Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Follow up to yesterday's posted poem.

On Facebook, I posted the poem LEARN TO CRY DRY TEARS, based on something which happened at a poetry venue last night. Here is a response by a long-running Major Figure in Los Angeles poetry: Suzanne Lummis But does writing and reading poetry make you happy? At least half the time? If it doesn't, why not seek out something that does? As the expression goes, "life is too short..." My response: Writing and reading poetry makes me happy. But there are plenty of mean boys and girls in our community. In short, please don't say to me, "it's not us, it's you.". Things aren't that clearcut.


Wary is as wary does
Seven years isn't enough
To change certain minds
Don't raise your voice
Above the rafters
Don't show the back of your hand
Don't show the front of your fist
Don't give anyone cause to say:
Just wait for the right moment
To slip away with dignity
And self-regard intact
As the Carnival of Verbal Arts
Carries on regardless.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten not a fan of AMERICAN IDOL and THE VOICE.

Remembering an interview Bill Maher once gave where he voiced his strong dislike of contestant-elimination reality shows ("You're off the island!")

Now, here's John Lydon (who recently resurrected his seminal post-Sex Pistols band Public Image Ltd) with a similar-to-Maher take on THE VOICE and AMERICAN IDOL:

Monday, May 28, 2012


Don't believe the stereotype.
The NY Underground was good to me.
Bought a Donna Summer live album
At the record store in the station
Below Times Square.
Experienced the a Capella quartet
While waiting for the Q train.
On the way to the Village,
There was the 12-year-old who
Moonwalked across our car
To the tune of Michael Jackson's
Black Or White.
And finally,
Going across the Manhattan Bridge,
There was the tall New Wave girl in black,
With blonde, pink-highlighted hair,
Who gently kissed her male teenage friend
On the top of his head.

Don't believe the preconceived notions.
Rays of light can be found everywhere.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Another blue period before a burst of activity.

For me, the beginning of summer has become increasingly bittersweet in recent years.

My wife and I have usually taken our annual vacation by the beginning of June--and there's the post-vacation letdown as I face the prospect of re-entering what's known as "the poetry community."

Although I've told plenty of tales-out-of-school on this blog, there are times when I wish I had the survival instinct of most community members to shut up, suck it up, pull in the metaphorical stomach and not venture unwanted/unwelcome opinions about how/why things are done (plus the sometimes arbitrary forms of literary Darwinism practiced).  I will acknowledge that lots of poets--even those I may not care for personally/aesthetically--work very hard at what they do, even if some feel they have to perform steps A-B-C (usually spelled M-F-A) to get their work taken seriously by academia/publishers/literary agents.

So, as this summer begins, I'm going to resist the temptation to hibernate artistically and resume work on a project which began eleven summers ago.

That project is called HOLLYWOOD POETRY; two chapbooks self-published in 2001 and 2004 were its initial form.  In recent years, I've combined the best of the chapbooks into one volume of poetry and have occasionally made it available as an e-book.

Now begins the process of finding someone to publish HOLLYWOOD POETRY.  It's likely, at this point, that I'll have to resort to self-funding a print-on-demand version through a pay-to-play publisher such as, say, Trafford.  It would be nice to have it published by a local small press, but I fear that HOLLYWOOD POETRY doesn't meet the standards of what is considered "real" poetry.

On the plane from NYC to L.A. earlier this week, I read some of Robert Frost's NORTH OF BOSTON.  HOLLYWOOD POETRY could best be described as a group of stories-in-verse a la Frost's famous "The Death of the Hired Man"--though more humorous.

The odds may be against me, but I'd like to think that HOLLYWOOD POETRY, once it finds it's way into the world as a "proper" print volume/e-book, might find an appreciative audience of poets and nonpoets alike.

Asking those who read this to wish me well.  I'm crossing fingers that the book can be ready by this fall or early 2013.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


New poem about Newark NJ mayor Cory Booker's promotion of Cory Booker on MEET THE PRESS: There's no such thing as nuance On the Presidential campaign trail. Surrogates can't go off-script Any more than corporate employees Or even some of us who produce  Commerce-flavored Art. You can't say you don't agree with 100 % Of what your party's candidate says. Otherwise you invite party officials And cable news pundits To transform into CGI werewolves That will bite and claw you to political death If you don't walk back your heresy By reading the exact talking point script You should have done One news cycle ago.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Kelly Ripa doen't like Occupy Chicago.

So I'm watching LIVE WITH KELLY with Kelly Ripa and guest co-host Taye Diggs--and it's the opening of the show where current events get discussed along with the usual personal anecdotes. And Kelly mentions a bride coming out of a wedding in Chicago who got upset because Occupy Chicago happened to be nearby. Essentially, Kelly served up this story up with the not-so-subtle dig at the Occupy movement for being annoying eyesores--now, I eagerly await Kelly Ripa dissing Occupy's message on CNN's ERIN BURNETT OUT FRONT.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Still in NYC--with a quote from a David Bowie lyric.

Just got through trying to find a video for the sort-of-obscure David Bowie song "Shake It" from LET'S DANCE. Alas, looks as if Virgin/EMI has pulled it from YouTube. Anyway, the relevant lyrics (as I recall them) are "I could take you to Heaven/I could spin you to Hell/But I'll take you to New York/It's the place I know well." And thus ends the long day which took us from Greenwich Village to 5th Avenue to Brooklyn and back to Times Square.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Here in the land of Lincoln where the rivers are wide, The suburban homes are two-story Colonial, Where teenagers play lacrosse without shame, Meanwhile in the former city of Sandburg and Daley, Mayor Rahm gets ready to roll out the unwelcome mat For those who still think protest is American And I go through a series of revolving doors And come out somewhere between the Wrigley building, the Trump monument to the Trump ego, And the Marina condos immortalized In separate decades by both Steve McQueen And the band Wilco. There is little wind in the Windy City, Only bright sun, heat And office workers consuming fast Vegan lunches Before finishing the afternoon's work To take the Metra train home For quaint boutique shopping In stores with posters of John Hughes movies Plastered on their back walls.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The burden of being Tim Burton.

Remembering an interview Daryl Hall once gave where the subject of music superstars who wanted to hire Hall and Oates to produce their records came up. Hall referred to these unnamed singers as "....vampires who want to vampirize your sound.". And there's Tim Burton, enough of a brand name to be hired to Burtonize projects such as the 2001 PLANET OF THE APES, SWEENEY TODD (which was genuinely good, along with the under regarded CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY)) and ALICE IN WONDERLAND. During the past decade, there was also BIG FISH, which I'd like to think of as producer Richard Zanuck encouraging Burton to make an uplifting, non macabre, Oscar-friendly project. And there's the unevenness of DARK SHADOWS, where Burton was apparently expected to treat Dan Curtis' gothic TV/film franchise as THE ADDAMS FAMILY--given Burtonesque treatment by Barry Sonnenfeld two decades ago. What now exists in my short-term memory: Johnny Depp's heroic gravitas, the waste of Helena Bonham Carter (in a role changed from strong female on the TV series to comic lustful drunk) Chloe Grace Moretz and Michelle Pfeiffer, Bella Heathcote looking like a character from Burton's stop-motion and CGI-animated films come to life and Eva Green gamely maneuvering all the film's shifts in tone. Somewhere, the ghost of Dan Curtis weeps as Tim Burton continues a two-film artistic slide which will hopefully end (UPDATE 10/18/12: The slide did end, with FRANKENWEENIE turning out as Burton's best post-SWEENEY TODD film, but suffering at the box office due to being the last in a threesome of animated horror comedies out this summer and fall--and perhaps paying for the sins of DARK SHADOWS too.) with this fall's animated remake of a short film called FRANKENWEENIE (the original was made when Tim Burton was considered subversive and relatively avant-garde by the standards of 1980s Hollywood).

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Poet/author Lloyd Robson on Robert Mitchum.

"It's commonly believed that there was really only one reason why Mitchum never received an Oscar and that was his refusal to toe the line.  He wasn't pliable, he wasn't controllable.  If they put him on the stage in front of a worldwide audience, who knows what he might do or say?  If you award the rebels, the individuals, what message does that send out to everyone else?  If the troublemakers win awards, why should anyone else behave?  Mitchum could never win; could never be seen to win.  That's the nature of the game, and he knew it."

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ben Folds Five - Do It Anyway (new 2012 track)

Welcome back Ben, Robert and Darren!


it's in the state charter now
everybody who's not cut out for
traditional marriage has to
hide in a closet
and pass for straight
and never ever ever ever
bother the people of North Carolina
unless you live in liberal areas
like Chapel Hill or Carrboro--
you know, those places
with know-it-all eggheads
who like activist judges
the closet's going to get bigger
and bigger just like the stateroom
in The Marx Brothers movie
and eventually people will spill out
with the door off its hinges
then, the 61% will have to
put their moral values on a scale
and weigh what Jesus actually said
or didn't say in the Bible about LGBTs
versus all the hate that pastors
named (and not named) Graham
pump into them like IV drips
in an ancient hospital
where the windows are nailed shut
and painted black
to keep out the light.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Blogger Ned Merrill on the "Sunshine Noir" genre.

Good essay--plus original one sheet posters--on what Ned Merrill of the Obscure One-Sheet blog describes as the "Sunshine Noir" genre of 1980s films with baby boomers/yuppies as the principal characters.

Though it's not a well-known film today, I'd count Jeremy Paul Kagan's THE BIG FIX (1978) with Richard Dreyfuss as private eye Moses Wine (based on a character created by novelist/conservative commentator Roger Simon) as a precursor to "Sunshine Noir."

And Robert Towne's flawed but beautifully-shot-by-Conrad Hall TEQUILA SUNRISE (1988) with Mel Gibson, Kurt Russell and Michelle Pfeiffer serves as the genre's coda.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Recycled poetry observations from 2009--with updated thoughts.

