Saturday, December 31, 2011

My 2011 (poetry and otherwise) in review.

Late yesterday afternoon, my wife and I were dining with friends at a seafood restaurant in Simi Valley.

The food arrived a bit late and we complained to the waiter; he apologized, explained in his defense that he was the only person working in our section of the restaurant and gave us free desserts.

I'll say tbis about the difference between complaining at a restaurant and being outspoken (i.e. violating the tacitly-enforced rule of public silence) about things you aren't happy with in the poetry scene: at least the waiter (or manager) doesn't tell customers to open their own restaurant if they don't like the food and service.

As 2011 ends, I look at my record-of-sorts in poetry and it's mixed.

On the positive side, I submitted to a few online journals and was accepted by most of them.  I did some features in the Bay Area in October (as I have since 2004); they were well-received.

Regarding the negative portion of the ledger: I offended people who were either oversensitive (regrettably, a couple of acquaintanceships with poets were lost) or, to put it mildly, don't like criticism/contrariness from someone they consider an artistic/moral inferior.  And I'm still banned from a venue in Orange County--this mark-of-Cain-of-sorts will enter its ninth year in 2012. 

I retired from the LA scene (not for the first time) in November and became semi-retired after participating in a couple of open-mikes in the last week and a half.

Like a lot of other people, I look forward to an improved 2012.

It will be fifteen years since I first began writing poetry and I hope to have three of my books available for the first time in e-book format.

And I'm planning to contine my support of other poets and poetry institutions; it's what we as writers should and must do.

Last of all: I'm happy to be loved by my wife Valarie and our four cats (counting the neighbor cat who comes over most days each week for food and affection); they keep me going in good days and bad.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Best movies of 2011--first draft.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ten nonfiction books I enjoyed reading in 2011.

In no specific order:
3. I WANT MY MTV (oral history written and edited by Craig Marks and Robert Tannenbaum)
4. EMPIRE OF DREAMS (Cecil B. DeMille biography) by Scott Eyman
7. THREE CUPS OF DECEIT by Jon Krakauer
9. FURIOUS LOVE (biography of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton) by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger
and just one more:
11. LIFE ITSELF by Roger Ebert

O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake, Mel Gibson and me.

The comment below (written by a former SoCal poet whose name won't be repeated in this post) was probably the most mean-boy remark thrown at me this year:
"Terry, get a life. Your continued attempts at finding any social acceptance and success for over a decade now within the poetry scene have proven time and time again not to be working for you.. maybe its time to throw in the towel.. or try a new approach? I mean seriously your harping on the past and how your treated oh sooo badly by the hosts and critics of the "scene" has marked you as THAT guy.. it brings more attention to you than your work does, and so it blocks anyone from seeing anything else. Does anyone hardly remember that OJ was a football superstar? no. its not really on that grand of a level..but its similar in the way people intake information. you are your biggest obstacle."

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ten good movies you probably weren't aware of in 2011.

Some of these films are now available on pay-per-view, DVD and/or streaming video.

In no specific order:
1. THE TRIP (2011)--feature-length version of the UK television comedy miniseries with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon; a highlight is their dueling imitations of Michael Caine.
2. RESTLESS--dumped by its studio, this Gus Van Sant-directed romance with Mia Wasikowska and Henry (son of Dennis) Hopper has plenty of charm, geuine intimacy and poignance--the antithesis of pumped-up stuff like the TWILIGHT series.
3. BUCK- documentary about the real-life "horse whisperer" Buck Branneman.
4. PROJECT NIM--acclaimed documentary about what happens when a chimpanzee is subjected to being raised by humans; would make a great double bill with RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES.
5. GAINSBOURG--biopic of the controversial French singer/songwriter Serge Gainsbourg.
6. MARGIN CALL--sometimes a bit too much like a stage play, but a gripping drama of how the dump-the-bad-assets mess of Wall Street in 2008 came to pass.
7. THE BLACK POWER MIXTAPE 1967-1975--Swedish TV journalists' take on the USA Civil Rights era and its aftermath; interviewees include Stokely Carmichael and Angela Davis.
8. THE GUARD-- just-right mixture of comedy/drama/thriller involving Irish policeman Brendan Gleeson and fish-out-of-water FBI agent Don Cheadle.
9.  MELANCHOLIA--Lars Von Trier's wedding-as-sign-of-world's-end drama features what might be a close-to-career-best performance from Kirsten Dunst.
10. ATTACK THE BLOCK--also dumped by its studio for apparently being too British for US multiplex audiences; fast and entertaining comedy/thriller/sci-fi about inncer-city London youth saving their city from invading space aliens--one of the executive producers is Edgar Wright (SHAUN OF THE DEAD, HOT FUZZ) and Nick Frost (SHAUN OF THE DEAD, HOT FUZZ, PAUL) has a supporting role.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Cinematic Underachievers of 2011.

A list of movies in no specific order (some of them from highly-regarded directors) which were subpar for various reasons, i.e. not enough time or money or too much time and money or massive post-production tampering or overpretentious or underthought.

10. THE TREE OF LIFE (somewhere, there's a good 100-minute film to be assembled from the alleged eight-hour version Malick's been touting.)
11. WE BOUGHT A ZOO (family sitcomish Aline Brosh McKenna script--she's best known for THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA screenplay married to Cameron Crowe trotting out all his Greatest Cinematic Hit Characters/Motifs, proving that Crowe-as-filmmaker only had one masterpiece--SAY ANYTHING--and one near-masterpiece--ALMOST FAMOUS--in him)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Music I was listening to this year (in no particular order)

2. Adele--21
5. The Kinks--SOMETHING ELSE BY THE KINKS (reissue)
7. Dave Edmunds--SUBTLE AS A FLYING MALLET (reissue)
8. Thin Lizzy--JAILBREAK (reissue)
9. Compilation for MOJO magazine--STICKY SOUL FINGERS [tribute to the STICKY FINGERS album]
10. The Rolling Stones--SOME GIRLS (reissue)
11. Elvis Presley--FROM ELVIS IN MEMPHIS (reissue)
12. Lucinda Williams--BLESSED
13. The Feelies--CRAZY RHYTHMS (reissue)
14. Gerry Rafferty--SNAKES AND LADDERS (reissue)
15. James McCartney--AVAILABLE LIGHT ep
18. Pearl Jam--TWENTY (soundtrack)
19. Pink Floyd--DARK SIDE OF THE MOON (2011 reissue)
20. Ryan Adams--ASHES AND FIRE
21. Foo Fighters--WASTING LIGHT
22. John Doe--KEEPER
24. Paul McCartney--McCARTNEY/McCARTNEY II (2011 reissues)
25. Wanda Jackson/Jack White--"Shakin' All Over" (single)
26, The Decemberists--THE KING IS DEAD

Sunday, December 18, 2011

RIP Czechoslovakian artist and leader Vaclav Havel.

I thought this sentence from the NPR eulogy of Havel particularly interesting:
"He became more and more impatient with a populace which would not assert itself and tended toward inertia and conformity"

That is an apt description for a lot of the SoCal poetry community.

METHOD TO THE MADNESS: Jerry Lewis reshapes his career arc and talks shop about comedy.,0,6647783.story

I remember a date I had with a fellow drama student in 1974, when we were both in our mid-teens.  We both realized we didn't have a lot in common--and one of those unsympatico things was Jerry Lewis.  She (bringing up the example of 1968's now-mostly-forgotten DON'T RAISE THE BRIDGE...LOWER THE RIVER, directed by Jerry Paris) found him unfunny; I begged to differ.

And, to be honest, Jerry Lewis directing Jerry Lewis could often fit the description of the Woody Allen-written WHAT'S NEW, PUSSYCAT? found in one of Leonard Maltin's MOVIES ON TV books: " sits through a lot of misfired gags to get to a few undeniable gems."

At least the new Encore channel documentary METHOD TO THE MADNESS manages to highlight some of Jerry's better moments of auteurism (THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, THE BELLBOY, THE ERRAND BOY), as well as some priceless clips from the Martin and Lewis era.

Unfortunately, the commissioned-by-Jerry director Gregg Barson didn't seem to be able to get Lewis to acknowledge the directors who either helped shape the "zany idiot" persona or showed it to its best advantage on film.  To watch METHOD TO THE MADNESS, you might be led to think it was all Jerry--and people like George Marshall, Norman Taurog and (especially) Frank Tashlin never existed.

