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Friday, August 19, 2005

R.I.P. Esther Wong -- Madame Wong to you -- who passed last Sunday, at 88. The obituary on local radio quoted The Urinals' John Talley-Jones to the effect that she banned the band from the club for bleeing on stage, and also noted that she once stopped a Ramones set to force them to clean up their dressing-room graffiti. All this was somewhat before my time: Along with those for the Starwood, the new-wave era Whiskey-A-Go-Go, and others, Madame Wong's was one of the clubs whose ads in the Sunday L.A. Times I'd pore over longingly, years before I was going to shows.

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Brief 3rd-Factory-centric notes (since, like Jane, I'm pleased whenever Steve opens the gate on the chocolaterie a crack): Clicked over to Stephanie Young's photostream and paged through all 777 shots before fully waking up this a.m. Reactions: (1) Where was I in April, when she read at The Smell and took, like, 100 (well, thirty-odd) photos of Ara? (2) Mild envy of those who enjoy, to all appearances, a rich social life that also connects to their art.//Re: connection of Ron Padgett's "Nothing in that Drawer" sonnet w/ "slowness" of poetry blogs -- Yes, it feels that way on days when no one is posting, but isn't this also an effect of how fast the medium can and sometimes does move? Feuds and logrolls that would have taken months to gather momentum "in the journals" spark (and sputter) in weeks, days, hours; the effect for me is mainly that posting about some topic that's already been "cold" for a week or too feels like playing catch up.//Since Paul Anka came up, here's my short review (like an upcoming piece on the Wire/Bjork one-song 'tributes,' a parergon of the Slate covers piece. (Fact I couldn't jam in: Don Costa [Nikki's dad], one of the late-period Sinatra arrangers whose work is pretty clearly a touchstone for Rock Swings also arranged "Diana," Anka's first hit.)//Re: the response to K&nt J0hns0n's comments on heteronymity in Poker 6's "Field Notes" -- It's astute of Steve to note the greater prevalence of this in music than poetry. Those interested in the topic ought to look at Carl Wilson's EMP talk (downloadable as .pdf from linked page), which moves in the other direction, connecting the "band" = one-guy (and it usually is a guy) trend (w/ special-reference to my lo-fi homies) back to some moves in poetry -- Pessoa, natch, but also the "I Hate Speech" moment and so on. Carl also notes, correctly, that the strategy has become so common that it no longer seems to have any terribly specific signification. I think I've mentioned the piece here before -- one thing I didn't register at the time, that may just be relevant to Steve's notes as well, is that Lisa R.'s "Office of Soft Architecture" works are an interesting case, more akin to one of the ways the strategy shows up in music than to most of the poetic uses I'm aware of: The adoption of a pseudo-institutional identity. (Think of the way certain indie record-labels have used "corporate"-sounding/looking names, logos, advertising imagery to both mock and mask their shoestringiness.) In Robertson, this device underlines the point that the aspects of public life to which she attends are just those which are treated as marginal or residual by more officially constituted "offices." And, even though we know very well who the author-function finally spits out, Robertson's institutional-editorial "we" tends to enact a sort of coerced assent to moments of lyric extravagance, even when the experiences at hand are anything but universal (esp. in the piece on suburban childhood). Cf. the plural second-person in Spahr's Lungs, and, at the level of the publisher rather than the writer, Douglas Messerli's various pseudo-institutional moves ("The America Awards," "The Gertrude Stein Awards," "The PIP Anthology of...") -- transparent to those in the loop, but, I gather, not unhelpful w/ regard to grant-awarders, book-distributors, text-adopters who like to see some sign of respectability from an "indepedent" "authority."//

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Lastly, I second the nomination of Kasey for some sort of above-and-beyond-the-call-of-summer-break Golden Ticket; I've meant for a while to point to both this post, which begins as a contribution into the "disposability" conversation and ends with some sharp (and, as he notes, possibly "cynical") pokes at the ends of pop criticism, relevant to issues I've decided to give a rest for all of your sakes; and the whole "What Does Poetry Mean?" sequence, with several installments through mid-July, which constitutes the sort of thing I'd hoped for from the Gerald Bruns book that fell apart in my mind like fairy gold.

By the way: Maybe I should have copped to this sooner, but is his "lime tree" the one from Apollinaire's "Annie"? (Which I spend an hr. or two on Wed. trying to turn into a country song, modifying Revell's translation, which appears to me preferable, at least as a poem in its own right, than the one just linked.)

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And in response to Kasey's guest host: I think John Koethe (maybe the only U.S. poet of note teaching in a philosophy dept?) pronounces it "Katy," or very nearly so -- at least, that's what I heard someone who went to school w/ him say. And -- that Italian-American talk you're finding in M. Gizzi? It also shows up, at rare and surprising moments, in Ray Di Palma's work. (And more notoriously, of course, in Gilbert Sorrentino's.) I note it when I see it b/c I've done it myself (though at one more generation of assimilation's remove, and bearing in mind that the Italians who made it all the way to West Coast, while tight at the level of extended family and even social community, aren't quite the same as those who stayed East, especially as the latter are represented pop-culturally.)

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Here's my Phoenix half-pager on The Scene Is Now, who just have finished a brief European tour w/ YLT. (1) Interview in March, article in August; nice turnaround, fjb. (2) Last line, on inspection -- chee-zee. (3) Still waiting for Chris Nelson to vet my posting some further comments here, on the origins of the term "No Wave." (4) You can't make it out as reproduced, but gtrist Greg Peterson (also of St. Christopher, and a bunch of solo material) is reading Ted Berrigan's Clear the Range in the upper left of their promo photo.

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