Thursday, June 30, 2011

Recent Mindy Nettifee online radio interview.

In the interest of offering a sort of "equal time"--here's an interview with Mindy Nettifee
on the BreakThru Radio show WRITER'S BLOCK:
Here's a clip of the show:

Here's a link to the entire program:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kevin Smith vs. Amy Taubin (ex-VILLAGE VOICE film critic): when filmmakers and critics fall out of love.

Here's another examination of the grey areas that filmmakers and film critics occasionally dwell in together:

Kevin Smith's specific quote:
I always considered film critic Amy Taubin a friend. I was pretty sure she considered me a friend as well, as she called me after the Village Voice let her go, asking if I could help her get a book deal. Over the years, Amy hasn’t always liked the films I made, but at least she never made up horse-shit in her reviews. However, in a Sundance 2011 piece she filed with Film Comment, she lost my respect by being as “careless and heavy-handed” at her job (in print) as she insisted I was at my job (in film) by suggesting nobody would’ve bought Red State.

The above reminds me of when Pauline Kael (the legendary NEW YORKER film critic) turned on Robert Altman after the first half of the 1970s.

At one point, Altman even showed Kael a rough cut of NASHVILLE so the latter could write about it--ensuring Altman would get his way regarding the film's three-hour theatrical running time.

That relationship ended a year later when Kael was underwhelmed by Altman's BUFFALO BILL AND THE INDIANS (an underrated mashup of Western motifs and sharp-edged parody of Show Business).

And here's the blog entry from Kevin Smith mentioning Taubin in the midst of discussing the forthcoming theatrical/VOD distribution of RED STATE:


It's when you stare
at an empty white page
and can't.

Can't think of anything to say.

Can think of things to say,
but worry that millions of others
have already said them
in more profound and articulate ways.

Can think of things to say,
but fearful of criticism
once those things have been said.

And, finally,
think of someone else's statement
about writing being an activity
where you stare at the page
until drops of blood emerge.

Fearful of bleeding too much,
the decision is made to stop writing
until the moment
when writing is mandatory--
no matter what the ultimate verdict may be.

U2 vs. IATSE in Canada.

I didn't know about this story until Richard Verrier did a profile of the current head of IATSE (the theatrical and stage employees union with jurisdiction on both film shoots and concerts) in yesterday's LOS ANGELES TIMES:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Shia LaBeouf told by Steven Spielberg to follow the "example" of Tom Cruise.,0,3619473.story

Key passage from Rebecca Keegan's article on Shia LaBeouf:
The same impulsiveness that inspired LaBeouf to ball his fists [recently in a fight with a heckler in a Sherman Oaks bar] has also driven him to say some professionally reckless things, including telling reporters at the Cannes International Film Festival last year that he was unhappy with the fourth "Indiana Jones" movie.

LaBeouf says he has been warned by people he respects — including Spielberg — to watch his words in public and smooth some of his rough edges.

"The way Steven described it to me was, 'When Tom Cruise walks outside his house, he doesn't pick his nose. From the minute he leaves his door to the minute he comes back home, he doesn't pick his nose.' Now that's a certain way to live your life that I have no ambitions toward."

As an example of what Gore Vidal calls "The United States of Amnesia", Spielberg apparently forgot whatever dismay and anger he likely had when Cruise jumped up-and-down Oprah Winfrey's couch and rumbled with Matt Lauer on the TODAY show.

All of this occurred when Cruise was doing the media circuit to promote his starring role in Spielberg's WAR OF THE WORLDS remake.

But at least it wasn't literal nose-picking.

U2 T-shirt reads: "Stand up to rock stars." Just don't stand up to U2 at Glastonbury....

Key passage from article:
There were rumours of siege towers and stage invasions. But in the end, Art Uncut's much-hyped U2 protest proved somewhat less seismic: an 8m-high balloon – inscribed with the slogan "U Pay Your Tax 2" (geddit?) – that was ripped down by security almost as soon as it was inflated on Friday. Standing a few metres away, I was surprised and disheartened. It's not that the ensuing scuffles were serious (although one protester ended up with a broken finger), but they left a sour taste. Stamping on good-natured direct action so aggressively seemed at odds with the supposedly progressive values of the festival.

It wasn't supposed to be like this. This year's event was built up as the year Glasto got its political mojo back, with the U2 protest slated as emblematic of this change. Festival-founder Michael Eavis had sounded excited, calling politics the thing that "gives Glastonbury soul and gives it back its purpose". On the day of the protest itself, he called the festival "socialism with a small s", saying that Glastonbury-goers "walk the talk, rather than just talk the talk". It's not that Art Uncut's argument – that U2 shouldn't be offshoring their tax burden when a) their Irish compatriots are up the economic spout, and b) their lead singer Bono is petitioning western politicians to increase overseas aid – would have persuaded everyone, but it was expected it would get a hearing.

[UPDATE: Thanks to Dave Marsh's ROCK AND RAP CONFIDENTIAL for posting this article:
From the article:
Against the background of escalating opposition to the government’s spending cuts, the Art Uncut activists are posing an uncomfortable question: why are ordinary people being asked to endure painful cuts in public services, while rock stars, sportsmen and businessmen manage to avoid paying billions of pounds in taxes, albeit legally?
For the protesters, U2 are just one high-profile symbol. They are one of the world’s biggest rock bands, fronted by Bono, a man almost as famous for trying to persuade world leaders to make poverty history as for his music.
But by arranging their business so it does not incur tax bills in their home country of Ireland, the members of U2 stand accused, along with other celebrities and multinational corporations, of depriving governments of money to pay for schools, hospitals and other crucial public services.
The total sums of money involved are enormous. The official estimate of how much tax is missing from UK coffers was £42 billion in 2008-09. But many experts suggest the real amount could be £120bn.
To put that into context: the UK’s total public spending last year was £669bn, and the government wants to cut some £81bn over the next four years. Scotland’s budget is £35bn.
U2 moved part of their business empire to a finance house in Holland (where there is no direct tax on royalties) in 2006 after the Irish government capped a tax exemption on royalties earned from the sale and performance of their work for artists.
The band is among the world’s highest-earning musicians, reportedly earning the equivalent of about £80 million last year.
Charlie Dewar from Art Uncut said U2’s tax move “is depriving the Irish people at a time when they desperately need income to offset the Irish government’s savage austerity programme”.
He added: “There is also a whiff of hypocrisy here with Bono being so well-known for his anti-poverty campaigning, since each year developing countries lose more in tax avoidance … than they receive in aid.”]

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Advance ad for my latest poetry chapbook.

A just-created ad for my new chapbook--
available this fall.
It's titled [insert clever title here].
Photo taken in Montreal during May 2009.

Malick's THE TREE OF LIFE: one theater chain posts an explanatory sign.

I haven't seen Terrence Malick's apparently-impressionistic THE TREE OF LIFE yet, but here's a link to a recent Jeffrey Wells HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE post:

Like Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY in 1968, THE TREE OF LIFE is unconventional enough to trigger some audience-member walkouts.  And I guess it's a sad sign of the times that a theater chain felt it had to post a sign of explanation/warning about the film on one of the entrance doors.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

One more photo from EMI's Abbey Road Studio outside wall--May 2011.

Sad to read this: Glen Campbell has Alzheimer's.

Sad to read this about the legendary country/pop star, session musician (part of the 60s "Wrecking Crew" that included Carol Kaye, Hal Blaine and Leon Russell) and temporary Beach Boy (on a tour in the 60s after Brian Wilson opted to get off the road and work solely in the recording studio).

I genuinely liked Campbell's previous album MEET GLEN CAMPBELL--and am looking forward to his final recording GHOST ON THE CANVAS.  But I have some qualms about his determination to go out on tour (which is probably wearying enough on most people in their mid-70s) while suffering from Alzheimer's.

To me, it would be better if Campbell retires with dignity immediately after GHOST's release, instead of attracting cruel, insensitive reactions from people who will go to the shows expecting to see flubs, faltering and genuine helplessness.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

On seeing GREEN LANTERN in 2-D in a mostly empty theater.

Random thoughts on GREEN LANTERN 2-D (I try to avoid movies where 3-D is only added in post-production) in no specific order:
1. Blake Lively should be campaigining to be part of Warren Beatty's just-announced Howard Hughes project; believe me, she needs the career boost.
2. Ryan Reynolds tries for a fusion of his old frat-boy persona, his newer twinkly/bemused romantic leading man persona and a bit of the old Tom Cruise-circa-TOP GUN schtick.  Bradley Cooper could have given a better performance with one hand tied behind his back and dragging around an anvil chained to his left foot.
3. No, GREEN LANTERN's not as terrible as some reviews indicate  But for an alleged $200 million superhero franchise-starter apparently shot in Louisiana to Save Money, it's pretty underwhelming--particularly so when you consider that Martin Campbell (who revived James Bond with both Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig) directed it.
4. Some quick shoutouts to Peter Sarsgaard (doing a fusion of John Waters and John Malkovich), Tim Robbins, Mark Strong and Geoffrey Rush (imitating Alec Guinness-as-Obi-Wan) for doing professional, keep-the-ship-sailing work.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bill Maher still thinks Texas and Texans are uniformly stupid.!/video/video.php?v=219083881445180&oid=62507427296&comments

I don't always like everything Bill Maher says or does to get a laugh or (sometimes) a knee-jerk reaction from the audience and, as an ex-Texan, I winced at the "I'm-calling-all-of-you-STUPID" New Rule from last Friday's episode of REAL TIME.

Yes, Texas has fundamentalist Christians who are deeply intolerant of other faiths (Judaism and the LDS, to give just two examples)--and a history of pandering loudmouth Republicans (Bill Clements, George W. Bush, Rick Perry) who manage to outlast the more reasonable Democrats (center-to-left) in the governor's chair (Mark White, Ann Richards).

But the entire population of Texas shouldn't be subjected to "progressive" smirking and liberal derision.

Unfortunately, nuance and thoughtfulness don't go well with stand-up comedy--and it's useless to wish for Bill Maher to try for something that gets laughs, but also attempts to examine human hopes and fears instead of settling for the cheap sugar rush of easy button-pushing.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

RIP Clarence Clemons--The Big Man of Bruce Springsteen's E-Street Band.

Here's the official obituary from the Bruce Springsteen fanzine site

I first saw Clarence as part of the E Street Band on the Tunnel of Love tour in 1988 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena; a few months later, I saw a two-hour version of the Springsteen show as part of the Amnesty International tour at the L.A. Coliseum. 

And, since the E Street Band's regrouping in 1999, I saw him several times in concert between then and 2009.

Regrettably, I didn't take advantage of the opportunity to see Clarence last fall while in San Francisco--he made a personal appearance to sign copies of his autobiography at a bookstore near the Fisherman's Wharf area.

Farewell to one of the best tenor sax players in rock and roll history.

Dave "The Edge" Evans and his quest to give sustainable housing to the poor millionaires of Malibu.,0,5823607.story

The business side of U2 and manager Paul McGuinness stays largely hidden from public view.

And it's probably foolish for me to hope for this, but I wish that The Edge would consider a retreat from Malibu and build affordable, sustainable, environmentally-correct housing for the poor and lower middle-class.

This would be a goal more in keeping with the public, humanitarian image often espoused by U2 and its ONE campaign.

Monday, June 13, 2011

LeBron, meet Victor.

Fully aware this may offend fans of either or both--one an athlete in the NBA, the other a mental athlete courting the approval of those with MFAs:
"At the end of the day, all the people that was rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today. I'm going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that. They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal, but they have to get back to the real world at some point."--LeBron James, reflecting on Sunday night's Miami Heat loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

"All you do is criticize people [untrue], and as far as I can tell, your only basis for attacking them is some success or attention that you lack......You need professional help, and you need to stop taking out your issues on other writers, simply because you're jealous of them.... You need therapy, but I really don't care."--excerpted from a Victor Infante tirade directed at the author of this post.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Re Anthony Weiner's misdeeds.

As I write this post, it looks as if Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) may be getting the final shove off the cliff of resignation: there are revelations that Weiner chatted online with a 17-year-old female (junior in high school, to be exact).  And, given Weiner's previous lie-and-stonewall regarding his other cyber-and-phone activities, one hopes this time we can take at face value his statement that nothing inappropriate occurred between him and the teenage girl..

Of course, this news was first ejaculated (sorry) onto before I read it on AOL/Huffington Post.

Personally, I'd only want to see Weiner resign if his sexual behavior was on government time instead of in the confined space of his own home.  It would be a good idea for Weiner to aim for keeping his House seat by getting some sex addiction-and-marriage counseling--taking a leave of absence for awhile.

But, given Weiner's Spitzer-esque penchant for making enemies (with the right, and presumably, the Obama "center"), plus his stupidity and recklessness, plus the kind of sneering, self-and-business-serving behavior from Andrew Breitbart (a lot easier for me to dislike than, say, Kenneth Starr, who seemed more sincere in his righteousness or self-righteousness), it's safe to guess that some kind of exit strategy will be devised long before a Nancy Pelosi-led investigation.

[UPDATE: Weiner's opting for treatment]

Friday, June 10, 2011


I'm trying so hard to withdraw,
to untie the rubber tube
and wrench the syringe of cable news
from my veins.

Don't want to see the CNN Saturday anchor
smile every time she reads something 
off the prompter.

Don't want to see MSNBC hosts
named Lawrence and Ed
competing for who can get the most headlines
to fill the ratings void left 
when Keith Olbermann was unjustly fired.

Don't want to see Chris Matthews
saying things about Anthony Weiner
"sticking it out."

Don't want to see Anderson Cooper
being a puppet of his writers and producers.

Don't want to see Fox News
unless I'm in a doctor's waiting room
where I have no choice.
And, even then, I want a magazine
to keep me from being irradiated
by Republican talking points
and facts twisted like Silly Putty.

Don't want to watch HLN
and hear Nancy Grace
snarl about Lady Justice.
Or, for that matter, 
Doctor Drew and his endless quest
to present himself
as a sober-minded moralistic ambulance chaser.

I just want to tear out the needle
and the syringe
and throw them across the room

hearing the breaking glass of the syringe
and pronouncing myself
cured of propaganda and endless distraction
from the news that really matters.

Monday, June 6, 2011

RIP (likely) GENERAL HOSPITAL 1963-2012.

Take a look at this article from THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER site:

I'm making a sort-of-educated guess that Disney/ABC will again manage for margins (i.e. low ratings don't matter as much if production costs are cheap--the rationale behind THE CHEW and THE REVOLUTION replacing ALL MY CHILDREN and ONE LIFE TO LIVE) and cancel their remaining soap opera aka "daytime drama."

New poem: LONDON POEM #2

It was an easy walk
from the Underground station
down the stairway
into the village of Kew
on the outskirts of London--
we're blessed with a bright day
and an understated village square.

Just a quick stroll 
down an upper-middle-class street
with mostly compact
and a few mid-sized cars.
(Gasoline is too expensive
to warrant an excess of 
low-mileage cars in the UK.)
Rows of standardized houses,
all of them
two-story affairs.
Then, buildings containing flats (estates?)
probably built
sometime after the war
that threatened to erase
villages such as Kew.

And finally,
we reach the massive Kew Gardens
with the recreations of
rainforests and desert climates,
plus the Victorian glass greenhouse--
and the knowledge that somewhere on the gardens' edge
is the River Thames.

There will always be an England.
And I'm ever so happy
to have seen a quiet, manicured corner of it
at this point in my life.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Re banishment, shaming and why I'd rather be "Joe Blow from Electra."

Here's a formative experience from my high school years:
Before the annual late-April trips to the Greater Southwest competition in Amarillo, TX, the band director would often tell us that, while out of town, "You're not Joe Blow from Electra, you ARE Electra."

In retrospect, it's one thing to represent the school when you're part of a large ensemble.  But to throw in admonishments that your behavior has to reflect on an entire town created a burden.  I was a shy teenager and had no trouble behaving, but not everyone else would toe the mark on the road.

Cut to almost three decades later:
I wasn't there to witness this, but a poet told me a story about a male poetry host (who co-hosted a then hugely-popular weekly reading on Melrose) arguing with a female poet.  The poetry host banned the female poet from his reading--rather fascinating since the argument was taking place outside a poetry venue in North Hollywood.

By now, you're probably wondering what the connection is between the two anecdotes above:
Banishment (or threats towards that end) is often a tool in poetry communities to enforce order and ensure dissent and troublemaking (which can sometimes be little more than not being completely gaga over a host and/or reading) carries a heavy penalty. 

And another tool in poetry communities is akin to the band director's "you ARE Electra" speech--to make people feel that, if they complain and/or refuse to accept the scene (warts, blemishes, egotism, bullying and all), you're bringing deep dishonor not only on yourself, but your fellow poets, your city and the institutions of poetry and literature themselves.

All further proof that the ethos of high school hamstrings you for much of the rest of your life--if you allow it.