Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Facebook: Now I'm part of America's Town Square.

For awhile, I've been reluctant to be part of Facebook (a site that combines the homepage appeal of MySpace and the messaging of Twitter--which I joined about a month ago).

But now I've joined and feel happy, but a little overwhelmed.

One thing I've noticed is that quite a few people from all phases of my life are members. And I hope to re-establish contact with some of them.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

When you feel like someone has stepped on your face as that someone climbs the literary ladder.

Recently, a local litizine which operates online released its latest e-issue.

I submitted poems to it. My work wasn't chosen.

Normally, I don't waste space on this blog complaining about rejection re submitting poetry to publications/other poets (with the recent exception of revisiting my years-ago treatment by Name Omitted). Rejection is a fact of the writing life.

But I'll run through another red light and make an exception here.

Years back, when the editor was building her litizine, I was able to submit work and be accepted. And I was able to offer a chapbook of mine for review--and the review appeared.

On top of the above, the editor once asked me to guest-edit one of the issues. I took the assignment quite seriously, read the poems and selected my choices. And I did get a nice thank-you letter.

Now, I'm finding that the litizine won't accept my poetry or make room for reviewing a recent chapbook I offered to submit

Maybe there's too many submissions now (not exactly the case during the litizine's early phase). Maybe the poems I submitted were judged as lacking in quality and standards.

And, maybe, just maybe, I'm not Prestigious enough and the editor (plus her assistant) want to chase Literary Prestige like greyhounds after a mechanical rabbit at the dog track. The chasing of Literary Prestige happens a lot in Los Angeles and, as I've noticed in the past, can lead to poets contorting themselves into pretzels or reinventing themselves to create distance from too-populist coffeehouse pasts.

Click this link and judge for yourself as to the quality of the litizine's standards:

Saturday, April 25, 2009

And Paul Moyer, veteran L.A. anchorperson, rides off into the sunset.

Paul Moyer, who, until recently was KNBC Channel 4's co-anchor (along with Colleen Williams), has now officially left the station:

Moyer, who was an embodiment of the conservative-leaning, sometimes-overstated anchorman type beloved by Los Angeles TV station managers (see also Jerry Dunphy, Hal Fishman, Harold Greene), is now replaced by aging, blow-dried Chuck Henry (best known for his long-ago stint hosting KABC's fluffy EYE ON L.A.)--referred to as a "seasoned street reporter" in one memorable KNBC ad.

But KNBC is cut-cut-cutting budget, explaining Moyer's departure and the dumb decision to get rid of the Sacramento bureau.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mixed feelings re Rod Lurie's remake of STRAW DOGS.

I have a Criterion DVD of Sam Peckinpah's STRAW DOGS at home, but it's not yet (as of this writing) been watched.

But I've read numerous accounts of the film (namely Marshall Fine's behind-the-scenes chapter in his Peckinpah bio BLOODY SAM) and I'm wondering why film critic-turned-filmmaker Rod Lurie not only feels the need to remake STRAW DOGS, but also remake it as what may turn out as little more than a typical Screen Gems "thriller" programmer:

Exhibit A is the Screen Gems release LAKEVIEW TERRACE, which blends Neil LaBute's "are you a real man" schtick with a conventional "good guy takes down bad guy" third act.

To be fair to Rod Lurie, he's a competent if not outstanding filmmaker. And his NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH (a good film--up until an ill-advised ending) deserves to be seen in its DVD/pay-per-view release after the theatrical release was doomed due to business problems of its original distributor (Yari Film Group).

But I don't see Lurie being capable of making a STRAW DOGS that will either stand on its own or be blessed with attention/controversy/debate decades later, as with the Peckinpah original.

In addition to worries about quality or lack thereof one hopes that Sony's micromanagement won't ensure a PG-13 rating for the STRAW DOGS "reimagining,", as occurred with LAKEVIEW TERRACE.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Literal-minded listserve post re passing of J.G. Ballard.

