Friday, March 30, 2007

Donn Deedon's passing--Part Two.

I was looking for comments on Donn Deedon's passing--and saw a couple of blog entries, one from a former Orange County poet and the other from a man of the cloth living in Chicago (I remember the latter and his wife from the period when the Poetic License reading was in its last months at Juice n Java in Pasadena, CA--they were both kind to me when I knew few poets on the scene).

Then I went to Donn's MySpace page and heard the mp3 with his resonant voice as if he were in this room reading to me.  I didn't quite cry, but I truly felt a sense of loss.

[Update: Donn's widow Andrea's MySpace page can be found at]

I do miss him (hoping that there might be a way that any unsold copies of Donn's CD ROADS TAKEN can find a new audience) and I also miss the scene of 1998-2000 in Los Angeles where there seemed to be more acceptance for newcomers and different styles of poetry than there is now.

It's happened that I missed some of the most vital venues in L.A.--the Iguana Cafe had already disappeared, to give one example--by the time I came on the scene in 1998.

But, in spite of the different circumstances of Los Angeles poetry now, I'm happy to have been a tiny part of the scene in those two years mentioned above--and also mourn the death of various venues in San Gabriel, San Pedro, North Hollywood, Costa Mesa and other parts of LA/OC that didn't make it to this late portion of the 00s. 

Rest in peace, Donn.  Thanks for all you did for poetry in L.A. and abroad.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

War with Iran whether we want it or not.

It looks like war with Iran is inevitable--and the soldiers-being-held pretext for Israel going into Lebanon will be used again.  Only this time, it's British sailors held by Iran.

Likely, this gives Tony Blair the excuse to deport a number of Middle Eastern citizens from Britain--whether or not they are legitimate security threats.

Likely, this gives George W. Bush and Dick Cheney the excuse to pull some troops from Iraq for redeployment in the case the bombing raids allegedly planned for Iran nuclear facilities don't provide the hoped-for cakewalk.

One final sobering thought--in a VANITY FAIR article last month, I read that some US authorities are actually considering the son of the late Shah as a controllable puppet should the current Iranian President be overthrown.

As that great philosopher Sting once said in a song title, "History Will Teach Us Nothing."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Poet Donn Deedon passed away yesterday.

I received the message a little while ago that poet Donn Deedon passed away at the age of 67 in Kingman, Arizona.

Donn was an old-school gentleman who had a friendly, resonant voice and was seldom seen without a stylish fedora.  He hosted or co-hosted several poetry readings in the L.A. area--most notably the Poetic License series with Larry Jaffe.

Donn was a decent person, supportive of poets in the Los Angeles community.  And he thankfully lacked the unchecked egotism that can be found in some local poets.

My condolences go out to his family and to Heather Long, a poet who was close to Donn in his later years.


More random musings.

Here I go channeling the old Larry King USA TODAY column format again:

1. Buck Dharma, ace guitarist of Blue Oyster Cult (which I saw for the first time at the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills Friday night), doesn't look like a typical rock star.  Instead, he looks a bit like Barry Gordon (the nebbishy child/adult actor who was president of the Screen Actors Guild for a time in the past decade) crossed with Kevin Spacey.

2. Rhino will be reissuing three albums by the great Warren Zevon today: STAND IN THE FIRE (one of the best live albums I've ever heard), THE ENVOY and Zevon's biggest seller EXCITABLE BOY (with the hit "Werewolves of London").

3. Sony Music was to have reissued Leonard Cohen's first three albums today, but they've been pushed back until April 24th--the same date that the Sly and the Family Stone Epic Records catalog will be reissued in remastered versioins.

4. Say what you will about Heather Mills' personal behavior (and most likely I'll agree), but she's doing a good job as a ballroom dancer on the Disney/ABC DANCING WITH THE STARS.  Heather's reinvention campaign continues today with an appearance on GOOD MORNING AMERICA.

