Thursday, March 31, 2011

Blog post about woman-to-woman sexism in slam poetry community.

In a world where, one day, we'll likely find out that Chris Brown has recoupled with Rihanna--here's a blog entry about one female poet describing how a peer of hers dressed her down in terms the latter's standards of proper attire and behavior:

To change the subject slightly, a female poster on Twitter (who follows cinematic goings-on) mentioned how Hailee Steinfeld will follow up her impressive, gutsy performance as Mattie Ross in the Coen Brothers' TRUE GRIT--by playing Sleeping Beauty.

Another case history: Amanda Seyfried drops out of SUCKER PUNCH (which looks to have been a wise career move)--only to find herself in a TWILIGHT-centric reimagining of RED RIDING HOOD.

In short, whether it's poetry or cinema or music, there seems to be more enthusiastic support for herding women back into a retrograde, dress-our-way-not-yours-and-walk-two-steps-behind-the-alpha-male corral--from men and women alike.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My blog will go down on my Permanent Poet/Writer's Record.

Weeks ago, I had a private back-and-forth exchange with a L.A. poetry majordomo.

Among other things, he finger-wagged me in the manner of cluck-cluck, tut-tut, "this will go down on your Permanent Record" in hopes of making me painfully and shamefully aware (he hopes) of the lasting consequences of offering uncensored commentary on poetry affairs here.

He mentioned someone who allegedly has never read any of my poetry--but looked at this blog and made the conclusion that I'm a bitter person.

Moving away from this facile characterization of me, I'd like to say that there are nice-and-genuinely-talented people in the L.A./OC poetry communities who manage to finish first; in fact, I posted something about one of them (now raising money so she and her backing band can afford their trip to perform in the UK's Glastonbury Music Festival) a few entries back.

Unfortunately, there are a greater number of poets who engage themselves in more typical poetry-community behavior of plotting, scheming, gloating, banning, dissing rivals/perceived inferiors-in-public-and-private and anonymously creating hate-Terry sites--and these are the people I tend to focus on when writing blog posts.

It's not so much bitterness as the mere recognition (and chronicling) of dubious human nature as it often manifests itself in the pursuit of literary recognition.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Warner Bros. and Zack Snyder and the hiding-of-sorts of SUCKER PUNCH from reviewers--even fanboys.

Here's an early review of un film de Zack Snyder (300, WATCHMEN) SUCKER PUNCH:

Actually liked Snyder's Canadian redo of George Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD.

I missed 300 in theaters--fell asleep in a hotel room when watching the edited-for-TNT version.

WATCHMEN was a combination of brilliant and what-the-heck-was-that moments.

Didn't bother with the CGI owl cartoon.

SUCKER PUNCH no doubt will have the caffeine-for-the-eyes visuals and bam-bam-bam violence (within PG-13 limitations) of Snyder's earlier work.

But it gives one pause when the reviewer linked to above resorts to the "turn your brain off" cliche--which sounds like a bit of punch-pulling to keep from losing access to future WB cinematic amusement park rides.

UPDATE 3/24/11: The reviews are now flooding in:
And here's Jeffrey Wells' I-REALLY-didn't-like-this take on the film:

Monday, March 21, 2011



When there was an El Nino storm,

people still went out to poetry readings.

That was 1998.

NEXT magazine was the beacon

telling you where to find the word banquets.

And the first place I went

was the Midnight Special Bookstore

on Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade

because it was listed in NEXT.

Politics in the air at Poetic License.

Poems with "Free Mumia" messages.

Lots of fingersnaps for a line or even a word.

People filled with strong notions

of what was right and wrong.

Just about every reading

was filled to capacity.

And it was easy

to find readings

every night of the week.

It was also possible

to make acquaintances

and real friends.

In those days,

people weren't always worried

about being Published.

You could go to Kinkos

and print your own DIY chapbook--

breaking even by selling it to other poets

at readings.

Went to the Rose Cafe

and was exposed to poetry as Disciplined Art.

Long introductions for features

and open readers told to return

next week when time ran out.

(Eventually, the Rose Cafe

became the template

for most readings in Los Angeles and Orange County today.)

Those were the days

before venues and readings closed,

gasoline prices climbed,

popular poets and hosts moved out of state

or left the Earth entirely,

remaining poets began feuding

and a quiet movement began

to encourage uniform standards of quality.

raise the bar for booking features

and discourage the kind of open mikes

that attracted musicians and comics.

For some, this was a great notion

Oracles said that it was good for poetry.

I heard phrases like "layers of meaning"

used ad nauseum.

And other poets said not to complain

about changes in the scene--

or other poets themselves.

For it was perceived as

causing the entire scene

to suffer grievously

from intemperate words.

And today, there are fewer venues.

And just a few poets with power--

some of them use it more generously

than others.

Recently, there was a rainstorm

in Santa Monica.

It wasn't as strong as an El Nino.

And people did come to the reading--

but not nearly as many

as on a torrential night

thirteen years before.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: those who haven't made it into Jann Wenner's lifetime-achievement club.

And, from Wikipedia's article about the Hall:
The main criticism of the Hall of Fame is that the nomination process is controlled by a few individuals who are not musicians, such as founder Jann Wenner (who has filled the position of managing editor for Rolling Stone magazine), former foundation director Suzan Evans, and writer Dave Marsh, reflecting their tastes rather than the views of the rock world as a whole. A former member of the nominations board once commented that "At one point Suzan Evans lamented the choices being made because there weren't enough big names that would sell tickets to the dinner. That was quickly remedied by dropping one of the doo-wop groups being considered in favor of a 'name' artist...I saw how certain pioneering artists of the '50s and early '60s were shunned because there needed to be more name power on the list, resulting in '70s superstars getting in before the people who made it possible for them. Some of those pioneers still aren't in today."[19] According to Fox News, petitions with tens of thousands of signatures were also being ignored, and some groups that were signed with certain labels or companies or were affiliated with various committee members have even been put up for nomination with no discussion at all.[19] The committee has also been accused of largely ignoring certain genres.[20] According to author Brett Milano, "entire genres get passed over, particularly progressive rock, '60s Top 40, New Orleans funk and a whole lot of black music."[21]

Regarding the above paragraph from the Wikipedia article: It could be safe to say that Neil Diamond received his Hall pass at least due to his contributions to 60s Top 40--the new collection of his 66-68 Bang Records period (in Mono) is worth buying/downloading

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Current and former Howard Stern writers must be weeping: Neil Strauss thinks it's all improv.

Well, it's here.  Neil Strauss' on-bended-knee interview with Howard Stern is now in the current issue of ROLLING STONE.

Expect a fair amount of analysis-speak, some it-was-sad-but-I-won't-be-specific-the-show-was-probably-part-of-it comments about the end of Howard's first marriage and, sadly, a continuing refusal-couched-in-"concern" to allow Artie Lange (who wants to return to the show to talk about his depression and attempted suicide) on-air.

My favorite passage of the article comes in Strauss' sometimes overfawning introduction:
"....someone who can sit in a room and improvise four hours of comedy four days a week."

I'm sure that current Stern writer Benji Bronk and former HS jokescribes Jackie Martling (Stern gave him a lot of credit in a 90s ROLLING STONE interview) and Al Rosenberg are thrilled to hear this.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A coda to the recent Victor Infante situation.

Here's a Victor Infante quote (from his blog) from 2009:
"Sometimes, it's hard not to think that the urge for fame or success, for validation, makes tame monsters of us."

And here's how the quote ought to read:
"Sometimes, it's hard not to think that the urge for fame or success, for validation, makes us into highly literate werewolves--with an unerring instinct to savage, then banish, the powerless that annoy and infuriate us, while knowing when to be acquiescent (sometimes mute and/or apologetic) and acceptably aspirational towards the Powerful Men and Women of Word Culture whose attentions and ultimate blessings we covet."

Bret Easton Ellis on Charlie Sheen.

What's fascinating about Ellis' article is his use of the word "Empire" to describe earnest, there-are-rules Mainstream Show Business.  Also, it deserves mention that Ellis is trying overhard to project a sort of Patrick Bateman-meets-Howard Beale status onto Sheen's recent hubris.

A friend of mine and I were driving out to Santa Monica the other day and the topic of Charlie Sheen came up--specifically what I refer to as Sheen's upcoming Spoken Rant tour (the opportunity to pay at least $35 to see and hear the kind of stuff that Charlie has given America on radio, TV and the Internet).

He said that, yes, people will go see him at first.

And then, he implied that it will be a phenomenon that won't last.

I have no reason to disagree with my friend's assessment.


Meant to be a "calling it as I saw it" piece of looking back.



Bachelors and spinsters

working at paycheck-to-paycheck jobs

during the day

go home, change their clothes

and go out into the spoken-word night

as either Zeus and Hera

or King Herod and Salome.

I'll let you decide which.


In a movie called SEMI-TOUGH,

a minor character had this line of dialogue:


I can remember hearing about those acclaimed muscleminds

who kicked sand in the faces of puny poets:


Some of them quietly bandaged their wounded egos

and later became the literary equivalents of

Charles Atlas and Cory Everson.

Others gave up

and just came down to the water's edge

to stare at the day's latest

sandkicking spectacle.


I was at a coffeehouse

run by a saber-toothed tiger

when I saw this:

a hapless poetry host

(who just wanted so so much to belong)

was run over by a more acclaimed poet

who graced the open-mike

for what seemed like ten minutes past eternity.

Since the poetry host

wanted so so so much to belong,

he swallowed his pride and discomfort

and let the esteemed poet

off with a mild caution.

Suffice to say

the esteemed poet

finished his poetry

at his own convenience--

not that of the host.


We posed with plastic penguins.

We read from the stages of punk/rockabilly clubs.

We looked for positive writeups about ourselves


We even wore bathing suits

for fund-raising calendars.

And we took comfort in our certainty

that we were better, faster, stronger

and far more literate

as poets and as people

than those amateur poseurs from Los Angeles.

For we were forged in the crucible

of being laughed at and dismissed

during our day jobs

by good Orange County Republicans

who keep their Bush/Cheney bumperstickers

forever affixed to their oversized SUVs and trucks-on-steroids.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

London GUARDIAN: publicist and shrink debate over the continuing Charlie Sheen puablic debacle.

You're not likely to see this kind of discussion in American media.  Instead, most of its practitioners
think of Charlie Sheen in terms of  big TV ratings and magazine/website audience "gets"--and this will continue for the duration of Charlie's spoken-rant tour and lawsuit over the likely end of TWO AND A HALF MEN (really likely for all cast and crew besides him).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

It's In The Way That You Use It--The Derrick Brown situation and local poetry..

A few days ago, I wrote a blog entry about Derrick Brown mentioning a FORBES magazine article about him in his official bio (which was used in a Beyond Baroque flyer listing); the post was a bit dubious about the value of a FORBES mention due to its ownership by a more-big-capitalist-than-most-people-are-aware Bono. 

I sent the blog entry to his Write Bloody e-mail and got a short, profane text-message sort of response; this was highly likely since I wasn't thrilled with what I perceived to be an overly for-cool-kids-only ambience last summer at the portion of a Lightbulb Mouth reading I attended in Long Beach (and I wrote about it).

In a perfect world, perhaps Derrick could have written whole sentences and paragraphs about why he disliked my post (defending the FORBES piece, among other things).  He didn't.  Instead, he opted for the Frank Sinatra/Russell Crowe way of striking down an annoying pest with a very heavy hand.

Here's an irony about the whole thing: I think Write Bloody has great graphic design and well-presented product (at least Derrick got books into the Borders chain before their current financial difficulties) and am pleased that Derrick champions people like Mindy Nettifee and Buddy Wakefield.  I became interested in the Write Bloody imprint a few years ago when Derrick was in Tennessee and word went out amongst the poetry community that he was ill and needed money from book sales; I bought several books--anthologies and individual authors' volumes--at that time.

But, as I've learned from the poetry community, if you say both nice and less-than-laudatory things about certain poets, they tend to only listen to the latter and then yell their heads off. 

In a way, I'm still amazed by the way some of our ostensibly-progressive poetry community leaders (which sometimes resort to a rigid form of groupthink) tend to react/overreact to contrary opinions (be it about a magazine article or even certain cliques which tend to feature the same poets over and over--something I was kicked in the shins for mentioning way back in 2003).

To close, certain poets (especially the entrepreneurs) need to be less translucent-skinned and start banishing the phrase YOU CAN'T SAY THAT! from their public and private vocabularies.

It will make for a healthier, more welcoming environment for all.

Director Michael Winner and American Cinematheque retrospective this weekend.

If you're in Los Angeles this weekend, you have the opportunity to see a miniretrospective of films from the now-retired British director Michael Winner at American Cinematheque's Aero (Santa Monica) and Egyptian (Hollywood) theaters.

Winner's now primarily remembered for his numerous action films with Charles Bronson (DEATH WISH screens at the Aero on Friday, March 11th), but he was also renowned for his 60s Swinging London comedies.  I haven't seen THE JOKERS (with a pre-PHANTOM=and-HELLO DOLLY Michael Crawford), but I did see (and enjoy) I'LL NEVER FORGET WHAT'S 'IS NAME a few years ago at the Egyptian.

Here's a link to Sunday night's screening of the latter two films (at the Aero) from the American Cinematheque's website:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"Enoch," A Poem by Victor D. Infante

Another visual/verbal guide to the man who once was a Huge Figure in Orange County poetry.

Derrick Brown: Cotton In The Air

Just to give you a visual and verbal example of someone I've been writing about.

New poetry phenomenon: The Humble Braggart!

Cult singer/songwriter Dan Bern once wrote the line: "It ain't bragging if it's true." [found in his song "Tiger Woods"]

And, yes it's an accepted way of life in poetry communities when poets want to share the news of the journals that have published them.

But, even if I didn't know the poet who wrote this (too well, unfortuately), I'd feel that I just entered someone's weird, humid universe of self-aggrandizement-and-self-confidence-bolstering:

My dream about Tina Fey.

I'm looking forward to reading the upcoming Tina Fey article in THE NEW YORKER that discusses her tenure as writer/Head Writer on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE (Tina and Steve Martin are soon to do a two-authors-converse gig at LA LIVE's Nokia Theatre).

