Thursday, July 28, 2011

My blog is going....on late-summer vacation.

There's a finite number of times one can write about current events, corporate pop culture, hyped-up political theater (as in the debt ceiling melodrama) and--especially--the comedy-and-sometimes-tragedy of manners re "the poetry community" (and how poetry behavior sometimes mimics what one sees with dismay in the everyday world).

So I don't use my finite number up too quickly, I'm taking some time off from blogging.

But I plan to return later in August--refreshed, rejuvenated and recharged.

Meanwhile, I hope those of you reading this entry will go (at least occasionally) to poetry readings and buy books from independent stores/online retailers/last brick-and-mortar-chain standing Barnes and Noble.

The world can be a better, more harmonious place in so many ways--if we want it enough to put excessive self-centeredness on hold.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

When people you admire in Show Business behave badly: Rhys Ifans being Exhibit A for today.

Having been in both Show Business (although in a very low-level sense) and Poetry Show Business, I've been witness to Famous People in both realms behaving badly on a sliding scale of surprising to positively scary (one of the latter incidents involved being yelled at by the late actor John Vernon--forever to be known as ANIMAL HOUSE's Dean Wormer--when I worked as a background actor on a DOOGIE HOWSER, M.D. episode).

I've never met Rhys Ifans, but it's sad to read about jerky, physically and verbally assaultive behavior that he displayed at San Diego's Comic-Con.

Nonetheless, it doesn't detract from my enjoyment of Ifans' performances in the films NOTTING HILL, PIRATE RADIO, GREENBERG (where he played a non-jerk friend to Ben Stiller's rather self-centered, oblivious-to-others lead character) and ENDURING LOVE.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tragedy is tragedy--whether it's self-inflicted or caused by mass murderers.

As can be sadly expected, the death of singer Amy Winehouse was greeted by stupid/angry Twitter posts saying that her passing amounts to less than the recent double tragedies in Norway.

Here are a couple of tweets that say something entirely different:
ThePlaylist RT @feldmanadam: Sympathy for Norway does not preclude sympathy for Amy Winehouse. Nor does the latter replace the former.
embeedub (Mary Beth Williams): If you think people's sadness over a singer's death means they can't care about Norway/Japan/Somalia, the compassion deficit is yours.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


[Inspired by an article in THE NEW YORK TIMES]

if you feel the urge

to commit a mortal sin tonight,

just call me

and I'll tell you all sorts of tales

about how there's someone out there

sweeping up everything you've said and done online,

all the times you've been to the principal's office,

all the things you've yelled at strangers in traffic,

all the stab-through-the-soul comments you wrote

when you evaluated your professor

at the end of the semester,

all the times you were told to pick up the tempo

on your productivity at work,

all the moments you said or did something

momentarily out of character you apologized for later


can count against you

and leave you poor and starving

and living out of your car

after months to years

of not being able to find another job

to replace the one you were fired at will from

so if you hold your tongue

and never say anything

rash or wrong or ill-informed or maladroit,

I promise I'll do the same

and I hope

that the agency

who my future possible employers

have hired to read this poem

won't hold it against me

and keep it in their nonerasable hard drives forever


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Feeling a fair amount of sacked KTTV-TV reporter John Schwada's pain.

Excerpts from Mr. Schwada's exit statement (highlighting by me):
A week ago, I was told my KTTV contract would not be renewed. Since then, LA Observed & LA Weekly have reported on my story. But missing in all this has been any public expressions of concern - indignation? – from reporters/the journalism academy. Privately, they have muttered darkly, sympathized. But publicly – in forums where newspeople best practice our craft, express our values – my profession has been silent.

My "firing" (not effective until Aug. 12) has been a shot across the bow of every KTTV reporter. Privately, my colleagues say: "if they're getting rid of you, who's next?" Actually they have nothing to fear - if they stay young and pretty and docile. And, from their failure to publicly show concern when a seasoned and repeatedly honored reporter, is sacked, I think they're well down the road to…self-preservation.

But really what disturbs me most is the silence from my union, AFTRA, and from the journalism academy. When a veteran reporter for no good journalistic reason is dismissed, where are their independent voices? Some of these folks are even protected by tenure? Their silence is particularly disappointing.

Poets, belonging and joining/leaving "poetry gangs."

Years ago, I upset a female poet (who was then quite prominent and now re-emerging onto the scene after several years' absence) with some ill-chosen, less-than-tactful words about what I thought was a too-narrow booking for an event being held in Silverlake.

She mentioned to me, among other things, that she (and, implied, her peers) were in the process of accepting me and my poetry (i.e. I had a Beyond Baroque Sunday feature--plus a Valley Contemporary Poets feature--at that point)--and how could I be so impolitic to be critical and ill-mannered to her (my wife and I had attended a couple of holiday parties at her then-home on the Westside).

To be fair, she was right about a few things (I very much wish I had handled the matter more delicately if I was going to risk censure by questioning her booking policies in public and private).  And, over the years, on numerous occasions, I've been made to feel like John Milton's version of Satan, cast out of Heaven, where good and decent (once you've fulfilled all the social and artistic demands) poets reign.

Unfortunately, the problem is that, once you're in (or at least within a few miles of) Heaven, you discover that Heaven's a lot like Earth.

Poets still complain about other poets: I remember a current doyenne of the scene once complaining to a male poet/tastemaker last year about how a third poet didn't deserve all the features he was receiving at the time.

And I still have lingering less-than-positive memories of a poets' panel at Beyond Baroque years ago where abundant pleasure was taken in criticizing-verging-on-mockery-of the misfits of L.A. poetry.  The mitigating factor (if there was one) was that the alleged miscreants weren't mentioned by name.  But most everyone in the Beyond Baroque theater knew exactly which people were being gossiped about.

The moral of this collection of anecdotes: The grass is the same color on either side of the fence.  Just keep writing--and hope that what you do during your lifetime survives in at least one other person's memory after your demise.

Monday, July 18, 2011

And down goes Borders....

Once again, I remember how, in the late 90s, there was the deep, loud fear that the independent bookstore would be killed by the superchains i.e. Borders and Barnes & Noble.

It didn't happen.

At least Borders, at its best, did offer some degree of diversity in its store-to-store choices as well as community service/outreach through poetry and other readings (locally i.e. Ron Dvorkin's reading at the Canoga Park/Woodland Hills branch).

Now, all that's left of the "superstore" chains is Barnes & Noble--which is feverishly splashing resources onto its Kindle e-reader.  Plus it's making the huge mistakes Borders did in its later years--standardizing its product (meaning you get more or less the same selection of books in each store, with reduction in availability of certain genres) and chasing the "hot" temporary trend (i.e. the shelves devoted to teen "paranormal romance") at the expense of the everday customer.

And this isn't to let independent stores off the hook, either.  It doesn't do them any good to gloat and forever moan about the discount-priced (currently whining about not wanting to charge California state tax) as a designated demon.

With the absence of Borders, one hopes independent stores will flourish on a larger playing field. 

And it would be great to see, for example, the resurrection of the old Acres of Books used-book superstore in Long Beach.

Friday, July 15, 2011

New poem: L.A. CARMAGIDEON TIME (inspired by The Clash)

[AUTHOR'S NOTE 7/20/11: This poem was written to satirize the dire warnings of automotive bumper-to-bumper chaos--that didn't happen--during the much-hyped "Carmageddon" weekend of July 15-17 when a portion of the 405 Freeway was closed from Sherman Oaks to West L.A.]

stay around don't play around

this old town

and you'll find yourself stuck stuck stuck

in an endless car-to-car line

and you won't get to travel on

a lot of people won't get home early tonight

a lot of people will honk their horns tonight

a lot of people will raise their middle fingers tonight

tempers will get hotter

and people will really feel put upon

during L.A. Carmagideon Time

a lot of cars jammed on short-cut routes tonight

a lot of people thinking they're injusticed tonight

they're not going to kick it over

no one will guide them--

it's L.A. Carmagideon Time

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wisdom from Matt Taibbi that won't be listened to/heeded by most people on the Left.

Two key passages from Taibbi's blog post:
 "The blindness of the DLC-era [the "centrist" Democratic Leadership Council] "Third Way" Democratic Party continues to be an astounding thing. For more than a decade now they have been clinging to the idea that the path to electoral success is social liberalism plus... laissez-faire economics – in other words, get Wall Street and corporate America to fund your campaigns, and get minorities, pro-choice and gay marriage activists (who will always frightened into loyalty by the Tea Party/Christian loonies on the other side) to march at your rallies and vote every November."
"I simply don't believe the Democrats would really be worse off with voters if they committed themselves to putting people back to work, policing Wall Street, throwing their weight behind a real public option in health care, making hedge fund managers pay the same tax rates as ordinary people, ending the pointless wars abroad, etc. That they won't do these things because they're afraid of public criticism, and "responding to pressure," is an increasingly transparent lie. This "Please, Br'er Fox, don't throw me into dat dere briar patch" deal isn't going to work for much longer. Just about everybody knows now that they want to go into that briar patch."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Glenn Greenwald quote re Bradley Manning NEW YORK magazine profile.

"The hallmark of political and media establishments is to depict meaningful dissent from its orthodoxies as a form of mental illness, and conversely, acceptance of (or at least acquiescence to) its orthodoxies as a requirement for mental health (even when, as is true now, its orthodoxies are themselves warped and ill)."

This kind of get-right-with-us behavior also makes sense in the context of poetry/literary communities.

Glenn Greenwald's full column about Manning, the NEW YORK profile and a miltary vet defending Manning can be found here:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Question Time - Hugh Grant - NoW Closure 'Cynical Manoeuvre' [07.07.2011]

Here's the Piers Morgan Americans don't experience on CNN.

The quote below is from former UK newspaperperson Piers Morgan's Twitter feed--expressing Morgan's feelings about Hugh Grant (who was a victim of the celebrity phone hacking scandal in the UK--along with actress Sienna Miller) and Grant's appearance on the BBC show QUESTION TIME (presumably discussing how the phone hacking of celebrities, 7/7/05 terror victims and those concerned in the case of a murdered young woman brought an abrupt end to Rupert Murdoch's tabloid NEWS OF THE WORLD):
"You don't have to have any sympathy for the News of the World to think Hugh Grant's being a screechy, sanctimonious little prick."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Frank Rich on Obama hearting Wall Street/Big Business.

Certainly an article worth reading, though Rich loses his original thesis part of the way through to cheerlead for Obama's re-election by a voluminous recounting of the myriad sins of Mitt Romney, who's probably the most obvious used-car salesman of a Presidential candidate since John Edwards (who may have actually believed in a few of the populist notions he espoused).

Monday, July 4, 2011

A poet's bio of me.

Will be co-featuring at Alex Frankel's Second Sunday reading in Pasadena on Sunday, July 10th at 5:00 p.m.

Here's a link to Alex's take on me:

One addendum to the above: I'm only 86ed from one venue.  Otherwise, everything's copacetic.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

I can feel Kevin Smith's pain.

From Kevin Smith's SILENT BOB SPEAKS blog (, here's a primal scream worthy of John Lennon's PLASTIC ONO BAND album--and one I can empathize with:
"For years, cats like cranky ol’ Mr. “GET OFF MY FRIEND HOLLYWOOD’S LAWN!” would write shit that diminished me as a filmmaker because I didn’t fit into their limited definition of what a filmmaker is. I believed that shit for nearly twenty years. But I’m a grownup now – which means I’ve realized that no jackass who doesn’t do what I do for a living can ever tell me I’m bad at my art. That’s some backwards-ass bullshit right there: s’like a priest giving marital advice to newlyweds. If you don’t ever fuck, there’s no way anything you say about fucking is relevant to the discussion. No artist will ever tell another artist “You failed.” There is no failure in art, because art – like beauty – is in the eye of the beholder. No audience is a Borg collective: show 100 people the same movie and they’ll have 100 totally different experiences and reactions, far more diverse and interesting than a thumb pointing this way or that. So when the cranks get to screeching about how I’m doing it all wrong, or badly, or in some way other than I should? I know I’m on the right fucking track. When EW [presuming he refers to ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY] writes you off as a loon, that’s a badge of honor. Why be like everyone else when you can be bold and stand apart? Good or bad, be remembered for doing it your way."