From the "You can't make this stuff up" department. Here's a post on USENET re the passing of writer J.G. Ballard (CRASH, EMPIRE OF THE SUN):
"I see the young British artists of the past ten years or so from a different perspective. They find themselves in a world totally dominated by advertising, by a corrupt politics carried out as a branch of advertising, and by a reality that is a total fiction controlled by manufacturers, PR firms, and vast entertainment and media corporations. Nothing is real, everything is fake. Bizarrely, most people like it that way..."--JGB
media corporations. Nothing is real, everything is fake. Bizarrely, most people like it that way.
[And here's the response from the USENET poster]
Good grief! Do people really think that way? Out here in flyover country, reality is still pretty real. We work (those of us who still have jobs), raise our children, and have pretty satisfying lives. What the hell is with artists?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Plug for THE LONG WAY HOME publication reading 6/27 at Beyond Baroque in Venice, CA.

On Saturday, June 27th, I will be participating in a publication reading at Beyond Baroque for RD Raindog Armstrong's Little Red Books anthology THE LONG WAY HOME. The reading is at 7:30 p.m. Further information can be found at

Here's where you can order the book:

WE ARE COLUMBINE: poem written 10 years ago.

We Are Columbine

At the first memorial service
for the students and the teacher
whose lives were obliterated by
two malign young men,
I saw two teenage girls on the podium
looking out at the huge crowd
and engaging in a school cheer-

Some might call this school spirit
unshaken in the face of tragedy.
To me, it seems more like a form
of obliviousness, almost as if the tragedy
was a brief, unexplainable tornado
instead of an incident partially caused
by the indifference and callousness
of certain students and faculty
who value conformity and achievement
more than compassion and outreach
to people who are “different”.

Ten young people were contacted
by the school district in Littleton.
According to district spokesperson
Rick Kaufman,
the students were presented with
“alternatives [such as home schooling]
to returning to school for the rest of the year.”
The ten students were “strongly suggested”
to take the offer.

Ten students-
some of them may be guilty
of little more than simply knowing
Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
Ten students profiled as troublemakers
by a frightened school district.
Ten students likely to be shunned
by peers eager to preserve
the narrow, exclusionary cliques
found in every American high school.
Ten students who deserve empathy
and compassion from a suburb that deifies
the alleged virtues of luxury, appearance and order.

Columbine isn’t just a high school.
Columbine is a state of mind.

We are Columbine
when we vote against
state initiatives and bond measures
to build new schools
(or to renovate older ones)
to ease overcrowding of students.

We are Columbine
when we openly deride and mock
such proposed Federal programs as
“Midnight Basketball”-
designed to provide an alternative
to gang lifestyles for city youth.

We are Columbine
when we walk down a busy street
and flinch at the sight
of teenage boys and girls headed our way.

We are Columbine
when we see these teens
and we hate their clothes,
their baseball caps worn backwards,
their hairstyles, their jewelry
and the color of their skin.

and Forever.

Farhad Manjoo, meet Roger Friedman.

Technology writer Farhad Manjoo, writing an article for on a wished-for "iTunes for movies" sings the praises of stealing filmed content by the use of BitTorrent:

This sort of reminds me of now-former Fox News critic Roger Friedman defending his early review of a bootlegged workprint of WOLVERINE by singing the praises of watching it in the climate-controlled comfort of his domicile:

Thumbs up for President Obama's high-speed rail plan.

It's a right-wing talking point to dismiss Barack Obama's Presidency by comparing it to Jimmy Carter's one term in office.

But, among his lasting achievements (such as the Israel/Egypt peace talks), Carter (and his then-Transportation Secretary Brock Adams) managed to decrease support for the Amtrak rail system.

This is why Obama's support for high-speed rail as an alternative mode of transportation is a welcome change of approach:

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Southern California poetry quiz originally written in 2005.