It caused me to have this dream:
Tina Fey's in producer Lorne Michaels' office.

Lorne tells Tina: "Tina, SNL's now a show for kids.  You think a fourteen-year-old boy wants intelligent comedy?"

Tina, again aware of the realities of mainstream show business, sadly leaves Lorne's office.

Meanwhile in the writers' room, the Jimmy Fallon-as-Leatherman sketch (where Fallon wears a leather suit for the edification of guest host Brittany Murphy) is being pitched.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Anonymous poster has reactivated my non-fan club.

Latest post is titled "turdy mccarthy."

For all the stop-the-madness feedback I get in public and private about the SoCal poetry community and its former-members-living-elsewhere being good, mature people (and a fair amount of them are), it's fascinating that at least one member thinks he/she's fighting a moral guerrilla war by maintaining the above blog.

Talk about anger and bitterness......and spraying out fear and loathing akin to a skunk's odor.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Coda: Regarding the poetic world as seen uniformly by Victor Infante, Derrick Brown and others.

For the sake of inclusion, here's a link to Victor Infante's public rifle-butting of me--as included on my Facebook page/wall:!/note.php?note_id=10150115147426192

And now, I'll go ahead and mention some inconsistencies/behavioral quirks shared by the good, think-alike people that Victor namechecks:
1. I've been told in the past that it's not good to self-publish.  This doesn't stop Rick Lupert from putting out his own books under the Ain't Got No Press moniker (mitigating factor: Rick occasionally does anthologies like the recommended-by-me POETS HAGGADAH).

2. I am not supposed to criticize Amber Tamblyn's poetry books (apparently because she's smart, hip and successful)--but it's okay for, say, G. Murray Thomas to use his review column on to knock Billy Collins' recent BALLISTICS.  Yes, Murray thought Collins' work in BALLISTICS was subpar.  But it was hard not to smell the jealousy on Murray's part--Oh, why oh why doesn't my print-on-demand volume COWS ON THE FREEWAY get at least one-tenth the attention Billy Collins does?

3. I'm certainly not supposed to criticize anyone who "hasn't done anything" to me.  By that logic, if Victor Infante was an HBO executive, he'd be telling Bill Maher to stop being "mean" on REAL TIME.

And, of course, if I say anything about the self-described wonderful people of LA/LBC/OC that is not wonderful, then I'm blessed with accusations of mental illness and--in one ugly case--a false accusation that I might be a wife-beater.

I'm just puzzled that all these self-described wonderful-and-successful poets of LA/LBC/OC are so insecure that they feel the need to take me so deadly-serious that they engage in shut-him-up-no-matter-what-it-takes reactions rather than having some sense of nuanced thought and perspective about their actual place and impact in both the real and literary worlds.

Some fallout from the previous post re Derrick Brown and FORBES.

I'm not printing it here, but Victor Infante ex-of-OC and-current-New England-poetry dynamo, gave me a roasting for forwarding the link to my last post to his blog.

It didn't help that I expressed a contrarian opinion of Derrick Brown and referred to Victor (who has benefited professionally from his association with Derrick's Write Bloody mini-empire) as an "enabler."

The essence of the criricism was that I'm an awful person who criticizes successful people, brings failure upon myself--and suffers from mental difficulties as well.

Specifically responding to Victor's allegation that I criticize successful people (who, in his mindset, have done nothing to me):
I have no problem with people who are winners.  I do have problems with people who win ugly.

And it seems to me that Victor, Derrick and most of the people in their circle fit into the latter category.

Friday, March 4, 2011

What do poet/publisher Derrick Brown and U2's Bono have in common?

Just noticed this on a Beyond Baroque e-flyer, taken from a future reading that Derrick Brown of the LBC is taking part in (highlighting by me):
DERRICK BROWN, former paratrooper for the 82nd Airborne, gondolier, magician, and fired weatherman dedicated to bringing American poetry into rock and roll status. He is president of Write Bloody Publishing, the first indie press to be reviewed with favor by Forbes Magazine.

I'm not sure the above is that much of an honor.

It's not household knowledge, but do some digging (Rock critic Dave Marsh's ROCK N RAP CONFIDENTIAL newsletter/website at is an excellent place to start) and you'll find out how semi-idealist plutocrat Bono of U2 came to be an integral part of Forbes Magazine.

In any event, the old phrase about "rendering unto Caesar" comes to mind--to say the least.

UPDATE: I sent the above post to Derrick Brown and this is a portion of his response:
"you bitter friendless witless talentless turd"

Safe to say that Bono, even faced with criticism, would have handled this somewhat better.

UPDATE #2: Here's a link to the Forbes article, which mainly looks favorably on Brown's money-generation as a road-warrior performance poet: