexiest performance this side of Terence Stamp in Quartet. (Maybe it's the white pants.) And yes, White Town fans, he has hair like himself.


Keep meaning to mention Roberto Galvadon's 1960 Macario, which I happened to catch one of the last times I stayed w/ my parents during the semester. Esp. a remarkable dream sequence populated entirely by Day of the Dead figures, plus the (hungry peasant dreamer) as marionettist. Rich/bourgie dolls eat turkeys on a table; poor/worker dolls are behind bars. The dreamer releases the latter, who attack the former at table and make off with the birds (some really detailed puppet work in all this), but they don't save one for the dreamer, who wakes up screaming and soon resolves to fast until he can acquire a turkey all to himself that he doesn't have to share, even with his children. (There's something poignant to me, by the way, in the fact that the roasted turkeys one actually sees in the movie are quite small, what we'd think of as the size of chickens rather than the Pam Anderson's bred here for Thanksgiving.) There's quite a bit more to the movie (the TCM's synopsis is quite good), based, like Treasure of the Sierra Madre, on something of B. Traven's, the intial of whose pseudonym, I've recently learned, was understood to stand for "Bruno"!

Cf. K. Lyons, "A Poem for Posada" (the title poem of the section of Saline I liked best), Mekons, So Good It Hurts.


Hear that my grandmother's cataract surgery last week was wildly successful; she's already reading better than she has in several years, and insisted on going to her bridge club today to show off. My mother says that within hours of the procedure, she had 3 nurses around her bed for sauce- and cookie-making advice. She's 95 on Saturday.


Interesting tension between the section of an interview with Elizabeth Robinson quoted here (I'll be ordering Xanthippe today) and Ange's own comment on her averse-to-difficulty high school English teacher (to whom she's nonetheless grateful). Seems that the worry about perscriptiveness cuts both ways, as it ought -- I wish I could remember this precisely, but I seem to recall an interview with (I think) Lynne Dreyer in (I think) an early Aerial where she recounts the open hostility-border-on-rage of previously supportive teachers when she began to lean toward "experimentation." Isn't the dispiriting part just being told how one must not write? Cf. all the Silliman-boxers with their insistence that all will fall apart if this or than it given any credence whatever. There is no "other side," Jordan says today, and my jury's still out on that except to say that there are (a) certainly people who speak as though they're on it, and (b) there are, no doubt, extremes.


3/4 though Gilbert Sorrentino's Lunar Follies. "Representative action figures from a myriad of lead-based nauridium renderings show Picass and Matisse gazing at the only known photograph -- a sepia masterpiece! -- of the two canny masters at a baseball game at Chicago's Wrigley Field. (Photo on loan from the family of Al Capone.) The artists' Continental mouths are stuffed with a Chicago delicacy, rutabaga sausage, and their eyes filled with the sadness known only to those who follow the Cubs." A great one for clashing registers -- this time, nasty art-world satire similar to his Pack of Lies trilogy against East Coast Italian-American speech patterns. Who else does this? Pleased to note that the book has (like, I think, Splendide-Hotel and Under The Shadow) a lightly-handled alphabetical superstructure, 53 short sections named for "geographical features of the moon," per jacket copy.


Up early, polished off two half-done reviews, feeling like I already didn't fail today. Expect an afternoon of copying/mailing/faxing, could maybe try to work, for once, on a song or a poem in the evening?

