Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sara Gilbert and the Hollywood Closet.

Sort of a fascinating article if one reads it carefully--especially coming from a Time Warner media outlet which, in certain cases, keeps selling likely-gay celebs as straight.

Maybe we'll be less homophobic as a society in the next decade and learn to accept actors' sexuality without making them feel they have to go through the "I don't talk about my private life though the Industry knows I'm gay" lay-down-ground-rules ritual with the press.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Now establishing a presence on provides a service (free for basics and pay-for-premium-use) for poets and authors to advertise their works and have them listed on search engines.

Here's my initial offering (for my chapbook 20 GREATEST HITS):

Sunday, July 25, 2010

My generation wants quick, bigoted, simple solutions to illegal immigration.

Saw this on Facebook; this bit of spew came from a person (not a Facebook friend, but on a thread started by someone who is) I went to Electra (TX) High School with--topic concerns Latin-American departures from Arizona to avoid the "show your papers" law:
That's ok, let New Mexico's crime rate and Medicaid costs go out of control and see how long they want more Illegals. Damn it's tough when everyone has to work within the law. Somehow being anything other than white has translated into the law applies to everyone except us.

Get all illegals out, white, black, brown. Maybe eventually my taxes will reflect I will be supporting only one other family besides mine instead of 2 or 3!
I'd like to think that not all the fathers of Electra, TX raised their sons to turn out like the middle-aged male (name omitted here) who posted the above adventure in non-thinking.
But I'm aware that more than a few of these parents harbored prejudices and passed them on without a second of thought or regret or awareness of disconnect with the Christianity they professed to believe in.

SALT made me want to.....see INCEPTION again.

After reading the hype about SALT (especially how the recent Russian spy discoveries and swap occurred close to the film's release--though the central "deep cover" Russian spy gimmick is swiped from Don Siegel's 1977 TELEFON with Charles Bronson, Lee Remick and Tyne Daly), I expected reasonably choice summer action fare--particularly with this being director Phillip Noyce's (with a career ranging from the Australian classic NEWSFRONT to two good-to-very-good Jack Ryan films to the more recent Australian classic RABBIT-PROOF FENCE) return to big-budget American filmmaking.

Unfortunately, SALT is little more than 95 minutes of chase and shoot (with some violence that almost punches a fist through the balsa wood of the PG-13 rating), with occasional character beats/backstory to keep it from being completely tissue-thin.

And it doesn't help that SALT was released a week after the summer's tie-for-best-with-TOY STORY 3-film INCEPTION.

I hope that Angelina Jolie carries on with a viable A-list film career regardless of all the tabloid chatter.  It may be time for her to again opt for a studio-boutique project for her to excel in (like 2008's unjustly ignored A MIGHTY HEART) instead of listening to what's likely to be renewed siren calls from Universal for her to appear in WANTED 2.

[Train-wreck alert: Sony/Columbia has tagged the trailer for Michel Gondry's THE GREEN HORNET to SALT.  And it's fairly obvious that Gondry and star Seth Rogen had only a thirty-second meeting of minds;  Rogen and Sony must have been imagining a GHOSTBUSTERS approach to the subject matter, but it looks like a sequel to the superself-indulgent Bruce Willis early-90s caper comedy film HUDSON HAWK instead.]

Friday, July 23, 2010

Going back on your word happens all the way up and down the poetry ladder.

The above is a fascinating story about THE PARIS REVIEW declining to publish previously-accepted poets.

It also reminds me of an incident years ago where the then-host of Midnight Special Bookstore in Santa Monica (a long-defunct independent store) decided to, by fiat, unschedule several featured poets (myself included, for full disclosure's sake) in order to convert the reading to an all open-mike format.

Moral: Disappointment over rescinding of promises happens in all corners of poetry, whether it be a bookstore reading or a prestige literary publication.

Time to rebrand TLC as The Unlearning Channel.

Assuming there will be a lot of who-cares passivity regarding this press release about the Republican operative teaming up with the woman who will do just about anything to stay on television:


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Putting on the record-reviewer hat.