While looking on a certain poetry listserve's archives for a poem by the late Jack Shafer, I came across this post I wrote four years ago. Here's a slightly modified version:
Here's a constructive post--Below are a series of questions about the poetry scene in Southern California.They are written in a more-or-less neutral fashion.No one-myself included-will know all the answers.But it may be good (just a suggestion since I'm not the boss of anyone here) to take the quiz to enable us to know each other better.1. Define poetry in one sentence.2. What inspired you to join [poetry listserve]?3. Who is your favorite nationally published poet?4. Who is your favorite Southern California poet?5. Have you ever read NEXT magazine? Opinions?6. Have you read the offspring of Opinions?7. Who are the most influential past poets of Southern California?8. Who are the most influential current poets of Southern California?9. Who are the hosts (past and present) who have been the most influential in creating and sustaining the recent SoCal scene?10. Below are some past and present SoCal poets chosen at random.Grade your knowledge of them and their work on a scale of 0-5;0 is if you've never heard of them.5 is if you're well acquainted with them and their poetry.AMELIE FRANK,BLUE,KATIE O'LOUGHLIN,PETER COCA,DON CAMPBELL, STEVE RAMIREZ,JAIMES PALACIO,VICTOR INFANTE,PATRICK MOONEY,BRENDA PETRAKOS,TEKA LARK LO,S.A. GRIFFIN,SCOTT WANNBERG,IRIS BERRY,PLEASANT GEHMAN,TISH EASTMAN,WANDA COLEMAN,LIZZIE WANN,DOUG KNOTT,THE CARMA BUMS,FRANCEYE,JUNE MELBY,MICHAEL GROVER,RAFAEL RENTERIA,MICHAEL PAUL,JOHN GARDINER,R.D. "RAINDOG" ARMSTRONG,LARRY JAFFE,MIKE CLUFF,PAT COHEE,MANUEL,CHIEF EAGLE EYE,ERICA ERDMAN,PETE JUSTUS,KEN SCOTT,JACK SHAFER,MICHAEL DATCHER,RAFAEL F.J. ALVARADO,JAMES "BOOMER" MAVERICK,MINDY NETTIFEE,JERRY QUICKLY,POETRI,RACHEL KANN,DONN DEEDON,HEATHER LONG,MATTHEW MARS (AKA NIBLOCK),BRENDAN CONSTANTINE,ROBERT ARROYO,HELENA LAZARO,ALICE PERO,LESLIE LEVY,CARL "CALOKIE" STILWELL,VIRGINIA VANOVER11. What, to you, was the most memorable program of poetry you have seen at Beyond Baroque or Tebot Bach? Or, if you haven't attended either or both readings, mention another venue.12. What phrase would you use to describe the current SoCal scene?A. It's fine as it is.B. It could be better, but I'm satisfied overall.C. I'm somewhat dissatisfied with it.D. I'm very dissatisfied with it.13. If you decided to stage a poetry festival, what kind of festivalwould you want for the local poetry community?A. The L.A. Poetry Festival is sufficient.B. A festival like the 2000 Pasadena festival, which featured poets from the San Gabriel Valley and other areas of SoCal.C. A joint L.A./Orange County festival.D. A festival similar to the annual outdoor poets' readings at theL.A. TIMES Festival of Books each spring at UCLA (concentrating onshowcasing nationally published poets).E. A pay-to-read festival similar to Austin, TX which showcases asmany of the diverse styles of poetry as possible.14. What kind of poetry listserve do you prefer?A. ModeratedB. Unmoderated15. Here's a question about past venues. What were the Onyx Cafe,the Iguana Cafe and the Rose Cafe? Discuss how each venue was/isinfluential in the SoCal scene.16. Name the SoCal poets you think will be the community leaders ofthe future.17. Do you think the SoCal community needs more readings or less?18. Which venues do you prefer reading at-those with or without restrictions on language or content?19. What do you think is the ideal way to deliver negative criticism of someone's poetry (i.e. being constructive without resorting topersonal attacks)?20. Which instructional text would you recommend to beginning poets?To more advanced poets?21. Should the SoCal scene attempt to draw more positive attention to itself? If you answer "yes", what would be the most effective way of doing so?Thanks for taking a look at these questions-and perhaps answering at least some of them.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mike Nichols' legendary flop THE FORTUNE--and the renewed interest in it.

