Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What I've learned from over a year-and-a-half of being on Facebook.

A simple list in no particular order:
1. Facebook is great for reconnecting with people you've lost touch with over the decades.
Results can be wonderful--or sometimes quite bittersweet.
2. Some people friend others on Facebook for sincere reasons; others do it to rack
up their numbers-of-friends (just like in real life).  Glad that Mark Zuckerberg hasn't thought
of Frequent Friending Benefits quite yet.
3. If you had only a slight acquaintanceship with certain people in the normal world, it won't be
any different after you've friended them on Facebook.  Be prepared to post something to someone's wall/page and receive no response whatsoever (exception: when you're posting something complimentary about them).
4. Facebook is something I highly recommend for finding groups for just about anything one may be interested in.
5. As film critic/writer Karina Longworth said in a highly readable article in the recent issue of L.A. WEEKLY, Facebook is a place where your data is given to corporate advertisers to harvest.  Be aware of that when joining so you can control what you choose to share.
6. One person posting links can be another person's "spam."  I found that out (rather bluntly) earlier this year when I was unfriended by an Orange County poet.  But the other person could have easily skipped over the links he didn't want to read.
7. As with the real world, you won't please all the people all the time on Facebook.  Don't stress out
over it.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The surviving Doors and Jim Morrison's family issue letter on Morrison's posthumous Florida pardon.


Footnote: I was an extra on Oliver Stone's THE DOORS for a couple of occasions in early 1990.  On one of those occasions, the Miami concert where Morrison was accused of exposing himself was re-created at the Olympic Auditorium in Downtown Los Angeles.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Completion of the Tough Love trilogy.

Final round of excerpts:
i have some suggestions.. and i am willing to give ideas to you for help..but you have to stop trying to convince me to follow your belief structure when it comes to other artists.. especially artists that i have a strong history with and respect for. I am not interested in hearing your opinion of my friends and how rotten they are for treating you so badly.(especially when i do not believe that to be the actual case).. i am more interested in hearing your opinion of you...your opinion of others is clear, okay .. i get it.. can we move on now?

am honest here Terry.. my respect for you has ONLY to do with your previous support, and your obvious regard for my opinion.. my respect for your work as a poet or a spoken word artist has not happened yet.. and you really will need to prove yourself to me for that to happen. I will not accept the "well i have been doing it for a long time" approach.. that does not cut it with me.. there are many many bad poets out there. many many more bad ones than good ones.. standing out and being heard takes power.. power takes discipline.. discipline takes work.. work takes time.. time takes life.. life is full of sacrifice.. My time is has value.. my girlfriend is actually mad at me for spending so much time on YOU this weekend.. so i have sacrificed time with her and caused ripples in my relationship in order to simply try to speak some honest sense to you.. i hope you appreciate it... Are you willing to make sacrifices to get what you want? if not, then you may as well quit.

so.. again.. i offer my consultation and am willing to TRY to help give you suggestions that might give you the ability to reach for your desires of achievement and what you want as success in this silly "scene" ... but i need to have you understand that i will not tolerate close minded angry finger pointing.. he said / she said is a waste of creative time.. on this planet we are here to GO.. do you want to GO.. or do you want to stay..?

Leak of tough love from ex-SoCal poet Part 2.

(Contextual note: When I wrote the person I'm excerpting from below, part of what I was hoping for was some advice as to how best to hybridize myself as a poetry/spoken word mixture--advice which I received in part.  But some of this verged into what I termed rifle-butt-to-the-head territory)

instead of working on your style, meter, words, and verbal skills. ..to me i find your "poor me" approach to be distracting and a cop out keeping you away from actually pursuing your dream. You are poisoning your own water supply.. drinking the water.. and then being upset when you get sick from the water you drank. ..gosh i hope that metaphor was understandable.

Terry.. i like you.. and i think that others like you too (or they used to anyways).. but they do not like your approach.. and well, perhaps its time to take a new approach.. that is really all i am saying.. the actions you have been practicing are obviously not working and are keeping you from reaching your optimum desired achievements... there is a way to change your reality and enhance it to better suit your WILL and the goals you have for your creative output.. but there is also the way you seem to be headed .. which is one of stagnation and repetitive disappointment. .. Your approach has made you into someone that others do not want to befriend, or support.. because you take things very personally.. you ARE a bit too sensitive.. and YOU cause situations that are uncomfortable and bordering on high school drama.... and it causes people to shy away. This perception OF you.. and your own perception of how you are perceived is in need of change.. ..without adjusting this and taking REAL attempts at working out these issues.. your desire and what you want, to be respected as someone who is part of the scene, will always be out of your grasp.

Monday, December 20, 2010

BEST WORST MOVIE: The perils of making a documentary about delusion and its byproducts.