5. Sony/MGM are now squeezing more $$$ out of their video library by repackaging certain titles as reasonably-priced 2-disc DVD double features.  Examples include CAPOTE/IN COLD BLOOD, FARGO/RAIN MAN and PLATOON/WINDTALKERS.  For the most part, it looks like the commentaries/extras are being kept (one exception being WINDTALKERS, which looks to be the same bare-bones theatrical version currently for sale in supermarkets).

6. So it looks like the 2007/2008 presidential election will be the template for decades to come.  This year consists of frantic money raising/waiting for early front-runners to burn out (Al Gore and Jeb Bush certainly doing the latter).  Next year, the primaries are merely a formality crunched into a much shorter time period.  Democracy can now be defined as who's able to raise the biggest nine-figure warchest--NOT who's the most qualified candidate.

7. Just how over-the-top will Nancy Grace be when the Phil Spector trial finally begins?

8. If Norman Lear tried to pitch a sitcom in the vein of his envelope-shredding 70s work at Disney/ABC (which just ran ads last night for a bland-appearing laugher about thirtyish yuppies having babies), do you think the young execs would take Lear's ever-present hat off and hit him over the head with it (a la Alan "Skipper" Hale's schtick with Bob "Gilligan" Denver)?

9. Speaking of Lear, MARY HARTMAN MARY HARTMAN (the legendary soap opera parody which made a short-lived star of Louise Lasser in the late 70s) is to appear on DVD this week.  As a teen, I only got to see the show when I was in other cities due to the timidity of network affiliates in Wichita Falls, Texas and Lawton, Oklahoma (I grew up in the region then--and now--known as Texoma). Hopefully, a DVD compilation of the hilarious talk-show spinoff FERNWOOD 2NIGHT (which I did see in the summer of 1977), with Martin Mull and Fred Willard, will follow.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Adam Sandler's femalephobia.

I basically gave up on Adam Sandler movies after BIG DADDY.  The few I've seen in their entirety since are PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE (where he did a good job serving the vision of Paul Thomas Anderson), THE LONGEST YARD (surprisingly not bad for a 00s remake of a 70s film) and the recently-opened REIGN OVER ME.

REIGN OVER ME is another example of writer/director Mike Binder (THE UPSIDE OF ANGER, the recent direct-to-DVD release MAN ABOUT TOWN) tailoring a concept to fit a Big Star.  This film about a former man turned manchild due to losing wife and children on 9/11 was originally intended for Tom Cruise.  Cruise turned it down and Binder went to Sandler.  Apparently this time, Sandler wanted a "serious" film that wouldn't turn off his regular audience and Binder obliged.

There are enough effective moments in REIGN OVER ME (some of them provided by co-star Don Cheadle, as well as Sandler in his big dramatic scenes) to make it at least worth a bargain matinee ticket or a Netflix rental. 

But Adam Sandler still has lots of issues with women.  Once again, women are divided into two categories in Adamland: bitches or "angels" who know not to "judge" or question him.  There will never be an in-between with Sandler--a comic who's now entering his forties, where it will be a bit more difficult to keep playing the eternal adolescent.

P.S.  The character Sandler plays in REIGN OVER ME has "good taste" in classic rock; he rhapsodizes over The Who, Jackson Browne and Bruce Springsteen circa THE RIVER.  Presumably this plot point is from the mind of Mike Binder, because in the Dennis Dugan-directed BIG DADDY, Sandler and Joey Lauren Adams bond over their love of Styx and Sandler calls rock critics "cynical a--holes"--and that line of dialogue is served up absolutely straight.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

RIP Stuart Rosenberg and Freddie Francis.

Director Stuart Rosenberg passed away last week in Beverly Hills at the age of 79.  He was most famous for the classic COOL HAND LUKE, which contained one of two Iconic Rebel performances of Paul Newman released in 1967 (the other was in Martin Ritt's HOMBRE).  Rosenberg's films were a diverse lot, varying from the original THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (1979)--allegedly his most commercially successful film--to the DIRTY HARRY-influenced THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN (1973) to the prison reform drama BRUBAKER (1980) to THE POPE OF GREENWICH VILLAGE (1984), which reminds one of the days before Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts' careers as a sort of neo-Brando and Clift went off the rails.

