Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 film releases that stayed in my mind.

I'm behind on my moviegoing for this year (didn't even see the cult film du jour HOLY MOTORS), so this leaves out a lot of year-end awards contenders which I'll catch up with in weeks to come.  But here are several films I found memorable in a good way:



Underachiever Award of 2012 (Tie): Tim Burton for DARK SHADOWS--perfect storm of too-jokey script plus Tim's unwillingness to leave soundstage/CGI creature comforts behind and shoot a lower-budget film in either NY (where Dan Curtis did his DARK SHADOWS features) or the British countryside; Meryl Streep's smug, lazy pirouette of a performance in HOPE SPRINGS; Pixar dumbing itself down with BRAVE.

Most memorable L.A. revival house film viewings this year: POSSESSION (uncut version), BEGGARS OF LIFE

Semi-guilty pleasure of the year: THE EXPENDABLES 2

Revised poem about poetry: SINNING.


I’m alone in a small rowboat on the sea of Poetry.

A few feet away is a great white whale.

I’m offended by the comments the whale makes.

He's certain of his superiority to me in every way.

The whale blows opulent spouts of water about “community”.

But it’s a gated community keeping most poets at bay.

It’s time for me to stop turning my cheek.

I harpoon Moby Bard, spilling blood.

The whale proceeds to ram my rowboat until it’s destroyed.

I tumble into icy water and begin searching for safe harbor.

After I swim a few miles, I see another rowboat.

It’s filled with four studious practitioners of verse.

When I approach the boat, I cry out to the poets:

“Listen to me! I’m trying to help more of us to be recognized!”

For a moment, they stop to hear.

Then, they smash my unsubmerged body with their oars.

“O vile, foolish, childish, profane, divisive man!” they say in unison.

“Consider this a scolding! Never challenge the wise white whale again!”

After the pummeling ends, the four poets row to the whale.

They proceed to clean and bind his wounds.

I watch the poets’ efforts through a haze of pain.

Then, I swim away--wondering why I bought a rowboat.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Before we forget Newtown tragedy: another posting of poem ANOTHER POEM ABOUT GUNS.

Given that the media will be focusing on avoiding the Fiscal Cliff into early January, it's appropriate to repost this poem to keep some attention on the disease of gun violence directed at random individuals:


saw the four-year-old boy

with his mother

at a Target store in the Valley

and the boy had a plastic toy pistol—

black with orange painted on the barrel

to tell everyone it’s not real—

and the boy waves the gun

and yells BAM! BAM! BAM!

I hope and pray that someday

the boy’s mother

will make sure he knows

the exact place

where fantasy stops

and tragedy becomes eternal

Monday, December 24, 2012


"Because we're all that bad if given half a chance. We're all about as decent and humane as the next guy until circumstances and dark guidance bring out our inner monster."

The above is film reviewer/blogger Jeffrey Wells ( discussing Errol Morris' Abu Ghraib torture documentary STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE in 2008.

Cut to 2012.

"Are you going to tell me that if your son or daughter has been kidnapped and is being held in some secret, all-but-impossible-to-discover location and might possibly be killed if you don't find him/her...are you going to tell me that if you've captured a close accomplice of the kidnappers who refuses to talk...are you going to tell me that all you're going to do is take this guy out to lunch and feed him hummus and tomatoes, and if that doesn't work you're going to take him out for drinks and then set him up with $5000-a-night prostitute in hopes that he'll reveal the location?"
[I'm omitting a swipe at "Hollywood liberals" (plus Alex Gibney, who directed the anti-torture documentary TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE,) and fast-forwarding to Wells' end sentence.]
"It's moments like these when I'm less than proud to be a lefty. Because the way the liberal Hollywood mob is ganging up on this film is appalling, and close to disgusting. A bunch of sensitive pantywaists towing the sensitive-liberal p.c. line."--Wells in support of Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal's nondocumentary of the pursuit and killing of Osama bin Laden, ZERO DARK THIRTY.

It's not just Jeffrey Wells; other film critics including Glenn Kenny and veteran (and highly readable) wiseass Tom Carson are whipping filmmakers like Gibney and columnists like Glenn Greenwald (plus U.S. Senators) for pointing out inaccuracies in a film conceived as a docudrama (fiction and fact blended together), making political points, and not remembering "it's just a movie."  In addition: the allegations that Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal may have been co-opted by CIA pro-torture hardliners in preparing the ZERO DARK THIRTY screenplay.

Sony is almost certainly cheering the see-it-and-decide-for-yourself controversy over a film [I'll see it sometime during its' theatrical run] which, apparently due to a surface replication of Bigelow and Boal's "nonpolitical" approach to the Iraq War in THE HURT LOCKER, may turn out to have the greatest popular appeal of Bigelow's entire filmography (including NEAR DARK, POINT BREAK and STRANGE DAYS).

Tom Carson namechecked THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS in his ruminations on ZERO DARK THIRTY.  It may remain for audiences (short-and-long-memoried alike) to decide if ZDT becomes a multigenerational war film classic--or this generation's MISSISSIPPI BURNING (the semi-forgotten Alan Parker-directed 1988 docudrama which adopted an FBI-centric, civil-rights-leaders-free view of the fight against white Southern racism in the 1960s).

Let's end with this observation from HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE commenter "Otto":

The feigned outrage against "Stalinists seeking to quell artistic freedom" is about as genuine and coherent as the NRA's outrage that "they want to take away our guns.'
Just as no one wants to ban all guns, no one is seriously challenging the director's artistic license to depict what she wants. They are criticizing the film's claims that it's based upon fact and yet employs post-hoc logic connecting torture and intelligence that led to UBL's location. And they are criticizing the chest-pounding basement dwellers whose interrogation experience is confined to a Taco Bell drive-through, but who nonetheless delight in their insistence that torture is an effective intelligence tool.
Invoking Stalin is inapt, as Stalin effectively censored dissenters. People criticizing Zero Dark Thirty are not preventing anyone from making a movie of their choosing. Rather, like the filmmakers, they are expressing their opinions.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Complete End of the World playlist.

From my Twitter feed to this blog, here they are:
Skeeter Davis -- The End Of The World:
Robert Plant, Alison Krauss - Gone Gone Gone:
World's End Dance Hall - English & Chinese Sub - Miku & Luka - sm12326781:
R.E.M. I'm Gonna DJ **HQ** Video:  
The Who - Had Enough from WHO ARE YOU:
world's end girlfriend - Les Enfants du Paradis (MUSIC VIDEO):
 Eric Cartman - Come Sail Away:
Elvis Costello-- Waiting For The End Of The World:
Elvis Costello - Hurry Down Doomsday (The Bugs Are Takin' Over):

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Commenter to ATLANTIC magazine blog post guesses next move of National Rifle Association.

Spike Gomes' comment on the AtlanticWire site:
"My theory? The NRA is going to offer gun control "concessions" not explicitly outlined in return for America discussing issues with news media fueling gunman notoriety, movies and video games glorifying ultra-violence, which will seem eminently reasonable; the one thing most young mass-murderers share outside of access to firearms and mental-emotional disorders is an inordinate interest in violent video games, movies and music. This draws out the discussion, gores some of their strongest opponent's sacred cows and takes advantage of America's notoriously short (if intense) attention span. I suppose some bill will be passed, a modified version of the Brady Bill grudgingly supported by the NRA-ILA this time around, along with stronger government tracking of firearm sales and registration."