BEST WORST MOVIE is a mixture of documentary and mockumentary about a film called TROLL 2 (full disclosure: I've never seen the latter).  Michael Stephenson,a child actor in TROLL 2, set out to document the film's lingering aftermath as a so-bad-it's-classic object of cult attention from young hipsters.  (Probably the grandfather of BEST WORST MOVIE is then-film writer Michael Medved crowning Edward D. Wood, Jr. as Worst Director and PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE as Worst Film in THE GOLDEN TURKEY AWARDS three decades ago).

Mostly, Stephenson focuses on TROLL 2 leading man George Hardy (best described as a mixture of KCET-TV's Huell Howser and cult character actor Charles Napier); Hardy's been a dentist for a number of years and, as the film has it, is happy to bathe in a reflected-glory-of-sorts status as TROLL 2 gets a number of screenings at hipster venues such as Austin's Alamo Drafthouse and L.A.'s Nuart Theatre.

Along ehe way, Stephenson makes some sidetrips into the sad present lives of TROLL 2 co-stars Robert Ormsby and Connie Young--these scenes tend to border on cruel exploitation for a mixture of cheap laughs/cheap pathos.

And, to pad out the film's running time, Hardy goes on unsuccessful jaunts to memorabilia shows in the UK and Texas (in the latter portion, he's made to appear like a clueless cross between Jethro Bodine and Paul Schrader's version of Bob Crane in AUTO-FOCUS).

For the climax, TROLL 2 is screened as an Alamo Drafthouse outdoor roadshow in a Utah town where its filming partially took place--giving the viewer more chances for yuks at the expense of director Claudio Fragasso (who, for better or worse, exudes lots of criticism-rolls-off-of-me self-confidence).

Except in a few minor instances, it's clear that Stephenson's not out to do the difficult work of true empathy with dreamers with ambitions that don't match with most notions of technical and/or thespian competence.  Instead, he wants to have things every possible way--fake laughs at others' expense and smirking distance from human misery--to name just two faults with BEST WORST MOVIE.

It's not that I'm a big fan of the ANVIL documentary either, but at least it bestows undeniable dignity on its missed-out-on-the-heavy-metal-brass-ring protagonists.

I don't think Michael Stephenson's aware of what the word "dignity" means.

Anis Shivani's Important Poets listing other Important Poets--no African-American poets.

Read Victor Infante's blog recently in search of poetry-related entries.  And, after skimming various musings on the DC Comics superhero family, I found he made a reference to this article:

Don't always agree with Victor (as evidenced by my archives), but he's spot on to mention the absence of African-American poets from this listing.

UPDATE 12/21/10: Take a look at the comments section; Avis Shivani responds to Victor:

Leaking out some meant-to-be-tough-love from poet I'm no longer in touch with.

Making this communique from earlier in the year public because it indicates how some in our poetry scene (and perhaps yours too) tend to react to complainers (guilty).  Human nature indeed.

Crying "poor me" all the time is boring and only hurts YOU. Once you have been branded, its hard to make it go away...its like an unwanted nickname, human nature and american social structure feeds that sorta bullying and as long as you keep playing the part, you will continue to be held in that regard... and believe me, from the folks that i [know in the SoCal poetry community].. most now, because of your attitude, consider you little more than comedic entertainment. Again.. im not saying these things to be HARSH.. im saying them to help you come to grips with the reality YOU have CREATED for yourself. no one else is responsible but you.. no one has the power to make the needed changes but YOU.. I am taking the time to attempt to help you realize that perhaps you are WRONG, and i do it out of respect for your support of my past endeavors and that i feel that for some reason (unknown to me) you have some regard for my opinion. Admitting being wrong is a trait that our culture really frowns upon, and being humble enough to admit when you have said or done something way outta line and stupid will gain more respect than anything else i know.

[SoCal poets' names redacted] and others you have issues with have traveled the country and the world and have performed their words for micro cultures of many different sizes and creeds.. their opinions hold merit, and should really be LISTENED to..sure they should be taken with a grain of salt, but they have experience and have learned things about the poetic experience that you have not, and their opinions hold keys and things to be learned..ignoring that is just stupidity. why would you NOT be interested in their opinions?? Poets as a general breed, are honest.. if they say something to you and you take offense to it.. its probably because you cannot handle criticism very well, and again this comes back to YOU.. not them. You are the one with the problem.. they do not have a problem, you do.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's all over now: the end of LARRY KING LIVE.

It's going to be easy to snark about the latter years of LARRY KING LIVE where Larry's tendencies to throw overdeferential-to-guests softballs, not ask follow-up questions and become disengaged in the proceedings caught up with him.

Better to focus on what LARRY KING LIVE meant to CNN upon its 1985 debut: a chance for the network to evolve beyond its just-straight-newcasts-around-the-clock original formula.