I just looked at some old blog posts and stumbled across the one from early in 2009 where I took exception to a review that G. Murray Thomas wrote on of my chapbook "yellow tree red sky"--and in retrospect, I shouldn't have been surprised about some of his negativity since a few months earlier, I wrote a post discussing a not-positive Murray review of North Hollywood poet/host Radomir Luza's then-current chapbook.  And I should have been more aware (in the sense of SoCal poetry politics) at the time that criticizing a critic and then submitting a chapbook for his review might have consequences.

Here's the portion of my early 2009 post that still resonates with truth over three years later:
When I began going to open-mikes almost eleven years ago [now over fourteen years ago], there were coffeehouse and independent bookstore readings that made room for just about everything, like a variety show: "serious" literary poetry, traditional rhyme-and-meter verse, monologues, stand-up comedy, musicians, etc. etc [plus slam poets in open mike or as features]. And Murray seems to have cast his lot with the hosts and influential poets in LA/OC that seem to think that only "serious" poetry should be allowed with the other subsets I mentioned above actively and/or tacitly discouraged.

I remember a few years ago at the Moonday reading at Village Books in Pacific Palisades when, after reading on the open-mike, Holaday Mason (a well-known L.A. literary poet) performed her five minutes. The late Anne Silver (then a Moonday co-host) spent a minute or two copiously praising Holaday for her work--and, to me, the message was ultraclear; I was too depth-free and craft-poor for such a distinguished reading. I got Ms. Silver's message--and never returned to the reading again.

Time to say it again: for poetry to flourish--particularly at a time when there will be renewed jeers over the idea of the arts being essential in a near-Depression economy--a big tent needs to be pitched.

It's not to be expected that all poetry will be to the liking of everyone--tastemakers, professional/amateur poets or civilians who prefer merely to attend.

But at some point the "poetry community" needs to stop pushing the poetry-eugenics nonsense that poems should be nothing more than gilded creations engineered to be admired for their complexity and intricacy--sort of like building a scale model of the QUEEN MARY in a Sparkletts jug or (to steal a phrase from the late Robert Mitchum) construct a replica of the Taj Mahal from matchsticks.

Otherwise, there's going to be an increase in boring, arid, intended-more-to-impress-than-enlighten-or-even-stoop-to-entertain "craft-conscious" word art which will likely go unremembered a month from now--let alone a decade or even a century.

Re THE AVENGERS: Puzzlement over Samuel L. Jackson's negative review of film critic A.O. Scott

Superhero films are to the late 20th/early 21st Centuries what the Western was from roughly 1903 (THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY) to the mid-1970s (one could say that Don Siegel's THE SHOOTIST with John Wayne from 1976 was the epitaph for the traditional, non-revisionist cowboy film).

Nonetheless, A.O. "Tony" Scott, film critic for THE NEW YORK TIMES (probably best known for helping preside over the last days of relatively intelligent film reviewing on TV with the CHICAGO TRIBUNE's Michael Phillips), has tired of the superhero genre; although Scott had some mild praise for some aspects of Marvel's THE AVENGERS, the film's co-star Samuel L. Jackson overreacted in the manner of James Cameron howling at Kenneth Turan in 1998 over Turan's pan of TITANIC.

Noting the passage of fourteen years--James Cameron wrote a now-old-fashioned letter to the editor of THE LOS ANGELES TIMES (or at least its entertainment section Calendar), while Jackson used Twitter as his medium of disapproval.

Both Jackson and Scott have a right to their respective opinions. 

But I wonder why Samuel L. Jackson, who has had a long and generally successful film career (and, it's safe to say, made more than one film that A.O. Scott likely didn't care for), felt he needed to wave the "if you don't like my film, you suck as a critic and maybe you should do something else " banner in the Cameron style.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Varying opinions of trailer for THE EXPENDABLES 2.

Film critic Scott Mendelson weighing in on the just-released trailer for Sylvester Stallone's THE EXPENDABLES 2:
Mendelson's Memos: The Expendables 2 trailer looks fun, but will a sl...: This looks like more of the same, which is just fine by me.  The first film was just a little better than I expected, offering a fantasy ...

As for me, the trailer indicates that Stallone, in handing off direction to Simon West, has infused the film with the kind of tongue-in-cheek gonzo which West brought to Jerry Bruckheimer's CON AIR fifteen years ago.

Unlike Mendelson, I don't have problems with Arnold winking at the camera.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Casting an imaginary Judd Apatow SoCal poetry comedy.

Meant to be whimsical-spirited: Brendan Constantine-Paul Rudd Rick Lupert-Jay Baruchel Peggy Dobreer-Leslie Mann G. Murray Thomas-Loudon Wainwright III Raindog-Nick Nolte Bowerbird-Zach Galifianakis Larry Colker-Ron Rifkin Jim Doane-Will Ferrell Leigh White-Alison Brie Derrick Brown-Jim Parsons Laurel Ann Bogen-Kathy Bates Michael Datcher-Giancarlo Esposito Feel free to add actors and poetry personae to this list, but try to include as many people from the Apatow repertory as possible.