Time for me to be blasphemous and say that a lot of the best Jerry Lewis on film was when he allowed Frank Tashlin (someone who started in cartoons and knew a lot about physical comedy) to direct--ARTISTS AND MODELS, HOLLYWOOD OR BUST, IT'S ONLY MONEY, THE DISORDERLY ORDERLY, etc.

But there's a lot of commissioned documentaries going around these days.  Rock bands, deceased former Beatles, comedians (i.e. the recent Woody Allen tribute on PBS) all wanting to be portrayed in sunshine more than shadows.

And given today's allergy to actually reading detailed knowledge (both positive and negative) on someone's life and times, it's a given that future generations will only be able to know/evaluate certain celebrities solely by reverent hagiographies on film/video.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

New poem: MY SIXTIES.

Here's to memories:

twelve-ounce ten-cent cokes

in paper cups,

the giant-sized Superslide in Wichita Falls,

a copy of RUBBER SOUL

my mother bought me

for Valentine's Day,

Saturday (and sometimes Sunday) matinees

at the Grand Theater,

a rare dinner at the snack bar

of the bowling alley

across from the old Methodist Church,

occasional punishments,

an older brother I was too young to know,

teachers who liked me,

teachers who didn't,

true friends,

bullies in both child and adult sizes,

swimming lessons,

father who survived

an on-the-job accident

and had to have

a plate in his head,

comic books, candy and Fanta Orange

at the drugstore,

waiting downstairs at the Bethania Hospital

while my grandmother was dying,

listening to 45s of "Heroes and Villains"

and "Sunshine Superman" far away

from contact with the Summer of Love,

being loved more than I realized at the time.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Re the latest declaration of the Iraq War's end: two old poems from 2005.

I'd really like to hope this time around that the pre-emptive war in Iraq--mostly fought because it was easier than capturing Osama Bin Laden at the time; plus it was something that George Butch Jr. had signaled he'd do during the 2000 election--is over and done with for the sake of Americans and Iraqis alike.
These poems were written in 2005, when only 2000 American soldiers had been killed in action:



War in Iraq is winnable!

Just ignore the bleats of the Liberal Media

who’s out of touch with heartland America.


Thank God for local news affiliates!

They treat this war just like WWII.

Wasn’t it great when Channel 7

ran that story about military wives/girlfriends

willing to pose for sexy pinup photos

to raise….the morale of their boyfriends

and husbands serving their country?

It’s the perfect story-

patriotism plus cleavage!


White House note to Roger Ailes of Fox News:

Pass along our new talking point

about how the media should quit

using the word “insurgents”

and replace it with “Saddamites”.

Pronounce it the Biblical way (Sodomites)

to appease the Red States.


President Bush memo to Vice-President Cheney-

There was this old Jerry Lewis movie

last night on TV where a millionaire and

his four friends formed a private fighting force

during World War II.

That’s a great idea.

We could use more small, flexible five-man armies

to protect the interests of

Halliburton and all the other companies

making profits from this war.

Wouldn’t cost the taxpayers a dime.


Note to Pentagon staffers from Donald Rumsfeld-

Let’s keep this war low-budget.

The next time someone complains

about soldiers dying from inadequate

armored protection, I’ll just remind them

of the General Sherman quote

about war being Hell and walk away.

And tell the UN in no uncertain terms

that they’ll enter Gitmo over my dead body.


White House note to CNN-

We loved your balanced special

about stateside families who lost loved ones in Iraq.

Keep emphasizing the parents who have decided

to stay loyal, repress public grief

and say that We Can’t Leave

until Iraq can properly fight the Insurgency

on its own.


Note from Karl Rove-

Can we distract Americans

from Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson

by planting either a live girl or a dead boy

in Cindy Sheehan’s bed?





It doesn’t matter if the next President

is a Democrat or Republican,

the war in Iraq will never end.

It really doesn’t matter about the Iraqi people anymore.

We can’t lose face now.













The White House says we can’t leave Iraq.

The pundits say we mustn’t leave Iraq.

I say we’ll never leave Iraq.

Tales of two contrarians--the always-true-to-himself Christopher Hitchens and the trying-to-go-mainstream-again Howard Stern.

RIP to Christopher Hitchens, the talented writer and pundit (and unfortunate acolyte of Championship Wrestling Atheism) who was unafraid to take sometimes-perplexing contrarian decisions (rightly, in my mind, calling out Bill Clinton for his excesses while, sadly, swallowing the Bush/neocon party line on the Justness of the now-officially-ended-yet-again Iraq War):

Here's a compilation of articles Hitchens wrote for the website;

Also RIP in advance to the forthcoming career choice of the King of All Media:
Howard Stern has, in past decades, tried to mainstream himself in other ways besides the artistic success/so-so boxoffice film version of PRIVATE PARTS; the chief examples being an unsold five-night talk-show pilot for the Fox network and a straightforward interview series for the E! network dating from the early 90s.

And now, as the SiriusXM satellite radio series winds down, Stern is again offering a relatively defanged version of himself as a judge on Simon Cowell's GONG SHOW/AMATEUR HOUR dual homage AMERICA'S GOT TALENT:

Ken Tucker of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY offers a more-optimistic-than-I-am take on this:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

?uestlove and The Roots, meet The Smothers Brothers: transgressive TV moments.
[The Roots' controversial introduction of Michele Bachmann on LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON
by covering Fishbone's "Lyin' Ass Bitch."]
[The aftermath of the above Incident]
[Harry Belafonte sings "Don't Stop The Carnival" on THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS COMEDY HOUR--censored from broadcast by CBS due to footage of the 1968 Democratic Party convention in Chicago and the police/demonstrator confrontations outside]

Friday, December 9, 2011

Alec Baldwin and the perils of losing your temper on an airplane.

As both celebrities and ordinary people have learned, a commercial airline flight (on the ground or in the air) is no place to lose your temper with flight attendants/crew members.  Retribution is swift and merciless.

Latest case in point, Alec Baldwin--who gets cluck-clucked, tut-tutted by this blogger:

And, given the corporatization of America, I'm assuming that Alec (still a co-star of 30 ROCK) was ordered by Comcast/NBCUniversal to delete his Twitter account (used to vent anger at American Airlines after the Incident took place).

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Followup to the post about the Gerald Locklin poem.

For those not keeping score through my Facebook page, here's the aftermath of my earlier post here re Gerald Locklin's "iceberg lettuce" poem and my opinion of the LA/OC scene as one not caring for "iceberg lettuce poetry":

Rick Lupert [long-running Cobalt Cafe host, Canoga Park CA]:
Definitely not an accurate assessment of the Cobalt Cafe's 'preference'.
Well you're leaving it wrong then. I don't know how you can look at the huge variety of styles presented at the Cobalt reading by the many different poetic sensibilities who are given the opportunity to pick and present poets, along with the many different styles of Cobalt regulars who have been presented and make a blanket statement that the Cobalt has a specific preference of any kind.

.Terry McCarty: Standing by my post--the Cobalt reading has evolved, along with other long-running Southern California readings, in terms of the poets and poetry that are favored by hosts--both yourself and those you outsource to--and often featured. Most of the "many different poetic sensibilities" are now on display solely during open-mike segments.Really, Rick, your standing is secure in Southern California. You shouldn't worry about what my assessments are.
Rick: Not sure if you are aware of who has featured or if you've ever seen them perform or are aware of their work...but Ron Gregus and Gerald Locklin who we're presented just the last couple weeks are hugely different from people like Florence Weinberger and Dorothy Barresi presented within recent previous months. I can't see how anyone can look at the list of people presented as featured readers just within the last 6 months and make any kind of legitimate blanket statement about any one "preference". You can stand by your statement if you'd like but I'm going to stand by my assessment of it's inaccuracy.9 hours ago via ·
I'm not personally worried about your statements but I am concerned when inaccurate comments are made about the Cobalt reading that may be seen by other people who aren't as familiar with the reality of the situation.9 hours ago via · ...

LOB INSTAGON [poet/musician and former host of the Club Mesa reading in Costa Mesa CA--now living in Sacramento] Terry.. your bitter "why cant anyone appreciate ME" attitude is really really old. whining crybabies never deserve or will get any respect. If you want respect as a poet or a performer of any kind.. you should really give up this epic complaining about OTHER people and other venues. Start your own venue if you have so much issues with the control that successful happenings enforce to keep on being successful. PROVE IT..make a scene of your talk a good talk..but you do nothing about it...but complain about not getting a feature..wah wah wah. You are the cause of your misgivings. Rick runs one of, if not THEE most respect reading in his region.. and your crying because you cannot keep up with the ever changing dynamics of performance poetry and open mic protocol is just pathetic and harms no one but YOU. Once I had respect for you as a person and a poet, but your insistence at begging for attention and your down right mean back handed complaints and comments regarding the community have earned your opinion the class of being valueless, and destroyed our "friendship" .and you wonder why you keep losing friends and not getting any readings? grow up and stop being a little bitch.