Perhaps the show was at its best in the latter 1980s.  I particularly remember 1987, when news events such as the Iran/Contra hearings and the Jim Bakker/Tammy Faye Bakker/Jessica Hahn/PTL scandals were front-page news.  And it made for lively viewing as participants in the above events would come onto Larry's show to spin things their way.  In those days, Larry was still actively engaged in conversation with guests.

Now, that's all been washed away by CNN; CNN is now run by the guy who helped turn HLN (Headline News)'s prime-time lineup into Tabloid Central.  And it will be interesting to see if Piers Morgan's UK tabloid approach can transfer to CNN as successfully as Larry King's talk radio format did.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The story behind the statement.

Posted this on Facebook:

Will have poetry features in January and hopefully Februrary, then likely to go on hiatus and work on a revised version of an old chapbook. Thanks to the poets, living and dead, who made the SoCal scene a better place for the last dozen years.

The underneath of the statement:
Years ago, I had a health teacher in high school (a coach who looked like a cross between Peter Lorre and Patton Oswalt) lecturing our class about "survival of the fittest."
Years later, I had an accounting professor (last name Goode) who, when I asked for help on an assignment, said: "You haven't done a damned thing."  Meaning that I hadn't put in enough work struggling with the problem.

I guess I feel that I've done a bit of both in recent years with regards to poetry.  There could have been more work I could have put into what I've done.  And I'm not blessed with Darwinian (or even Jeff Probst/Mark Burnett) survival skills.

This year, I had the equivalent of rifle butts to the head from current and former SoCal community members.  All this helped to remind me that I have, in their collective opinion, a poor attitude, lack of reverence for certain community leaders and a writing ability lacking in such things as "imagery."

And recently, I've felt some light breezes of condescension from at least one current community leader.

But, enough politeness about adversity.  I'm hoping to get HOLLYWOOD POETRY's 10th anniversary edition out in 2011.

And I'm thankful to have discovered poets and poetry for all the occasional heartache and pain that's a byproduct.

One more post on John Lennon.

I bought the latest issue of ROLLING STONE, with the full text of Jonathan Cott's 1980 interview with John Lennon.

In the November, 1980 issue of ESQUIRE, Laurence Shames' "John Lennon, Where Are You?" was published.  The article, which bemoaned the business activities (and, to an extent, the previous life) of Lennon, could be described as inflaming the mental disorder of Mark Chapman:
Lennon didn't like Shames' take--and here's a portion of the response:
"That guy is the kind of person who used to be in love with you-you know, one of those people-and now hates you-a rejected lover.  I don't even know the asshole, but he spent his whole time looking for an illusion that he created of me, and then got upset because he couldn't find it."
A few lines later--"What they [referring to critics] want is dead heroes, like Sid Vicious and James Dean.  I'm not interested in being a dead f---ing hero...So forget 'em, forget 'em."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It was thirty years ago today: memories of before, during and after John Lennon's death.....

Around late summer/early fall of 1980, I remember being excited to read the Random Notes section of ROLLING STONE and discovering that John Lennon was ending his long (or so it seemed then) retirement to record a new album.

That album, DOUBLE FANTASY, appeared a couple of months later.  A DJ for the now-long-dead Top 40/AOR hybrid station KKQV-FM in Wichita Falls, TX played the album in its entirety--and pronounced it "Double Nightmare"; presumably, she didn't like John and Yoko forsaking activism for chronicling adventures in ordinary living.

And then, on the night of December 8, 1980, I came home from a foreign film appreciation class to find out that John Lennon had been murdered.

A few weeks before, Lennon gave an interview to NEWSWEEK.  He mentioned not wanting to be "Elvis Beatle" and made a chillingly prophetic comment: "The King is killed by his courtiers."

Days after Lennon's death, I remember reading a letter in the editorial section of a Wichita Falls newspaper.  It came from what I presumed was an elderly woman in Burkburnett.  She ranted that all four Beatles should have been shot.

Angered by this stupid, malevolent outburst, I quickly turned the page. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

A selection of articles about WikiLeaks.


From John Naughton's GUARDIAN column, linked to above:
"Our rulers have a choice to make: either they learn to live in a WikiLeakable world, with all that implies in terms of their future behaviour; or they shut down the internet. Over to them."

Mixed feelings about Darren Aronofsky's BLACK SWAN.


Ed Gonzalez' review of BLACK SWAN is probably the most perceptive so far regarding its virtues and flaws.

My take on the film is that its a mixture of Val Lewton-esque psychological thriller capped by a final half-hour of Ken Russell-esque excess that even Russell would find over-the-top.  Suffice to say CGI-effects are wielded a la the comedian Gallagher performing his Sledge-O-Matic routine.  Obviously Darren Aronofsky thought the audience needed a heaping dose of literal-minded dramatization of madness.

