Friday, January 21, 2011


So, as with Phil Donahue before him, Keith Olbermann finds himself a victim of changes in American politics (including a temporary false-equivalency form of discourse etiquette which will let the likes of Beck, O'Reilly, Coulter, Hannity, Palin, Malkin off the hook) and what looks to be ill winds blowing onto NBCUniversal from its soon-to-be-new-owner Comcast (or Kabletown, as 30 ROCK euphemistically calls it).

Sidebar #1: Early in 1975, the Smothers Brothers began a short-lived comeback variety series on NBC.  In their opening monologue, they joked about how they were evicted from television when Richard Nixon became President--and then were re-hired after Nixon's resignation.

Sidebar #2: It's really difficult to perpetuate an opinions-and-commentary show when your network is part of a too-sensitive-to-controversy corporate empire.  Just ask Bill Maher, dropkicked by Disney/ABC from POLITICALLY INCORRECT in 2001 when he made the statement about the 9/11 hijackers not being cowards

Sidebar #3: Keith Olbermann's show probably peaked when he, along with the rest of the mild-to-moderate progressives making up the audience, could rail in unison at the perfidies of the George Butch Jr. administration.  I'm presuming Olbermann felt squeezed by the NBC brass when the "change we can believe in" incense of 2008 Barack Obama wafted away to be replaced by the acquiescent, "demonize the Left" Republicratism of 2011 Barack Obama.  And, very likely, the temptation of NBC to dispose of Olbermann (attempted late last year when he was harassed for, as a host of a "commentary" show, making donations to political candidates--including the recently-wounded Gabrielle Giffords) and claim a victory for "civility" was huge.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Feuding isn't just for literary communities--witness New York Film Critics in action.

Favorite quote from the Armond-said/Jim-said back-and-forth:
J. Hoberman:  "...imagine, as I wrote at the time, if I had written something about him [Armond White], rather than posting something he wrote [a negative comment about fimmaker Noah Baumbach's mother, former VILLAGE VOICE film critic Georgia Brown]!"

Sounds like something that has occurred before on SoCal poetry listserves....

Monday, January 17, 2011

Expecting a lot of "He went toooo farrrrrrrr" comments re Ricky Gervais hosting Golden Globes.

Not-nice-but-hilarious, or just random meanness?  You be the judge.
Here's a link to Ricky Gervais' Golden Globes monologue from last night:

It would be rather riveting television if Ricky guests soon on LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN--with back-and-forth anecdotes about Dave's mild "Uma/Oprah" one-liner being considered too irreverent for the annual Oscars ceremony vs. Gervais' take-no-prisoners Friars Club-roast approach.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

New poem on gun control: HOSTILE ACRES


I help till the soil at Hostile Acres.

Almost everyone carries a gun except me.

Tried to learn once.

Almost shot my big toe off.

Some people came looking for work the other day.

Didn't take long until the hired hands began talking:

"They're taking our jobs."

"How do you know whether or not they're American?"

"Make them carry IDs."

"What about injecting digitized guest-worker chips under their skin?"

"Let's just tattoo a citizenship barcode on their forearms."

And so on and so forth.

Then a few shots rang out.

This is what I heard a few minutes later:

"It was a lone nutcase with a gun."

"The nut's still alive."

"No, he's dead for sure."

"Thank God we can carry guns in public for protection.

The maniac got dropped

and we just let him bleed out."

"There was a little boy caught in the crossfire.

Don't know who shot him.

Don't know how he got hit."

Next day, we heard the President

on the field radio

saying that, at the very least,

automatic weapons should be banned

from use by the general public.

A chorus of disapproval:





And so on and so forth.

Then I heard a round of gunfire.

The radio was destroyed immediately.

The overseer yelled:


And we went back to work

tilling the soil at Hostile Acres--

happy to hear nothing

except the sounds of our own voices

voicing the beliefs

we don't need education for

because we know in our guts

how right we are.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Rick Lupert: SoCal poetry's Hall Monitor.

So I went over to the Cobalt Poets Yahoogroup to check on whether a certain reading was going to occur this week, and I read something about an open mike charging $5.00 [actually, it was $5 for a coupon to buy coffee and goods at the coffeehouse] and there's a discussion that isn't totally positive [not discussing a somewhat more contentious one involving fundamentalism and homophobia a few posts later].  Here comes the Cobalt Cafe host Rick Lupert to express his usual discomfort (boldface added by me):
More importantly, it would be nice, kind and even more human if we didn't jump

on opportunities to critique others, their readings or projects in a cynical or
sarcastic way. If that's your preferred style of communication, please contact
the intended recipient directly as it is not welcome on this list.

This is essentially a "don't say anything un-nice about anyone; I only want this list to be announcements only because I like control better than dealing with variables" announcement.

While one can at least respect Rick as a poet and long-time community pillar, one can't help but long for the days of the Cobalt list when people could disagree (and sometimes quite forcefully) with each other without being almost immediately told to shut up and take it elsewhere or suffer banishment.

Perhaps it's better for people to be themselves every so often without masks and hypocrisy.  It makes it easier to see which community poets you want to be friends/allies with--and which ones to avoid.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chilling article in the aftermath of Saturday's Arizona shootings--Glock pistol sales go up.

The above is a really scary and sad example of the "Don't Take Our Guns Away" mentality.

And it was roughly a year ago that Kevin Smith's make-a-comic-cop-picture-like-other-directors-do COP OUT was advertised with what now is an extremely unfortunate tagline:
"Rock Out With Your Glock Out!"