Terry: I'll concede Ron Dvorkin booking Ron Gregus (who I respect) as being out-of-the-box. But a lot of bookings smack of the same conception of Prestige Features as seen at the Ugly Mug, Coffee Cartel, the latest incarnation of The Rapp Saloon, Murray's monthly in Long Beach etc. etc
Rick: Maybe you should just go down the list and give an assessment, feature by feature of which you feel are "prestige" bookings, versus whatever the other categories might be. And for the "prestige" one's maybe you can advise, should we just not feature those poets? They don't deserve a chance to read to the Cobalt audience? The Cobalt audience shouldn't be exposed to those folks. Then maybe, when you've gone through the list you can provide some percentages as to how many of the featured poets were good choices that you can live with. I'm sure all of the poets involved would love to know what category they fall in to help with their own sense of legitimacy. Looks like you've got some work ahead of you.
Terry: Perhaps the real question of today's scene vs. when I arrived is: How much time should be devoted to giving first features to developing talent vs. booking an easy Brand Name who has (hopefully) a following? And, if people like Gerald Locklin and Dorothy Barresi were beginners now, which (if any) venues would give them their first shot to hold an audience for 20-25 minutes?
Rick: I don't really think about how many first timers versus so-called established poets I book. Not at all concerned about the numbers or percentages...but if you look at any given year's worth of people at the Cobalt (including 2011) you'll find both categories well represented. Many people give their first featured reading at the Cobalt including names from this past year.
Lob: Terry.. your issue is with hosts. And its a job dynamic you know NOTHING about. Perhaps if you had ANY understanding of what that means you would be singing a different tune. So, my suggestion, again.. is to EDUCATE YOURSELF.. start your own reading.. see how long you can keep it going. I dare you.
IMO, if a poet can hold a room for 5 minutes.. and the room is begging for more, applauding profusely.. they deserve a feature. when was the last time you had a room of people applauding you and asking for more????? Have you ever ??
A feature is an EARNED honor.. not a given right.
Rick: To be fair Terry did start his own reading and did many of the things that were pointed out that he should do before lobbing criticism at others...and he also, despite occasional poetry community withdrawls, is given features at venues in L.A. and S.F. so I don't think this is about Terry's efforts in that regard.
Lob: Rick, I disagree. I have given Terry features in the past, they were not nights you want to write about. Hosting a reading for more than a year.. regularly.. consistently providing a good entertaining show that people enjoy and want to come back to week after week is hard WORK. You know what I am saying.. but I feel that Terry does not.. trying your hand at running a reading and then giving up, or having it discontinued within a month or 2 does not equal understanding the dynamic of presenting a long running series. Also..everything evolves.. and the poetry community is NOT the same as it was when Terry first decided to join it. I am pretty tired of seeing Terry hash up old complaints from 3 or 5 years ago in his blog like the issues were still relevant. they are not. Times change, flavors change, peoples tastes change. and artists, entertainers, poets, musicians, etc.. all need to be continually evolving too in order to keep an audience paying attention. Refusing to accept this and simply bitching about it is just a cry for attention that has no place in a grown up world. And slandering a reading like yours for doing nothing but being supportive, consistent, and successful for YEARS truly offends me.

.Terry:  Re Lob's post: I read in the open when he hosted Club Mesa, but did not feature there. Maybe he's remembering features I did at Gypsy Den for Jaimes Palacio or at the Ugly Mug in the previous decade.7 hours ago · LikeUnlike.Terry McCarty Re Lob's post Part Two: I hosted two readings--one from my home in 2005-06 and another from a since-closed coffeehouse in Tarzana in 2007--perhaps if the coffeehouse hadn't closed, the reading would have gone a bit longer. No, not every reading has a long run--but I'm happy to have done something in the area of hosting and harbor no resentment over not having a two-decade tenure--something few hosts are blessed with. Perhaps my issue is when SoCal readings start out catering to the many and decide to settle for a select few--whether it's social climbing, artistic aspirations, poetic preferences, etc. It shouldn't be "slander" to say that.
Rick: I think, again, it's an inaccurate implication that the Cobalt reading doesn't cater to the many.
Lob: Rick, its completely inaccurate, and nearly stupid to make such a claim. It shows nothing but naive ignorance, and an arrogant lack of reality on the part of the author. Terry, get a life. Your continued attempts at finding any social acceptance and success for over a decade now within the poetry scene have proven time and time again not to be working for you.. maybe its time to throw in the towel.. or try a new approach? I mean seriously your harping on the past and how your treated oh sooo badly by the hosts and critics of the "scene" has marked you as THAT guy.. it brings more attention to you than your work does, and so it blocks anyone from seeing anything else. Does anyone hardly remember that OJ was a football superstar? no. its not really on that grand of a level..but its similar in the way people intake information. you are your biggest obstacle.
oh.. and you are right.. i stand corrected.. i have not given you a feature in the past. sorry for saying so. I had thought I had at Liquid Den (the last location I hosted in So Cal)..but my data says otherwise. all apologies.

When comedy teams come back from the the LAUREL AND HARDY and THREE STOOGES features.

Trailer for a "Laurel and Hardy" feature you probably didn't know about, with Bronson Pinchot as Stan, Gailard Sartain as Ollie and co-directed by John Cherry, auteur of the Jim Varney ERNEST features:

New trailer for the Farrelly Brothers' THE THREE STOOGES, with Chris Diamantopoulos as Moe, Sean Hayes as Larry and Will Sasso as Curly:

Feel free to make comments on one or both.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gerald Locklin poem points up something profound about local poetry scene.

I've been somewhat ill with bronchitis (the coughing-up-mucus-plus-fever variety) this past week.  And, as a consequence, I wasn't nearly in shape to consider going to the Cobalt Cafe's 300th Broadside reading last week (although in a different era, I was able to feature there and a broadside was created from my poem "This Poem is For Sale.").

I do remember five-and-a-half years ago when the previous Broadside anniversary reading drew so many people that the reading went on too late for me to go the distance--causing me to be reprimanded by Bowerbird Intelligentleman the following day on the CobaltPoets Yahoolist.

Here's an excerpt from the 300th Broadside announcement:
GERALD LOCKLIN [the featured poet]

Gerald Locklin is now a Professor Emeritus of English at California State University, Long Beach, where he taught from 1965 through 2007, and continues as an occasional part-time lecturer. A profile based on a retirement event was broadcast on NPR and is archived. He is the author of over 125 books, chapbooks, and broadsides of poetry, fiction, and criticism, with over 3000 poems, stories, articles, reviews, and interviews published in periodicals. His work is frequently performed by Garrison Keillor on his Writer's Almanac daily Public Radio program, is archived on his website, and is included In all three of Mr. Keillor's Good Poems anthologies.



The Iceberg Theory

all the food critics hate iceberg lettuce.

you'd think romaine was descended from

orpheus's laurel wreath,

you'd think raw spinach had all the nutritional

benefits attributed to it by popeye,

not to mention aesthetic subtleties worthy of

verlaine and debussy.

they'll even salivate over chopped red cabbage.

just to disparage poor old mr. iceberg lettuce.

I guess the problem is

it's just too common for them.

it doesn't matter that it tastes good,

has a satisfying crunchy texture,

holds its freshness,

and has crevices for the dressing,

whereas the darker, leafier varieties

are often bitter, gritty and flat.

it just isn't different enough and

it's too goddamn american.

of course a critic has to criticize:

a critic has to have something to say.

perhaps that's why literary critics

purport to find interesting

so much contemporary poetry

that just bores the shit out of me.

at any rate, I really enjoy a salad

with plenty of chunky iceberg lettuce,

the more the merrier,

drenched in an italian or roquefort dressing.

and the poems I enjoy are those I don't have

to pretend that I'm enjoying.

~ Gerald Locklin

The irony is that the Cobalt Cafe and a lot of other current readings in town prefer non-Iceberg lettuce poems.  And maybe it's a good thing that I was far too sick to attend.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Why is poet-to-poet cruelty still considered acceptable, tolerable behavior?

It's not been a good past few days.  I've been sick and my television viewing has been loaded with either grim Oedipal conflict/capitulation (last night's excellent episode of BOARDWALK EMPIRE) or painful, wanting someone to be X rather than the Y he/she is (today's GENERAL HOSPITAL).

And watching all of these people taking/dealing out pain reminded me of my great primal hurt in poetry; just like Jimmy Stewart being shot through the hand in THE MAN FROM LARAMIE or Scar frightening Simba out of his homeland in THE LION KING, I had this happen to me for the temerity of (admittedly within a contentious discussion on another topic) asking a poet about if he ever read a chapbook of mine I sent him years earlier:
"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."

Tonight, as I write this post, I still feel residual raw nerves over the fact that a lot of people in the poetry community I've dealt with over the past thirteen years believe the writer of the above is an all-around great guy, a quarterback for Art and the kind of friend that certain Facebook friends would dump me over in a microsecond if they had to choose between me and him (and, believe me, I'm not asking that.).

And there are times that, in spite of whatever I've accomplished in poetry or tried to help others accomplish, I can't ever forget someone who was nice to me and my wife Valarie (even thought enough of him at the time to see him in Redondo Beach, referred to above) later feeling the necessity to pull out a rhetorical shiv to ensure that I'd be a poet that not only wouldn't "survive", but wouldn't "survive" over him.

So David Denby of THE NEW YORKER reviews THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO early...and other ethical crises.

Not being a professional film critic/reviewer asked to sign a "don't write about this until X date" document, all I can do is provide some unembargoed opinions:
1. NEW YORKER film critic David Denby's mentor Pauline Kael wasn't afraid to take her time getting around to reviewing "new" releases; the haste of the current NEW YORKER regime to lunge for a "you gotta read/log onto this NOW" scoop shows it's a far different era.
2. Note to Scott Rudin: You're blackballing Denby and screaming red-velvet decibels of outrage over, in essence, a film review (and a positive one) running ONE WEEK EARLIER than you've planned (regarding magazine reviews).  Step back from your anger and recognize the silliness of it all.
3. Then again, Denby was a bit of an ass when trying to curry favor with Rudin over a putdown of Cameron Crowe's WE BOUGHT A ZOO--a film that, if reviewed in this week's NEW YORKER, would have likely been smirked to death by alternating NEW YORKER film critic Anthony Lane.
4. The remaining gambit to be played in this film review embargo crisis is whether or not Rudin tries to banish anyone else at THE NEW YORKER (Lane, Richard Brody, etc.) from seeing advance screenings of his other big holiday production EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE.

[UPDATE: David Fincher weighs in with a pro-Rudin, pro-control-media-access comment:]

Friday, December 2, 2011

Re those arrested during Tuesday night's de-occupation of L.A. City Hall

Key passage from the article (highlighting by me):
Most of those released qualified for a pre-filing diversion program, which allows nonviolent offenders without a criminal record to choose to complete a 90-day educational program to avoid prosecution for a $375 or $400 fee, [Earl]Thomas [chief of the criminal division for the City Attorney's office] said. He said they will receive information on the program in the mail.

The City Attorney’s Office can still file charges for a year according to the statue of limitations, Thomas said.

“If they complete the program and stay out of trouble for that year, while the statue is running, they have an opportunity to keep their record clear,” Thomas said.

The curriculum includes information about being a good citizen, the government, constitutional rights and the consequences of an arrest, among other issues. The course can be completed from home and fee payment can be made in installments, Thomas said. He said officials are looking at bringing in constitutional experts on the First Amendment including retired Supreme Court Justices to talk to participants.

The City Attorney’s Office made a request Thursday to include a condition within the release that would prevent people from returning to the City Hall lawn, but the court apparently denied that request, Thomas said. He said the Office has not had a chance to review cases processed Friday.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Various links/Twitter posts on the fall of Occupy L.A. City Hall.

"During the park closure, a First Amendment area will remain open on the Spring Street City Hall steps." --[Los Angeles mayor Antonio] Villaraigosa--Neon Tommy (via Twitter)

Dear Media: When the police tell you to leave IS WHEN YOU STAY. You're supposed to be a check on this kind of power!--Wil Wheaton (via Twitter)

Notable unlawful assemblies: Second Constitutional Congress, Southern lunch counter sit-ins.--Devin Faraci (via Twitter)

For Context for non-LA ppl, #occupyLA is about 3 blocks from a permanent tent city for the homeless, never shut down for health reasons.--Nick Robinson (via Twitter)

RT @KPCCLive: As far as we can tell, LAPD did not ever employ non-lethal enforcement like bean bags, tear gas.--Kevin Roderick (LA OBSERVED) via Twitter.

‎3:14 AM Just now on OccupyFreedomLA Ustream, a witness says she is looking at about 20 undercover police officers fist bumping with uniformed officers. They apparently looked just like all the occupiers clad in 99% t-shirts--via

#OccupyLA peaceful protestors held on $5,000 bail for "unlawful assembly" To date, Wall Street Banksters go uncharged & are free. #OWS~OA--Official Occup L.A. tweet

Ruth Fowler of Occupy L.A. on what happened outside the LAPD-allowed "media pool":

Tuesday, November 29, 2011



(for poet Scott Wannberg and his Canine of Truth Sparky)

get along little protesters

get out of the street

get onto the sidewalk

fold your banners

and pack up your tents

because you're making


and television journalists mad as Heck

now the hounds are baying for Charlie Beck

to tear off his peaceful-interaction

make-them-disappear-by-attrition mask

and emerge as the Incredible Two-Headed Hybrid

of Darryl Gates and Ed Davis

crying havoc

and unleashing the tasers and batons

get along little protesters

business must do whatever it wants

we're not going to listen to you Occupy people

since our city is not a city of "the people"

but a city of, by and for

the Very Important People

of AEG


get along little protesters

go play with the other weird fuzzy-haired,

fuzzy-brained hippie kids

in Occupy Orange County

or Occupy Long Beach

or wherever you can be more easily ignored

by the state, nation and world

go away little protesters

go home and eat low-fat granola

drink your soy lattes

watch your Noam Chomsky videos

and let us govern,

while the silent majority occupies sidewalks

outside theaters and big-box stores

we love the silent majority

they know to SHUT UP AND CONSUME

and take what they're given

no matter how bad it is now

or how much worse it will be

we'll be glad when

everyone forgets all about

this trouble-stirring business-unfriendly

nonsense of Occupying public space

that we'll always find reasons

to throw you out of

once we're tired of your madness


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Remember the Bonus Army of 1932 in wake of Occupy crackdowns.

Below is a history lesson that, ideally, should be read by people like NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and L.A. OBSERVED business columnist Mark Lacter (both of which fulminated on the Occupy movement last week, throwing out the usual "dirty, intellectually incoherent, unrealistic hippies" stereotypes).

Wikipedia entry on the Bonus Army of World War One veterans who occupied Washington D.C. in 1932:

From the Wikipedia article:
Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur commanded the infantry and cavalry supported by six tanks. The Bonus Army marchers with their wives and children were driven out, and their shelters and belongings burned.
A second, smaller Bonus March in 1933 at the start of the Roosevelt Administration was defused with promises instead of military action. In 1936, Congress overrode President Franklin D. Roosevelt's veto to pay the veterans their bonus years early.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Observations for this Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving originally was a holiday celebrating diverse cultures being able to sit together and share a meal, marinating in good will towards people other than themselves.  In 2011, Thanksgiving is a holiday where employees of megastores get to curtail their family time to go to work very late/very early to service
consumers on what is now known as "Black Friday."

"Black Friday" was once an inside-business term for the Friday-after-Thanksgiving sales.  In recent years, the store-opening times were switched to ungodly hours like 5:00 a.m.  This year, because megastores expect the economy to improve enough to strip $20 billion from consumer wallets, Black Friday has turned into Black Thursday-and-Friday.

In 2011, families will sacrifice their family togetherness/good will to stand in front of megastores most of Thanksgiving Day to enter stores as early as 10:00 p.m to buy high-tech items at low low prices.  Or, if they're interested in shopping at Best Buy, they're already sleeping outside or in tents--a method of occupying public space that's more acceptable to government/corporate cultures than the Occupy movement that's being beaten/pepper-sprayed in a city near you.

Speaking of Occupy Los Angeles as it celebrates Thanksgiving before its inevitable forced retreat from L.A.'s City Hall: it's rather pitiful that the city of Los Angeles is unwilling to heed the economic inequity message of the movement instead of making half-assed offers of dollar-a-year store space in the L.A. Mall underneath the Fletcher Bowron Plaza.