Essentially, Natalie Portman's performance is Seven Degrees of Tremulousness followed by One Degree of Wearing Red Contact Lenses--with no real in-between (probably the way Aronofsky wanted the character to be played).

And it must be said that for all the filled-with-ominous-portent you-must-find-the-Black Swan-within talk from Vincent Cassel's ballet master (rooting for Cassel and Barbara Hershey to get Supporting Actor/Actress nominations this awards season--as well as Clint Mansell's score and Matthew Libatique's cinematography), BLACK SWAN is a film about two actresses (Portman and Mila Kunis) who steadfastly refuse to be fully naked on film even in non-gratuitous contexts.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Steve Martin and 92nd Street Y interviewer think they're at NYC's MOMA.

It's probably petty and rather plebian of me to hamfistedly point out the irony of someone who, during much of his past two decades in commercial cinema, has made underachieving an art form (of sorts) so he can buy major works of Art.

But I'll do it anyway.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010




(inspired by the PBS fund-raising special


Did you see old man John Sebastian

on the Public Broadcasting System?

He now looks a little like George Segal

and sounds a lot like Peter Coyote.

Did you see old man Barry McGuire


He now looks like a retired WWE wrestler

and wears NYPD patches on his black T-shirt.

Did you watch this tribute to old folk music

in the comfort of your home

as people protest and die in far-off lands

and American media propagandizes

about the evils of WikiLeaks

and the perfidy of Julian Assange

(the timing of the latter is rather convenient)?

Did you once gather for communal singing

and peaceful demonstration

until you "grew out of it"

because too many people told you

that standing up for the rights of others

was passe and not likely to lead to good job offers?

Of course you did.

And I did too.

Monday, November 29, 2010

RIP Leslie Nielsen and Irvin Kershner

Farewell to two class acts:

By now, you can turn on just about any media outlet and see/hear clips from Leslie Nielsen's appearances in the Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker comedy classics AIRPLANE! and THE NAKED GUN series.

As for director Irvin Kershner, he's fated to be eulogized as the director of numerous franchise sequels--such as RETURN OF A MAN CALLED HORSE, ROBOCOP 2, NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN and, especially, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (probably the most gripping and adult STAR WARS entry--then George Lucas decided to pull the series back towards a more family-friendly approach from RETURN OF THE JEDI through the prequel trilogy).

Kershner's earlier work included THE HOODLUM PRIEST, UP THE SANDBOX (Barbra Streisand as a dissatisfied housewife), A FINE MADNESS (Sean Connery as a nonconformist poet) and THE FLIM-FLAM MAN (George C. Scott as a Southern con artist).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Heartwarming story of altruism vs unnecessarily condescending professional poetry behavior.


On a personal level, I'm glad he'll be around for years to come.  Professionally, I wish that more generosity and less conformity to someone else's notions of "quality" (i.e. Murray's usual "layers of meaning" bromide about ideal poetry) could appear under the G. Murray Thomas Poetix.net byline if he's intent on continuing his  self-appointed tenure as a  Revered Figure in Southern California poetry/literature.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A few words about Allan Moyle's 1980 proto-punkette film TIMES SQUARE.


It's unlikely that Allan Moyle's TIMES SQUARE will resurface on DVD, unless Universal Pictures (the current owner) wants to issue it as a print-on-demand offering.

Moyle's best known for two other teen-centered cult films, PUMP UP THE VOLUME and EMPIRE RECORDS.  But TIMES SQUARE was an attempt by producer Robert Stigwood to create a punk/New Wave variant of SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, with Trini Alvarado as a sheltered Shirley Feeney-type playing off Robin Johnson's Laverne De Fazio/Joan Jett archetype.  According to Moyle's comments at yesterday's screening at L.A.'s Silent Movie Theatre, there was a mild same-sex romance between the two characters, but this was removed by Stigwood before the film's October 1980 release (though some vestiges of it remain in the theatrical print--particularly Johnson's anguished pour-out-my-heart-in-song scene at Tim Curry's radio station).

When I saw TIMES SQUARE in 1980, I disliked the film's venturing into unrealistic (the griminess, and dog-eat-dog behavior of Times Square of that period was, even to the eyes of this then non-urban viewer, somewhat oversanitized)  over-the-top ludicrousness.  Thirty years later, I can see a mixture of what Moyle called "corny" as well as some heartfelt attempts at criticizing pressures to "conform", plus the mindset that any kind of "punk" rebellion was best treated with drugs and institutionalizing.

And, in retrospect, the cartoonish city official character who is the father of Alvarado's Pamela presages Rudolph Giuliani's later successful efforts to re-invent Times Square as a tourist-friendly corporate theme park.

Final note: Trini Alvarado has a whip-my-hair moment that presages Willow Smith by about three decades.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Old poem with update: CAROL

Found out the other day about the passing of Carol Eby McCredie (1959-2007).

Here's a poem I wrote about her (and my immature-at-fifteen mindset) a few years back for my chapbook WICHITA FALLS:


In 1974, I was a member of the
Backdoor Youth Theatre group
in Wichita Falls, Texas.
One Saturday afternoon, I saw
a fifteen-year-old girl with
long brown hair play the role
of Lady Macbeth.
“Out, damned spot!” Carol said
as she convincingly essayed the
madness of the character.

I fell in love.

A few Saturdays later, I asked her for a date.
She smiled and said, “I’ll let you know.”

One Saturday later, we had that date.
I was too young to drive,
so my parents had to chaperone.
I came calling at her parents’ home
near Midwestern University.
My parents went to a movie at the State Theater.
Carol and I went to the old Piccadilly Cafeteria
for dinner.
She told me about her life in Guam
when her father was still in the Air Force.
I told her about my growing up in the
small town of Electra.
She told me of her dislike of Jerry Lewis.
I told her I didn’t think he was all that bad.

Two things were becoming evident.
We didn’t have a lot in common and
I didn’t know how to carry on a conversation.
Those were the days where I didn’t know how
to talk to-or listen to-a woman
especially when she was nine months older
and infinitely more mature than I was.

But I thought she was a goddess
and told myself, “This could work!
Don’t let her get away!
We’re the couple described in
She’s a lady.
And I’m a dreamer.”

After dinner, Carol and I walked
to the Strand Theater and bought
two tickets to Peter Bogdanovich’s
I picked the movie.
I thought that anyone who could
perform Shakespeare would appreciate Henry James.

DAISY MILLER is a film that has disappeared
from American memory.
I remember it as a film where Cybill Shepherd
talked a lot, flirted a lot and then died.
I hoped that Carol would appreciate
my sophisticated taste in movies.

When it was over,
we received a ride
from my parents.
I walked Carol to the front step
of her parents’ home.

“Thanks for a nice evening,” I said.
“Thank you,” she said with a smile.
“Maybe we could do this again sometime,” I said.
“We’ll have to talk about that,” she said in a soft,
quiet voice.

On the way back to Electra,
I began to believe that a love affair
of the ages had begun.
I knew we would see each other again
in theater class-seven whole days away.

I couldn’t wait that long.
Three days later, I sent her
a thank-you card that reiterated
the “thanks for a nice evening”
sentiment I told her previously.
My parents said, “Take it slow.”
I said, “I don’t think she’ll mind.”

Those were the days when I didn’t
want to listen to my parents’ wisdom.
I was fifteen-going on sixteen.
I just knew Carol felt something for me.

Four days passed.
I saw Carol at Backdoor Theatre.
I tried to talk to her but she
seemed to be disinterested in me.
What little conversation there was
concerned the theater class and the
upcoming public performance of scenes
from great American plays.

“Maybe it’s not over,” I thought.
“Perhaps I should wait a few weeks
and call her once more…”

…And that’s exactly what I did.
I called her on the afternoon of
Christmas Eve at her parents’ home.
“You just caught me with a piece of cheese
in my mouth,” Carol said.
I had an upsurge of hope.
She was in a good mood!
Perhaps she’ll say yes!

After about five minutes of casual conversation,
I asked her about the possibility of a second date.
She declined-politely but firmly.
I hung up the phone, devastated.
No great love affair for me.

From that point on, Carol and I saw very little of each other.
We graduated from our separate high schools.
I went to Midwestern (State) University for five years.
She went to Southern Methodist University.
After that, I knew nothing else.

About four years ago, a mutual friend told me
that Carol lived in south Texas.
She was a wife and mother, married to a doctor.
On occasion, she still acted in community theater.

It would be nice to meet her someday
and see the person she has become.
Nowadays, I know a little more about
how to talk-and listen-to people
than I did at the age of fifteen.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

From a different pre-MFA-worship era: Poem called SHALL WE MARCH FORTH?

Years ago, when SoCal poets spoke to each other on listserves rather than via Facebook, a poet suggested that the local community pull together to advance the status and (assuming) the visibility of poetry.  It didn't happen, but here's a poem I wrote inspired by that post:

(inspired by the author responding to
a post where a poet was concerned
that reaching out to a broad audience
meant “watering down” the “art”
of poetry?)

This reminds me of when I used to
go to Screen Actors Guild meetings
and hear complaints that
letting too many background actors
(extras) join the union
would be ruinous
to the art of Acting.

Poets shouldn’t have to worry so much
about “watering down” their work
for the masses when a lot of them
make a strong effort to avoid
intersecting with the masses
under any circumstances.

I’d like to envision a future where poets
could take the stage at Pershing Square
to entertain the lunch-break office
workers, street people and
random passers-by.
Or what remains of the Fairfax
Farmer’s Market,
the Federal Building in Westwood,
etc. etc.