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Something to remember when violent movies get re-condemned in the wake of Connecticut and Oregon.

Reposting this comment made by "djiggs" on the HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE site:
"From his review of Gus Van Sant's 'Elephant,' a fictionalized account of a Columbine-like school shooting, here's Roger Ebert on the media's behavior while reporting these kinds of events:
"Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. "Wouldn't you say," she asked, "that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?" No, I said, I wouldn't say that. "But what about 'Basketball Diaries'?" she asked. "Doesn't that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?"
"The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it's unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.
"The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. "Events like this," I said, "if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn't have messed with me. I'll go out in a blaze of glory."
"In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of "explaining" them.
"I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy."
This is Ebert again. I gather my point is what goes around, comes around.

Granite hearts and minds need to change after Connecticut gun tragedy.

From a David Remnick post on yesterday's tragedy in Connecticut:

"What is needed is gun control—strict, comprehensive gun control that places the values of public safety and security before the values of deer hunting and a perverse ahistorical reading of the Second Amendment"

I would amend the above to say that deer hunters who are responsible gun owners don't need assault weapons to do their hunting.

Over the years I've been alive,  everyday citizens, civil rights leaders, Presidential candidates, two Presidents, teenagers and children have been wounded or killed due to guns in the hands of mentally ill people.

That's not counting the irresponsible parents who fail to lock away or put trigger locks on their firearms--causing their children to kill themselves, their siblings, other neighborhood children.

President Obama can wipe away tears; Jay Leno can speak soberly on THE TONIGHT SHOW--but nothing affects people like the NRA head Wayne LaPierre or the friend of a college friend of mine who ranted on Facebook about "gun control freaks."

I wish something would convince people that background checks and other tightened laws governing gun show and online firearms sales won't "take their guns away", as people like LaPierre claim.

But the deaths of 20 children yesterday won't do it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Kate Gale's brutal honesty about how poetry business gets done in SoCal.

Excerpt from the above article by Ms. Gale with the "brutal honesty" portions highlighted by me:

What seemed exciting, quickly became daunting. Los Angeles is home to many talented poets. There's a difference between winning a prize and receiving a job as a city's laureate. I'm on the Claremont Graduate University Kingsley Tufts Committee and there, we are looking for a winning book. The poet doesn't have to be ready for civic engagements and many levels of education and entertainment over two years. We look for a book that blows our socks off by an author with a significant body of work.
Here we had to consider not only the poet's body of work, but also his or her willingness to work for poetry over a two year period, a job that involves getting along with people. That's not an easy task for many poets who are often wildly uncensored or tragically introverted while pathologically paranoid, and although unwilling to work with others, they're convinced that not being invited to the party is everyone else's fault.
For a poet's work to matter, it has to resonate for a large group of people and be part of the cultural conversation. In other words, they've written something we can all argue about. Working at a level of excellence, being part of the critical dialogue and being someone who has given back to the literary community, that's what great poets do. And not just teaching. You get paid for teaching, and if you have tenure, you're paid well. I'm interested in people who mentor students, teach workshops, build writing programs, and give to cultural institutions that do the same. The city needs someone who writes at a level of excellence and has generosity of spirit. A dose of sanity wouldn't hurt either.

Ravi Shankar teaches George Harrison how to play sitar 1968 (Rishikesh, ...

RIP Ravi Shankar, whose passing at the age of 92 was announced hours ago.
Link to video of Ravi Shankar on THE DICK CAVETT SHOW:

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Elaborate poetry video--filmmaking good, poem not so.

Giving credit to David and Daniel Holechek for classy, professional filmmaking.  Otherwise, staying silent.

Another prescient post from a poetry veteran.

Quoting Bowerbird Intelligentleman from a CobaltPoets listserve 2004 post.  In its original context, Mr. Intelligentleman was talking about (what I feel was) a larger and more diverse "poetry community", where poets could find eventual approval if they put in the work of actually supporting other poets and readings instead of showing up only when they had features.

Today's community is a bit smaller and more precise in its likes/dislikes/expectations, so the quote is relevant to SoCal poetry in 2012 (highlighting by me):
"...if you want to get noticed by the weekly's "in-crowd",
start taking workshops from some of them and kiss their ass.
oh yeah, you'll have to sever your ties with the "crap" poets too.
after a few years of that, they will start throwing you crumbs.
after years of _that_, you might make as much money as them.
it might sound crass, but there is no other way they'll notice you."

Monday, December 10, 2012

A poetry Rorschach test.

You have the opportunity to read the poem in the second link above and decipher it as you may--regardless of whether or not you know the two poets referenced in it.

To me, it's nakedly honest about how certain tribes of Long Beach/Orange County poets and their moved-to-other-parts-of-America friends/acolytes see themselves and their art.

Tom Cruise becomes the Sylvester Stallone of his generation.


Tom Cruise is in his fifties now--but given Hollywood logic for veteran male stars, he gets ten years taken off his age (remembering how the 70-year-old Paul Newman was only 60 in NOBODY'S FOOL, but Newman, even in the 90s, was ageless).

Here's moviesquad commenting on the HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE site (highlighting by me):
I think Tom is in the midst of a mid-life crisis where he's trying to pump out as many of the sort of movies that prove he's still young as he can... and I'm glad for it.
He can do the more serious pics you want him to do when he is no longer believable in these sorts of roles. We need this Tom Cruise at this moment in time.

Meanwhile, Sylvester Stallone continues his post-EXPENDABLES career upturn in BULLET TO THE HEAD (directed by Walter Hill, who had a run of good actioners between 1978 and 1987), in which (from evidence in the trailer) he tries to erase two decades from his actual age.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Ten possible future Los Angeles Poets Laureate

Eloise Klein Healy is the first Poet Laureate of Los Angeles.

And here are ten poets I'm guessing will either get the post (or be in the finals) in the years to come:
1. Suzanne Lummis
2. Carol Muske Dukes
3. Ron Koertge
4. Wanda Coleman
5. Amy Uyematsu
6. Brendan Constantine
7. Laurel Ann Bogen
8. Kate Gale
9. Cecilia Woloch
10. Ellyn Maybe

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mindy Nettifee shares her GLITTER IN THE BLOOD with other poets.

Somehow, in spite of a distinguished career as a page-and-stage dynamo, former LBC/OC powerhouse Mindy Nettifee is still referred to as a "rising" poet--such are the ways of modern poetry communities.

For those who may be interested, Mindy has a writing-poetry-better-tips book (from Write Bloody) called GLITTER IN THE BLOOD.

Here's the purchase link:

Here's the blurb from
You do not want to write good poems. You want to write great poems. You want to write poems that challenge, inspire and awe. You want to write poems that forever alter your audience, that forever alter yourself. Those poems take guts. Glitter in the Blood: A Poet's Manifesto to Better, Braver Writing will put you in constant contact with your guts. Pushcart prize nominated and highly accomplished performance poet Mindy Nettifee is not going to lead you step-by-step up a how-to staircase. With this collection of essays, prompts and exercises, Mindy is giving you the wrench you need to open up the blood and let it flow into your writing.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Suggesting possible series that CNN head Jeff Zucker might consider

Jeff Zucker's NBC career spanned the heights of the Matt-and-Katie era of THE TODAY SHOW to the depths of THE JAY LENO SHOW/throwing Conan O'Brien into the Siberia of basic cable.

Given that CNN pre-Zucker was planning to manage for margins by giving series deals to edgy gourmand Anthony Bourdain and pop-documentarian Morgan Spurlock, one can easily imagine the kind of programming that Jeff might greenlight:
PARKER BLITZER (teaming conservative columnist Kathleen Parker with Wolf Blitzer)
and, of course,

Partial list of art house films given wide releases because of Movie Star leads.

CLOUD ATLAS (to be fair, wide release was inevitable due to $100 million budget)--
Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant

There are more, but these films come immediately to mind.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


it tasted like sour milk supernova
but others HAIL HAILed it as ambrosia
a change we had to make it come
build a corral
drive out some of the buffalo
preferably off a cliff
we didn't have enough specialness
but now there's more than enough
for those who always were special

we're no longer buffalo
we now fluff our feathers
engage in the public act
of studying
how to become bison

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

LIZ AND DICK: the camp-fest that wasn't.

Robert Fure's column (linked to above) makes this wise observation regarding Lifetime's LIZ AND DICK:
"Movies like this serve a minor purpose and are often correctly judged on their merits compared to other like films. You don’t compare a high school baseball pitcher to someone in the pros; and you don’t compare a Lifetime movie to something opening on 2000 screens this weekend."

Larry Thompson, one of the producers of LIZ AND DICK, once made a TV-movie in the early 90s about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz (I was an extra on the film, cast as a bellboy).  It starred a pre-GENERAL HOSPITAL Maurice Benard as Desi and a pre-TITANIC Frances Fisher as Lucy; reputable old-fashioned director Charles Jarrott (ANNE OF THE THOUSAND DAYS) was at the helm.  From what I remember of LUCY AND DESI, it was a docudrama meant to both get ratings and be taken seriously by its intended middle-of-the-road audience.

LIZ AND DICK seems to have been made for the same reasons.  And the casting of Lindsay Lohan, snark aside, was an acknowledgement that she still has some degree of bankability--trainwreck personal life and poor career choices (remembering all the hooting over the film I KNOW WHO KILLED ME a few years ago) aside.

At least the actor playing Richard Burton (though he looked more like Bryan Brown) tried to evoke Burton vocally, as well as his tendencies towards both well-read intellect and self-pity.

But Lindsay Lohan didn't even bother with acting the role of Elizabeth Taylor--causing some of the film's few "camp" moments to come from Lohan 's get-it-over-with line readings giving the false impression she had never acted before in her life.

Yes, LIZ AND DICK is a Lifetime movie that probably peaked during the high-style opening credits sequence set to Dean Martin's Nelson Riddle-arranged recording of "Just In Time."

And, for the remainder of its running time, the film isn't delectable camp or unintended hilarity.  It's just a made-for-TV film that wants to be sincere about celebrity, romance and material excess and, instead, tastes like flat nonalcoholic sparkling grape juice.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Comedian/Actor Kevin Pollak has a favorite-anecdotes book coming out.,88852/

I just found this review on THE ONION's AV CLUB, which brought back memories of my being a stand-in for Wallace Shawn on a 1996 family comedy called HOUSE ARREST (which starred Jamie Lee Curtis....and Kevin Pollak).

HOUSE ARREST is not the best of the mid-budget high-concept films that came in the wake of John Hughes' conversion to kidpix after the megasuccess of HOME ALONE in 1990.  But it had a fair amount of talent behind the camera (Michael Hitchcock, who now co-produces GLEE was the screenwriter) and in front of it (the cast included Christopher McDonald, Jennifer Tilly, Caroline Aaron, Ray Walston, Ben Stein and the then-teen-starlet Jennifer Love Hewitt).

Hoping that Mr. Pollak (who seemed to have an edgy-comedian awareness he wasn't making a masterpiece) may have some entertaining anecdotes on working with a talented ensemble which was blessed with shooting most of the script in sequence (i.e. the "adults trapped in the basement" scenes).

Here's a copy of the trailer (apparently taped from a TV broadcast) posted to YouTube:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tina Brown on THE WASHINGTON POST--and, inadvertently, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES.

Lots of things can be said about editor Tina Brown (who had her greatest U.S. successes with VANITY FAIR and THE NEW YORKER--and is now known for tabloiding the print edition of NEWSWEEK to death), but in the midst of a kiss-kiss conversation with Michael Kinsley (original editor of the webzine for NEW YORK magazine, she has some dead-on words for newspapers that make too many cuts for the sake of profitability (and commit journalistic hara-kiri in the process):
"Well, I think their [THE WASHINGTON POST's] whole decision to be a local paper was not the right decision. I mean, I think that they destroyed their influence and brand by becoming so local. They had some of the world’s best writers on that paper. But they’ve somehow shrunk—the more local they’ve become, the more they’ve shrunk their whole footprint".

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Something Eric Morago and I have in common.

What's that something, you, the poet, might ask?

Both Eric Morago (don't know him personally, but he's a Name in Long Beach/OC and occasional reviewer of poetry books for and I have been beneficiaries of anonymous attacks.

Recently, Mr. Morago took to Facebook and discussed his situation (a remark left on the Goodreads site).

Here's the remark intended to wound his pride:
To draw comparison Eric Morago is to poetry what Colonel Sanders is to food. You see it everywhere but it's cheap and tasteless.

Another poorly-written and uninspired work. This author has no concept of the desires of the human condition implied by the title because of the priveledged status he enjoys. Due to being personal buddies with
people in local venues and publishing he has no incentive to produce anything good.His arrogance and those of his croneys are just shameful.
If you listen critically to him next to other poets he's shown-up every time.
Those who respect the art do not respect Morago.
He'll be forgotten.

Read the book review by Jason Thornberry in the "Adirondack Review".
It's an impartial review because this critic is not part of the local poetry circles that cater to Eric.

Here are a couple of responses to Eric's post (which you can see in its entirety on his Facebook page/wall):
Andrew Hilbert--Fuck that guy. Sounds like an insecure poet who is jealous of having friendships within the community. I hear these gripes of cronyism all the time. Having social relationships with like-minded people isn't exactly ground breaking. It's the nature of nearly all human friendships. This guy just doesn't like to smile and perceives people who do as arrogant. I'll say it again: Fuck this guy.
[oddly enough, that could be used to describe me by some people]

Danielle Mitchell--Hey E, I feel for you and I totally understand your desire to speak out. Remaining silent when you are attacked is the worst thing you can do for yourself. It's like being attacked twice, once by the insecure, jealous low-life and once by yourself. So I hope you continue to speak out whenever and wherever you come across bullying efforts such as these. That said, after reading these "reviews" it's pretty clear this guy isn't a brilliant writer, in the reviews written under the name "Emmet" there are multiple typos. And all of them are clearly biased, ridiculous, and petulant outbursts from a feckless bully. I don't think anyone who comes across them on their own will put any confidence in them. I hope that gives you some comfort at least. Stay strong and know that you ARE loved and respected by your poetry buddies! Always.

Now my opinion: I'll agree with Danielle on the remark about remaining silent when attacked being "the worst thing you can do for yourself."  And I'll disagree with Andrew a bit on his remark defending like-minded people (which can also be translated into words like clique and circle).  Oftentimes, we fail to comprehend outsiders with issues when we are part of a circle of "like-minded people."  I can testify to that myself during my early years in the poetry community of SoCal (roughly 1998 to 2002).  When you're "in", you regard those who are out as one-dimensional losers.  And, to be honest, the allegations of cronyism may not be totally off-base as the community shrinks in membership and becomes more intolerant of perceived amateurism and greater conformity on what is or is not "good" poetry.

At the same time, anonymous attacks deal out unnecessary stress and anguish to their victims.  Eric Morago is handling it in a more restrained way than others would, thankfully.

But perhaps it's time for his nonfan to sign his/her name to the criticism and start a rhetorically nonviolent conversation as to why he/she feels like a misfit in the LBC/OC area.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Preferring Pete Townshend's music to his politics/worldview.

From Pete Townshend's tour diary on November 7th (highlighting by me):
"Great to be in the USA on election day. I would have been happy for either candidate to win. There are pros and cons. The only longing I have is for the President to work more closely with the UK than he appears to have done before. As unpopular as they ended up with the deep thinkers, George W Bush and Tony Blair were friends, and that – to me – exemplified what I feel is most important about the relationship between the UK and the USA. We are above all else friends. Friendship is not ‘special’ (as in the ‘special relationship’), it is normal, and accepting…"

You don't have to be a "deep thinker" to mourn the outcome of the friendship of George W. Bush and Tony Blair--all the people unnecessarily killed in the unnecessary "pre-emptive" war in Iraq (including both American and British soldiers plus Iraqi and other nations' casualties).

Monday, November 12, 2012

Why some of you aren't seeing me these days.

"Once you have been branded, its hard to make it go away...its like an unwanted nickname, human nature and american social structure feeds that sorta bullying and as long as you keep playing the part, you will continue to be held in that regard... and believe me, from the folks that i [know in the SoCal poetry community].. most now, because of your attitude, consider you little more than comedic entertainment. Again.. im not saying these things to be HARSH.. im saying them to help you come to grips with the reality YOU have CREATED for yourself. no one else is responsible but you.."--Lob Instagon to me circa December 2010

"You wonder why I don't get out much."--lyric from George Harrison song "Devil's Radio" on the album CLOUD NINE.

Jennifer Lawrence's silentmoviephobia.

Mainly a routine NEW YORK TIMES puff piece on Jennifer Lawrence focused on her role/performance in David O. Russell's possible mainstream hit THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK.

But Ms. Lawrence's candor heads towards unapologetic ignorance in this passage:
“I like making movies, but that doesn’t mean I want to watch a black-and-white, freaking boring” — here she amped up the sarcasm with an unprintable word — “silent movie,” she said.

It's easy to say that her attitude is common to her generation--haven't seen too many, don't wanna see them, they're all boring.  And she lives in a time where "old movies" tend to be the Rob Schneider vehicles she buys for her home library.

And it's probably useless to convince her that old "freaking boring" silent comedies such as Harold Lloyd's SAFETY LAST, Buster Keaton's BATTLING BUTLER and Charlie Chaplin's THE KID might have greater long-term value than say, Schneider's THE ANIMAL.

Plus it's a waste of time to say that late-period silent dramas such as BEGGARS OF LIFE, PANDORA'S BOX (the first two starring the never out-of-date Louise Brooks), UNDERWORLD and THE KISS have greater visual and dramatic sophistication than Ms. Lawrence's modestly entertaining (due to performances) but shaky-Cammed and timidly adapted THE HUNGER GAMES.

So, I know to keep my freaking mouth shut should I ever encounter Jennifer Lawrence in Los Angeles.

The battle for her cinematic soul has been won.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Amazon blurb for Paula Broadwell co-authored book on David Petraeus.

Reprinting this description of ALL IN, the book about David Petraeus and his experiences in the long-running Afghanistan War, without comment:
General David Petraeus is the most transformative leader the American military has seen since the generation of Marshall. In All In, military expert Paula Broadwell examines Petraeus's career, his intellectual development as a military officer, and his impact on the U.S. military.

Afforded extensive access by General Petraeus, his mentors, his subordinates, and his longtime friends, Broadwell embedded with the general, his headquarters staff, and his soldiers on the front lines of fighting and at the strategic command in Afghanistan to chronicle the experiences of this American general as they were brought to bear in the terrible crucible of war. All In draws on hundreds of hours of exclusive interviews with Petraeus and his top officers and soldiers to tell the inside story of this commander's development and leadership in war from every vantage point.

When Petraeus assumed command in Afghanistan in July 2010, the conflict looked as bleak as at any moment in America's nine years on the ground there. Petraeus's defining idea-counterinsurgency-was immediate put to its most difficult test: the hard lessons learned during the surge in Iraq were to be applied in a radically different theater. All In examines the impact in Afghanistan of new counterinsurgency as well as counterterrorism strategies through the commands of several Petraeus protégés.

To inform this unprecedented reporting of Petraeus's command in Afghanistan, Broadwell examines his evolution as a solider from his education at West Point in the wake of Vietnam to his earlier service in Central America, Haiti, Kuwait, Bosnia, and Iraq. All In also documents the general's role in the war in Washington, going behind the scenes of negotiations during policy reviews of the war in Afghanistan in Congress, the Pentagon, and the White House.

Broadwell ultimately appraises Petraeus's impact on the entire U.S. military: Thanks to this man's influence, the military is better prepared to fight using a comprehensive blend of civil-military activities. As America surveys a decade of untraditional warfare, this much is clear: The career of General David Petraeus profoundly shaped our military and left an indelible mark on its rising leaders.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Glenn Greenwald again says what progressives/liberals doesn't want to hear about Obama.

Once the incense of last night disappears, we're likely to get the Barack Obama of the first term doubling down on capitulating to the GOP, continuing drone strikes, perhaps doing some social good by enouraging voluntarism, perhaps also ensuring that the 2016 elections have fewer glitches and chicanery--and not using the Bully Pulpit to curb Wall Street greed at the expense of Main Street (can't offend Goldman Sachs, especially after the firm and its members supported Mitt Romney).  But at least Obamacare (the health care reform once known as Romneycare) looks to be safe from harm.

Glenn Greenwald walks us through a too-likely scenario on how the Left may gradually accept a Grand Bargain where Obama gives in to GOP demands for entitlement cuts as the price of a higher tax rate for the very rich:

Saturday, November 3, 2012

War Against Humanity blog--updated with corrections.

First, I'll offer an apology to Rick Lupert: Rick did not create the War Against Humanity blog.  Rick and Amelie Frank were most helpful in terms of helping to ensure the situation with the blog was resolved.

From the earlier post:

"Not expecting too many people reading this to care, but the blog (another example of some in the SoCal community wanting me to "shut the fuck up" as was quoted in the previous post) caused a lot of needless stress and mental anguish to me.  And it was intended as a mixture of cowardice and malevolence: intended for the blogger to have lots of fun imagining me running around, making unfounded accusations to people, and with hopes that I might lose my temper in public--causing me to be banned from poetry venues and professionally/personally ostracized."

I did find out that the person (still wanting anonymity) sent Rick an e-mail apologizing for the trouble caused and stating that the War Against Humanity blog was taken down (which I noticed around 9:00 p.m. Sunday night).

The blogger's ironic pen name: Jesus Christ.

The perils of speaking your mind in the poetry community--a past example.

Excerpted from a comment made about me on a listserve during a period when I was a bit more blunt and tactless (and unfiltered) than I tend to be these days.  Made by a Published Poet who will not be named here:
"....many of us have asked him to shut
the fuck up about us, mind his own business and
reputation, quit telling others how to run their lives,
etc. But he's a sorry, needy, sick child and infanticide
is forbidden in this country. So YOU talk to him and
see if he'll go away."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Quotes from two poets via LUMMOX magazine.

Kudos to RD Raindog Armstrong for giving rebirth to LUMMOX magazine as a mammoth annual issue (now onsale).  It throws a wide net in terms of poets and writers--and includes people from places other than Southern California.

Here are some quotations from the interview/essay portion of the issue:
"...I know there are plenty of people who will disagree with me on this, but I feel the battle between academic poetry and performance poetry, which seemed so important ten years ago, is largely over.  Sure, there are still disagreements over what constitutes good poetry (or even what constitutes poetry at all), but the divisions are not entirely as clear.  There is much more of a spectrum these days.  I hear poets with MFAs doing stuff that would have been considered pure performance, and I hear poets with no formal education writing poems as finely crafted as anything out rhere.  Maybe it's not all liked, or even appreciated, but it is all accepted as poetry."--from interview with G. Murray Thomas of NEXT magazine and NEWS CLIPS AND EGO TRIPS.

"Far and away the worst most flagrant element is the rampant and utterly rapacious careerist ambition practiced by increasing numbers of poets and would-be poets, a kind of relentless, compulsive self-promotion, which it it weren't so damaging would be almost comically ludicrous....unabashed status seeking...continual seeking and cultivating reading opportunities...intense conferences in restaurants talking only "shop"-which these days means comparing strategies to get published; which poetry "prize" to pursue; taking every available workshop and of course sucking up to celebrity poets.  These "name" folks are cultivated to 'get ahead'; attending no readings except your own and those of certified eminences and the ne plus ultra of this utter betrayal of the traditional poet's stance: contriving to secure a co-featured reading with the big-shot poet."

"It's hard to bust someone for undertaking an advance course of study so as to earn a living teaching about what [he or] she loves.  But "let's put it where it is": the MFA is a "union card".  And real poetry does not come from the Academy.  It comes from the confrontation of the nakedness of the poet's soul with 'being-in-the-world'.--excerpts from Steve Goldman's essay "The Coming of the YUPOETS".

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mitt Romney explained in just a few lines.

Passage from Charles Blow's November 1st NEW YORK TIMES column "Liberty To Lie" highlighted by me:
Unfortunately, there is some evidence that facts and the people who check them don’t carry the same weight that they once did.
First, the right’s disinformation machine is, explicitly and implicitly, making the argument that facts (science, math, evidence) are fungible and have been co-opted by liberal eggheads. They have declared war on facts in response to what they claim is a liberal war on faith.
This is an utterly false and ridiculous argument, but it works on some people.

I'm presuming these people look the other way when Romney sputters/falters after being challenged (i.e. the third debate) because they hear his voice and badly want to believe the Third Coming of Ronald Reagan (George W. Bush being the Second Coming) is among them.


From the CD THE BEST OF TERRY McCARTY VOL. 1; produced by Jimmy Smith
at his home studio in Sherman Oaks, CA.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Forwarding information re American Cinematheque screenings in Santa Monica this week.

Reprinted from an e-mail by Hollywood's famed Larry Edmunds Bookstore:
WEDNESDAY,OCTOBER 31st @ 6:30 pm at the AERO THEATER in Santa Monica
>> JULIE ADAMS in person!
>> Spend Halloween with Julie Adams and your friends from Larry 
>> Edmunds Bookshop as we enjoy Ms. Adams and co-star Gillman in 
>> digitally restored 3-D in their finest pairing, "Creature From the 
>> Black Lagoon". Julie will also be signing copies of her wonderful 
>> autobiography, "The Lucky Southern Star" prior to the screening, 
>> and she'll be doing a Q & A after the screening. What better night 
>> than Halloween to head on over to the Black Lagoon ?  We'll have 
>> the book signing in the lobby at 6:30 and the film at 7:30 pm.
>> THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 1st @ 6:45 pm at the AERO THEATER in Santa Monica
>> We'll barely have recovered from our trip to the Black Lagoon 
>> before we head back to the AERO for a night with the director of 
>> such films as "Platoon", "Wall Street", "Salvador", "Born On the 
>> 4th of July" and so many more. Oliver Stone's films have so often 
>> involved the history of our country his new 10 part mini- series 
>> "The Untold History of the United States" should come as no 
>> surprise. Mr. Stone and co-author Peter Kuznick will sign copies of 
>> the book of the same name in the lobby at 6:45 pm prior to a 
>> screening of 2 episodes of the upcoming mini-series followed by a 
>> discussion with Oliver Stone moderated by Robert Scheer. This is a 
>> free event with a suggested donation of $10 to support the American 
>> Cinematheque who puts on so many original and fantastic programs.
For information about the Aero:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

Regarding Steven Spielberg during the run-up to LINCOLN's release.

Found this on Jeffrey Wells' HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE site's comments section (after a thread discussing Steven Spielberg being interviewed by Lesley Stahl on 60 MINUTES); it's a commenter named "cinefan" responding to a Wells remark (partially quoted):
"He's basically in love with the mystique of being a working journeyman -- a guy who loves to make movies in order to make more movies. He loves the joy of crafting more than the finality of art that comes from the heart. He is more enterprising than thoughtful or deep."
The funny thing is I agree with everything you say here but still love his films and him as a filmmaker. For me, he's simply a virtuoso filmmaker who makes entertaining and intelligent adult films (action and otherwise). No one has ever directed action sequences more elegantly or skillfully. If a Spielberg film lacks the philophical depth or complexity of, say, a Kubrick or Malick film, then so be it. Each filmmaker is unique and should not be denigrated based on the style of filmmaking he or she excels at.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Playlist to accompany Pete Townshend's autobiography WHO I AM.

I'm partway through reading Pete Townshend's long-awaited autobiography WHO I AM--and it made me think of a playlist of Townshend songs (both solo and Who recordings) compatible with the book:

English Boy
The Kids Are Alright
Pure And Easy
However Much I Booze
Empty Glass
And I Moved
Jools And Jim
A Little Is Enough
The Sea Refuses No River
Somebody Saved Me
Exquisitely Bored
Slit Skirts
You Better You Bet
Daily Records
Don't Let Go The Coat
A Friend Is A Friend
Cry If You Want

Friday, October 19, 2012


Reading my poem THE BIG ORANGE--recorded a decade ago by Jimmy Smith at his home studio
in Sherman Oaks, CA.

Clear-eyed, unsentimental endorsement of Barack Obama from Daniel Ellsberg.

Excerpted from article written by Daniel Ellsberg for COMMON DREAMS:

The only way for progressives and Democrats to block Romney from office, at this date, is to persuade enough people in swing states to vote for Obama: not stay home, or vote for someone else. And that has to include, in those states, progressives and disillusioned liberals who are at this moment inclined not to vote at all or to vote for a third-party candidate (because like me they’ve been not just disappointed but disgusted and enraged by much of what Obama has done in the last four years and will probably keep doing).
They have to be persuaded to vote, and to vote in a battleground state for Obama not anyone else, despite the terrible flaws of the less-bad candidate, the incumbent. That’s not easy. As I see it, that’s precisely the “effort” Noam is referring to as worth expending right now to prevent the Republicans’ rise to power. And it will take progressives -- some of you reading this, I hope -- to make that effort of persuasion effectively.
The traditional third-party mantra, “There’s no significant difference between the major parties” amounts to saying: The Republicans are no worse, overall.” And that’s absurd. It constitutes shameless apologetics for the Republicans, however unintended. It’s crazily divorced from present reality.
It will take someone these disheartened progressives and liberals will listen to. Someone manifestly without illusions about the Democrats, someone who sees what they see when they look at the president these days: but who can also see through candidates Romney or Ryan on the split-screen, and keep their real, disastrous policies in focus.
It’s true that the differences between the major parties are not nearly as large as they and their candidates claim, let alone what we would want. It’s even fair to use Gore Vidal’s metaphor that they form two wings (“two right wings” as some have put it) of a single party, the Property or Plutocracy Party, or as Justin Raimondo says, the War Party.
Still, the political reality is that there are two distinguishable wings, and one is reliably even worse than the other, currently much worse overall. To be in denial or to act in neglect of that reality serves only the possibly imminent, yet presently avoidable, victory of the worse.
The traditional third-party mantra, “There’s no significant difference between the major parties” amounts to saying: The Republicans are no worse, overall.” And that’s absurd. It constitutes shameless apologetics for the Republicans, however unintended. It’s crazily divorced from present reality.
And it’s not at all harmless to be propagating that absurd falsehood. It has the effect of encouraging progressives even in battleground states to refrain from voting or to vote in a close election for someone other than Obama, and more importantly, to influence others to act likewise. That’s an effect that serves no one but the Republicans, and ultimately the 1%.
It’s not merely understandable, it’s entirely appropriate to be enraged at Barack Obama. As I am. He has often acted outrageously, not merely timidly or “disappointingly.” If impeachment were politically imaginable on constitutional grounds, he’s earned it (like George W. Bush, and many of his predecessors!) It is entirely human to want to punish him, not to “reward” him with another term or a vote that might be taken to express trust, hope or approval.
But rage is not generally conducive to clear thinking. And it often gets worked out against innocent victims, as would be the case here domestically, if refusals to vote for him resulted in Romney’s taking key battleground states that decide the outcome of this election.
To punish Obama in this particular way, on Election Day -- by depriving him of votes in swing states and hence of office in favor of Romney and Ryan -- would punish most of all the poor and marginal in society, and workers and middle class as well: not only in the U.S. but worldwide in terms of the economy (I believe the Republicans could still convert this recession to a Great Depression), the environment and climate change. It could well lead to war with Iran (which Obama has been creditably resisting, against pressure from within his own party). And it would spell, via Supreme Court appointments, the end of Roe v. Wade and of the occasional five to four decisions in favor of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
The reelection of Barack Obama, in itself, is not going to bring serious progressive change, end militarism and empire, or restore the Constitution and the rule of law. That’s for us and the rest of the people to bring about after this election and in the rest of our lives -- through organizing, building movements and agitating.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Another clear-eyed, unsentimental Presidential re-election endorsement.

From editorial "Four More" in the October 25th issue of THE NEW REPUBLIC:
"At times, Barack Obama has failed to appreciate the virulence of the modern Republican Party.  He has earnestly entered negotiations with adversaries interested in breaking his presidency, not splitting the difference.  It took him paninfully long to arrive at a realistic assessment of his foes.  But over the course of this campaign, he has emerged as a different kind of politician--a populist bruiser capable of skillfully and passionately assailing his opponents, while remaining indifferent to the hand-wringing of establishment opinion.  Perhaps this is a style better suited for the next four years, in which his primary task will be managing a fiscal crisis that his opponents will cynically exploit.  Having extended the safety net, he must now protect it.  Without a second term, the accomplishments of his first would evaporate.  This is not a poetic rallying cry, but there is human suffering to be minimized and a new foundation to defend."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Jack McCarthy performs "Careful What You Ask For"

One of the legends of slam/performance poetry; happy to have encountered him and his wife Carol at certain times in the past when he came to SoCal.  Also remember seeing him in Seattle in 2006.

Monday, October 15, 2012

More wise long-ago postings from veteran L.A. poet.

Here's Bowerbird Intelligentleman again from about eight years ago, via a poetry listserve which (a long time ago and in a poetry era far away) used to let people comment freely, even though they (myself included) didn't always mind the majority definition of manners:

listserves are an "intelligentle" many-to-many communication,
because they enable discussion that can be full and thoughtful,
where many sides are able to speak to any and all of the issues,
but where any of the participants can opt out when they choose,
and all they have to do is use the "delete" key on their keyboard.
so any conflict isn't "in your face" unless you _want_ it to be...


but hey, don't interpret what i'm saying as "poets are not mean".
take it from me, poets can be _plenty_ vicious. _unspeakably._
and -- considering the size of the usual stakes -- unnecessarily.
but, like most backstabbing out in the real world, that happens
in secret, not right out in the open, like on the public listserves.
compared to that sneaky underhanded shit, what you see here is
mostly silly and laughable and childish...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A poetry community cliche which should be buried on land/at sea.

Here's the cliche:
If you're involved in poetry long enough, you'll hear Famous Local Poets talking about "bad" or "excruciating" open mike portions of readings--redeemed (maybe slightly) by "a few so-so poets" or (more likely when you hear this tale told) One Lone Excellent Poet That Made The Entire Miserable Experience Worthwhile.

Gee, what is it these days with the aspiring/perspiring literati and their open-air disdain for open mike poets?

Yes, there will always be open mikes with individual poets varying from awful to amateurish to promising to good to excellent.  Open mikes enable poets to learn the crafts of reading poetry in public and evaluating feedback on the quality of their work.

In bygone eras, a good to great open mike performance could lead to a host choosing a lucky poet for his/her first feature at a venue.

Nowadays, that doesn't occur as much since poetry hosts pride themselves on their "standards" so features tend to be already-established poets.  And the purpose for this is apparently to give the open-mikers an idea of what "standards" to aspire to (i.e. MFA study, workshops, private tutoring, fervent networking) to have a chance to be chosen to feature at some other lower-caste reading before you're considered for the reading with "standards." 

Problem is:
When there are fewer readings in a given area and the remaining readings tend to be artistically homogenous (i.e. repeated booking of a few select Names for features because they all have "standards"), open mike poets will have to get used to waiting a long time for The Big Break--with a higher risk of not being chosen by that venue's host(s) at all.

Before I finish this post, I'll offer another passage-of-time observation tangential to this post's topic:
There were readings in the L.A. area in the late 90s/early 00s that had a large, loyal following of poets who would read on the open mike (thinking particularly of the Poetic License series and the long-dead Midnight Special Bookstore in Santa Monica) week after week regardless of who the featured poet happened to be.

There were occasions where certain readings had all-open-mike-poets without features.  Sometimes, a decent-sized audience turned up--and other times, not as much because no feature was there as a Special Attraction.

The last time I went to a certain long-running venue I won't mention here, there was an all-open reading because no feature was booked that week.

And, consequently, none of the reading's regulars attended.

It's something to think about the next time a Famous Local Poet gets overly pious/sonorous about "the poetry community" and looks down his/her nose on "excruciating" open-mike poetry segments.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Forwarding info about this weekend's Other Venice Film Festival in Venice CA

WHAT: The OTHER VENICE FILM FESTIVAL, dedicated to screening full-length, short, and animated films that embody the spirit, energy, and diversity of Venice, CA, returns for its ninth season, featuring more than 60 filmmakers and ten countries. [located at Beyond Baroque in Venice; for more information, click onto]

Venice, CA has always been an epicenter for LA artists and filmmakers who continue to pave the way toward expanding the language of underground, alternative cinema. The OTHER VENICE FILM FESTIVAL bridges the community of Venice and that of greater LA together in a wild, exciting, fun-filled weekend of movies and mayhem.


Opening Night Friday, October 12, 2012
Bree Walker Red Carpet Interviewer.
6:00 pm: Doors Open
live band performance by Natural Hi-Fi
8:00 pm
World premiere of "Ballad Of Danko Jones" Opening (short film)
Starring Elijah Wood, Ralph Macchio, Selma Blair, Lemmy Kimster, Jena Malone
Underbelly Blues (feature)
Starring Elizabeth Croydon, Seamus Reed, Marc Hatchell, Nathan Hurd; Tarantino Production
Followed by Q & A with the Filmmakers
10:00 pm
Opening Party with DJ Michael Stackhouse, live performance plus art, food & libations from the great chefs of Venice in Outdoor Patio.

Films in competition on Saturday, October 13, 2012
10:00 am Youth Short Film Section
2:00 pm World Premiere of No Body's Child; Troy: Naked Boys Behind Bars, Sing!; Chick Flick Spirit & Diversity Series (Alternative Film), plus award-winning short film, The Maiden and The Princess
4:30 pm World Premiere of Roadmap to Apartheid (Feature Film, Political Section)
6:30 pm World Premieres of Bring on the Mountain; rock documentary The Ballad of Danko Jones
9:00 pm Music Video Series: The Me, Albino Raindrops - World Premiere; plus live performance by Venice Rock Star, Stevie Starlight
Brendan Benson (Raconteurs) singer/songwriter toured the United States backed by musicians Brad Pemberton (The Pinkhearts, Ryan Adams), andJonathan Auer and Ken Stringfellow of The Posies/Big Star. In addition to the music video series, Brendan Benson's LA Concert Film will be screening during the afterparty, which begins at 10pm.

**Note** Special 2Fer Tickets are available for $ 15.00 for the 6:30pm screening, which includes Bring Down The Mountain and the rock documentary, The Ballad of Danko Jones.

Closing day, Sunday October 14th, 2012
1:00 pm World Premiere of The Predator's Returns (Short), Warren Steven's Tribute Series
2:30 pm International Short Film Series
6:00 pm Trailer Park Jesus, Feature in competition
8:00 pm Outdoor screening: The Intercontinental Challenge is a documentary about the world's first attempted intercontinental flight between Africa and Europe over the North Atlantic Ocean by piloted jet-wing,
9:00 pm -10:00 pm: Abbot Awards & Closing Party - Hosted by Jill Jacobson
Live performance by local band SHIP OF THE RISING SUN.
Award ceremony and closing party is FREE for the public to attend.

Tickets are available through the Other Venice Film Festival website, or call 310.463-0275
Day of tickets will be sold at the door (based on availability)
Cost: $10 for single event ticket, for opening night screening and reception: $35 online, $40@Door
Abbot Awards on Sunday, October 14th: complimentary

Reuben De La Casas, Director of OVFF / Media Relations 310-806-2181
For more information and tickets, log onto
On your Mobile Phone

Thursday, October 11, 2012

GOP-believing friends/acquaintances from my youth grumbling about Biden debate laughter.

As with a week ago, I didn't witness more than a sliver of the televised debate.  So I can't make any informed commments at this time (though I read opinions from both sides of the ideological divide).

A lot of people who I grew up with in Electra, TX were carefully taught to support the Republican Party and its candidates.

And here is what one person [name withheld] who grew up in my hometown said publicly on Facebook regarding Joe Biden's laughter at Paul Ryan's debate comments:
 "...I think he thinks that if he laughs at what Paul Ryan is saying than the people will think that what Ryan is saying is nothing but a joke. Little does he realize that we the people have sense enough to realize that all he is showing is just how out of touch and rude he is."

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tale of an evening that most featured poets have at one time or another.

From an e-mail I sent recently, with certain details redacted [partially to ensure universality of the underlying message of this post]:
[Featured reading at poetry venue] went poorly.... The worst part of the night for me was when one of the regulars came from [nearby reading] where [venue host] read as one of three winners; this regular mentioned that [Famous California Poet] had arranged for the poets to be paid $50 each since poets shouldn't have to read for free. But I read for free at [poetry venue] since no one wanted to buy my $3 chapbook.... I did what I could and the audience mostly didn't react.

Underlying message: We who are blessed to be chosen as poetry features have bad nights as well as good ones.  And my post is not intended as ingratitude--since the venue host and the substitutes that evening were courteous to me by e-mail and in-person; I feel as if I let them down because of the underenthusiasm of most of the audience. 

Analyzing the corpse of the evening: Either I didn't magnetize the room the way a Brendan Constantine or Jaimes Palacio often do, or that the poems I read (outside of an opening poem by Stephen Dunn) weren't considered "good enough" by most of the audience (and unworthy of a $3 souvenir chapbook).

An ironic and rather sad coincidence was what happened to the 10-minute spotlight feature after the break; he's a regular at the venue and offered books for free.

From what I could observe, no one accepted his generosity after the reading ended.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Another poetry topic people shy away from: not buying poetry books/chapbooks.

I was reading Facebook the other day when someone I know who runs a small press (full disclosure: I've been published by him in the past) made a very truthful point; for all the people who have friended him, very few have bought books published by his press imprint.

And very few people "liked" or commented on his post.

Of course, this has to do with certain rules of poetry community omerta (silence).

Poets are tacitly forbidden to make general criticisms about the community (i.e. low attendance, not enough people buying books or chapbooks at poetry venues or on websites).  Apparently this is because people may recognize the limits of their own behavior/community participation and they might become uncomfortable--even if it's a generalized complaint with no one mentioned.

Also, poets are tacitly-to-explicitly forbidden to call out specific people on less than ideal behavior because the poetry community isn't seen as a strong redwood tree that can withstand occasional wear and tear, but (in these situations) as an oh-so-fragile twig where omerta is preferable to self-examination and/or admitting mistakes in public.  Because if you say something that's less than laudatory about someone, you hurt everyone--such is Poetry Logic.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Post to Forum section with irreverent take on Tim Burton.

Although I'm never inclined to entirely trust reviews of films I haven't seen myself, that review honestly doesn't surprise me. I've been seeing trailers for this in front of movies at the theatre for a heck of a long time now, but for whatever reason I haven't been able to get excited about it. Until recently, when a few additional (and mostly frenetic) scenes were added in, the trailer seemed to be geared to entice the audience mostly via amusement with the Frankenstein (or Bride of Frankenstein) references, rather than anything very unique.
The "old" Tim Burton--the one who directed "Vincent"--was all about ripping off Edward Gorey, and paying tribute to the twisted and ghastly.
Edward Scissorhands seemed to be the transitional film, where he first started turning into the "new" Tim Burton, who was all about pointing out how mean perfect people pick on poor misunderstood souls with pale complexions--And then he even pushed THAT aside to direct everything his fanboys and nostalgically clueless studios thought he "should" direct, which usually means campy, snickering love letters to easy pop-culture references everyone thinks they're clever for throwing about.

He hasn't done one of his "own" movies since Mars Attacks, and that was fiffteen years ago. By getting the chance to look back at his roots, now that post-Alice Disney throws money at him for belching, think he wanted to see whether he could still direct Beetlejuice, and from the reviews, think the answer we get is......."No." You can't go home again after Dark Shadows and Corpse Bride. 
(If I want late-80's/early-90's Tim, I'll just have to content myself with the "Aladdin" episode of Shelley Duvall's Fairytales.)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Clear-eyed, unsentimental Presidential endorsements from HARPER'S magazine.