Just returned from a long trip from Canoga Park to Orange County (for the purpose of seeing OC poetry legend Leigh White read at Jennifer Donnell's monthly Neighborhood Cup reading in Aliso Viejo).  While
in the car, I listened to a handful of new CDs:
THE FLAMING LIPS--THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON (covered in its entirety).  Wayne Coyne
and his band of Oklahomans bring the Pink Floyd warhorse into the 21st Century and make it their own
while respecting the lyrical-and-musical sensiblities of Waters, Gilmour, Mason and Wright. 
THE LIKE--RELEASE ME.  I never heard The Like's first album ARE YOU THINKING WHAT I'M THINKING?  But it apparently undersold and the band (led by Tennessee Thomas, daughter of long-time
Elvis Costello drummer Pete Thomas) opted for a Britpop makeover (Alexa Ray Joel recently did the same thing, debuting a new Lily Allen/Kate Nash-influenced song on Howard Stern's show) with producer Mark Ronson (best known for his work on Amy Winehouse's BACK TO BLACK) giving the songs just the right blend of contemporary and retro sensibilites.
PAUL WELLER--WAKE UP THE NATION.  One of the best concerts I've seen in recent years was Paul Weller (catching one night of a three-night stand promoting his career-spanning box set) at the Avalon (formerly Palace) in Hollywood.  Having heard his ought-to-be-hits-packed latest (along with THE SOUND OF THE JAM, a good introduction for the Weller neophyte), I now need to buy tickets for Weller's Wiltern Theater show later this year--if any remain.
SHERYL CROW--100 MILES FROM MEMPHIS.  Sheryl Crow, for the most part, appropriates the Stax/Hi Records Memphis sound (an Al Green-esque cover of Terrence Trent D'Arby's "Sign Your Name" is particularly memorable).  And it's a better fit for Crow's talents than, say, Cyndi Lauper's MEMPHIS BLUES (well-meant but comes off somewhere between a museum piece and Lauper imitating Maria Muldaur).

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A shoutout to the website of SoCal poet Jerry Garcia.

No, he's not the late guitar-and-vocal legend of a certain Northern California band.

Jerry Garcia's another one of the class acts of SoCal poetry (involved with the Valley Contemporary Poets)--and if you haven't made his acquaintance, here's your chance:

Friday, July 16, 2010

An argument made for why you see the same dozen-or-so poets featuring all over town.

About to commit a no-no.  Someone wrote me this justification of the current LA/OC scene awhile back and it's worth sharing with the public.  The unnamed person seems to think of me as Andrew Jackson wanting to let the great unwashed into the White House on Inauguration Day; this is because I believe that even "established" readings need to have more of a mix of new talent and honored veterans.  Nowadays, you mostly get the latter (plus "published" poets of renown).  And I'm also implicitly slammed for having insufficient "taste."

Anyway, here it is with highlighting by me:

My impression is there are still plenty of places for the beginning poet to get their first feature.

A couple of things to consider. Today's well-credentialed poets are often yesterdays beginners. Wheeras ten years ago, most of the credentialed poets came from outside the coffeehouse poetry scene, now many of them come from within it. We're still featuring the same poets, but their status has changed.

Similarly, many poetry readings have grown in stature. Ten years ago it was pretty much Beyond Baroque and Laguna Poets who had the status to attract big name poets [this is incorrect--around this time and before it, the Hyperpoets-programmed Rose Cafe offered the same service; the Rose Cafe approach now is copied by several venues in LA/OC]. Now, Cobalt has been running for over fifteen years, Redondo Poets for about twelve, and Ugly Mug for ten. Along the way they have earned enough respect that big name poets will consider featuring for them.

Both of these points indicate that ten years ago, many readings had a smaller pool of poets to choose from, and therefore may have given more opportunities to beginners, only because they didn't have many more options.

But as I said, we could go back and forth on that point forever. What bugs me about your posts is the underlying argument that hosts should not be choosing their features based on the quality of their poetry. In fact, you seem to often be arguing that there's something wrong with the whole idea of assessing poetry for quality. That mediocre poets deserve the same opportunities as the really good ones.

You say that raising the standards for features unfairly cuts out a lot of poets. I say it should merely encourage them to write better poetry.

As an addendum to the unnamed person's lengthy quote above, I'll say this:
Years ago, there were more venues in LA/OC then there are now.  At that time, the pool of poets was a fairly large one--but filled with more storytellers, comics, performance artist/improv types (most of them seem to have moved on or have been culled from feature consideration) than now.  And there were also plenty of poets with literary aspirations--a lot of them now MIA or moved to other cities/states.  Perhaps the current conception of "quality" means that social climbing (in certain cases) and worship of Masters of Fine Arts-degree-holders determines a lot of booking choices.