Somewhere besides the usual
coffeehouses and bookstores-
or the usual alternative ways of intersecting
with the public
(“on the bus” readings).

Can we March Forth?

Or will we march into
an early grave-
complaining that
the “stupid masses”
will never appreciate
our brilliance
no matter what we did
or didn’t want to do
or tried to do
or merely thought about doing?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

RIP Dino De Laurentiis

He produced Fellini films.  He produced films for Paramount Pictures release--SERPICO, THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR, the semi-forgotten 1976 KING KONG and THE SHOOTIST being four examples.  And he produced and released films in the 1980s through DeLaurentiis Entertainment Group (DEG)--the best of these include David Lynch's BLUE VELVET and Michael Mann's MANHUNTER.

Here's an obituary: http://tinyurl.com/2cqpb8p


Sunday, November 7, 2010

It was one of the Best of Times....

Giving some public thanks to Rafael F. J. Alvarado, S.A. Griffin and new Beyond Baroque director Richard Modiano for yesterday's Beyond Baroque marathon of poets and writers.

During the time I was there, I got to see Wanda Coleman (for the first time ever), Pam Ward (ditto), Doug Knott and Gerald Locklin--among others (including the talented young Orange County poet Jennifer Donnell).

It was a good learning experience and it reminded me a bit of the kind of poetry and readings that don't seem as prevalent now in today's SoCal literary scene.

Please support Beyond Baroque now and in the future by going to its readings and buying books/chapbooks from the bookstore.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Keith Olbermann of MSNBC gets Griffined.

In the wake of Keith Olbermann's suspension for making small campaign donations to Democrats (seemingly not too ethically challenging for a clearly partisan newsertainer/commenter), one wonders what MSNBC majordomo Phil Griffin (let's pass over the channel's top Republican Joe Scarborough's GOP/Democratic donations for now) has in mind.

My guess is that MSNBC may either rebrand itself as:
1. The channel of the cautious, mild-liberal Center, with Rachel Maddow becoming the only capital-L Liberal safe for Prime Time and Chris Matthews dethroning Olbermann to become the Face of the Channel.
2. The channel's re-embrace of its former Republican, shadow-of-Fox News, phase, with former MSNBC anchors Tucker Carlson and John Gibson maybe being asked to return--with a new show called.....COUNTDOWN WITH PAT BUCHANAN.

UPDATE 11/8/10: Here's a link I did for a YouTube video commenting on the suspension and reinstatement:

Friday, October 29, 2010

L.A. poet Nelson Gary's TWIN VOLUMES gets Murrayed.


Favorite sentence of the review (mixture of praise and pan--leaning towards the latter):
Unluckily, I did not have that much time to produce this review. So what follows is more a series of impressions than the deep analysis I would prefer to give the book.

Maybe it would been a better thing (and fairer to Nelson Gary) if Murray had waited a month or two--and then proceeded to write a more analytic, thoughtful review.

Heaven knows there are plenty of poetry volumes that could have filled the October column instead.

RIP James MacArthur:The Young Stranger (1957) Trailer

To me, this was the best performance James MacArthur ever gave.  A modest, filmed in black-and-white, cousin to Nicholas Ray's REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE; the beginning of John Frankenheimer's career as a director of feature films.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010



Please allow him to introduce himself.
He's a man with wealth and no taste.

He destroye hotel rooms,

frightens women

and leaves New York in haste.

Hope you guessed his name.

Amusing you on a sitcom

is the nature of his game.

He earns a lot for not acting.

More money than what's paid to others.

When he makes a big big mess,

he's bailed out by CBS and Warner Brothers.

Hope you guessed his name.

Employing publicists to tell "official" stories

is the nature of his game.

There will be


Just more hookers, anger and psychic pains.

If he feels the need to stretch his talent,

he'll make another ad for Hanes.

Hope you guessed his name.

Keep watching TWO AND A HALF MEN every week

so he can continue playing his long-running game.

Friday, October 22, 2010

SALON's Matt Zoller Seitz on Mel Gibson, THE HANGOVER 2 and selective Hollywood morality.

I don't agree 100 % with Seitz' article, but it's interesting and thought-provoking enough to post the link here:

Two passages that were particularly resonant:
"Americans are the most irritating of hypocrites: binary-minded, easily distracted scolds. We have trouble holding opposing thoughts in our heads at the same time, and we stay furious only until the next outrage pops up in the media cycle. We have staunch positions on what constitutes right and proper behavior, but only for certain people -- the people whose behavior we happen to consider beyond the pale, for whatever subjective reason -- and we reserve the right to give a pass to whoever we like, whenever we please, and to come up with pretzel-logic rationalizations justifying our inconsistency. And we've got no problem taking a nuanced view of morally challenged artists as long as they're not raising hell in the present day."