On paper, THE FORTUNE looks like a must-see. It was a "smart grownups making slapstick" comedy starring Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson and Stockard Channing. The screenplay was written by Adrien Joyce aka Carol Eastman--also the scribe of the classic FIVE EASY PIECES, which starred Nicholson. And the director was Mike Nichols.

THE FORTUNE, released by Columbia Pictures, was critically panned upon its release in 1975. And, aside from a recent showing on Turner Classic Movies (plus some upcoming screenings in NYC as part of a Mike Nichols retrospective), it's pretty much unavailable in the USA. And, like a lot of unavailable films with A-list talent, the want-to-see factor is multiplying faster than rabbit reproduction.

Here are two links to Jeffrey Wells' HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE posts discussing Nichols and THE FORTUNE:

Al Franken vs. Norm Coleman as compared to WB's Road Runner vs. Wile E. Coyote.

The great animator Chuck Jones, when discussing his Road Runner cartoon series, used a phrase from, I believe, the philosopher Santayana, when discussing Wile E. Coyote's continual efforts to defeat the titular speeding bird. I remember the phrase as being something like: "A fanatic redoubles his efforts when he's forgotten his aim [surmising"aim" can be a synonym for "purpose" in this context]."

Exhibit A: Norm Coleman's Coyote-esque efforts to ignore logic and plain-to-see vote counts and boldly deny former comedian/liberal commentator/Bill Clinton acolyte Al Franken a Senate seat--regardless of how many times Coleman has cartoon boulders fall on him or one-way-down trips into painted desert canyons.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Phil Spector guilty of second-degree murder of Lana Clarkson.

Just found this (at 2:52 p.m. PDT) on the LOS ANGELES TIMES website:

One can't help but wish that Spector's gun-waving and threatening behavior directed at both men and women (rampant psychosis too often overlooked and/or enabled) could have ended a long time ago--and that Lana Clarkson could still be alive today.

More coverage from the London GUARDIAN:

Dominick Dunne on the first Spector trial:

And a Ben Folds Five song that can be interpreted as describing the state of Spector's mind:

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The tabloidization of AOL continues: re Alec Baldwin.

Here's a headline on AOL's Welcome Page:
Here's the subheading:
Testy Actor Slams TV Anchor, Calls Her Too 'Cutesy'

Reality Check: Baldwin referred to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. And here's the quote from the article: On Rachel Maddow: "She is smart and charming but her writers are dreadful and the less cutesy she is, the better. She did an excellent interview with Colin Powell recently. The next night, I missed that tougher, less avuncular Rachel."

[The full article can be found at:]

Alec Baldwin does have a valid, nonarguable point: MSNBC does seem to want Ms. Maddow to fulfill the smile-every-few-words requirement now determined as appropriate for acceptable television hosting/anchoring (another example: Ben Lyons' near-constant grin--witnessed the last time I made myself sit through AT THE MOVIES).

To be fair, I haven't watched an entire episode of THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW in recent weeks. But I hope the smirky pop-culture-explanation final segment has been put in cement shoes and thrown into the East River.

Verdict: The folks at Time Warner, in order to get AOL visitors to Click The Link, are guilty--yet again--of inflating a not-that-momentous story into a Man Bites Dog extravaganza.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bank stress tests apparently off-limits to general public.,0,5846355.story
[headline: Wells Fargo projects record $3 billion 1Q profit]
[headline: Wells Fargo Chair Slams TARP, calls Stress Tests "Asinine"]

Thirty years after a tornado hit Wichita Falls, TX, I'm still here.

Thirty years ago today, a giant tornado visited Wichita Falls, Texas--killing a number of people.