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Mostly fucked off yesterday; manager and his workman sawing and planing in the empty apt. next door from 10 a.m., "Humpty Dance" on their radio. Down La Brea to shopping center in the heart of one of L.A.'s middle-class black neighborhoods; young woman in Nat'l Guard (I think) fatigues. Eso Wan bookstore, where I missed Chang in May, probably the only place in town you can buy Jasmine Guy's memoir, self-pub'd books on freemasonry, and Nate Mackey's Paracritical Hinge. Owner talking quietly to someone about Emmett Till before a guy comes in ranting about Ghana (while I'm looking at a Billie Holliday bio called If You Can't be Free, Be a Mystery), then helping a lady looking for a particular romance novel. (Owner: "I think it has a white-colored cover." "White-colored" instead of "white" -- intentional locution?*) Considered some Langston Hughes b/c of yesterday's note, seemed corny; stuck w/ the Mackey, which I'd almost mail-ordered last week, and an academic book on sampling. Phillips BBQ, a little east and south, take-out-only stand near Lemiert Park -- links/rib/chicken combo with their "mixed" hot+sweet sauce. In true Q-stand fashion (as opposed to soul-food cafe), the sides are perfunctory; I understand the red velvet cake and other desserts are good. (Passed a business on the way called "The Cobbler Lady." Very tempting.) Kid tries to sell me incense in the parking lot. Not even a couple of outdoor tables; attempt to eat ribs in car (is that middlebrow?) with predictable results, despite bumper-to-bumper freeway.

(*Have I ever mentioned that American Greetings, RC to Hallmark's Coke, has a line of black-aimed greeting cards that are prominently displayed under the name "In Rhythm" in the Rite-Aids that carry them? Identical to other greeting cards except for having pictures of black mothers/daughters, etc. What do they call their Hispanic cards? "Picante!"?)

Back home briefly to change shirt, answer 2 or 3 emails. Back out to Foothill Records in La Canada, not too much traffic that way. Closed (I'd called and gotten no answer, but the place is so weird one never knows). Mostly listening to Scene Is Now, The Oily Years all through this, plus snatches of KCRW and KPFK: "The Secret Sign on the Dollar Bill is yours for a $40 pledge." Stop in a nearby cafe I've liked before, can only stay there until 6 because there's been some sort of teen-curfew crackdown since I was there last; also, they've reduced their space by a third, adding an internal wall. Flipping through L.A. Weekly -- no pick for the Go-Bs or A-Trak, I got on the pitches late -- noticed that Clement's Purple Noon is at the New Beverly later, not 'til 9:30 second feat. with Le Cercle Rouge.

Home would be a sidetrack from where I am, so I decide to stop by Sea Level. Traffic much worse this direction, buses force me to miss the turn from Glendale to Alvarado twice. Get there around 6:30, a scruffy band is extending an instore soundcheck into a rehearsal, until they head across the Sunset to Rodeo Grill. Chat w/ Todd, who convinces me I need Anniemal (free button w/ purchase, which I wore the rest of the day); also locate the Scout Niblett EP with "Uptown Top Ranking," which I approach with trepidation but need to hear. Friend of Alec Bemis' passes through, kindly gives me his self-released CD from the consignment bins. Band comes back, name of Viking Moses, w/ connections, I'm told, to the equally awfully-named Supperbell Roundup: Three rotating singer/guitarists w/ ok rhythm section: First guy all Oberst, but his songs are pretty; second guy sounds, I swear, like David Crosby, actually has good vocal control; third guy, yellow bandana and a sketchy, Little Wings mein, sings like Nick Cave. Confusing. Audience made up of 7 or 8 indie kids, two local 7th-or-so graders in their softball uniforms, and Jorgen from Claremont.

Split for movie about halfway through (actually, considering their soundcheck act, probably more like 1/4). The New Bev runs on a loose schedule -- guy at the window tells me the movie won't start 'til 10. Cross street to a new bistro-styled, loose-tea-in-French-press cafe, nicely appointed w/ paisley-upholstered banquettes; right next to this neighborhood's Starbucks. A year ago, this was a Bernie's Bagelry, no competition for "Elite Catering" (SHABBAT TAKE-OUT) nearby. In restroom, notice three faint parallel sauce stains on my neck from hrs. ago, looks like I've been clawed. This is about as insightful as Crash, but I've driven today from an area where it's unusual to be a white guy not in a car, to a mostly Anglo "enclave" (except for the two middle-aged Iranians in the cafe), to the Hispanic end of Sunset in Echo Park (except for Sea Level itself, a few blocks east of an area where it would get 3 times as much walk-in business, and the two guys near the jugos cart; "Yeah, it's a little like Hrvatski"), to the Beverly/Fairfax district at dusk on Friday, where everyone on foot is Orthodox, sitting next to a table of young Korean-American women w/ wholly Californian speech patterns ("A Dilliard's is kinda like a Macy's"), killing time, writing this, before I forget the city I say I don't love.

Friday, June 17, 2005

As ritual.


Did make it to Keren Ann at Tangiers. 80 or so people, maybe didn't seem like a lot, but it was the second night of a two-night stand, w/ a McCabe's show later in the week for the Westsiders, so I guess that's healthy. Banter (hesitant, charming) indicated that she was spending the whole week in town, having come from Nashville -- was she covering "Tenessee Waltz" in NYC, or did she pick it up on the way? Surpised that, except for how damn well she sings, the live presentation is fairly loose -- her two bandmates (where/when did she hook up with a US keyboardist?) are quite adept, but the lack of a rhythm section, and hence in most cases a pulse, and the up-front unslickness of KA's own guitar playing further convince me that there's an indie crowd out there that would like this fine but probably thinks itself too cool, if they think of her at all. There's one off Nolita that I don't care for (disc isn't at hand) but which could easily be a hit if a smart director licensed it; mostly, though, I'm taken with the fact that her best songs ("Spanish Song Bird" esp.) have melodies all the way through, as opposed to a hook plus some glue. Bree's verdict: "She has a pretty voice, and the songs don't all sound the same." From her, this is high praise for anything recorded in the last 40 years.

Young woman who took our money was from the I.E., recognized me from my years of Claremont flanerie, and owned 0pb recs in high school -- which she was kind enough to say she hadn't sold.


Ok, Mayhew already thought himself past middlebrow, relieving me of the need to complain, though it was the formulation "on an everyday level" I had the most trouble with. (I like the tounge-in-cheek Napoleonic abruptness of his po-reviewing suggestions -- but reviving Sulfur is a seriously good call, though not possible for various reasons -- like Temblor, it depended on a link between the lang generation and NAPoetries that may have been severed or weakened over the last decade or so. Don't forget that L.A. poet Dennis Phillips edited their review section for a long time.) Also, thank you for this -- I was going to complain a few days ago about the fact that smart people waste their time on these "quizzes" constructed by Lord-knows-who (and what's with the horoscope crap on Friendster, by the way?). But then I came up as Langston Hughes!

Similarly, Jordan seems to be well past his centralizing impulse for a "Death Star of poetry reviews", but I gotta say, when he first brought it up, by reaction was -- that would be awful.

Poets having met each other out of poetry!


Shot and printed screen-caps of Paulette Goddard's dress in Modern Times for a project of Bree's. Made fruitless search, late last night, for anywhere that could sell me a copy of Friedrich Hollaender or The Laughter of Loneliness, a 1996 CD by the Dirk Raulf Orchestra, feat. songs in German and English by Marlene Dietrich's musical right hand, sung by Joerg Ritzenhoff and Dagmar Krause. (The very notion of Krause singing "Just Because We're Kids" from 10,000 Fingers of Dr. T gives me shivers; maybe I don't even need to hear it!) Reading this Catherine Lupton book on Chris Marker -- informative, but ploddingly written, and frustrating in the absence of any way to see most of the films. Also involved w/ Notley's Coming After and Richard Moran's Autonomy & Estrangement which are not exactly about the same thing, but are more closely connected than I'd have imagined.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Reading yesterday came off reasonably well, I think -- non-shameful attendance, mostly from Jen's list plus a couple people who I didn't know previously but saw it here. I might have had a little too much wine myself to do a good job now of saying anything about the poems, so all I'll say is that the immediate hits were a piece of Jen's that seemed to center around the phrase "poison box," starting as fragments and swiftly ramping up to longer chains of thought, and Joshua's poem to "Peoria, Capital of the Nineteeth Century." Also have to register JC's "covers" -- "The Best Ever Death Metal Band out of Denton," made strange for me by his entirely different cadence, and a couple of sections of "Fresh Air" with poets' names updated: "Is Ponge of our time?" (I swear on my honor that not a week ago I had been thinking, isn't it about time someone writes "Fresh Air" again? Likely a result of reading too many po-blogs.) Bookended by Lee Ann's films (I had suggested alternation, but there were some problems with noisy projector cool-down); I don't know if anyone else did, but I liked the contrast between the relatively direct address of the films -- narrative vignette over blurred, out-the-window images of Vegas; mediation on construction in and around a wash near which, unless I caught the frame wrong, the filmmaker grew up -- with the (differently) abstract character of these particular poets' work. "Abstract" is sloppy there -- like I said, wine.

Oh yes -- there was some background noise from someone practicing blues guitar elsewhere in the building, coming up the atrium. Dispersed, but still annoying. A sort of theme of L.A. readings (probably not much different than any other urb) -- the jukebox from the bar the Smell shares a wall with; the buses that would pass by the first place Andrew held Germ readings every 6 minutes or so, Division Day above Paul V. a couple weeks ago. How tolerable this is always depends on the work -- still, why such difficulty in "finding a space for poetry," even in the most practical sense?

Thanks to everyone, esp. the poets and Kristi for the space. I forgot to collect the $4 from anyone, but then, no one got paid, except in prawns.


But it happens to musicians too: The first time the Toomey band played "Only A Monster" (voice/piano/cello only) live, we were directly above another SXSW showcase feat. metal bands. Utterly disorienting onstage, though I kind of appreciated the (non-rhythmic) mashup effect.


Most of what I thought to post re Clark Coolidge has been superseded in the last few days. That said: I'm not going to go around saying that anyone 'must' read him, but I will say that, if one is going to make any presumption of saying anything about him, esp. the early not-so-referential work [Mayhew's comment of 6.8 is accurate], even in the guise of personal preference, one might do well to first read his 1977 talk "Arrangement". (Orig. from one of the Talking Poetics volumes; I didn't know it was online until I looked just now.) Note:

1) Obvious and non-disingenuous humility of the manner he talks about his own work. Not at all perscriptive about whether what he's got to say will be useful for all poets (Ginsberg and Larry Fagin are in the audience and ask questions toward the end).

2) The surprising mix of paths that he cites as leading to what he was doing at the time: Lewis Padgett's story "Mimsy Were the Borogroves," fossils and crystals, Guston, Whalen, Aram Saroyan's one-word poems ("I don't think there is one word"), Parker and Cage. Lovecraft. Drumming is there, but not overwhelmingly -- he doesn't mention that "trilobite trilobites" sounds like a rudiment until someone points it out. And explicitly denies that the smaller poems that he spends the most time on here are rich enough to have anything to do with bop.

3) Concreteness, practicality; I remember liking how several of the talks in those Naropa books (Berrigan's and Padgett's esp.) had this roll-up-our-sleeves-quality. (You know me, the more mythtastic stuff doesn't get me.)

4) Non-combative character of the questions from people who don't get this work. (This may just be that certain battle lines had not been clearly drawn in 1977; or that CC has always stood off to the side of the way he's used by langpos. Interesting that even Bernstein's 1978 piece on Space asks itself, e.g. "Why insist on distance? On being enigmatic? Obscure? Alien? Unknowable?")

5) I had stone forgotten that he quotes La Chinoise!

In sum: About that about which one could with ease read something brief, lucid, engaging, and enlightening but has not, one must remain silent.

Most or all parties with any interest in the preceding will be aware that Space is pdf'd (along with much else) here, but there's the link, for the curious.


All bears on something I've been working on off and on (typed "on on and on" first), but this isn't that kind of blog. Today.


Other than Sun. reading and connected socializing, last week was a frustrating week of exhausting myself getting small things (revision, response, organization) done during the day and failing to get to more exciting things I intended to -- in succession, wound up too tired, dispirited, something to make it to John Doe, Sleater Kinney, and the reading connected w/ that UCLA conference Fri. Possibly, typing here that I will go see Keren Ann tomorrow will make me do so instead of staying up much too late dithering tonight and being bleary until late morning, then stressed/slightly behind by the time I ought to get out of the house to the show.

Liking the Maximo Park album 'enough.' Read Kimberly Lyon's Saline, Brian Evenson's Dark Property and The Wavering Knife, Sybille Bedford's A Compass Error ("It's always up to the suitor to present an acceptable brief"). May have a line on an Evanston apt.

Friday, June 10, 2005

[I want the following to get in front of as many local eyes as possible, so expect no further postage until Mon. Oh -- and check out my guest-post of AF/EC-related songs over at moistworks.]

Please join us for a reading by poets JOSHUA CLOVER and JEN HOFER, with short films by LEE ANN SCHMITT. Bios and links below.

Date and Time: Sunday, June 12; 6 p.m.

Location: Kristi Engle Gallery, 453 S. Spring St., Suite 741
(Spring Arts Tower, 7th Floor); (213)-629-2358

Suggested Donation: $4


Joshua Clover’s books are Madonna anno domini (Louisiana State), The Matrix (British Film Institute), and the forthcoming The Totality for Kids (University of California). His critical and cultural writing appears widely, from the Village Voice to the booklet accompanying a recent DVD issue of Godard’s Band of Outsiders. He lives in Berkeley, and is Associate Professor of Poetry and Poetics at the University of California, Davis.

Read "The Map Room."

Jen Hofer is the author of Slide Rule (subpress) and Lawless (Seeing Eye). She is the editor and translator of Sin peurtas visibles: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry by Mexican Women; her translations of contemporary Mexican poetry are also featured in a recent issue of the journal Aufgabe. She lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches in The Bridge Program, a free humanities program for low-income adults, works as a court interpreter, and is a founding member of the City of Angels Ladies’ Bicycle Association, a.k.a. The Whirly Girls.

Listen to part of a recent reading.

Lee Ann Schmitt is a writer and director who works in both film and performance, making work that believes that the everyday moments of life can transcend and inspire. Her films include The Wash (2005), Nightingale (2002, Rotterdam Film Festival), and Las Vegas (2001). She lives in Los Angeles, in someone's backyard, trying to keep her few plants alive.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Pretty ace-looking one-day conference on "Poetry, Pedagogy, and Alternative Internationalisms" at UCLA Friday; familiar names are Lew, Spahr, Buuck, Nowak, all giving papers during the day and readings in the late afternoon. Will try to hit as much as I can.


Courtesy Angeleno-to-be Bob Massey via betternoise, here's a modest collection of '78s ripped to mp3. Just for starters, consider Billy Murray's 1914 "Fido is a Hot Dog Now". After three listens, I can't make out whether he's suggesting that his dog has been ground up for meat, is among the damned, or both. "He won't get cold feet at that/there's too much mustard where he's at."


A urinal in China.
The Urinals in China.


I'm as likely to link to SpicyParis as I am to CampusWatch, but I was interested to learn that the Red, Hot, and Blue-d up version of Cole Porter's "I Love Paris" in the current (sorta banned?) Carl's Jr. commercial is sung by LA's own Eleni Mandell (and produced by one Rob Lopez). I like it: The tempo and generic references shift every eight bars or so, a nice way of underscoring the song's major-to-minor shift. And if it funds a couple more albums of Mandell's Polly-Jean-meets-Tom-Waits-for-a-late-afternoon-drink-at-the-Brown-Derby originals, great -- though it's also another broadcast-rights payday for a TPA estate.


Rented the once-banned La Petite Soldat, which I'd somehow never seen. (Of pre-'68 features, before the filmography gets completely confusing, that leaves Une femme mairee and Made In U.S.A..) For the first hour, I wanted to say, ah, "politics" here functions merely formally, as "crime" does in Breathless, and this is the way JLG spoke at the time ("I could just as well have invented a story based on the theft of Sophia Loren's jewels. But why not choose something current?"), but by the end I'm not so sure. "Torture is so monotonous and sad, I'll hardly speak of it," before a lengthy sequence of same, graphic for the time. Mainly struck, though, by the number of these early films where the middle third revolves around a drawn-out two-people-in-an-apartment sequence (three in A Woman is a Woman, though this one doesn't have the wit of Breathless or the visual brilliance of Contempt. Not his peppiest flick -- could have used a dance number.


I think I've compared blog comment-fields to poetics pornography before, but the ones attached to Sillimans' are more like a group snuff-film. Became almost upset enough to enter the fray re some recent inanity around Clark Coolidge, thought better just in time.

Monday, June 06, 2005


4 poets Sunday before last at The Smell, all pissed-off in their respective registers: William Moor, new to me, read from a project on the border of 'poetry' per se and sabotage/intervention -- pleasant-sounding but absurd query emails to various U.S. Representatives, mostly in AZ. Sort of a Lazlo Letters effect; see also his collected Amazon reviews. (From a bra review: "Good price for the product, good times for the couple!") Jane Sprague, recently returning to So. Cal. (Long Beach) from upstate NY, was far more direct. From her chapbook Port of Los Angeles:

we found ourselves perfectly pitched at the edge of globalism

the lip

it seemed like a word too big and better suited for the news

or at least CNN

we were transfixed by the ships rolling in

It made sense to learn that her Palm Press has also published Juliana Spahr's things of each possible relation hashing against each other, and Ammiel Alcalay's talk "Poetry, Politics and Translation: American Isolation & The Middle East," the very one at the center of the CampusWatch (which I refuse to dignify with a link) brouhaha.

Taylor Brady, down from SF, alternated between individual poems from his recent Yesterday's News (Factory School) and at least two sheafs of new work -- there was a sense of careful, but not transparent, organization. I've attended few readings in the Bay Area, but I got the distinct sense that this presentation was the result of involvement in a scene where you might be prevailed upon to defend your work. I hope I'm not mistaken of hearing something of Watten (there's a calm to his line, however socially fraught the content), perhaps also Daniel Davidson and Steve Farmer. (Though there also touches of a more 'pop' voice: "The only good ending would have been if Virgil came back to say, 'Uhhh, dude? You seriously left your keys at my place." I see a bit more of this in the book than in the particular selection he read.) The prose epilogue (not read) makes clear that this project is about trying to find not a defense, but a necessary role for ["abstract"?] lyric in the face of "an expanding series of accumulation crises in the progression from the first Gulf War, though the twelve years of tributary sanctions maintained by a murderous bombing campaign, to the abrupt shift from the tribute system to outright recolonization." (See also his thoughtful, infrequently posted-to inflection point.)

Final, co-series organizer Stan Apps, with whose varied online presence I was more familiar than his poems-qua-poems. Damn. I have to say that this was the evening's work that affected me most strongly, using metaphysical wit and a subtle plain-ness of statement as corrosives against unsustainable world-views. I wish I could quote a new poem about an unnamed legislative body's attempts to draft a proclamation on what objects count as "real" (hamburgers do, apparently). But his new Soft Hands (Ugly Duckling) had the juice as well:

So the reason you are not getting paid very much,
as it turns out, is that the work you are doing
is not really very useful.

["Poem With One Paranoid Sentence"]

(if sexy people were the only form of money,
the sexiest of them would have to live in banks,
reading about debt to foreign sex.)

["J'Adore L'Idee De Vous"]

Didn't resist the book table, as all of the above indicates.


2 pre-codes, a Creeley tribute at Skylight, and Losey's draggy Eva in the last few days -- and a fascinating history-of-philosophy-of-science colloquium on Hans Reichenbach. Don't know quite what I'll get to describing more fully.

Friday, June 03, 2005

I presume the spike in attendance in the wake of yesterday's Alex Ross/J-Hop/Voice "blog rock" sidebar* linkage trifecta won't last, but while it does, let's make like Jon Bon Jovi and Pay It Forward:

A consortium of critics from Alex Abramovich to Yancey Strickler have a newish mp3 blog, Moistworks, that you should visit. (See esp. 5/24-25 for country standards covered by soul and jazz greats.)

I love the covers-blog copy, right. This week: All "Reaper," all the time.

Mungbeing is a new webazine (organized into "issues" and everything) edited by Mark Givens and jody franklin. It's all over the map -- in the first issue, you can find an exclusive track by The Congress, Mark's collaboration w/ John Darnielle, who also contributes a short poem.

[Mark is also the man behind hostitles (corporate brand identity or concrete poetry?), and 1/2 of Wckr Spgt, whose body of work is so overwhelming that I'll just start you off with "Freud Was Right".]

And I'd be amiss if I didn't end with some vitamins for your eyes.

*now with free line edit!


Content of the usual sort later today, depending on what else gets done. [Update: No way -- plumbers in the apt. since 10 a.m.]

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Find of (last) month: OCR of The Littlest Revue, a 1956 Ben Bagley production that ran 23 performances on Broadway, despite the combined talents of Joel Grey, Tammy Grimes, Charlotte Rae, and Larry Storch, and songs mostly by Vernon Duke and Ogden Nash, but with contributions from Sheldon Harnick ("The Shape of Things," revived by Blossom Dearie), Charles Strouse and Lee Adams (of "Ballad of the Sad Young Men" fame), and an opening number credited to John Latouche, Kenward Elmslie, and John Strauss, a meta-curtain raiser consisting of descriptions/sections of elaborate production numbers that the cast won't be able to put on, these in turn being satires on typical modes of the day (very like the sort of thing the Comden/Green/Judy Holliday "Revuers" were doing in the '40s). For instance, there's a parody of the cloying adults-playing-children number "Penny Candy," from New Faces of 1957. I don't know anything about John Strauss, and the nature of the piece makes it hard to say who wrote what, but tell me you don't hear KE here:

"we don't have swimming pools or baby pink spots
we don't have Madame Dietrich or The Inkspots"

and so forth.


If you're interested in the Boston-deb-cum-Unsinkable Molly Brown star Tammy Grimes, here's a thorough overview, right down to her audiobook of Daisy Miller. (What this is doing on an emusic page for the 20th-c.-classical piano duo Quattro Mani, I'm not sure.)


Close second, the Wexner's bulky catalog for Helio Oiticia's photo and film work, marked down to $4.98 for a ripped outer cover.


Otherwise, just feeding off some SFJ recommendations -- Feist (w/ Blossom Dearie covers!), Oxford Collapse (along w/ Oranges Band, best could-have-been-on-Homestead act in years). And Annie's "Heartbeat," which is swell but not, I understand, a patch on the album.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Not going to get anything more substantial done in the next hour or two, so I'm back.

Monday had me listening to NPR, and this next bit won't work unless I own up to patronizing a Starbuck's, on the Atwater Village/Glendale border, near some big box stores (with vast parking lots that are much more I.E. than L.A.) where I was searching unsuccesfully for an appropriate digital camera. So, Bree is patiently listening to my running commentary on the instore music -- their usual soft-alt mix, with a liberal sprinkling of Calexico-and-extended-family. (Count me in: I gather that portions of Tempted were in rotation in late 2003, though I never heard it and rec'd a miniscule royalty check 9 mos. later.) Sweet enough cover of "On the Front Porch," a Sherman Bros. tune introduced by Burl Ives in Disney's Summer Magic; and an offensively dull one of Bobby Fuller's "Let Her Dance." (Haven't been able to track down who performed either of these versions -- I know from experience that the barristas know nothing except that this is the disc sent by corporate this fortnight.)

Then comes "Up The Wolves" from The Sunset Tree, affording me the chance to review my electric-piano part with an immediate shock of alienation. (I have to interject here: The studio was in most-respects top flight, but their in-house Wurlitzer may have been the most unresponsive keyboard I have played since UHS jazz band. On the upside, Scott and John V. are to be thanked for checking my Steely Dan tendencies -- only bad, I hasten to add, b/c the styles beyond my technique.) Is it like this for, I don't know, Clem Snide's bass player? This is a particularly weird song to be paying attention to in a public space where no one else is: "It's gonna take you people years to recover from all of the damage." I don't know quite what I'm after here, really: just the strangeness of hearing even this insistent, lyrically and vocally harsh music (this is one of the less measured performances on the album) made a bit innocuous -- I'm just going by the fact that none of the patrons' heads exploded -- by volume and environment. And just the disconnect between being a part (however inessential) of a record that is making its way in the world rather nicely and my lack of identification as a "musician" as I go about my day, which is by now nearly complete.

(Addenda: Liz Clayton reports hearing John's voice emanating from another 'Buck's adjoining a Sears where she was buying pants for her boyfriend. My other recent MG-in-public experiences have been a touch more boho: Most of Tallahassee in Skylight Books on Vermont [where I'm not sure they'll give me a reading for AF], and "Love Love Love" in Nature Mart, the pleasantly old-school health-food store on Hillhurst [where Rael recently spotted k.d. lang buying in bulk], as part of an "Indie 103" Sun. eve. 'new music' show, directly between the Mekons' cover of "Heart of Stone" and Angels of Light. Listened for the back-announce, but I've forgotten what the guy said -- something about boomboxes, probably.)


Orthogonally, I wonder exactly what I was doing at the moment Ange was reading one of my poems (I had no idea!) at the Hat launch. Hmm, 7 p.m.-ish EST, 4-ish here -- yeah, I'd have been getting off the already choked 101 South to find a side-street route to Bree's.


Somewhere in between, vegetarian snack at India Sweets & Spices, Los Feliz branch, where I tried a canned ginger beer labelled "Fiery...Try it if you dare!" that completely failed to live up to its billing, and noted a large poster for Pillsbury's line of roti, naan and so forth -- tacked up in unseemly proximity to a sign reading "Religious Posters $3.99."

Want to report on Sunday's Smell reading and a few other things, but I really screwed up my sleep cycle yesterday somehow, so just some linkage for today.

I see over at Simon Reynolds' blissbog that Rip It Up & Start Again, his book on postpunk, won't be out in the U.S. until 2006, apparently in a shortened version. Thinking I'll have to order the director's cut from the UK (I just took delivery on Morley's Words and Music, though that found a domestic home at University of Georgia Press). For now, one can download two chapters of Reynolds' discographical backmatter -- essays in their own right, really.

See also this antifesto by another Simon, contra "Razorlight, Maximo Park, the Killers, the Futureheads and the rest of your terminally conservative NME family." In most moods I agree, though there's always the worry that wanting 'more' than what's 'not enough' from one's rock is also problematic.

I'm sure I have readers that are already well up on this, but for those that aren't, might as well register the first-ever ringtone to hit #1 in the U.K. (Sorry the video's not loading, at least for me, on that first link. Note also that the U.K. charts now include downloads -- how is this playing out in the U.S.? -- but that the track has also been released as a CD single.)

This has gone subscriber-only since I saw it, but if you're inclined: WSJ presents Steely Dan/Doobies gtrist Skunk Baxter. Mindbending. (Thanks to Liz Bustamente of betternoise.) Note well -- he cheerfully admits that turntables are instruments, so even though he's a defense consultant, at least he's not a rockist.

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