Director/cinematographer Freddie Francis passed away last week in the UK at 89.  He directed Hammer/Amicus horror films during their golden age in the 60s; I particularly remember THE SKULL (1965), which starred Peter Cushing, for its vivid, stylized look and feel--worthy of being mentioned along with the better Roger Corman Poe films.  In terms of Francis' career as a cinematographer, most people will best remember its second phase from 1980 into the 1990s--with fine work on such films as David Lynch's THE ELEPHANT MAN and THE STRAIGHT STORY and Martin Scorsese's CAPE FEAR remake.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

When are individuals and groups truly powerless?

Due to the death of a friend of my wife's, I didn't go to one of the vigils last night regarding the Iraq War going into year 5.  I did go to one on January 11th and there was a fair number of people who turned up (at the corner of Ventura and Van Nuys Boulevards) in Sherman Oaks--though not as many as organizers likely hoped for.

Thanks to the left-wing media (notably the pre-Michael Lacey LA WEEKLY with jibes from Marc Cooper), the "moderates" and the right-wing, the notion of peaceful mass protests to show large numbers of opposition to unpopular wars is now considered unseemly and "inappropriate."  Old Dan Rather (now exiled to Mark Cuban's HD network) weighed in on Bill Maher's REAL TIME "Overtime" webcast that protesting this war "would tear the country apart."

Maybe this sense of "nothing can be done" can be attributed to the Republican Party's no-draft policy (which began under Reagan); the only  "drafting" is being done to Guard units whose members joined voluntarily.

On a similar but non-life-threatening note, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES can't get enough book publishers to buy ad space in its book review section.  Therefore, the section will be switched to Saturdays next month (saving lots of $ because fewer Saturday copies are printed) and FOLDED INTO THE EDITORIAL SECTION.

Someone I know in the poetry community wrote a complaint on her MySpace blog about the downsizing of the TIMES book review and proposed the action of complaining to the paper.  Unfortunately, with the large-profit-margin-obsessed Chicago TRIBUNE folks owning the TIMES, the deal's already been made and there's not a damned thing anyone--bibliophile or casual reader--can do to reverse it.

Instead, one could always write to Barnes and Noble, for example, and ask why it charges publishers $1 a book for better display in B and N stores--draining money away from newspaper advertising.

If anyone does that and receives a letter written by an actual  B and N employee in honest, noncorporate language, please let me know.  I'd be happy to reprint it here.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Khalid and Henry.

There's no doubt that Al Qaeda's Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is a dangerous terrorist.  But the Pentagon's recently-released Khalid-confessions (including taking credit for the murder of journalist Daniel Pearl) should be greeted with a little more critical thinking by the mainstream news media (now distracted from covering Alberto Gonzales, Karl Rove and the U.S. attorney firing scandal).

In the 1980s, serial killer Henry Lee Lucas confessed to a plethora of murders, including that of Adam Walsh.  Most of these murders, including young Adam's, weren't committed by Lucas and his companion in crime Ottis Toole.  But these confessions made for sensational reading--and at the time it was alleged that Texas authorities didn't  look too closely at Lucas' bravado and falsehood because cold cases had a better chance of closure.

It remains to be seen just how many crimes against humanity that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed actually committed.  Let's not blindly accept everything he says at face value.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Death and rebirth.

Comedian Richard Jeni is now reported to have had depression and paranoia.  Brad Delp, the lead singer from Boston's 1976-86 heyday, is now reported to have committed suicide from carbon monoxide poisoning.

I don't know if the passing of both men can be primarily attributed to being in Show Business.  Having been involved in the Industry at a much lower level, I can say (both from observation and limited experience) that working to entertain others can be extremely hazardous to one's mental health if you're already suffering from insecurity, paranoia and the pain of no longer living the privileged lifestyle of your career peak.

