Monday, October 31, 2011

Reprising my SoCal poetry disengagement statement from Facebook.

After this coming Sunday (November 6th), I'll be disappearing from the public poetry scene in Southern California for awhile. I learned a few things about poetry--more than I ever thought I would. So glad to have made some friends over the past thirteen years. Will still post poems to Facebook (and on this blog) on occasion and hope to keep books available in stores--and one of them will soon be available online. Sending best wishes to those who remain in the arena.

BIG NOIR OPEN READING this Sunday--part of the NIGHT AND THE CITY noir festival.

Glad to be part of this event.  Reprinting from the L.A. Poetry Festival NIGHT AND THE CITY brochure:

Sunday, November 6
3 p.m.–5 p.m.

Big Noir Open Reading—with Features

Come read your favorite Raymond Chandler

Sign-ups 2:30–3 p.m.

Host: Mike the Poet Sonksen

3:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m. Featured readers: Fiction writer Cheryl Klein • Poet, author Pam Ward

3:30 p.m. Kick-off to Open: Terry McCarty

Gemini Manor (a fantastically original house)

1341 N. Mariposa Avenue • Hollywood 90027 Bring your own wine or noir picnic • Soft drinks, coffee, provided • Admission: $10

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Here's a great misinterpretation of the current film THE RUM DIARY.

From K. Bowen, commenter on Jeffrey Wells' blog HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE:
Count me in the positive column. I like its setting, ambience, and developed characters.

Still, the thing I couldn't figure out was why Sanderson (Eckhart) was the bad guy and Kemp (Depp) was the good guy.

Sanderson is friendly, trusting, loyal, puts up with Kemp's alcoholic shortcomings in good humor and gives him a great opportunity. He's genuinely hurt when things go bad at the end. He only wants to build a resort so that people can have a great vacation and he can justifiably make money from it.

Kemp, meanwhile, is disloyal, unreliable, self-righteous, alcoholic and hangs out with friends he really should kick out of his life before they drag him down. He steals Sanderson's boat, tries to steal his girlfriend, and plays a significant accidental role in putting someone in danger. While he eventually pretends to act out of moral authority, he really acts out of envy. He's a fun fellow,

It is nice to have characters well rounded enough to debate things like this, however. Good job all around!

The complete thread with Wells' original post can be found at:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Explaining Southern California poetry to outsiders Part Two: the pressure to conform to majority beliefs.

Recycling a comment made to me last year by an ex-OC poet:
"[SoCal poets' names redacted] and others you have issues with have traveled the country and the world and have performed their words for micro cultures of many different sizes and creeds.. their opinions hold merit, and should really be LISTENED to..sure they should be taken with a grain of salt, but they have experience and have learned things about the poetic experience that you have not, and their opinions hold keys and things to be learned..ignoring that is just stupidity. why would you NOT be interested in their opinions??"

The opinion above is that person's opinion--and I'd like to think I'm free to disagree with it.

But, for community advancement, it's better to not disagree.

Just be quiet, don't argue, make friends--and perhaps, one day, your poetry may be found to have merit.

Even if you haven't already changed it to make it more acceptable to the people whose opinions should
really be LISTENED to.

The Bob Buchmann era at KLOS-FM is over; DJ Jim Ladd also fired.

At least Chris Carter's BREAKFAST WITH THE BEATLES--the only program I listen to on KLOS--is unaffected by this wave of downsizing.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

SLATE's Dahlia Lithwick makes it perfectly clear what the people protesting with OWS want.

Highlighting by me:

For the past several years, while the mainstream media was dutifully reporting on all things Kardashian or (more recently) a wholly manufactured debt-ceiling crisis, ordinary people were losing their health care, their homes, their jobs, and their savings. Those people have taken that narrative to Facebook and Twitter—just as citizens took to those alternative forms of media throughout the Middle East as part of the Arab Spring. And just to be clear: They aren’t holding up signs that say “I want Bill O’Reilly’s stuff.” They aren’t holding up signs that say “I am animated by toxic levels of envy and entitlement.” They are holding up signs that are perfectly and intrinsically clear: They want accountability for the banks that took their money, they want to end corporate control of government. They want their jobs back. They would like to feed their children. They want—wait, no, we want—to be heard by a media that has devoted four mind-numbing years to channeling and interpreting every word uttered by a member of the Palin family while ignoring the voices of everyone else.

And there’s this. The mainstream media thrives on simple solutions. It has no idea whatsoever of how to report on a story that isn’t about easy fixes so much as it is about anguished human frustration and fear. The media prides itself on its ability to tell you how to clear your clutter, regrout your shower, or purge your closet of anything that makes you look fat—in 24 minutes or less. It is bound to be flummoxed by a protest that offers up no happy endings. Luckily for us, #OWS doesn’t seem to care.
The entirety of Ms. Lithwick's article can be found here:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Uh-oh: Steve "flat tax" Forbes endorses Rick "chasing Herman Cain's flat tax" Perry.,0,6701998.story?track=rss

Safe to conjecture that this is the beginning of the end of Rick Perry in the GOP Presidential candidate
horse race.

And, somehow, this Don Henley song comes to mind (couldn't find Henley's version on YouTube, but here's a karaoke cover--be patient, intro lasts a minute):

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Some notes on Barnes and Noble--the last national bookstore chain standing.

Went into the Calabasas, CA store Tuesday night and noticed that, before closing, the only place to pay for book/other purchases was through the cashier in the coffee/food area.

Was at the store in Woodland Hills last night and noticed that, like Borders, B and N is staking a fair amount of store space on selling to perceived "hot" consumers.  In B and N's case, it's children (whereas Borders in its latter phase was feverish to sell TWILIGHT and other teen-goth romances).

Guessing that B and N will announce more store closings in 2012.

[UPDATE 10/26/11: I was prescient.  The B and N at the Westside Pavilion in West L.A. will close by the end of this year:]

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Latest mainstream media response to Occupy protests.

It's safe to say that there are three essential responses by the mainstream media to demonstrations organized by progressives/liberals/The Left :

1. They're unseemly!

2. They're full of all sorts of groups with different agendas!

3. Not THAT many people are out there demonstrating!

And now here's Number 4--
They're costing cities lots of money!

From today's LOS ANGELES TIMES:,0,6466227.story

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Explaining L.A. poetry community to outsiders: the concept of "emerging poets."

Taking the stage, it's G. Murray Thomas from the above link to explain how you can be an "emerging poet" even if you've put in a number of years in service to the concept of "community" (highlighting by me):
"Now I’m supposed to discuss an emerging poet I respect. But in a poetry world where reputations can take years to build, what qualifies as emerging? Does it have to be someone new to the scene, or can a poet who has been around for years, but not gotten the recognition (I feel) he deserves fit the bill? I have seen too many poets languish in semi-obscurity to not opt for the latter.
Therefore, my choice is Larry Colker, a poet who is a longstanding figure on the SoCal poetry scene, but is probably better known for co-hosting the long running Redondo Poets series than for his own writing. Even while hosting, he is more likely to read someone else’s poetry than his own. (In fact, he opens every reading with a poem by another poet he likes.) I find this happens quite often in the poetry scene, that those who spend the most time promoting other poets often find their own works neglected."

In my opinion, "emerging" is a tag which should belong to newcomers of one to five years--and "honored" should be the word for the kind of veterans Murray describes in the second portion of his definition.

It's safe to guess that some poets who have spent years/decades in service (and waiting his/her turn to "arrive" ) may be a bit personally irked by being called "emerging."

But, if they've been active in the community for a certain length of time, they avoid complaining and just accept it as one of the conditions of belonging.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Robert Downey Jr. uses American Cinematheque awards ceremony to make a case for forgiving Mel Gibson's sins.

Adding this to the above:
1.Given the meet-the-press history of Mr. Gibson's last two films (EDGE OF DARKNESS, THE BEAVER), it may take some huge behavioral remodeling for Mel not to either bristle at reporters' attempts to question/bait (EDGE) or opt for the specially-selected-"pet"-writer who will merely write down carefully-prepared PR responses (THE BEAVER).
2.  I don't know if Mel's prepared to say something like this--"Hey, I'm in my mid-50s, and like many others in my generation, I grew up with prejudices about people with different religious beliefs and same-sex desires. And I acted like a bigoted fool and said hateful things in interviews and to everyday people as well.  I'm sorry I've hurt people around me--including those I've loved and continue to love--and now realize that it's never too late to make changes."
3. Or this: "You know, I'm in my mid-50s, and I've not always been physically or verbally respecful when it comes to relationships with women.  I want to avoid repeating my mistakes in the future."
4.  Or this: "I'm in my mid-50s, and I'm aware the business is changing and may leave me behind.  I'd still like a few big paydays, but I may have to get used to either a full-time career as director or playing occasional high-profile supporting roles like Russell Crowe is doing now as Superman's Superdad."

Photos of signs from Occupy San Francisco.!/photo.php?fbid=2383801309729&set=a.1487038371216.65354.1091624981&type=3&theater!/photo.php?fbid=2383827950395&set=a.1487038371216.65354.1091624981&type=3&theater!/photo.php?fbid=2383807269878&set=a.1487038371216.65354.1091624981&type=3&theater

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The right-wing San Francisco EXAMINER hates banker fraud almost as much as Occupy protesters.

The San Francisco EXAMINER is a free daily newspaper that, to put it subtly, tilts right.

On today's cover is a headline called USED AND ABUSED.
Underneath the headline is this text:
Taxpayers foot bill for bailout while SF bankers allegedly cooked books and deceived feds.

The article by Ari Burack starts out like this:
"San Francisco bank executives [of the former United Commercial Bank] cooked their books
and lied to auditors just before they accepted a $298 million taxpayer bailout, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
They now have the distinction of being the first senior executives of a bank that received federal bailout
funds to be criminally charged [by the SEC] in connection with a scheme to defraud the government
and American taxpayers."

Something that the Left and Right could find some common cause about--one would hope.

Flip over to the editorial page and, again, there's a cartoon lampooning the Occupy movement.

Today, they're being described as Commies.

Here's the text of Nate Beeler's cartoon:
"All we are give the death of capitalism and a new era of Soviet-style repression and stasis that we won't call 'Communism' a chaaance!"

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A decade after 9/11--and San Francisco BART stations still won't reopen restrooms.

It's not often that I'll agree with something written in a Michael Lacey-syndicated publication, but here's a link to a past SF WEEKLY article about how BART passengers in San Francisco need to use restrooms in advance of the descent into certain stations:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pro--and extreme con--views of Martin Scorsese's George Harrison documentary.

Ex-CNBC, now-CNN newsperson Erin Burnett still hearts Wall Street.

Looks like the Fox News notion of "fair and balanced" has traveled to CNN.  Here's an article about "International Superstar" (phrase coined by MSNBC's Joe Scarborough) Erin Burnett and her open disdain for Wall Street protests:

A key passage from the article (highlighting by me):
"Burnett used to work for the same financial companies that profited from the bailouts--Goldman Sachs, Citigroup--and she is engaged to be married to a Citigroup executive (Business Insider, 9/30/11). Burnett's journalistic career includes plenty of attempts to promote Wall Street interests, earning her praise from the likes of Rush Limbaugh (FAIR Blog, 10/3/11). She even tried to defend Wall Street giants from criticism over using TARP funds to pay giant bonuses (FAIR Blog, 2/3/09)."

Glenn Greenwald's article on Erin Burnett:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Re media coverage of--and responses to the Occupy protests.

It's safe to say that there are three essential responses by the mainstream media to demonstrations:
1. They're unseemly! 
2. They're full of all sorts of groups with different agendas!
3. Not THAT many people are out there demonstrating!

Here's a recent Glenn Greenwald article about responses to Occupy Wall Street:

Links to articles about Occupy Wall Street and Los Angeles protests:

Now, some observations from commenters on the KABC-7 website:
"A bunch of losers possessed with a sense of entitlement. Where's a firing squad when you need one?"
"The 60's was a FAD for me but it seems to be a lifestyle for these people... somehow they haven't grown past it!"
"Wow. That's the best negative comments you can make? Pathetic. My husband and many friends went today, they ALL have jobs and they ALL pay taxes. Corporations don't. That needs to change."

[UPDATE 10/4/11: Some more recent links to pro-and-con Occupy Wall Street articles:]

Saturday, October 1, 2011

One definition of bullying.

I found the following sentence in the comments section of a website devoted to activism:
"To anyone reading this -- if ANYONE screams at you or is in your face telling you what to do or calling you names, ignore him or call him out for bullying."

In my lifetime, I've been bullied by people; most often, it's been in school/work situations where the options are to either take it as unemotionally as possible or object (even if it's done in a deferential way) and risk being fired/expelled.

And sometimes, I've been on the other side of the fence and have committed one or more of ths sins listed
in the above quote (there are those who may say I've engaged in "telling you what to do" and "calling you names" on this blog).  As a response to certain things I may have said/done, I've been treated to "ignore him" and "call him out for bullying"--not to forget the occasional flare of anonymous commentary here and elsewhere.

While blogging, I've generally tried to adhere to the approach of criticizing people for things they do professionally (even when there are occasions when my and others' interpretations can be very personal). 

I'm trying a bit harder to restrain myself from name-calling (though I made an exception in reviving the George Butch Jr. nickname for George W. Bush in a recent post).

In a poetry-related context, bullying often is used as a show of standards-and-values endorsement.  And it tends to take the form of "let's-run-him-or-her-out-of-the-community."

Whatever sins I've committed, I try really really hard to avoid that one.