"This ongoing spectacle of the entertainment industry censuring certain artists over their private misdeeds while ignoring or rehabilitating equally troublesome characters is pathetic. Violence, substance abuse, self-destruction and general prickishness is a blight on humanity, but it's a blight that should be dealt with by police and judges, not the media or the public. Either the criminal justice system is working properly or it isn't. And whether it is or isn't, the offenses or alleged offenses have nothing to do with an artist's work, or right to work, much less our ability to engage with and appreciate said work."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book Soup apparently desperate for customers: He-man woman hater Tucker Max to do an in-store appearance.

Of course, the ubertrendy, affluent progressive audience-skewing Book Soup on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood has a right to book any author it pleases for an in-store appearance.  I'm fascinated that this particular author (anyone remember the fast flop of the movie version of his I HOPE THEY SERVE BEER IN HELL) is being a book-ee of the store.

Here's a description of the event from the Book Soup blog:
10/19/2010 - 7:00pm

Event Details:

Tucker Max discusses and signs Assholes Finish First

What do you do after you write a #1 bestselling book about your drunken, sexual misadventures that makes you rich and famous? Celebrate by getting more drunk and having insane amounts of sex, obviously. And pretty soon you've got another fucking book on your hands.Stuffed full of ridiculous stories of bad decisions, debauchery, and sexual recklessness, Assholes Finish First starts where I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell left off, then proceeds to "some next-level shit."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Neal Gabler on the TV fantasy of "we'll always be there for you" friendship.

Commentary: The social networks - latimes.com

This passage by Mr. Gabler is particularly resonant:
One feels a little churlish pointing out how phony most of this intimacy is. After all, these shows, even one as observant as "Modern Family," aren't about realism. They aren't about the genuine emotional underpinnings of friendship or family, and they certainly aren't about the rough course that almost every relationship, be it with a friend or family member, takes — the inevitable squabbles, the sometimes long and even permanent ruptures, the obtuseness, the selfishness, the reprioritization, the expectations of reciprocity, the drifting apart, the agonizing sense of loneliness even within the flock. These shows are pure wish fulfillment. They offer us friends and family at one's beck and call but without any of the hassles. It is friendship as we want it to be.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The bombast/"respectability" schizophrenia of CNN.


Gabriel Sherman's NEW YORK magazine article brings together a lot of over-the-years anecdotes relating to CNN, FOX NEWS, MSNBC (remembering its brief, John Gibson-powered, imitation of FOX NEWS in the last decade) and HLN and mostly concentrates on their prime-time programming.

And a point is made in the piece that CNN should probably transform into a "class" brand--to the extent of trying to woo someone like Charlie Rose over from PBS.

But, despite who's running CNN, the network tends to be too attracted to bombastic news types like Tom Foreman (the RAW POLITICS guy), Tony Harris and, of course, the now-departed Rick Sanchez.  And it looks like Anderson Cooper's being nudged to take a more confrontational stance (in a sort-of-neutral way) with GOP extremist-types.  But you and I both know that Anderson Cooper wouldn't behave like that around John Boehner and/or Mitch McConnell.

Or there's weekend anchor Fredrika Whitfield, who seems to have been told by consultants to smile just about every time she delivers a line from the prompter.  But at least Ms. Whitfield, at this stage in her career, isn't actively grating.

And I fear that grating-nerves newsjunk, under the "Keeping Them Honest" tag, is the path CNN will travel down with the ex-HLN head honcho at the helm.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Rick Sanchez and the ghost of Richard Nixon.

I've never been able to watch now-former CNN cartoon news-anchor blowhard Rick Sanchez for more than a few minutes at a time.  Having said that, I was rather sickened by the anti-Semitic, anti-"Eastern intellectual elite" bilge that Sanchez blurted out on Sirius/XM leading to his firing earlier today:

This is comparable to former President Richard Nixon's hateful anti-Semitic rantings:

Thursday, September 30, 2010

RIP Tony Curtis.

When I woke up this morning, KABC-TV in Los Angeles seemingly couldn't mention any Tony Curtis starring/co-starring films except for SOME LIKE IT HOT (likely to be remembered forever because of Marilyn Monroe).  But Curtis had plenty of memorable films on his resume (mentioning the ones I've seen): THE VIKINGS, OPERATION PETTICOAT, THE DEFIANT ONES, SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS, SPARTACUS, THE GREAT RACE, THE BOSTON STRANGLER, THE LAST TYCOON.

And post-superstardom, Curtis was a regular on TV series including THE PERSUADER (teamed with a post-SAINT, pre-Bond Roger Moore), McCOY and VEGAS.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

RIP film and stage director Arthur Penn.