Allegedly, Chris Rock (plugging I THINK I LOVE MY WIFE) made a comment on Letterman recently (something about  Jeni saying "go see my movie" if he would have appeared with a movie to plug).  I'm not CNN or MSNBC, so I won't engage in speculation over the Rock/Jeni working relationship (Jeni wrote jokes for Rock's hosting gig on the Academy Awards two years ago) or lack thereof.

In Delp's case, his career wasn't helped by Boston uberleader Tom Scholz' quest for sonic perfection--which led to an eight-year gap and a label change (Epic to MCA) between Boston's second and third albums.  And Delp was apparently in and out of Boston in later years, as well as having a side gig playing with a Beatles cover band.  But it couldn't have helped Delp's well-being to luxuriate in the glory of being the frontman for the then-biggest hard rock band of its era and have his career mostly sidelined by Scholz' tunnel-visioned notion of "integrity"--fighting the Record Company suits until Ready to deliver an album.

Changing the subject, I'm typing this entry in Downtown Los Angeles.  As with Hollywood, developers see massive potential income in converting old office buildings to rental/retail space.  And there's a large entertainment complex (with movie theaters, restaurants and the new location of the Conga Room) now being built near Staples Center.

This is quite different than in the 1990s when, on my days off from work, I'd take the bus downtown and entertain myself by going to the library, having lunch and occasionally watching grade-B action movies (DEATH WISH V, BEST OF THE BEST 2, EVE OF DESTRUCTION) at the then-open Los Angeles, State and Orpheum Theaters.

In those days, downtown was an area vacated after dark by the office workers who spent their days west of Broadway.  And Broadway was designated by the city as the place where the poor and lower middle-class were to be segregated from the affluent.

It remains to be seen if Downtown L.A. can convert into a thriving, diverse urban area like Seattle and San Francisco with more than just chain stores, upscale supermarkets and convenience stores like Famima and ultratrendy hotels like The Standard.  And if Broadway (remember when it was considered eccentric/weird for Nicolas Cage to live in an apartment there?) will be spruced up but keep its identity?

And, most important, will the developers not flinch from providing clean and affordable housing for lower-income poor (helping to alleviate homelessness)?  This is preferable to treating homeless people as collateral damage to be dumped in, say, Paramount or Vernon and kept out of the eyelines of wealthy people who don't like being reminded of the existence of poverty and unequal opportunity.

Recommended books of local poets.

Being in a good mood from attending much of last night's Amsterdam Cafe reading, I'd like to be generous and positive towards the local community.  Here are several recommended chapbooks and full-length books that local poets have been involved with (I'll mention more poets and books in subsequent entries).  You can go onto as a resource in terms of finding some of them. 

Brendan Constantine-DANTE'S CASINO; Helena Lazaro-POEMS FOR THE DISCARDED;  Carlye Archibeque-E.C. ARCHIBEQUE LIVE AT THE COBALT; Chris Abani-HANDS WASHING WATER; Jack Shafer-THERE IS A SEASON; Harry Northrup-THE RAGGED VERTICAL; PoeticDiversity anthologies edited in part by Marie Lecrivain; G. Murray Thomas-COWS ON THE FREEWAY; THE OUTLAW BIBLE OF AMERICAN POETRY edited in part by S.A. Griffin; most anything by Ellyn Maybe, Jack Bowman and Don Kingfisher Campbell; Rick Lupert-LIZARD KING OF THE LAUNDROMAT, I'M A JEW, ARE YOU?, FEEDING HOLY CATS, MOWING FARGO and I'D LIKE TO BAKE YOUR GOODS; Teka Lark-Lo-SHE FORGOT TO BRING THE DRESSING AND OTHER L.A. TRAGEDIES; Sarah Maclay-WHORE; Joan Zoric-ZORIC; SO LUMINOUS THE WILDFLOWERS-edited by Mifanwy Kaiser and Paul Suntup for the Tebot Bach reading in Orange County.