[Sidebar: I'm imagining how quickly Occupy Los Angeles would have been crushed by the LAPD/L.A. City Council if the tents/protestors had appeared in, say, Beverly Hills or Century City rather than around City Hall--a part of Downtown that hasn't yet become completely gentrified.]

And, closing this post, here's a Hall of Shame re naysayers towards the Occupy movement:
1. CHUCK HENRY--everybody's favorite blowdried ex-travel host (EYE ON L.A.) turned inexplicably long-running KNBC-TV anchorman made a sort of yucky smiley-face the other night when introducing a story about Occupy L.A.; it was the most contemptuous "they're a bunch of dirty hippies" grin/grimace worthy of the next person on this list.
2. MICHAEL BLOOMBERG--curious if anyone caught MSNBC Tuesday morning to see the grotesque farce of the New York City mayor defending his recent misbehavior to Andrea Mitchell; Ms. Mitchell is married to one-time economic majordomo Alan Greenspan, who helped create the masters-and-serfs feudalism that's the United States in 2011.
3. BERNARD PARKS/THE LOS ANGELES TIMES--the ex-LAPD chief trotted out a whopper of an unlikely scenario--that "neo-Nazis" could one day occupy the space around City Hall ; the city's Newspaper of Record thought Parks' overstatement was so nice, it repeated it twice (both in a "news" article and an editorial).

Saturday, November 19, 2011

New developments in Natalie Wood death investigation--apparently a welcome distraction for L.A. Sheriff's Dept.

Two commenters on this story in the LOS ANGELES TIMES:,0,29805.story

Sea Angel at 11:34 AM November 19, 2011

Falling hook, line, and sinker, for Wood's death investigation? Boat's capt. is hawking his book while the ACLU is calling for a full criminal and civil rights investigation by Sheriff Leroy Baca's deputies and accusing him of malfeasance and misfeasance in office because of all of the events they say took place in the jails that Baca should have known about. Not only was Baca covering up violence and beatings against prisoners at the jail, he also covers up that MTA bus operators abuse elderly and disabled public transportation riders. Baca's investigators suddenly have plenty of resources to waste on this actress's death which happened 30 years ago but haven't even began to investigate that on the morning of September 7, 2011, a MTA bus operator became hostile when requested to accommodate an elderly passenger requiring the bus's ramp to get off the bus - he began cursing and insulting her; he shut the old woman's arm in the bus's door and dragged her along the ground with the moving bus. Suddenly he stopped the bus and opened the door. Next he jumped out of the bus and began beating the old crippled woman with his fists and threw her to the sidewalk. Then he drove away and left her injured. The woman's name is Smith and it is now public record.

Bundling at 11:28 AM November 19, 2011

No possibility the Sheriff's Department is seeking some p.r. to distract people from its own problems?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What I keep forgetting about the notion of "friends" on Facebook.

Earlier this afternoon, I unfriended someone who I had known since the early days I participated in L.A. poetry.  We got along fairly well and I even gave him rides to and from readings.  I knew he had a less-than-positive opinion of the poems I wrote at the time, but I (sometimes with swallowed discomfort) accepted it and was happy to have at least an acquaintanceship with him.

Recently, the poet (now living in another state) took to Facebook to complain on a topic I could empathize with--feeling marginalized and perhaps pushed out by a dominant faction in his poetry community.

I read his post and the comments from his friends in the other state wishing him well and hoping he'd continue his poetry/publishing activities.

Backchannel, I wrote him a letter (duplicating the well-wishes described above) and got a terse response of, essentially, "it's nothing, just problems with someone in City X."

I wished him well nonetheless--and later, I noticed he posted another (apparently related to the earlier post) complaint about "incest" in poetry (presumingly about cliques of poets who have a narrow who's in/who's out policy--also something I have awareness of).

And there were supportive comments from his recent friends.

This made me realize that he thought of me (who knew him over a two-year period) as someone not worth talking to even on a superficial level about what was bothering him.  Perhaps he wanted to hear from the "right" people in his city/state.

So, I unfriended him.  This likely made me a bad Facebook "friend" or perhaps "petty" to some people's thinking.

But it was a reminder of the lesson that one should think very hard about the people you are tempted to friend--and that this social network contract be based on something a little more substantive than cursorily knowing someone for a few years, months or days

Sunday, November 13, 2011

THE LOS ANGELES TIMES and its Calendar section have a problem with wanting censorship of adult TV series.,0,6941140.story

At the LOS ANGELES TIMES, it seems like the paper's Calendar (entertainment) section has a certain preference, no matter who happens to be running the section.

If you disapprove of certain kinds of entertainment/entertainers, yes, you can get a big think-piece article in
Calendar.  Around 1999, Eric Harris had a shining-star moment with a "STAR WARS is racist" story capitalizing on the controversial Jar Jar Binks character in THE PHANTOM MENACE.  More recently, Mary McNamara took the vapors over too much "gratuitous" nudity in HBO series, including BOARDWALK EMPIRE (singled out for "savage violence" by Greg Braxton in the article linked to above):

Poor naive, stupid me: I believe that implicit/explicit calls to "clean up TV" should have died years ago.

If viewers want to watch "gratuitous savage" television programming intended for adult audiences, then it should be their privilege--a privilege that Greg Braxton and Mary McNamara have no business in writing faux-morality tch-tch, cluck-cluck articles to discourage (as well as implicitly encouraging government/FCC to become a 21st-century Hays Office).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Doubting we've seen the last of Rick Perry as Presidential candidate.

Perhaps Rick Perry may be both pundit toast and even voter toast after last night's GOP debate performance.

But I'm guessing Perry will go on THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO and do his best to humorously spin lead into at least brass--making himself safe for 2016.

This reminds me of a Democrat who gaffed by making a too-long convention speech in 1988, appeared on Johnny Carson's TONIGHT SHOW and ran for President in 1992.

The Democrat's name was Bill Clinton.

[UPDATE 11/11/11] I was wrong; Perry appeared on LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN--now, by default, Dave's the new Johnny Carson and will probably stay a few years past Carson's retirement age.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Brett Ratner does it the "Old Hollywood" sexist/gay-panic way..

Adding my perspective to the above:
Brett Ratner's distasteful, unnecessary and regrettable incident (referring to the too-common use of "fag" or "gay" as a synonym for "weak"/"weakling") proved to one of the most egregious examples of reckless and thoughtless "guy's guy" Hollywood behavior since ex-New Line majordomo/now producer Mike De Luca was the recipient of a woman's public sex act at an A-list Hollywood party:,,282635,00.html

I can't help but wonder what Ratner's career as a producer/director of mainstream star-driven movie/TV entertainment would be like if he put all his attention into making better product (certainly TOWER HEIST could and should have been more than it is)--and less to emulating the never-will-completely-go-away sexist/homophobic "player" behavior prevalent in Hollywood male power figures.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Roger and Chaz Ebert looking for other funding for their film reviews show.

I'll repeat some of what I've said here in the past:
Yes, it's good that Roger Ebert put a film review show on television to take up the gap left when The Walt Disney Company guillotined AT THE MOVIES.

But, like the sad season of AT THE MOVIES when Ben Mankiewicz was shackled to shallow Ben (son of Jeffrey) Lyons, Ignatly the Intellect is handcuffed a la 39 STEPS to supersmiling-though-not-dumb Christy Lemire (essentially Richard "careerist" Roeper in drag).

And I don't understand why Roger and Chaz Ebert seem to have a weakness for too-eager-to-be-telegenic cardboard people like Lemire and Roeper.  Perhaps too much deference to TV execs who were likely in preschool when Roger won his Pulitzer Prize.

If the current Ebert show fails to find non-Ebert money to produce and dies a premature death, all one can say is to read Roger's very good autobiography LIFE ITSELF and seek out old clips of SISKEL AND EBERT in its various incarnations to see film criticism on television done right.

[UPDATE 11/11/11: Here's Chaz Ebert thanking viewers of EBERT PRESENTS for their support thus far:]

Friday, November 4, 2011

Seven more thoughts as I leave the SoCal poetry building.

1. The titans of SoCal poetry come in three flavors: a. obnoxious and egomaniacal b. seemingly friendly, but likely to say less than kind things about you behind your back as they advance socially c. genuinely friendly and helpful no matter where you are in the scheme of things.  Have known people in all three categories over the past thirteen years.