I was nineteen years old at the time. When the news broke that the tornado was traveling up Southwest Parkway (not far away from the French Quarter apartments where I lived), I ran into my apartment closet and shut the door tight.

For the next few minutes, I could hear and feel the wind battering the apartment building, plus occasional sounds of breaking glass.

When it was safe to come out, I saw that minimal damage had been done. One window had been broken in the bedroom and a panel had broken on the glass sliding door (leading to the tiny balcony) in the living room.

[A year earlier, I lived in the small apartment next door. The roof was completely removed. If I had been still living there, I wouldn't be writing this entry today. ]

Within a few minutes, someone from the Red Cross kicked in the apartment's front door. I walked downstairs and saw both my parents--crying and overjoyed that I survived.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Name Omitted and the underbelly of poetry.

A certain local poetry listserve has open (in the past, closed-but-to-members) archives, and this letter to me can now be safely shared with the public.

Some context should be established first:
1. The listserve, which had a period of poets-arguing-with-each-other from May of 2003 to August of 2006, generally contained members who didn't like arguing about or discussing the LA/OC scenes (or participating in the usual What Is Poetry? game or irritation over certain poets/writers who were then Big Sellers). They were more concerned with finding out what was going on with the proprietor's reading and news of other readings around the area.
2. Regarding the letter, the writer (his name will be omitted here) once was a prominent SoCal poet, plus a columnist for an alternapaper; I sent him a copy of my first chapbook. During a disagreement with Name Omitted (where I was called a "jerk" who discouraged serious discussion of poetry community problems), I reminded him of this and mentioned his nonresponse to my sending him the chapbook. And this is the response I received:
First off, I'm sorry I called you a jerk. I was out of line, and for that, I genuinely apologize. On the other hand, I'm not going to apologize for not paying more attention to you, and it's glaringly obvious that's what this little tantrum has been about. [prominent poet, now MIA from the scene] didn't pay attention to you. I didn't pay attention to you. Wah, wah, wah.Grow up, Terry. If you've got problems with the poetry scene, do something about it. Start your own readings, start a festival. Publish a journal or Web zine. Whatever, but stop acting like a baby because you don't get the attention you deserve and others do. You're right, it's not a level playing field, and you don't get points for just being there. You've actually got to do something well. Writing well would be a start. I DO remember your chapbook. I still have it, in the piles of several hundred that I dutifully carried with me cross-country when I moved. Terry, it was dull. Very dull. Not bad, but there was little of interest going on there. I don't recall if I had read it yet when I saw you in Redondo, but even if I had, I doubt I would have said much. What was I supposed to say? "Sorry, it bored me to tears." But as I recall, it took me awhile to get around to it, because, even now, I get a ton of chapbooks very month. I've not thrown one away, and I try to read them all, but no, I can't review them, and I really had nothing consequential to say about it, for good or bad. As to my "wisdom would be something of value," Whatever. I don't recall volunteering to be your mentor, and while I've taught poetry in high schools and colleges, I don't recall you being in any of my classes. The sad fact is, Terry, I thought you were a nice guy,and always tried to be friendly to you, but no, I didn't care much for your writing. Would you have preferred that I said that? I can't see what good that would have done. It's not like I walked out of the room when you were on the microphone. Maybe you've gotten better, I don't know.You can have whatever opinions you want, Terry, and you can have whatever opinions you want about me, but the fact is, you're not the one out there doing the work, and if you've made any serious effort to BE the one out there doing the work, I'm sorry, but I don't recall it. [name omitted].

For better or worse, Name Omitted's letter has been an impetus for me to carry on as a poet over the last half-decade. I've learned a few things since then (and have to learn a few more), but I hope I never sink to the depths of writing to someone else who sends me a book or poem with the condescending, dimissive tone of what Name Omitted dictated above.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009 on the comic book HOWARD THE DUCK--and the fowl movie made from it.

