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.