From "Easy Chair: The Maintenance Crew" by Thomas Frank:
"We now know that Barack Obama is no Superman.  He has been unimaginative and conventional.  On his watch, the banks got bigger.  The oceans continued to rise.  The wars sputtered on.  But at least he has been a conscientious administrator of the state.  He is not flamboyantly corrupt, in the manner of Tom DeLay and his congressional cohort, or gleefully perverse, in the manner of the Bush Administration's Department of Labor.  And that makes the choice easy for me, despite my disappointment.  I will choose the safe over the venturesome, the maintenance crew over the wrecking crew.  It doesn't make for a soaring slogan or an existential journey, but it's the best we can hope for this time around."

From "Why Vote?: When Your Vote Counts For Nothing" by Kevin Baker:
"So yes, go out and vote.  Go vote for Barack Obama, and whatever other Democrats or progressives are running for office where you live.  To vote for a Mitt Romney--to vote for the modern right anywhere in the West today--is an act of national suicide.  The right is hollow to its core; it has no dreams, no vision, no plans to deal with any of the problems that confront us, only infantile fantasies of violence and consumption.  But it is, at the moment, well-funded, well-organized, and feeling especially threatened.  It is capable of anything."

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Introductory comments: I once remember filmmaker Stephen Frears saying at the Telluride Film Festival (think it might have been 1987 when SAMMY AND ROSIE GET LAID played there) something like: "What I'd like would be to have films which attack the British government get financed by the British government."  Needless to say, the SoCal poetry community has members who won't stand for disloyalty, criticism or not-abject-enough apologies for misbehavior--unless you happen to win the Pushcart Prize someday (then, maybe some restrictions would be lifted by people who suddenly want to Forgive).  Hence, the poem below.

every Wednesday
I'm reminded by others
about a place where they can go
and I can't
and I sit at home
with the metaphorical device on my ankle
that digitally shouts "BEEP BEEP"
every time I think about it
I was a man for a few years,
then became a loud monster
for just a few minutes
and the creature is all
certain people want to remember
so go ahead and have fun
remind me unintentionally of the limits
that I and others have placed
on both my behavior and my writing
being seen and heard by more people
than the people who hear and read it now
it's not your problem
it's just mine and mine alone
as, every Wednesday of my life,
I hear the horn on my ankle
and since it's metaphorical,
it's difficutlt to switch it off
and throw it away
and be free again

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Jumping forward to Part 6 of the evening.  Discussion of venues past including
Tom Ianniello's famed Iguana Cafe and Exile Books and Music in the San Fernando Valley.



I lived in an efficiency apartment
just a half-mile away from college
instead of having my tea bag
steeped in the water of dorm life
and being all by myself
wasn't all that good
for growing up (in retrospect)
even though it gave me time to study
without interruption
remembering the moment
during men's orientation
when the university adviser
who later became a judge
encouraged social fraternity membership
because sorority women
were "good-lookin' women"
and the adviser actually went on to
call them "all that nice hide"
didn't join a social fraternity
had a closet in my apartment
big enough to put a twin bed in
and would listen to WXRK
clear-channel AM Top 40 radio
coming from the Mexican border
until I fell asleep,
waking up at 6 a.m.
to get ready to play
the game of
Parking Lot Musical Chairs
so I wouldn't be late
for 8 a.m. classes
and have to borrow
someone else's notes

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ann Romney wants the peasants to stop chattering about her and Mitt.

From Radio Iowa via POLITICO, an excerpt from an interview with Ann Romney:
"Stop it. This is hard. You want to try it? Get in the ring,” she said. “This is hard and, you know, it’s an important thing that we’re doing right now and it’s an important election and it is time for all Americans to realize how significant this election is and how lucky we are to have someone with Mitt’s qualifications and experience and know-how to be able to have the opportunity to run this country.”...
...“It’s nonsense and the chattering class…you hear it and then you just let it go right by,” she told Radio Iowa. “…Honestly, at this point, I’m not surprised by anything.”

Wednesday, September 19, 2012




The Who's "The Seeker" and Bob Dylan's reaction to the song.
[I first remember hearing the song on The Who's singles compilation album MEATY BEATY BIG AND BOUNCY.]

From Mikal Gilmore's interview with Bob Dylan in the current issue of ROLLING STONE [Gilmore's question addresses the post-motorcycle accident Dylan and the marked difference in his music from earlier in the 60s when "people saw you as a revolutionary fireball."]:
"Why is it that when people talk about me they have to go crazy?  What the fuck is the matter with them?  Sure, I had a motorcycle accident.  Sure, I played with the Band.  Yeah, I made a record called JOHN WESLEY HARDING.  And sure, I sounded different.  So fucking what?  They want to know what can't be known.  They are searching--they are seekers.  Like in the Pete Townshend song where he's trying to find his way to 50 million fables.  For what?  Why are they doing this?  They don't really know.  It's sad.  May the Lord have mercy on them.  They are lost souls.  They really don't know.  It's sad--it really is.  It's sad for me, and it's sad for them."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A coda to the recent discussion of the usage of a certain word.

"In linguistics, semantics is the subfield that is devoted to the study of meaning, as inherent at the levels of words, phrases, sentences, and larger units of discourse (termed texts). The basic area of study is the meaning of signs, and the study of relations between different linguistic units and compounds: homonymy, synonymy, antonymy, hypernymy, hyponymy, meronymy, metonymy, holonymy, paronyms. A key concern is how meaning attaches to larger chunks of text, possibly as a result of the composition from smaller units of meaning. Traditionally, semantics has included the study of sense and denotative reference, truth conditions, argument structure, thematic roles, discourse analysis, and the linkage of all of these to syntax."--From the article
on "Semantics" on Wikipedia.


Full Mitt Romney Fundraiser Video Part 2

Full Mitt Romney Fundraiser Video Part 1

Rick Lupert, dubious word use and the silence of poets.

Moral Conundrum Department:
You're a poet who attends a reading where Rick Lupert, in an effort (apparently without much thought) to get laughs, uses the word "Chinaman.". You find his use of the word offensive, but you're also aware he doesn't do this sort of thing all the time--plus he's well liked and respected in the Southern California community. But his use of a casual racial epithet bothers you.
Do you:
A. Go up to Rick and say you are offended by his use of the word--speaking respectfully but firmly, regardless of consequences to you.
B. Say nothing, because he hosts a nearly two-decades old reading series at Canoga Park's Cobalt Cafe and you have a plethora of worries--that you may never get to feature there or (if you're a poetry host) get him to feature at your venue or possibly never be chosen by Rick for anthologies he may edit or readings he may curate at prestige poetry venues.
C. Say nothing because Rick Lupert is popular and you don't want to be condemned for talking about a momentary slip of the tongue that's not "a big thing." But remember to condemn an unpopular poet if he/she says something racist/sexist at a reading because it's safe and "the right thing to do."

[UPDATE: Rick responded via Facebook that this was "an attack bordering on libel."  I gave him the opportunity to apologize for the remark he made (on video) at the reading.  He did not apologize, choosing instead to criticize me for criticisms I've made about SoCal poets and regarding the use of the word as part of a non sequitur in a poetry performance piece full of them.]

Monday, September 17, 2012

Quote of the day.

When people say "You're angry about things that can't change," ask them what makes [these things] unchangeable.--James Rocchi, via Twitter.
The above quote can be applicable to many things.  I can't help, though, but think of it in the specific context of "The Poetry Community."