I've never said that poets who are absolutely terrible should get booked (unlike what the unnamed person seems to be saying), just that more new talent like, say, Noor Al-Samarrai (who gave a fine feature at Coffee Cartel weeks ago--in that increasingly rare, say, one out of ten moment when someone not a Name gets a booking there) shouldn't be pushed aside for the 900th booking of [name your favorite overexposed veteran poet here] because he/she won a literary prize or finally found a Name publisher to put out a Real Book.

[UPDATE 7/18/10: Heard from a blog commenter using the moniker RitaJoo about the above post--the commenter made a remark that's a bit too stupid and crude to reproduce here.  Suffice it to say I did send a link to this post to the person I quoted, and he's okay with the unauthorized use of the quote; he stands by his statement in its entirety.  This is a rare exception to keeping private correspondence private--and if the quoted person had asked it to be taken down, I would have obliged.]

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A new poetry saint walks among us.

Yes, the person mentioned above is talented. 

But to call him "the funniest voice in poetry" is gilding the lily a bit. 

And another example of how the old guard of the Los Angeles/Orange County communities spend a lot of time canonizing their own (still remembering a "swimsuit calendar" done by Tebot Bach years ago)--when they could be opening doors to nonpoets and/or beginners.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Reading Pat Benatar's autobio BETWEEN A HEART AND A ROCK PLACE.

I got privately singed by a poet/musician for a recent poem of mine being too (as he considered it) "poor me"--meaning that expressing a complaint through artistic means amounted to nothing but a complaint.  The corollary apparently being that complaining was bad and I should shut up.

Curious what the poet/musician would think of Pat Benatar's current autobiography BETWEEN A HEART AND A ROCK PLACE.  It's filled with "poor me" anecdotes about how Ms. Benatar and her guitar ace husband Neil "Spyder" Giraldo put up with a lot of micromanagement, "keep recording and touring because you don't need a break" harangues and sexism from radio programmers, record producers and their bosses at Chrysalis Records (Ms. Benatar's manager, Rick Newman, of Catch A Rising Star comedy club fame, seemed to not want to offend Chrysalis execs and would avoid taking Ms. Benatar's side--preferring to walk the middle path).  And all of this occurred when Ms. Benatar was trying to exude (and control) a sexy-but-tough femme rocker image.

BETWEEN A HEART AND A ROCK PLACE  is essentially a good, occasionally quite educational read--although the reality of the current Benatar/Giraldo career (judging by their co-headlining show with Blondie that I saw at the Orange County Fair last year) is that they're now a by-the-numbers oldies act.

But that shouldn't take away from the impact of Ms. Benatar's early records--aided by Mr. Giraldo's expert and sometimes unnecessarily underrated guitar-playing.

Re the music industry's cruel summer of underattended and cancelled concerts.

I posted this to someone else's blog in his comments section.  Reposting it here in its entirety:
As a concertgoer, I'd say that Irving Azoff and his Ticketmaster/Live Nation empire--with little room for other promoters excepting AEG--has been a big factor in this year's touring kerfluffles.

Ticket prices [at least the before-fees face value] are going to have to shrink to a range of $25-$75 to re-interest those who have been priced out of attendance over the last decade (and, yes, it has been a decade since SFX and then Clear Channel helped ignite today's forest fire of empty seats and gig cancellations).

TicketNation (a nice soubriquet) and many A-and-B-list artists also need to join together, face reality and voluntarily take cuts on the too-huge artist advances which have been paid in recent years.

Having written the above, the cynic in me believes that if the latest leg of the U2 360 tour had gone on as scheduled this summer, the number of articles in the US/European media about poor sales wouldn't have attracted as much attention.

So, if ticket prices do come down, we have Bono (and his untimely back injury) to thank.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

TOY STORY 3 and poetry communities.

Overall, I loved TOY STORY 3.  It's the best movie about the poetry community (particularly in its Sunnydale Day Care scenes) since Terry Zwigoff and Daniel Clowes' ART SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL.

No matter what city or town you live in, if you're part of a poetry community you've met a few leaders like Lotso Bear (superbly voiced by Ned Beatty).  I've met and dealt with at least four Lotsos over the last dozen years.

Interesting quote from Walter Chaw's review of TOY STORY 3 on the site: "Seduced by the chance to be loved by generations-upon-generations of toddlers, they find a darker truth in a cliquish cabal whose lust for self-preservation at a daycare divided between a room for the older kids who know how to take care of toys and the youngsters who don't has made them bellicose and strange."