Also, those wanting free anthologies of local poetry from the 90's to early 00's should go to Beyond Baroque in Venice and get copies of the former poetry publication BLUE SATELLITE, which was edited by Amelie Frank and Matthew Niblock.  They should be on a book cart in the lobby.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Amsterdam Cafe reading in North Hollywood tonight.

There's an exceptionally good bill of local poetry tonight at the Amsterdam Cafe in North Hollywood.  On behalf of the promoter (Rafael Alvarado) and the host (Angel Perales), I'm forwarding this announcement, followed by a shameless plug for my own reading in Tarzana this Thursday:

Prose at the Amsterdam Cafe
10905 Magnolia Blvd.
North Hollywood
Open reading sign up at 6:30pm
Reading starts at 7:00pm
For directions (818) 506-1930
For info. (818) 445-5053

Hosted by Angel Perales

Tuesday March 13th Featuring-
Brendan Constantine, S.A. Griffin, John Harris, Saria
Idana & Scott Wannberg


(hosted by Terry McCarty)

MARCH 15, 2007 AT 7:00 P.M.

THERESA ANTONIA (Valley Contemporary Poets director)
STOSH MACHEK (Host of Brand Bookstore reading in

(signup at 6:30 p.m.)
Reading rated PG-13; please keep that in mind when
choosing and reading your poems.


(818) 342-3405
(in Ross Plaza next to Barbeques Galore; travel North
on Hwy. 101 and exit on Tampa, turn left onto Tampa
and turn left again at Ventura Blvd. Ross Plaza will
be on your left side.)

For more information, please log onto


Saturday, March 10, 2007

The myth of stars and moonbeams.

Back in the year 2000, my wife Valarie and I were on vacation in Victoria, BC.  We passed by a coffeehouse and saw a flyer for a weekly poetry reading on the window.  The flyer made reference to "stars and moonbeams"; it was clear that moonbeams were the poets that weren't as special as the stars.

In the year 2002, I was photographed along with about 200 other poets on the lawn of Venice's Beyond Baroque [think of it as Carnegie Hall for SoCal's poetry community] for what's known as The Big Picture.  There was a break for either lunch or dinner.  The "star" poets did not deign to eat outside with their plebian brothers and sisters.  Instead, they ate gourmet food in comfort inside the building.  The "moonbeam" poets ate potluck (and very good potluck it was) food outside.  Not all that different from the kind of caste system one sees on film/TV shoots.

I would hazard to guess that most of the "moonbeam" poets ate their potluck happily and didn't worry about the "stars" choosing to remain indoors with their own brilliant kind.

Alas, I've always been the one who--while acknowledging that each poet may not have the same gifts of talent as other poets--has preferred that all poets eat outside and share the same food.

Egalitarianism--it's truly a curse in this day and age.


Friday, March 9, 2007

AMERICAN IDOL--the trainwreck with a heart.

The Fox empire is standing by its AMERICAN IDOL flagship.  And it's time for them to deflect any talk that race and/or perceived sexual desirability plays a role in deciding which female contestants are punished for past topless encounters with cameras and websites.

Antonella Barba (think Sofia Coppola with Hillary Swank's teeth) was eliminated from "The Top 12" last night.  I have my suspicions that America's vote might have been altered by Fox to provide a sort-of-graceful exit enabling the show to resume the usual formula stuff.

Next week, Diana Ross will be the guest star/mentor.  Curious if that means the Ford ad with IDOL stars will consist of them using a Ford automobile to run over a DVD screener copy of DREAMGIRLS and then cutting to a shot of Miss Ross beaming in approval?

Also, the show will attempt to slightly reduce poverty in Africa and America, mixing in a telethon late next month and trumpeting corporate contributions by its regular sponsors.  Bono's supposed to drop by (likely by satellite) for the telethon--obviously no rude questions about why the RED campaign (buy red shirts from THE GAP and get red AMEX cards) cost so much and has made so little money for the people it was designed to help.

And finally, the "throw them to the lions" carnival known as HANNITY AND COLMES showcased a VIEW clip of Rosie O'Donnell complaining about IDOL in order that Sean Hannity and a female guest could indulge in more Rosie-bashing.