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream shares his lack of love for the common people and their musical tastes.

From the current issue of the UK music magazine NME, here's an excerpt from Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie waxing elequent on the little-known John Phillips solo album JOHN, THE WOLFKING OF L.A.:
''Most of the records I like never gained the wider recognition.....I guess you could call them cult records, which I think should've been massive and sold millions.  Maybe they're too good to sell millions...most people in the world are f---ing dull and I think the records that sell millions are made by dull people and bought by dull people.  They're really f---ing straight and boring.  The really interesting, individual records become cult records because it's an acquired taste and it's maybe too out there for most people to process."

The above seems like stunted thinking to me, because there are those occasions when "interesting, individual records" do intersect with mass tastes and go on to sell millions (one could think of the Steve Albini/Nirvana collaboration IN UTERO as one example).

But, in a lot of cases, people merely like what they're told by mass media/advertisers they should like.  Doesn't mean they're completely "f---ing dull"--as Mr. Gillespie so humanistically remarks.

In the wake of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' tragic shooting.

As the cable news media speculate and rush to premature judging and declare Gabrielle Giffords prematurely dead before saying, oops sorry, she's alive and in critical condition they struggle to fill airtime, here are a couple of links worth reading:
Gary Hart on the gun metaphors used by some on the right--
Dan Gillmor's article "Take A Slow News Approach" from

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The human rights abuses of Henry Kissinger--overlooked by mainstream media.

Let's start with something recent:
"[Bob] Woodward writes that when Gerson asked Kissinger why he supported the [Iraq] war, he replied, “Because Afghanistan wasn’t enough,’ … In the conflict with radical Islam, he said, they want to humiliate us. ‘And we need to humiliate them’ … In Manhattan, this position got him into trouble, particularly at cocktail parties, he noted with a smile.”

For more information on the career diplomat [who was depicted in the mainstream media as the globetrotting "Super K" in the 70s] and his darker side:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My humbling continues: LBC poetry icon Mindy Nettifee teaches me that actions have consequences by unfriending me on Facebook.

Crying soft tears today; Long Beach-based, Orange County-blessed poet Mindy Nettifee unfriended me from Facebook.

It probably didn't help when I wrote a poem last year called I'LL BE YOUR DEAD MAN FOR THE EVENING (look it up in the archives here) that was an account of how uncomfortable I felt during the portion of one Lightbulb Mouth (a now-dead reading/"show") event I attended in Long Beach last June.  Mindy and Derrick Brown (Write Bloody small press publishing majordomo) were the engines driving Lightbulb Mouth.

And it probably didn't help even more when I wrote her backchannel at a later time and made the mistake of criticizing a Long Beach Icon she holds dear to this day.

But I can understand.  If you're Mindy Nettifee and you've accomplished quite a lot locally and nationwide as a poet and promoter, you're not going to want to hear from someone who, by stark contrast, can seem like a sorehead and a loser who just doesn't know how to be nice to nice people.

So the moral I've living with is that of the time-honored cliche: "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

In the LA/OC poetry communities, you can quadruple that.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

RIP singer/songwriter Gerry Rafferty.

Here's a wire-service obituary from the GUARDIAN:
And another, more thoughtful article from a man who knew Rafferty well:

In the end, Rafferty's career as a musician will be reduced (at least in America) to nothing more than the Stealer's Wheel hit "Stuck In The Middle With You" and the solo smash "Baker Street."  And, all too likely, there may not be any reissues of his CITY TO CITY, NIGHT OWL and SNAKES AND LADDERS albums (the ones mentioned in the second obituary) on CD/download formats [update to the previous sentence: CITY TO CITY has remained in print due to the success of "Baker Street"].

It's up to EMI to determine whether or not there will be enough black ink on the corporate spreadsheets for reissues (or even a really decent double-length compilation) to occur.

Monday, January 3, 2011



It seemed liike a good idea in 2003--

get rid of that grey-haired, hot-tempered

hectoring middle-school principal of a governor.

Gray Davis was his name.

It was a grey-flannel name that,

in the words of the time-honored cliche,

came direct from Central Casting.

You tried to go PG-13

with that 2-Arnolds-for-one

clone movie few people saw.

It was clear from test screenings


And your dignity probably couldn't stand the idea

of playing Yul Brynner's old robot-gunslinger role

in a remake of WESTWORLD

for less than your usual salary quote.

So what other choice was there besides Governator?

Hell, look what it did for Reagan.

I'll pass over the last seven years in silence

except to say that you found out the hard way

that there are two kinds of leaders

subject to legislative gridlock:

Liberal (aka Progressive) Democrats


Moderate Republicans.

It was your curse

that you chose to walk through

Door Number Two.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A sort of synchronicity for me: the final scene of the film PELLE THE CONQUEROR and praise for an upcoming reading by Jeffrey McDaniel.

Received this e-mail from a poetry venue today.  I've highlighted one relevant sentence:
January 4 - Jeffrey McDaniel - Nationally acclaimed author of Alibi School, The Forgiveness Parade, The Splinter Factory, The Endarkenment, Katostrophenkunde.

If you are familiar with Jeffrey McDaniel's work and performance, we know you already want to be there and we look forward to welcoming you at [poetry venue] Tuesday.

If you are not familiar, this is your chance to bask in what Sarah Lawrence creative writing students pay the big bucks for, and to hear live one of the most memorable poets of his generation.

Jeffrey's page on the Poetry Foundation site:

A poem sampler: