Friday, August 31, 2012

Selection of Twitter comments re Clint Eastwood's GOP convention speech.

Maybe Clint is a sleeper agent for the Democrats sent in under deep cover to make the Republicans look stupid. No wait, that's Romney.--Simon Pegg

Clint Eastwood on the phone with Obama now: "It all went according to plan,sir." --Chris Rock

I know what it was like for Clint Eastwood. In my career, I’ve talked to more than a few “empty chairs.”--Conan O'Brien

If Clint wanted to run for important office, the Base would veto him. He's speaking to the Republican Party of his memory.--Roger Ebert

Clint's imaginary Obama uses the F bomb. My imaginary Obama feels Clint really humiliated himself tonight and feels bad for him.--Sean Mannion

Dear GOD... let's hope that Eastwood doesn't die before making something great. This and his wife's reality show would be sad last memories.--David Poland

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Analyzing Mitt Romney and opening act Clint Eastwood..

If you're Clint Eastwood, you're used to running things and getting your own way.  This probably explains why Clint's Thursday night GOP convention speech (demonstrating a willingness to try for improv comedy; i.e. the Empty Chair prop) had the air of something that might be seen in a luxury restaurant/penthouse at a Republican candidates fundraising dinner with millionaires/billionaires (and no ordinary people) in attendance.  I can easily imagine the Mitt Romney entourage giving Clint a prepared speech--and Clint throwing it aside saying "I'M NOT GONNA READ THIS CRAP!"  Ergo, the rambling ruminations which sounded a lot like Clint's character putting down all in sight during the early reels of GRAN TORINO.

As for Mitt Romney: There was a lot of rose-colored Remembrances of Simple Loving Times Past rhetoric which gave me the impression that both Peggy Noonan and Karen Hughes may have contributed to his speech.  There was the inevitable attempt to link Barack Obama to Jimmy Carter.  And, most sickening, the primal Dog Whistle to the conventioneers and TV/online audiences: "THE HELL WITH CLIMATE CHANGE!  I'LL MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOURSELVES JUST LIKE REAGAN DID!"

Must-read: Matt Taibbi on Mitt Romney and Bain Capital.

From Matt Taibbi's article:
By making debt the centerpiece of his campaign, Romney was making a calculated bluff of historic dimensions – placing a massive all-in bet on the rank incompetence of the American press corps. The result has been a brilliant comedy: A man makes a $250 million fortune loading up companies with debt and then extracting million-dollar fees from those same companies, in exchange for the generous service of telling them who needs to be fired in order to finance the debt payments he saddled them with in the first place. That same man then runs for president riding an image of children roasting on flames of debt, choosing as his running mate perhaps the only politician in America more pompous and self-righteous on the subject of the evils of borrowed money than the candidate himself. If Romney pulls off this whopper, you'll have to tip your hat to him: No one in history has ever successfully run for president riding this big of a lie. It's almost enough to make you think he really is qualified for the White House.

The unlikeliness of Romney's gambit isn't simply a reflection of his own artlessly unapologetic mindset – it stands as an emblem for the resiliency of the entire sociopathic Wall Street set he represents. Four years ago, the Mitt Romneys of the world nearly destroyed the global economy with their greed, shortsightedness and – most notably – wildly irresponsible use of debt in pursuit of personal profit. The sight was so disgusting that people everywhere were ready to drop an H-bomb on Lower Manhattan and bayonet the survivors. But today that same insane greed ethos, that same belief in the lunatic pursuit of instant borrowed millions – it's dusted itself off, it's had a shave and a shoeshine, and it's back out there running for president.