I remember seeing Arthur Penn once around 1989 at the Telluride Film Festival; Penn and Penn & Teller were there to promote the film PENN AND TELLER GET KILLED.  All three were, if memory is correct, on an outdoor panel where Arthur Penn was on the end of a brief tongue-lashing from a local Telluride woman (decidedly not a festival-goer) intent on using him as a punching bag for her disdain for Hollywood and its filmed product, which she apparently found values-deficient.

Certainly, THE MIRACLE WORKER, BONNIE AND CLYDE, THE LEFT HANDED GUN, THE CHASE, ALICE'S RESTAURANT (haven't seen it, but should ), LITTLE BIG MAN and NIGHT MOVES  form the cornerstone of Penn's reputation as a film director. MICKEY ONE (Penn's first collaboration with Warren Beatty) and THE MISSOURI BREAKS (Penn's second time working with Marlon Brando--who, from his performance, had a different film in mind) are watchable, idiosyncratic misfires.

And, as Mr. Wells mentions in his HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE post, Penn was out of cinematic fashion by 1981.  Two of his later films (TARGET and DEAD OF WINTER) were genre thriller stuff that could have been made by just about anyone.

But Penn had a good run from THE LEFT HANDED GUN through MISSOURI BREAKS and deserves posthumous attention from younger generations of film enthusiasts.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Contestant Seth Caro of TOP CHEF: JUST DESSERTS--more reality TV theater of cruelty.


I'll let the LOS ANGELES TIMES commenters (names deleted) speak for themselves (with highlighting by me):

I feel that Seth emotional state is so fragile that he should have been sent home. I hope they are not keeping him on the show just to boost ratings. He need professional help
I think that Seth's talented but after last night, he's got to get it together and at least be nicer to his fellow contestants. His mother's health problems are serious but if he really wants to win, he needs to step up to the plate and change his attitude. I thought he should have been sent home, both because of his horrible behavior and bad dessert. God help us if he keeps acting this way.
First, I want to point out that the crybaby is not one of the gay men on the show, and that last week, the other "heterosexual man" Morgan acted like a five-year old during the judging. Seth, unfortunately, is way beyond the categories we have usually put Top Chef contestants in. His problems are in Real Housewife territory -- Kelly Bensimon crazy, for instance. At this point, I don't think Seth is there for his "talent" but for his meltdown potential, and I haven't decided whether this is a good thing for the show or an immense distraction for the usual plot arc.
If the judges have any sense, he'll be gone next week.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Poem I liked that appeared in a literary e-zine.


I became a poet for the wrong reasons.

Let's start with this true story:
I was a stand-in on a movie filming during the year of 1993.

One night, we were filming at an apartment building on Fountain and El Centro.  In the first hour of work (while the apartment interior was being readied), the cinematographer came up to me and said:
"I had a dream about you.  You were on the Santa Monica Pier wearing clown shoes."

He said it loud enough for other crew members to hear.

I couldn't do anything about what he said: I was scared of being fired on the spot.  And I was making a decent enough amount of money as a SAG stand-in for the length of the shoot--so I kept very very quiet.

The other crew people said nothing; they kept doing their work so the first shot of the night could be filmed.

When the film shoot ended, I told myself that I didn't want to experience anything like that again.  I didn't like being bullied and powerless and resolved to not take abuse from others without at least attempting to fight back.

Cut to five years later: I became involved in poetry because I liked the scene, a lot of the people and the opportunity for recognition if I was found to be "good enough" to be a featured poet at a venue (likely a coffeehouse or independent bookstore in those days).

But I didn't like egotism or bullying.  And when other poets chose to regard me as "someone to f--- with", then I didn't hesitate to stand my ground and/or risk angering people by fighting back.

Needless to say, various spoken and unspoken varieties of punishment, ostracism, "it's your problem, don't bother me with it" and "we don't want you associating with us" resulted.

As far as poetry was concerned, I wrote the kind of (mostly narrative) verse I felt comfortable with.  I didn't anticipate the death of most of the "most anyone can play" coffeehouse/independent bookstore scene (though I could see a decline beginning as early as 2002-03).  And, like a lumbering triceratops, I haven't made the transition to academia-friendly, strongly form-and-image-conscious "there's no mistaking this for anything but a REAL poem" work.

Some people like the poetry I write--others (influential tastemakers included) don't.  And I'm still a creature of 1998 who has essentially stopped going to certain readings where the spotlights shine on:
1. MFA/private-study/retreat-friendly high-minded verse
2. "Look at us, we're more hip and special than you are!" backscratching.

Obviously, I'm a wretched specimen who partially wanted the kind of star status I didn't receive in my lower-level work in the film/TV industry.

And maybe someday, I can adjust to merely being a bit player blessed with witnessing several really talented people--some still on the scene, some deceased--at their artistic peaks.