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Mel Gibson then and now.

I posted this on Facebook last night:
Was a stand-in for Joe Pesci on LETHAL WEAPON 3. Never met Mel but he was mostly subdued and seemed to only speak to his male assistant. There was one day (filming at the Warner Ranch inside the interior Murtaugh house set) when work stopped for Jeffrey Boam to do some rewriting--and Mel, Darlene Love and other crewpeople sat around talking to each other. Normal behavior from him on that occasion. One day, a boy accompanied by parents came to the set (assuming it was a meet-and-greet sort of thing). Mel had lunch with him (during the regular cast-and-crew break) and was cordial.

So, no forebodings of bad behavior to come--which began surfacing a few years later when his homophobic comments appeared in the U.S. press.

We're witnessing a spectacular and horrifying implosion of soneone consumed by a plethora of demons.
[UPDATE 7/12/10: Here's another of the leaked-to-RadarOnline tapes of Mel arguing at high R-rated volume with Oksana, with the most ugly statements coming in the final portion--]

Friday, July 9, 2010

Yes, kids, you too can aspire to Write Bloody.

If you want to sit at the Algonquin Roundtable of Indie Poetry and meet the exacting standards of Derrick Brown (doesn't hurt to have slam-to-lit crossover aspirations and already be a National Name who hits the road each year), just click the links above!

RIP Santa Monica's Poetry Rodeo reading.

Last night, Eric Lawson and I were the final two featured poets at Ellyn Maybe's Poetry Rodeo reading at Pier 212 Cafe (the former Novel Cafe) on Main Street in Santa Monica.

Kudos to Ellyn (one of the nicest as well as most talented poets in the Southern California community) for having a weekly residency for her work, as well providing a spotlight for featured and open-mike poets.  Seems like it's been a bad summer for local readings with the cancellations of Michelle Angellini's Silverlake Living Room series and Encino's long-running Barnes and Noble reading with Ron Dvorkin (though Ron will relocate to the Borders in the Canoga Park/Woodland Hills area).

Here's a link to the page for Ellyn's RODEO FOR THE SHEEPISH spoken-word-with-music CD:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Yes, it's true: Barry Levinson's JIMMY HOLLYWOOD to get a Blu-Ray DVD release.


No need to discuss this again--suffice to say I was a stand-in for Joe Pesci on this film during its shoot from mid-summer to early fall of 1993.  And, to give cinematographer Peter Sova (who also lensed DONNIE BRASCO and LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN, among other credits) his due, JIMMY HOLLYWOOD (if well-transferred), should retain the grit-and-gloss feel of its theatrical presentation on Blu-Ray.

Although Joe's blonde wig (for the character of Jimmy Alto) these days reminds one of Phil Spector's hairpiece in the circa-2003 interview clips promoting the new documentary THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY OF PHIL SPECTOR.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Probably the quintessential quote criticizing me for not being a 100% poetry cheerleader.

"Everyone is having a great time.  Literally everyone....and you come along and take a shit in the middle of the living room."

 I just reiterated a pithy precis of every single time I've made poets angry over the last seven years--regarding things I've posted on Yahoogroups listserves or on this blog or (in some unfortunate cases) said at readings.

And I'm presuming that the anonymous person who fired the shotgun blast of the quote above is quite pleased to speak a version of the Truth to me--knowing that he/she (though I'm certain it's a "he") speaks for lots of wronged people (and as I've been re-learning, if I'm critical/questioning of others and they respond with anger and hatred, it's all my fault and none of theirs).

Eventually, we'll all leave the Earth behind and our poems will remain--to be evaluated on their enduring qualities when the specific virtues and sins of the poets writing them are long forgotten.

That should matter more than who is currently valued as the best-liked, harder-than-hardest-working, and/or most commercially successful person sitting in the musical chairs of what's still referred to as the Southern California poetry community.


Friday, July 2, 2010

W.S. Merwin is the new poet laureate--and, no, that doesn't make me want to read his work.

Quote from literary gasbag/former NEA head Dana Gioia in THE WASHINGTON POST article about the Merwin announcement: "There is something monklike about Merwin," Gioia said. "He is trying to achieve a contemplative distance from desire and ambition."

Don't have the quote at hand, but I remember reading of Merwin metaphorically holding his nose at the mention of Allen Ginsberg--who wasn't "mature" enough for the Great Man.

All this makes me wish that Kay Ryan had been given another term as Poet Laureate.