Mitt Romney, it turns out, is the perfect frontman for Wall Street's greed revolution. He's not a two-bit, shifty-eyed huckster like Lloyd Blankfein. He's not a sighing, eye-rolling, arrogant jerkwad like Jamie Dimon. But Mitt believes the same things those guys believe: He's been right with them on the front lines of the financialization revolution, a decades-long campaign in which the old, simple, let's-make-stuff-and-sell-it manufacturing economy was replaced with a new, highly complex, let's-take-stuff-and-trash-it financial economy. Instead of cars and airplanes, we built swaps, CDOs and other toxic financial products. Instead of building new companies from the ground up, we took out massive bank loans and used them to acquire existing firms, liquidating every asset in sight and leaving the target companies holding the note. The new borrow-and-conquer economy was morally sanctified by an almost religious faith in the grossly euphemistic concept of "creative destruction," and amounted to a total abdication of collective responsibility by America's rich, whose new thing was making assloads of money in ever-shorter campaigns of economic conquest, sending the proceeds offshore, and shrugging as the great towns and factories their parents and grandparents built were shuttered and boarded up, crushed by a true prairie fire of debt.

Mitt Romney – a man whose own father built cars and nurtured communities, and was one of the old-school industrial anachronisms pushed aside by the new generation's wealth grab – has emerged now to sell this make-nothing, take-everything, screw-everyone ethos to the world. He's Gordon Gekko, but a new and improved version, with better PR – and a bigger goal. A takeover artist all his life, Romney is now trying to take over America itself. And if his own history is any guide, we'll all end up paying for the acquisition.

Read more:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Will vote for Obama again--but with reservations.

In 2012, we're faced with a clear choice between two Presidential candidates.

Either vote for the flawed incumbent or vote for the even-more-flawed challenger who wants (among other things) to take American women back to the no-choice patriarchal era of the past.

Regarding Barack Obama, it's quite likely we're in for another four years just like the first term.

In the September issue of HARPER'S, there's a must-read article by Thomas Frank on "Obama in the desert of centrism."  And it says things that most of the blind-faith Obama supporters don't want to read/hear.

Here are a few quotes from the article:
"...President Obama has pursued government secrecy to a degree even the Bush administration never dared, and that he has arrogated to himself the right to kill American citizens overseas who have not been convicted of any crime.  President Obama likes (or used to like) to extend the hand of kindness to the nation's bankers: "Help me help you," he implored them back in 2009.  When he decided to go populist and snarl at the One Percent, he took care to dispatch an emissary to New York to let the finance industry know he didn't mean it.  (Just as he didn't mean it when he badmouthed NAFTA or promised to revisit the Patriot Act.)"

"For the Obama years to be terminated [if he loses because of GOP attacks on him as a "socialist"] on such grounds would furnish future historians with vast deposits of irony.  The president is a man whose every instinct is conciliatory.  He is not merely a casual seeker of bipartisan consensus; he is an intellectually committed believer in it.  He simply cannot imagine a dispute in which one antagonist is right and the other is wrong.  No, there is always something honorable about both sides, some concession to be made by each.  His presidency has been one long quest for a "grand bargain," as he has sometimes put it, between red and blue."

"What Barack Obama has saved [referring to the financial crisis] is a bankrupt elite that by all rights should have met its end back in 2009.  He came to the White House amid circumstances similar to those of 1933, but proceeded to rule like Herbert Hoover.  Today the banks are as big as ever, and he has done precious little about it.  The regulatory system is falling apart, and he is too idelogically demure to tell us why.  Organized labor is crumbling, and he has done almost nothing to help it recover.  Meanwhile, the people who told us that finance was king, that the "new economy" changed all the rules, that we didn't really need a strong supervisory state--those people are still riding high, still making their pronouncements from the heights of the op-ed page and the executive branch."

Nonetheless, I will go into the voting booth in November and mark my ballot for Obama's re-election.  If a Romney administration comes to power, it will be with truly dire consequences for the nation and the world.  Better to stay with a President who has scored a few mild victories in spite of willful GOP obstructionism--even if the notions of Hope and Change are little more than campaign promises that, like most, remain undelivered upon.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Roundup of Twitter comments (including my own) on the Ann Romney/Chris Christie GOP Show.

Media will go gaga over A Romney speech, make it seem like it is a momentum shifter. But in the end, it won't change many minds, if any.--Joe Adalian

Ann Romney is Princess Fiona working warm-up to Chris Christie's Shrek.--Colby Hall

Ann channels Oprah vocalese: "I love you WOMEN!!!"--me

When was the last time Ann Romney had to worry about grocery bills? Fn please--Mac G

Ann Romney knows well all "the little things" that average American women face. Like broken private garage elevators.--Marc Cooper

Ann Romney mentions her dad, omitting that he died an atheist & Mitt led a Mormon proxy baptism for him.--John Fugelsang

"Try to do okay" is actually not horrible advice to give a child.--Paul F. Tompkins
Ann Romney on how her husband "built success" -- yea, with internet, education, roads,infrastructure supported by government.Community,Ann.--Katrina vanden Huevel
Ann's portrayal of being impoverished in college got her in trouble in '94 Sen race--they lived off Romney stock options.--David Shuster
Chris Christie will spend a great deal of time introducing nat'l tv aud to a Repub he thinks they should know better. Chris Christie.--David Carr
Somebody tell Chris Christie the GI bill that put his father through Rutgers University was a government program.--Sean Mannion
Wondering if Chris Christie ever seriously listened to the lyrics on DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN.--me
Ann Romney said she wanted to talk about love. Chris Christie says the country is "paralyzed by a need to be loved."--Think Progress
Christie: "Tonight, we're going to choose respect over love."... Ann Romney: "Tonight I want to talk to you about love,"--Sam Stein
Note to Chris Christie: You balanced your budget with STIMULUS money.--Joseph J. Santorsa
Christie sounds as if he's about to say, "and I accept your nomination as president"--Sean Mannion
Christie mentions his dad graduating from college (GI Bill?) and daughters marching w/soccer team (Title IX).--Glennia
How many undecideds does Christie think he will win over with his menacing macho act? It's dangerous to believe ur own propaganda.--Marc Cooper
Uh-oh. Christie essentially promising that Mitt will be an 18th-century doctor bleeding America with the alleged Austerity Cure.--me
Christie: "Dems ideas have failed America." So come on everybody, let's start two more unfunded wars AND cut taxes. You loved 2008, right?--Sean Mannion
Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths, like "You're fired" and he will love it.--American Prospect
Ahhh, Christie playing the Fox News Fear Card. Well done, sir. Line him up for a show to host.--Sean Mannion
Chris Matthews claims Chris Christie's blustering oratory had a "touch of Churchill."--me
Rachel Maddow on Chris Christie speech: "One of the greatest acts of political selfishness I have ever seen on a stage."--Dana Stevens
Noticed Ann Romney's granite stare at Chris Christie when she and Mitt were applauding from their box.--me
Nearly the only thing one could not have taken away from Christie's speech is that one should vote for Romney.--Sam Seder
Chris Christie delivered the Menote Speech.--Lizz Winstead

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Passing along another poet's wisdom about hosts and readings.

Here's a Cobalt Poets (available to the public via Yahoogroups) listserve post from veteran SoCal performance poet Bowerbird Intelligentleman, written in 2006.  It's slightly dated since the 2012 scene has shrunk somewhat in terms of venues and featuring opportunities, but worth sharing nonetheless:

i see from an e-mail in my in-box
that venue hosts are being called
"the unsung heroes" of the scene...

yes, hosts do a lot of work, it's true.
and if you've never done it yourself,
you'll likely underestimate, by half,
the amount of hassle that it can be,
constantly dealing with a bunch of
ego-maniacs who want the stage...

but let's look at the other side too...

first, producing gives you a huge boost
in visibility, and perceived "importance",
not to mention stage-time of your own,
and without having to fight anyone for it.

second, the ability to _book_others_
means that you have "a favor to trade",
and the favor-trading is very obvious...

indeed, when deserving poets come to me and
ask how they can get more feature invitations,
i regularly give them two recommendations:
1. just plain ask, and several will follow, and
2. start up your own series and book hosts,
as that's a sure way to get return bookings.

so let's not pretend that hosting is selfless.
it cuts both ways.

how these competing factors "balance"
is up to each one of us to decide, but
i think the fact that there is no shortage
of poetry series -- each with a host --
indicates how most poets weigh it out.

if hosts were really "the unsung heroes",
there wouldn't be so darn many of 'em,
because poets are _not_ very altruistic,
as anyone with experience will tell you.
(and hosts will be the first to verify that.)

no, where we have a clear _shortage_
is with the number of poets who are
willing to come to a show and _listen_,
without a strong ego-need for the stage.
_that_ is how selflessness reveals itself...

so if you're looking for "unsung heroes"
in _this_ scene, look for _those_ people.
(and hey, best of luck on finding any...)

as it is, any events that "host the hosts"
or "honor the poetry series in our scene"
looks like just another mutual back-pat
in the perpetual circle-jerk of our scene
from the perspective of _this_ observer...


Dana Gioia 2012 vs. Dana Gioia circa 1999: re the L.A. Poet Laureate announcement.

"It is wonderful to announce the new Poet Laureate position,” Poet Laureate Task Force Chair Dana Gioia said. “Los Angeles is the creative capital of the 21st century. Honoring poets and writers with this new public office is a fitting symbol for the power of the language and the imagination in our remarkable community."--from the article above

 "There is a huge renaissance of poetry activity in L.A.," Gioia told me over the phone from his home in Northern California, "but there are no governing standards. You can't have great literature without great standards, and no one wants to hear this, especially in L.A. There's a real mistaken impression that more art is better art, whereas in fact lots of bad poetry will deaden the appetite for good poetry."--from Brendan Bernhard's article "Perhaps These Are Not Poetic Times At All."

Friday, August 24, 2012

Lance Armstrong folds his defense but still says it ain't so re doping.

"The most important lesson of the Lance Armstrong story, though, is the hardest to prepare for and guard against: our own gullibility and willing complicity. What is astounding and disturbing is that one man – a dominant personality as well as a dominant athlete – was able to enforce his will, isolate, bully and silence his doubters and critics, and win the world's top cycling event year after year and make people believe in him, despite there being, apparently, dozens of witnesses to its utter phoniness. Too many people had too much invested in the Lance Armstrong story, and the power of persuasion followed the money."

The above paragraph was taken from an article in the GUARDIAN:

And here's Lance Armstrong's white-flag statement:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Adieu Patrick Goldstein's LA TIMES "Big Picture" column.

Further Goldstein Thoughts :: Hollywood Elsewhere

Patrick Goldstein was a part of the LOS ANGELES TIMES for quite awhile; I first remember reading his rock-gossip "Pop Eye" column.  And for the past dozen years, he was on the film Industry beat, writing "The Big Picture" column mixing "what directors and studios told me" anecdotes, Right-leaning salvos against Hollywood liberals (I remember singer/songwriter Nellie McKay taking a few minutes during a concert at Sunset Strip's Roxy to vent her irritation about Goldstein), and annual columns about film-savvy teens rating their interest in Summer Movies based on trailer viewing.

Whether or not one liked Goldstein's opinions, he was certainly readable on a regular basis.  But the LOS ANGELES TIMES is evolving in terms of entertainment/film coverage into TV-tabloid (sort of like this week's Tony Scott Danger Seeker article), fluffy, zippy-and-zingy, etc.  And if Patrick Goldstein is nudged into taking a buyout (ending his TIMES career), it's safe to guess that Kenneth Turan (who's the 2012 equivalent of THE NEW YORK TIMES' Bosley Crowther circa 1967; i.e. Not Down With Contemporary Film Pop Culture) will be asked to walk the plank.

UPDATE 10:53 p.m.: Geoff Boucher, who wrote the "Hero Complex" column for the LOS ANGELES TIMES (focusing mainly on fanboy-favored Big Movies), is also being let go from the paper according to chatter on Twitter from various people in the film critic/reviewer communities.

Monday, August 20, 2012

RIP Phyllis Diller, stand-up comic and actress...

RIP Tony Scott, Scott McKenzie, William Windom.

Was an extra for 2 weeks worth of THE LAST BOY SCOUT when it filmed at the L.A. Coliseum. Re the few glimpses I got of Tony Scott, my impression was that he was colorful, larger-than-life and enjoyed being co-ringmaster (along with Joel Silver) of the gridiron circus staged for the film. RIP. Now I have to catch up with THE HUNGER and
 REVENGE.--Reposting my comment from the HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE site.
Scott McKenzie, whose passing was also reported Sunday, had a gigantic hit in 1967 called "San Francisco (be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair").  The song, written by John Phillips of The Mamas And The Papas, popularized the ethos of gentle hippie Utopia for AM-radio listeners.  McKenzie also co-wrote another massive hit from 1988--The Beach Boys' "Kokomo."
I best remember William Windom as the genial star of MY WORLD (AND WELCOME TO IT); Windom's cartoonist/humorist character was a fictionalized version of James Thurber.  The series combined adaptations of Thurber material with more conventional family comedy, but was too out-of-the-box for TV in 1969-1970, running a single season on NBC--plus being rerun as a summer replacement two or three years later on CBS.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Taylor Swift: Is she wrong to call people out in her songs?

Not that I'm a fan of Taylor Swift's music, but I support her right to write about the rarefied world (and its inhabitants) she lives in--though I guess that songs relating to the Kennedy family and/or current boyfriend Conor Kennedy may be off-limits topics even to her.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Martha Coolidge believes women filmmakers should be bullies--just like men.

8. As a culture, we should embrace women in command. We should accept their eccentric behavior, and at times, the tantrums that come along with the extreme pressures of producing great work. Most women directors learn to walk a delicate line between being "difficult" and wimpy. Male directors don’t waste time or energy on this.
The above comment comes from veteran filmmaker Martha Coolidge, who is best known for directing the films VALLEY GIRL, REAL GENIUS, RAMBLING ROSE and THE PRINCE AND ME.  It's taken from a NEW YORK TIMES op-Ed article about the eternally-prevalent underuse of talented women as directors, cinematographers, etc.  And it's the kind of Industry sexism that will continue as long as corporate-owned studios are favoring superhero franchises and other guy-centric large and medium budget product.

But I strongly take issue with Ms. Coolidge's fervent belief that women who direct must be as obnoxious as possible (like men) to produce "great work" and make the shooting schedule/budgetary trains run more or less on schedule.

I worked between 1988 and 1997 as an extra and stand-in--becoming a member of SAG in late 1991.  And during those nine years, I encountered nice people and jerks--of both genders and some were/are A-list talent.

Sydney Pollack was once quoted in Mark Litwak's book REEL POWER saying something like "Millions of dollars make grown (people) act like five-year-olds."

In my opinion, greater courtesy from directors, ADs, cinematographers and other crew members--regardless of gender--just might make the environment of a working film set turn into a place where people are all on the same page, eager to help the director produce "great work" without the manifestations of "difficult" behavior (yelling, verbal and/or physical bullying).

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Clubs and Members.

Two lessons I learned this summer:
1. Some people see poetry as an avocation they can control, unlike what they endure in their day jobs.  Therefore, they feel entirely justified in limiting the size and membership qualifications of their poetribes.  So, if their cliques are mostly friends and/or people who have similar aesthetic preferences, so be it!  And if you are well-behaved, share some of their views and do your best to be liked but fall short, keep your opinions to yourself.  Just accept it in hope they'll keep saying hello to you at readings a decade from now.
2.  If you've offended some people in the past, they stay supremely angry.  Your poems could have improved and you're getting positive feedback from other poets.  But never mind.  You offended someone in, say, 2004--and you and your poems are dead forever.

Listserve post from 2004: The 10 Commandments of Poetry, Inc.

Poetry isn't just something done for fun/personal growth.  After the events of the past year or so, I've learned that poetry should be treated as a job, where poets live in cubicles and Performance Evaluation looms every six months or so.
Since part-time poets sometimes tend to bring their corporate disciplines into their artistry, here are a few tips to enable you to make your stay at Poetry, Inc. a successful one.
1. NEVER CRITICIZE OTHER POETS' WORK HARSHLY. (actually, a rule that makes sense no matter what kind of poet you are-corporate or private citizen)
IN AGREEMENT.   (you don't want to risk being a pariah, do you?)
3. GRAVITATE TOWARDS POETS "IN THE KNOW" WHENEVER POSSIBLE.  DON'T DARE RISK CRITICISM FOR BEING "UNINFORMED". (remember, some cliques tend to treat information like gold-it's hoarded)
4. YOU CAN NEVER BE TOO OBSEQUIOUS. (learn to love the taste of shoe leather)
5. NEAR-EXCLUSIVE SELF-PUBLICATION MEANS YOU'RE THE POETRY EQUIVALENT OF PINOCCHIO (Ani DiFranco self-creates, markets and distributes all of her work.  Oh wait, she's a musician.  Never mind).
8. ATTEND ONLY "THE RIGHT WORKSHOPS" (opt for paid ones over pro bono, unless pro bono ones exist at prestigious venues).
9. SUBMIT TO ONLY "THE RIGHT PUBLICATIONS" (why bother with local e-zines or regional books when you can have your work ridiculed by THE PARIS REVIEW?).
10. GO TO ONLY "THE RIGHT VENUES" (links to number 3, obviously).
Now, go forth and thrive in Poetry, Inc.  Always keep your resume updated. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Time Warner apparently wants CNN to get stupider.
Guessing that CNN is preparing for what looks to be economic austerity in the USA circa 2013 (regardless of who wins the White House), by lots of cheap chattering opinion shows plus greater doses of fake-reality series.

Highs, middles and lows of Olympics Closing Ceremony.

In no particular order:
1. Loved Brazil's portion of the ceremony.  Pele still looks great.
2. British pop star Jessie J (who did a credible Alannah Myles-esque rock voice while fronting for Queen's Brian May and RogerTaylor) reminded me of Rachel Weisz' kid sister rocking Katy Perry's wardrobe.
3. As irony would have it, Kaiser Chiefs doing a not-bad cover of The Who's "Pinball Wizard" made it onto NBC's edited-for-America broadcast.  The Who themselves were punted until after the airing of the ANIMAL PRACTICE pilot and Sunday newscast.
4. Russell Brand covers Gene Wilder singing "Pure Imagination" better than "I Am The Walrus."
5. NBC decided America didn't need to see Ray Davies singing his classic Kinks song "Waterloo Sunset."  Also dropkicked: Muse (a band which does have an American following) and a tribute to Kate Bush.
6. UK popstar Ed Sheeran (imagine a Yorkshire-bred answer to Jack Johnson) sang a skim-milk cover of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here"--likely prompting much madcap laughter from Syd Barrett's ghost.
7.  Speaking of deceased rock stars, Freddie Mercury (gone for over twenty years but resurrected via video screens) can still work a capacity stadium crowd like few others.
8. Nice to see Eric Idle doing a moderately irreverent version of LIFE OF BRIAN's closing song "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life".  But like his surviving fellow Python members, age hasn't been kind to Eric--however, he'd have a Tony Award-winning role if someone decides to stage a Broadway musical about Richard Nixon.
9. Always good to see the gifted Timothy Spall--even if it's just him reprising his Winston Churchill performance from THE KING'S SPEECH for three minutes.
10 (tie) Liked seeing the John Lennon tribute set to "Imagine"; perhaps Lennon would have found dance/techno legend Fatboy Slim and his octopusmobile rather amusing as well; Annie Lennox doing a pirate-ship themed version of the non-US hit song "Little Bird" from 1992's album DIVA was a welcome return to her visual provocateuring of yore.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Selected comments on Romney's choice of Paul Ryan from Twitter.

Just think: In two years, THE NEWSROOM will be reporting Romney's VP pick.--Franklin Harris
Listen, any time you can double down on rich white guys who want to take healthcare away from people, you just gotta do it.--Jordan Zakarin
HBO already on "Game Change 2".--BWD
Little-known fact about Paul Ryan is that the first budget he introduced in Congress was a dog-eared copy of Atlas Shrugged.--Top Conservative Cat aka Tea Party Cat
The Ryan pick tells us that Romney was more concerned about winning his base than he was winning in November.--Markos Moulitsas (DAILY KOS)
Can't wait to see the transformation Julianne Moore makes to play Paul Ryan in four years.--Jordan Zakarin
Has there ever been a presidential ticket featuring two guys with better hair (or worse policy plans) than Romney/Ryan?--Scott Feinberg
NBC NEws reports that Tagg Romney told Pawlenty and Portman that they weren't the pick. Romney delegated the calls!--Marc Ambinder
Paul Ryan's been walking around w/ pair of salad tongs for 2months, trying to make Mitt think he's a fellow robot.--Hunter aka HunterDK


Reading Stephen Dunn's poem "The Party To Which You Are Not Invited"--in the current issue

Friday, August 10, 2012

Wondering why Russia wants to rebuild the Iron Curtain--re the Pussy Riot controversy.

At this time, I'm taking a break from saying anything less-than-complimentary about Madonna's current tour (and below-average current album MDNA) to offer praise for Ms. Ciccone daring to offend the Powers That Are in Russia regarding what looks like a 21st-Century equivalent of England giving a make-an-example-of-them jail sentence to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards for marijuana use.

In 2012, the Russian female punk band Pussy Riot risks being sentenced to three years in a labor camp for an act of civil disobedience in a church.

It's rather sad and frightening to watch a leader like Putin to indulge in the kind of totalitarianism that will break three butterflies on a wheel.

UPDATE 8/17/12:
This summary is taken from the GUARDIAN--
Three members of Punk feminist protest band Pussy Riot have been found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred in a Moscow court after their performance in February inside a Russian Orthodox cathedral .
• Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23, Maria Alekhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29 were sentenced to two years in prison - the minimum sentence for such an offence open to the courts.
In sentencing the judge argued that bands' feminist beliefs were part of encouraging religious hatred.
• There were protests outside the courts and world chess Grand Master, turned politician Gary Kasparov was arrested along with opposition politician, Sergei Udaltsov.
Amnesty and Human Rights watch have both condemned the verdict whilst the Russian Orthodox church has called on the government to show "mercy".
• After the sentencing, Pussy Riot released a new single, Putin Lights up the Fires.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


it was the kind of day
where eggs could fry in the shade
as I looked for a parking place
on crowded Ventura Boulevard
where Parking Inspection cars prowled hard,
looking for every conceivable
standing-still violation
to make L.A. deficit ink turn pink
instead of blood red
at least there was a slight breeze
in Sherman Oaks
no such luck
when I came home
to Canoga Park

Monday, August 6, 2012

A poetry lesson I should learn.

The lesson is this: The world of poetry is huge, and it's best to seek out the tribes who appreciate you both as poet and as a person--and stop trying to please and/or redeem yourself with the poets who reject you.

I've been corresponding with someone in the LA/OC poetry community backchannel on Facebook.  Yet again, I'm hearing that I'm bitter and awful because I don't like some of her friends in the tribe she belongs to.  And yet again, I don't see myself as bitter--just hurt and disappointed by certain of these people's behavior towards me--people I started out having lots of respect for. I have been known to be indelicate and sometimes too callous with my choice of words--or merely guilty of saying things people don't want to hear.  But the person on Facebook (like others in her tribe) chooses to believe that it's All My Fault and her friends are wonderful and beyond reproach.  That's her opinion--which is likely to never change a bit.

I'm aware that her friends are likely great friends to the people they choose to show their best behavior to.  But, at the same time, I'm puzzled that people who can write nuanced, sometimes technically complex poems can also harbor the belief that their friends are flawless Paragons that have to be defended as if they were gods walking the Earth.  I can stick up for a friend, but at the same time, I'm aware that people can behave differently to others.

What I'm concerned about is the kind of poetry tribalhood in SoCal where shared aesthetic values of a tribe turn into both "I'm a better poet than you" and its corollary "I'm a better person than you--especially if you don't agree with me."

And maybe that's my problem as a poet--I don't think I'm better than anyone else.  Just someone who knows he has a lot to learn in the years to come.  Even if some folks persist in believing I've learned absolutely nothing as poet and person.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Here's what's really in the SoCal Poetry Pond (revised and edited).