Some essential reading from Keith Phipps, who writes for THE ONION's AV Club section:

The cinematic HOWARD THE DUCK, along with 1984's snide, sour, deservedly-forgotten BEST DEFENSE (which at least had a good David Rasche supporting performance), offers ample explanation as to why Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck (who deserve a positive place in film history for their work on the screenplay for George Lucas' AMERICAN GRAFFITI) won't be remembered for their on-their-own spasms of auteurism.

HOWARD THE DUCK should be remembered for waste and misuse of its human actors--such as Tim Robbins (who, as Phil Blumburtt, plays the Missing Link between Dan Aykroyd and Rainn Wilson), Lea Thompson and Jeffrey Jones.

Don't forget the hideous duck suit and the yuppie-izing of Howard's anarchic-in-comic-books character as well.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Ethan Hawke's 20 favorite Kris Kristofferson songs.

Actor/filmmaker/novelist Ethan Hawke has a lengthy profile of country music legend/veteran actor Kris Kristofferson in the current issue of ROLLING STONE: (worth reading for the opening passage regarding Kris arguing with a self-righteous Toby Keith--not named in the article--backstage at a Willie Nelson And Friends concert in 2003).

Some minor criticism on my part: Hawke omits a seminal early-70s Kristofferson film, Bill Norton's CISCO PIKE (with Kris as a fallen-on-hard-times musician dealing drugs and Gene Hackman as a corrupt cop) and solely attributes the slowdown in Kristofferson's film career circa-early-80s to the artistic and commercial depth charge of HEAVEN'S GATE (without mentioning the flop of the more mainstream ROLLOVER--intended as a sort of CHINA SYNDROME of the financial sector--with Jane Fonda).

Here's Ethan's 20 favorite Kristofferson songs:

Re the second Beatles reunion.

Here's Steve Marinucci's take on the recent Paul-and-Ringo-reunited-onstage happening at David Lynch's NYC benefit for the cause of TM ( a couple of years ago, I attended something similar at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood--consisting of Lynch conversing with Laura Dern--plus a Donovan concert with a surprise appearance by Beach Boy and TM practitioner Mike Love):

As I alluded to in the header, the only other "Beatles reunion" involving a live audience took place about thirty years ago, when Paul, George and Ringo played at the wedding reception of Eric Clapton and Pattie Boyd Harrison.

Hopefully, the Lynch benefit show will either receive TV broadcast or DVD release for those of us unable to be there on the historic occasion.

[UPDATE 4/7/09: Here's a link to the press release announcing remastered reissues of The Beatles catalog in stereo and mono versions--on 9/9/09, the same date as The Fab Four-themed ROCK BAND game:]

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Tom Braden: RIP.

Veteran journalist Tom Braden passed away at 92 years of age:

Braden will be best known for the memoir EIGHT IS ENOUGH, which was turned into a 70s hour-long dramedy with Dick Van Patten playing a fictionalized version ("Tom Bradford")--plus being the liberal POV standard-bearer on CNN's CROSSFIRE (Patrick Buchanan was the conservative antagonist).

For better or worse, CROSSFIRE inaugurated the cable-news standard of hosts and interviewees talking over each other and posturing for the sake of "good television." But at least Braden (who had a Golden Age of Journalism sense of gravitas) and Buchanan's tenure wasn't as cartoonish as the show's later period with Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson. And the show's demise was allegedly triggered by Jon Stewart's public dressdown of Begala and Carlson:

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The inconvenient truth about AMERICAN IDOL.

Yes, the aging AMERICAN IDOL still gets ratings for Fox. But can you even count on one hand the number of winners/runner-ups that have the kind of mainstream success the show allegedly grooms contestants for (i.e. CD/download sales in the multimillions--plus not being dropped by his/her IDOL-arranged record label)?

Another irony: at least two successful ex-contestants who have done just fine by not following the Simon Cowell/Simon Fuller blueprint (i.e. Chris Daughtry and Jennifer Hudson).

I have my doubts that Megan Joy Corkery (of the seagull-wings imitation and last night's f--- you to Simon Cowell) will enter the latter category.