2. As I've said before, I came into a poetry scene that had a larger welcome mat than it does now.  Ironically, the first venue I read/attended workshop at (Midnight Special Bookstore) had a shakeup where certain then-elite poets (Richard Beban and at least one of his fellow Hyperpoets) stomped away--apparently because the venue was too small-d democratic for their tastes.  Today, venues either set out to pattern themselves as/change their booking preferences to the Rose Cafe's Hyperpoets reading series as it existed in the late 20th Century--making Beban sort of the highbrow Carl Karcher, Jr. of SoCal.

3.  A very large number of SoCal poets may claim to be fiercely liberal in the social/economic senses, but they are rather passive and pay little attention to the "poetry community" changing in ways which eventually
discourage their active participation.  They have day jobs and they have fun at the readings they attend--and they, sadly, aren't bothering to take a long-term viewpoint until it's too late.  Then, nostalgia---and silence. 

4. And, as a corollary, they tend not to want to stick their necks out for troublemakers (few Tom Joads in LA/OC poetry).  If one of their own gets in trouble with a popular poetic authority figure, that's not their problem--unless that authority figure says/does something to them personally.  And, then, they're likely to find few-if-any fellow poets willing to listen to their problems should they choose to seek counsel.

5. Some veteran poets in the scene figure that, by embracing prevailing (and sometimes trendy) notions of "what's good", they can prolong their careers and eventually make some money.  The mania of getting an MFA degree to get the Right people to take one's poetry seriously still prevails.  However, I worry that, given the "we will anoint you as a Real Poet when we see fit--it may take years or decades" thinking here, an MFA may not change certain tastemakers' attitudes that easily.

6. Take self-appointed leaders with a grain of sea salt.  G. Murray Thomas knows a few things, but his blow-with-the-prevailing-winds pronouncements/reviews shouldn't make you feel like writing poetry you're uncomfortable with for "career" reasons/wasting money on an MFA if you don't agree with him.
7.  If you choose to remain in the arena, don't hesitate to spawn readings from your home--or even (gasp!) a coffeehouse.  I did both over the last few years--and am happy to have made a positive effort.

Now, it's your turn to pick up a banner and keep Southern California poetry from losing its regional flavor/diversity/idiosyncrasy entirely.

Some day--or some year--I hope to join you again.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pauline Kael on THE EXORCIST.

Found a copy of this 1974 review (in my opinion, one of Pauline Kael's best pieces of writing) on

Reprinting it here:

Pauline Kael, The New Yorker, January 7, 1974

Shallowness that asks to be taken seriously—shallowness like William Peter Blatty's—is an embarrassment. When you hear him on TV talking about communicating with his dead mother, your heart doesn't bleed for him, your stomach turns for him. Some people have impenetrable defense sys-tems. You can't kid around with a man who says that he wrote The Exorcist because "as I went along writing my funny books and screenplays, I felt I wasn't making a contribution to the welfare of the world." He says that he looks upon it "quite frankly as an apostolic work." That the work has made him a millionaire doesn't make him a liar. Blatty is apostle to the National Enquirer, and to Cosmopolitan, in which the novel was condensed—so those Cosmopolitan Girls could make conversation without looking tired around the eyes. The crushing blunt-wittedness of the movie version, which he pro-duced, tends to bear out Blatty's apostolic claims. Directed by William Friedkin, who won the Academy Award as Best Director of 1971 for The French Connection, the film is a faithful, adaptation of the Blatty book—and that's not a compliment. Blatty did the intractable screenplay, so Friedkin may have been faithful in spite of himself. The picture isn't a gothic horror comedy, like Psycho or Rosemary's Baby; it has been made as a heavy, expen-sive family picture. It's faithful not to the way many people read the book—as a fast turn-on entertainment—but to Blatty's claims about what the book was intended to be. It's an obtuse movie, without a trace of play-fulness in it. A viewer can become glumly anesthetized by the brackish color and the senseless ugliness of the conception.

Following on the success of Rosemary 's Baby (Rosemary gave birth to a cloven-hoofed infant, her actor-husband having mated her with Satan in ex-change for a Broadway hit), Blatty, a veteran screenwriter, developed an out¬line for a novel about the demonic possession of a child, and Marc Jaffe, of Bantam Books, subsidized the effort. Harper & Row picked up (lie hardcover rights, and the movie deal (stipulating that Blatty was to produce) was made even before publication. Blatty, who once hoaxed people by im-personating a Saudi Arabian prince, and whose screen credits include a hand in Darling Lili, The Great Bank Robbery, What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?, Promise Her Anything, John Goldfarb, Please Come Home, etc., is not an austere writer. The key personnel in The Exorcist are (a) Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn), a beautiful movie-star mother, divorced, agnostic; (b) her twelve-year-old daughter, Regan (Linda Blair), who becomes a foul-mouthed, sex-obsessed, blaspheming, church-desecrating murderess; (c) Fa¬ther Damien Karras (Jason Miller), a tormented Jesuit psychiatrist who is losing his faith; (d) a jokey, warmhearted Jewish police lieutenant (Lee J. Cobb); (3) a distinguished, ascetic priest, Father Merrin (Max von Sydow), whose archeological work has somehow—it's not made clear how, in either the book or the movie—released the demon that takes over Regan.

The book features a murder victim—a British movie director—whose "head was turned completely around, facing backward"; little Regan rotat-ing her head; little Regan masturbating with a crucifix and grabbing her mother and forcing her mother's face against her bloody vagina; vomit pro-pelled from Regan's mouth into people's faces. And what Blatty didn't man-age to have his characters do he had them talk about, so there were fresh atrocities every few hundred words. Like the pulp authors who provide flip-page sex, he provided flip-page torture, infanticide, cannibalism, sexual hys-teria, werewolves. The book is a manual of lurid crimes, written in an easy-to-read tough-guy style yet with a grating heightening word here and there, supposedly to tone it up. ("When the Mass was over, he polished the chalice and carefully placed it in his bag. He rushed for the seven-ten train back to Washington, carrying pain in a black valise.") The book turns up on high-school reading lists now, and the Bantam edition carries such quotes as "Deeply religious ... a parable for our times" and "The Exorcist should be read twice; the first time for the passion and horrifying intensity of the story, with a second reading to savor the subtleties of language and phrasing over-looked in the mounting excitement of the first perusal."

For the movie, Blatty had to dispense with a subplot about the butler's daughter, and, of course, he couldn't retain all the gory anecdotes, but the basic story is told, and the movie—religiously literal-minded—shows you a heaping amount of blood and horror. This explicitness must be what Wil-liam Friedkin has in mind when he talks publicly about the picture's "doc-umentary quality." The movie also has the most ferocious language yet heard in a picture that is rated R, and is thus open to children (to those whose parents are insane enough to take them, or are merely uninformed). The Exorcist was budgeted at four million dollars, but, what with swiveling heads, and levitations, and vomit being spewed on target, the cost kept ris¬ing, and the picture came in somewhere around ten million. If The Exorcist had cost under a million, or had been made abroad, it would almost cer-tainly be an X film, but when a movie is as expensive as this one, the M.P.A.A. rating board doesn't dare to give it an X. Will people complain? I doubt it; the possible complainers have become accessories. Two Jesuits ap¬pear in the cast and served, with a third, as "technical advisers," along with a batch of doctors. Besides, the Catholic Church is hardly likely to be upset by the language or actions in a film that says that the Catholic Church is the true faith, feared by the Devil, and that its rituals can exorcise demons. The two heroes of the film are von Sydow and Jason Miller, both playing Jesuits; Georgetown University cooperated with the production, which was shot partly in Georgetown; and one of the Jesuit actor-advisers enriched us, even before the film was finished, with information about its high moral charac-ter ("It shows that obscenity is ugly . . . vicious ugly, like the Vietnamese news"). The movie may be in the worst imaginable taste—that is, an utterly unfeeling movie about miracles—but it's also the biggest recruiting poster the Catholic Church has had since the sunnier days of Going My Way and The Bells of St. Mary's.

Whatever Blatty's claims, if The Exorcist scares people that's probably all it has to do, in box-office terms, and basically that's all the whole unpleasant movie is designed to do. "People only go to movies for three reasons, to laugh, cry, or be frightened," Friedkin has said. And "There are only three reasons to make a movie, to make people laugh, to make them cry, or to frighten them." The scaring here is a matter of special effects and sound and editing—the roaring-animal noises from the attic coming at the right instant, Regan's bed shaking just enough, the objects in her room flying about without looking silly, and so on. If the audience ever started giggling at the sounds and tricks, the picture might collapse, because it's entirely mechanical and impersonal. Von Sydow brings some elegance to his role, and the makeup that ages him is one of the most convincing aging jobs I've ever seen, but once you perceive that his Father Merrin is saintly and infirm, that's it. As Father Karras, the most active character, Jason Miller does the gloomy, tormented John Garfield bit—and it's a wheeze by now. All the performances are; there's nothing the actors can do with the juiceless stock roles.

The book's success may relate to its utter shallowness; the reader can go at a fast clip, following the plot and not paying any attention to the charac-ters. But in the movie version the psychology, which is tiresomely moralistic (as in a fifties TV drama), is dead center. There we are with the freethinking mother feeling guilty about her divorce and its effects on Regan; we may not know why the demon picked on Regan, but we're tipped that that broken home—the first step to Hell—gave the Devil his chance. And there we are with the creaking goodness of the Jewish cop, and the jocular bonhomie of the Jesuits. It's all so tired that we can keep going only on fresh atrocities. Apart from the demonic special effects, which are done in staccato quick cuts, the picture is in a slugging, coercive style. It piles up points, like a dem-onstration. Friedkin, beloved of studio heads for such statements as "I'm not a thinker. ... If it's a film by somebody instead of for somebody, I smell art," is not a director given to depth or mystery. Nor is he a man with a light touch—a failing that appears to have been exacerbated by the influence of El Topo. He has himself said that Blatty's book took hold of him and made him physically ill. That's the problem with moviemakers who aren't thinkers: they're mentally unprotected. A book like Blatty's makes them sick, and they think this means they should make everybody sick. Probably Friedkin really believes he is communicating an important idea to us. And the only way he knows how to do it is by surface punch; he's a true commercial director—he confuses blatancy with power.

As a movie, The Exorcist is too ugly a phenomenon to take lightiy. Its gothic seriousness belongs to the class of those old Hearst Sunday-supplement stories about archeologists defiling tombs and the curses that befall them, and it soaks into people's lives. A critic can't fight it, because it functions below the conscious level. How does one exorcise the effects of a movie like this? There is no way. The movie industry is such that men of no taste and no imagination can have an incalculable influence. Blatty and Friedkin can't muster up any feeling, even when Father Karras sacrifices himself—a modern Christ who dies to save mankind. We in the audience don't feel bad when the saintly Father Merrin dies; we don't even feel a pang of sympathy when the words "Help Me" appear on Regan's body. From the mechanical-scare way that the movie works on an audience, there is no indication that Blatty or Friedkin has any feeling for the little girl's helplessness and suffering, or her mother's, any feeling for God or terror of Satan. Surely it is the religious people who should be most offended by this movie. Others can laugh it off as garbage, but are American Catholics will-ing to see their faith turned into a horror show? Are they willing to accept anything just as long as their Church comes out in a good light? Aren't those who accept this picture getting their heads screwed on backward?

Somewhere in the publicity for the film there was an item about Wil-liam Friedkin's having looked at five hundred little girls before he chose his Regan, and, indeed, Linda Blair is a sparkling, snub-nosed, happy-looking little girl, who matches up perfectly with Ellen Burstyn. I wonder about those four hundred and ninety-nine mothers of the rejected little girls—or about the hundred and ninety-nine, if that's a more reasonable figure. They must have read the novel; they must have known what they were having their beautiful little daughters tested for. When they see The Exorcist and watch Linda Blair urinating on the fancy carpet and screaming and jabbing at herself with the crucifix, are they envious? Do they feel, "That might have been my little Susie—famous forever"?

The New Yorker, January 7, 1974

Examples of the writing of film critic Pauline Kael--subject of new biography and reviews collection.


Kael's essay on Cary Grant "The Man From Dream City":


Kael's controversial pre-release review of Robert Altman's NASHVILLE:

And the review of BONNIE AND CLYDE that led to her being hired at THE NEW YORKER:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

As I exit the SoCal poetry building, some random items to ponder.

True story: Years ago, I was offered a chance to sit down with then-L.A. Poetry Influence Richard Beban and still-OC Poetry Influence Steve Ramirez and I rejected it out of concern that it was going to be pressure on me to shut my mouth and stop being contrarian about poetry community matters.

True story #2: The other day, after posting my leaving-for-awhile announcement on Facebook, my hater club called TERRY McCARTY'S WAR AGAINST HUMANITY sent this message:
True story #3: In a backchannel conversation between still-L.A. Poetry Influence G. Murray Thomas and myself within the last year, Murray told me [in context of community acceptance] to "write better poetry."

I'd like to think that I've improved aesthetically over the past decade-and-a-third, even if certain people think otherwise and/or are tired of hearing whatever I write, say or think.

And the sad irony is that I started my "career" in poetry keeping my mouth shut, swallowing disappointment and believing (or trying to believe) just about everything the community says is right and proper.

Doesn't Anybody Stay Together Anymore - Phil Collins

Weeping soft tears over the likely soon-to-be-unmarried state of Zooey Deschanel (indie goddess and THE NEW GIRL) and Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie).

Monday, October 31, 2011

Reprising my SoCal poetry disengagement statement from Facebook.

After this coming Sunday (November 6th), I'll be disappearing from the public poetry scene in Southern California for awhile. I learned a few things about poetry--more than I ever thought I would. So glad to have made some friends over the past thirteen years. Will still post poems to Facebook (and on this blog) on occasion and hope to keep books available in stores--and one of them will soon be available online. Sending best wishes to those who remain in the arena.

BIG NOIR OPEN READING this Sunday--part of the NIGHT AND THE CITY noir festival.

Glad to be part of this event.  Reprinting from the L.A. Poetry Festival NIGHT AND THE CITY brochure:

Sunday, November 6
3 p.m.–5 p.m.

Big Noir Open Reading—with Features

Come read your favorite Raymond Chandler

Sign-ups 2:30–3 p.m.

Host: Mike the Poet Sonksen

3:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m. Featured readers: Fiction writer Cheryl Klein • Poet, author Pam Ward

3:30 p.m. Kick-off to Open: Terry McCarty

Gemini Manor (a fantastically original house)

1341 N. Mariposa Avenue • Hollywood 90027 Bring your own wine or noir picnic • Soft drinks, coffee, provided • Admission: $10

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Here's a great misinterpretation of the current film THE RUM DIARY.

From K. Bowen, commenter on Jeffrey Wells' blog HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE:
Count me in the positive column. I like its setting, ambience, and developed characters.

Still, the thing I couldn't figure out was why Sanderson (Eckhart) was the bad guy and Kemp (Depp) was the good guy.

Sanderson is friendly, trusting, loyal, puts up with Kemp's alcoholic shortcomings in good humor and gives him a great opportunity. He's genuinely hurt when things go bad at the end. He only wants to build a resort so that people can have a great vacation and he can justifiably make money from it.

Kemp, meanwhile, is disloyal, unreliable, self-righteous, alcoholic and hangs out with friends he really should kick out of his life before they drag him down. He steals Sanderson's boat, tries to steal his girlfriend, and plays a significant accidental role in putting someone in danger. While he eventually pretends to act out of moral authority, he really acts out of envy. He's a fun fellow,

It is nice to have characters well rounded enough to debate things like this, however. Good job all around!

The complete thread with Wells' original post can be found at:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Explaining Southern California poetry to outsiders Part Two: the pressure to conform to majority beliefs.

Recycling a comment made to me last year by an ex-OC poet:
"[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??"

The opinion above is that person's opinion--and I'd like to think I'm free to disagree with it.

But, for community advancement, it's better to not disagree.

Just be quiet, don't argue, make friends--and perhaps, one day, your poetry may be found to have merit.

Even if you haven't already changed it to make it more acceptable to the people whose opinions should
really be LISTENED to.

The Bob Buchmann era at KLOS-FM is over; DJ Jim Ladd also fired.

At least Chris Carter's BREAKFAST WITH THE BEATLES--the only program I listen to on KLOS--is unaffected by this wave of downsizing.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

SLATE's Dahlia Lithwick makes it perfectly clear what the people protesting with OWS want.

Highlighting by me:

For the past several years, while the mainstream media was dutifully reporting on all things Kardashian or (more recently) a wholly manufactured debt-ceiling crisis, ordinary people were losing their health care, their homes, their jobs, and their savings. Those people have taken that narrative to Facebook and Twitter—just as citizens took to those alternative forms of media throughout the Middle East as part of the Arab Spring. And just to be clear: They aren’t holding up signs that say “I want Bill O’Reilly’s stuff.” They aren’t holding up signs that say “I am animated by toxic levels of envy and entitlement.” They are holding up signs that are perfectly and intrinsically clear: They want accountability for the banks that took their money, they want to end corporate control of government. They want their jobs back. They would like to feed their children. They want—wait, no, we want—to be heard by a media that has devoted four mind-numbing years to channeling and interpreting every word uttered by a member of the Palin family while ignoring the voices of everyone else.

And there’s this. The mainstream media thrives on simple solutions. It has no idea whatsoever of how to report on a story that isn’t about easy fixes so much as it is about anguished human frustration and fear. The media prides itself on its ability to tell you how to clear your clutter, regrout your shower, or purge your closet of anything that makes you look fat—in 24 minutes or less. It is bound to be flummoxed by a protest that offers up no happy endings. Luckily for us, #OWS doesn’t seem to care.
The entirety of Ms. Lithwick's article can be found here:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Uh-oh: Steve "flat tax" Forbes endorses Rick "chasing Herman Cain's flat tax" Perry.,0,6701998.story?track=rss

Safe to conjecture that this is the beginning of the end of Rick Perry in the GOP Presidential candidate
horse race.

And, somehow, this Don Henley song comes to mind (couldn't find Henley's version on YouTube, but here's a karaoke cover--be patient, intro lasts a minute):

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Some notes on Barnes and Noble--the last national bookstore chain standing.

Went into the Calabasas, CA store Tuesday night and noticed that, before closing, the only place to pay for book/other purchases was through the cashier in the coffee/food area.

Was at the store in Woodland Hills last night and noticed that, like Borders, B and N is staking a fair amount of store space on selling to perceived "hot" consumers.  In B and N's case, it's children (whereas Borders in its latter phase was feverish to sell TWILIGHT and other teen-goth romances).

Guessing that B and N will announce more store closings in 2012.

[UPDATE 10/26/11: I was prescient.  The B and N at the Westside Pavilion in West L.A. will close by the end of this year:]

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Latest mainstream media response to Occupy protests.

It's safe to say that there are three essential responses by the mainstream media to demonstrations organized by progressives/liberals/The Left :

1. They're unseemly!

2. They're full of all sorts of groups with different agendas!

3. Not THAT many people are out there demonstrating!

And now here's Number 4--
They're costing cities lots of money!

From today's LOS ANGELES TIMES:,0,6466227.story

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Explaining L.A. poetry community to outsiders: the concept of "emerging poets."

Taking the stage, it's G. Murray Thomas from the above link to explain how you can be an "emerging poet" even if you've put in a number of years in service to the concept of "community" (highlighting by me):
"Now I’m supposed to discuss an emerging poet I respect. But in a poetry world where reputations can take years to build, what qualifies as emerging? Does it have to be someone new to the scene, or can a poet who has been around for years, but not gotten the recognition (I feel) he deserves fit the bill? I have seen too many poets languish in semi-obscurity to not opt for the latter.
Therefore, my choice is Larry Colker, a poet who is a longstanding figure on the SoCal poetry scene, but is probably better known for co-hosting the long running Redondo Poets series than for his own writing. Even while hosting, he is more likely to read someone else’s poetry than his own. (In fact, he opens every reading with a poem by another poet he likes.) I find this happens quite often in the poetry scene, that those who spend the most time promoting other poets often find their own works neglected."

In my opinion, "emerging" is a tag which should belong to newcomers of one to five years--and "honored" should be the word for the kind of veterans Murray describes in the second portion of his definition.

It's safe to guess that some poets who have spent years/decades in service (and waiting his/her turn to "arrive" ) may be a bit personally irked by being called "emerging."

But, if they've been active in the community for a certain length of time, they avoid complaining and just accept it as one of the conditions of belonging.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Robert Downey Jr. uses American Cinematheque awards ceremony to make a case for forgiving Mel Gibson's sins.

Adding this to the above:
1.Given the meet-the-press history of Mr. Gibson's last two films (EDGE OF DARKNESS, THE BEAVER), it may take some huge behavioral remodeling for Mel not to either bristle at reporters' attempts to question/bait (EDGE) or opt for the specially-selected-"pet"-writer who will merely write down carefully-prepared PR responses (THE BEAVER).
2.  I don't know if Mel's prepared to say something like this--"Hey, I'm in my mid-50s, and like many others in my generation, I grew up with prejudices about people with different religious beliefs and same-sex desires. And I acted like a bigoted fool and said hateful things in interviews and to everyday people as well.  I'm sorry I've hurt people around me--including those I've loved and continue to love--and now realize that it's never too late to make changes."
3. Or this: "You know, I'm in my mid-50s, and I've not always been physically or verbally respecful when it comes to relationships with women.  I want to avoid repeating my mistakes in the future."
4.  Or this: "I'm in my mid-50s, and I'm aware the business is changing and may leave me behind.  I'd still like a few big paydays, but I may have to get used to either a full-time career as director or playing occasional high-profile supporting roles like Russell Crowe is doing now as Superman's Superdad."

Photos of signs from Occupy San Francisco.!/photo.php?fbid=2383801309729&set=a.1487038371216.65354.1091624981&type=3&theater!/photo.php?fbid=2383827950395&set=a.1487038371216.65354.1091624981&type=3&theater!/photo.php?fbid=2383807269878&set=a.1487038371216.65354.1091624981&type=3&theater

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The right-wing San Francisco EXAMINER hates banker fraud almost as much as Occupy protesters.

The San Francisco EXAMINER is a free daily newspaper that, to put it subtly, tilts right.

On today's cover is a headline called USED AND ABUSED.
Underneath the headline is this text:
Taxpayers foot bill for bailout while SF bankers allegedly cooked books and deceived feds.

The article by Ari Burack starts out like this:
"San Francisco bank executives [of the former United Commercial Bank] cooked their books
and lied to auditors just before they accepted a $298 million taxpayer bailout, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
They now have the distinction of being the first senior executives of a bank that received federal bailout
funds to be criminally charged [by the SEC] in connection with a scheme to defraud the government
and American taxpayers."

Something that the Left and Right could find some common cause about--one would hope.

Flip over to the editorial page and, again, there's a cartoon lampooning the Occupy movement.

Today, they're being described as Commies.

Here's the text of Nate Beeler's cartoon:
"All we are give the death of capitalism and a new era of Soviet-style repression and stasis that we won't call 'Communism' a chaaance!"

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A decade after 9/11--and San Francisco BART stations still won't reopen restrooms.

It's not often that I'll agree with something written in a Michael Lacey-syndicated publication, but here's a link to a past SF WEEKLY article about how BART passengers in San Francisco need to use restrooms in advance of the descent into certain stations:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pro--and extreme con--views of Martin Scorsese's George Harrison documentary.

Ex-CNBC, now-CNN newsperson Erin Burnett still hearts Wall Street.

Looks like the Fox News notion of "fair and balanced" has traveled to CNN.  Here's an article about "International Superstar" (phrase coined by MSNBC's Joe Scarborough) Erin Burnett and her open disdain for Wall Street protests:

A key passage from the article (highlighting by me):
"Burnett used to work for the same financial companies that profited from the bailouts--Goldman Sachs, Citigroup--and she is engaged to be married to a Citigroup executive (Business Insider, 9/30/11). Burnett's journalistic career includes plenty of attempts to promote Wall Street interests, earning her praise from the likes of Rush Limbaugh (FAIR Blog, 10/3/11). She even tried to defend Wall Street giants from criticism over using TARP funds to pay giant bonuses (FAIR Blog, 2/3/09)."

Glenn Greenwald's article on Erin Burnett:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Re media coverage of--and responses to the Occupy protests.

It's safe to say that there are three essential responses by the mainstream media to demonstrations:
1. They're unseemly! 
2. They're full of all sorts of groups with different agendas!
3. Not THAT many people are out there demonstrating!

Here's a recent Glenn Greenwald article about responses to Occupy Wall Street:

Links to articles about Occupy Wall Street and Los Angeles protests:

Now, some observations from commenters on the KABC-7 website:
"A bunch of losers possessed with a sense of entitlement. Where's a firing squad when you need one?"
"The 60's was a FAD for me but it seems to be a lifestyle for these people... somehow they haven't grown past it!"
"Wow. That's the best negative comments you can make? Pathetic. My husband and many friends went today, they ALL have jobs and they ALL pay taxes. Corporations don't. That needs to change."

[UPDATE 10/4/11: Some more recent links to pro-and-con Occupy Wall Street articles:]