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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Yes, I'm packing, making hard decisions about which books I won't see for 9 mos. or more, importing more than a 'podsworth (hmm, new unit of measure ala "hogshead"?) onto the laptop, and such. Unless facts on the order of my owning, it turns out, eighteen distinct Mekons CDs (many doubles of vinyl I'm too sentimental to discard) afford insights into my character, it's not very interesting. Should have mentioned that the shows this weekend will be a good way to acquire some cheap (or, by the shank of the evening, free) fjb/opb overstock. Extra Walt!, anybody?

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Read: James Wagner, The False Sun Recordings. A month or two back, I had a small, unfortunate (and, I hope, rectified) blog-based misunderstanding with James, which, I admit, was one impetus for me finally reading this. (Or perhaps just the tipping point -- I had read more than one review and noted it down as a likely purchase well before.) Struck, early on, by the nod to The Sonnets in the two poems titled "Garntres" (anag. "stranger") in the first section, rearrangements of one another at the level of the line; and by the sentence, a few pages in, "I may not be much, but I am all I think about," a kind of contrapositive of the cogito, b/c much of the book seems to be an attempt to circumvent the truth of the second conjunct via various technical means -- at least that's one way to read, for instance, the homophonic translations of Vallejo, Reverdy, Celan, which seem very different in their purpose than, say, Michael Magee's of the Pledge of Allegiance. (And I definitely felt this "make the self disappear" vibe well before seeing that the blog has been making increasingly frequent reference to Buddhist texts and practices.) Yet -- after that first section, I was most taken by the fourth (each poem titled w/ an anag of "Lisa," which one would take to be the name of an s.o. even if he didn't mention "L." at Esther), where subject and affect are produced by slightly more conventional means -- that is, a higher proportion of the observations and descriptions of states are attached to one or another pronoun. Outside of the accidental wildness of the homophonic section ("easter mantaloupe cuz arid dice lost looms"), the tone and measure are so, um, measured that certain heterogenous lines ("X reading books by fake Ashberrrrrrrrry") stick out like seismographic spikes -- the book's rhythm was for me formed by this sort of alternation between guarded and less-guarded moments. Not so taken, by and large, with the final section, named after (and, presumably, opaquely related to) various records, but that's a personal bias, a response not a reaction.

Also enjoyed James' blog's brief period of posting poems by others, particularly one by John Beer (a Chicagoan, I gather). Had also noted a poem by Beer in miposias, esp. the turn on the advertising trope "These Are Not Your Father's x" (here, knives).

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Kunin's book, by contrast, seemed to me as distanced a piece of writing as I've read in some time, in a manner more akin to the Marcus/Evenson mode of fiction-making than any current poetic formation that I've attended to recently. (Also reminded, perversely, of certain Barry Malzberg stories, in which a first-person narrator suddenly starts writing in the third, and then throws in an explicit reference to the shift.) Curious about the 3 line x 5 syllable stanza's origin in the Polke piece shown in the frontispiece (3 rows of 5 photos), which also supplies the titular image; hard to assess relation between content/container, tho Miles Champion's reference to Duchamp's "stoppages" are more useful than your usual blurb in this regard. Duly noted -- poems that seem to end with a half-phrase that gets picked up several pages later -- p. 32 "(take note"....p. 45 "of those swallows)."

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Bullseye.

Bullseye.

(And -- anyone who's got a sense of my interests could probably construct several elements of my response to this. I don't think that it's insane that you might want to displace Britney, or the image of Britney, or something, as the ideal of a cultural worker in the 12-year-old imagination; but I certainly agree that the fact that she happens not to be a songwriter is hardly the ground on which this is to be done. Hell, neither was Merman. One might also consider the erasure of songwriting in Ray: Even more egregiously than in De-Lovely, "Georgia On My Mind" and "Hit The Road Jack" appear as direct emanations from Charles' personal experience -- the interpretive character of his art fails to figure, and neither do Hoagy Carmichael or Percy Mayfield. I"m now frustrated that I didn't get the chance to read a cover story on Linda Perry in some crafty/techy music magazine [EQ?, Mix? -- you know, that other kind of music writing that's usually ignored by we "critics"] when I was briefly in a room with it the other day.)

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Echo & The Bunnymen, Siberia: Appealing mixtures of guitar tones are less so when one can no longer organize them around anything but the most insipid chord progressions and straight-time drumming. Bono fronts Luna. Too bad.

Hard-Fi, CCTV: "You can't get the sound from a story in a magazine/aimed at your average team," as Billy Joel said, but you can get close -- as I'd gathered, this is big, hooky rock with an infusion of techno arrangment-touches. Date-stamped, in a way, with sounds that Brits are fonder of than Yanks -- it's not "post-punk" enough to get the Franz/Bloc/Maximo love from U.S. critics, but not this-minute enough to get the Streets love from yet other U.S. critics. (Audiences? I can't predict.) I hear a pleasing touch of Strummer here and there; haven't attended closely to most of the lyrics, but it ends with a perfectly respectable entry into the living-for-the-weekend genre (called, er, "Living For The Weekend"), and the oddly mixed "Stars of CCTV," good for those times when the only way you know you're a subject is that you're under surveillance. Not at all bad.

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