Let's start this post with a haiku.  I didn't write it, but someone who posts the TERRY McCARTY'S WAR AGAINST HUMANITY blog did:
bitter man banned from
club. LOBs yawns when his output
makes hyenas sleep

My first response is this: if I were truly bitter and envious (presumably from wanting to be "let back in"--something I gave up on about a year ago in terms of making peace with certain intersecting SoCal poetry circles that want me forever banished), I wouldn't be posting occasional critiques/observations on how certain poets choose to use the power much of the community gives them.

I've never truly absorbed the lesson that if you ask select
"craft-conscious poets" beyond your station in the poetry community to sit down with you and/or answer certain questions, the poet(s) refuse(s) and you're a gigantic Figure of Snarky Fun behind other people's backs.

My previous post--putting up the Rick Lupert/Brendan Constantine "What's In The Pond" video--seems to have triggered the haiku outburst above.  I thought the video might be instructive to poets and nonpoets alike to see something with the musky odor of clubbiness and two talented practitioners of writing/working a crowd wasting five minutes doing stupid, lazy crap they were assured to get away with because of their Name Value in the community.  If two newcomers had read something like "What's In The Pond", it's highly doubtful that they would have gathered the laughter and applause rolling in appreciative waves towards the Brand Names at the mike.


Your chance to see two L.A. poets self-indulge.

Two guys who have done better work on other occasions; here essentially having lazy fun with their peers in the clubhouse.  This is what SoCal poetry can be like at times.

Matthew Mars/Niblock: Selected Works

Friday, August 3, 2012

An open letter to poet/musician Matthew Mars aka Matthew Niblock.

Dear Matthew, A famous quote attributed to you is "I hate bad art.". Recently on the Facebook wall of  G. Murray Thomas (poet and NEXT... founder), you made a remark about how my poetry doesn't qualify (in your assumed opinion).  Though we don't really know each other, I've seen a couple of your features (one in Laguna Beach, one in Hollywood) during the period when you were most active in L.A. poetry.  I know a little of your work, and you have talent--but I'm curious as to whether or not you've read enough of my poems between 1998 and this year for you to pass an open-and-shut verdict on my work.  Really, I don't care if you don't like me personally.  But I'm offering you the opportunity to use this blog's comment section to tell me (and other readers) exactly what you think about my poetry.  And please offer quotations of lines/verses where necessary.  Awaiting your response--which will stand without any further reply from me.  Sincerely, Terry McCarty

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Welles is out, Hitchcock is in--SIGHT AND SOUND's new Greatest Films list.

Here's Nick James, editor of the UK film magazine SIGHT AND SOUND, to explain the dethroning of CITIZEN KANE (long a Number One choice for Greatest Film of All Time) in favor of VERTIGO, panned on its original release for apparently being (like THE WRONG MAN) too much of a departure from the glossy, Technicolor, often-shot-on-exotic-locations films more typical of 50s Alfred Hitchcock:
"Cinephilia has changed in that there's less of a massive respect for the all-singing, all-dancing, every technological achievement in one film kind of film, like Citizen Kane.
People are moving towards more personal films, ones that they can react to personally in their own lives, and Vertigo is that kind of film, especially if you watch it more than once. It is a film that grows and grows on you.
It feels like a much more contemporary film than Citizen Kane, which is a lot of bombast and is very theatrical and slightly hammy by modern acting standards. Vertigo is about our inner life."

Louise Brooks-BEGGARS OF LIFE (1928) Restoration Trailer

William Wellman's BEGGARS OF LIFE isn't as well-known today as his World War I epic WINGS (which received a Blu-ray release from Paramount earlier this year), but it's quite good overall--marred by some racial stereotyping all too typical of its era.  Along with Howard Hawks' A GIRL IN EVERY PORT, it's a key film in Louise Brooks' career, coming before the masterpieces she made in Europe with G.W. Pabst (PANDORA'S BOX, DIARY OF A LOST GIRL).  The hoboes-riding-rails storyline was partially reworked by Wellman into the excellent WILD BOYS OF THE ROAD (1933), with Wellman's wife-to-be Dorothy Coonan playing a variation of Brooks' girl-disguised-as-boy role in BEGGARS.