As if Hannity isn't enough of a contemptible sexist to women who speak their minds (I remember a promo for Hannity's non-Colmes FoxNews show which had the title SEAN VS. CINDY, alerting us to the likelihood of Cindy Sheehan doing her best to talk about her son's death in Iraq and subequent activism while warding off Sean's WWE Smackdown talk.).

Take care and have a good weekend.  Remember to manually set your computer clocks Saturday night for Daylight Savings Time--The Expanded Edition.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Random comments.

In the Larry King tradition, here's another multiple-item entry.

1. The Redondo Poets literary poetry reading at Coffee Cartel in Redondo Beach now can be seen on YouTube.  Here's a link:

2. Lately, I've been reading Richie Unterberger's THE UNRELEASED BEATLES, an informative coffee-table volume covering the live tracks, studio outtakes, TV footage and BBC radio recordings that are often bootlegged.  Recommended for both new and long-time Beatles fans.

3. Xavier Rudd's FOOD IN THE BELLY is recommended for those who like music somewhere between 70s-era Paul Simon and Dave Matthews.

4. PREMIERE magazine will end its print edition as of the April issue.  Those with long memories will recall the film magazine ran then-edgy inside-Industry articles along with more standard celeb profiles from its birth in 1987 until the mid-90s.  The magazine has been somewhat more bland and cautious in recent years, though Glenn Kenny's reviews and Paul Rudnick's Libby Gelman-Waxner pieces have been worth checking out.  PREMIERE will survive online.  Now, it remains to be seen how much longer HOLLYWOOD LIFE (formerly MOVIELINE) will carry on.

5. Pete Justus, veteran of Los Angeles poetry (his book TRUTH, TAPS AND TIME is highly recommended), makes a rare appearance featuring at The Rapp Saloon (a venue he co-founded with the late Jack Shafer) in Santa Monica this Friday at 8:00 p.m.  For more information about the Rapp, please log onto


Monday, March 5, 2007

Responding to a comment.

A rebuttal to a previous post:

Umm, actually the host didn't become upset and he sent an e-mail to the poet saying "no worries, these things happen, we'll reschedule."   There was no dispute to resolve.  But good luck next time with your facts.
Comment from rickpoet - 3/5/07 3:21 AM

Actually, I've heard two sides of the story now and I thank rickpoet for adding his point-of-view.  No deliberate falsehood was intended on my part.

And poets and nonpoets alike may want to go to the Cobalt Cafe in Canoga Park tomorrow night to hear Franceye--an honored veteran of the Los Angeles scene who will be the featured reader..

For more details, please log onto


Saturday, March 3, 2007

Poetry--another part of Show Business.

Recently, a young man was booked to feature at a poetry venue in the West Valley.  He forgot about it, didn't show up the night of his feature and the host became upset--to the point where the poet went on the host's fan-club listserve to ask a Prominent Poet to help mediate the dispute.

Over a year ago, an older man was booked as part of an Eco-Poetry festival held at an Eco-Fest in Woodley Park.  He forgot about it, (due to fatigue from his day job) was a no-show and the host went ballistic. 

Yes, it's not professional to forget about a featured poetry appearance at a venue--a prize that a lot of poets covet.  And it's true that poetry is another sector of Show Business where people feel burned over booking no-shows.

But millions of dollars aren't at stake here.

The myth that poetry communities invest in:  We are forgiving, tolerant people who don't approve of anger or vengeance and love to welcome those who appreciate our art.

The reality: Anger, jealousy, vengeance and long-term blacklisting happen quite often among poets who have egos (some call this "sensitivity") out-of-proportion to the actual size of their audiences and e-mail lists/listserve membership numbers.

It would be great if the term "look past this" could be more often in use re the Los Angeles/Orange County poetry communities.  And local poets willing to behave like the progressive humanitarians they pretend to be.

All it takes is forgiveness of others and yourself.  It's easy when you try.