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."

Friday, September 14, 2012

What most people don't want to hear about Bill Clinton.

"Bill Clinton offers essentially the same belief system as both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, one in which private industry runs the government through payoffs to ex-officials, and government returns the favor through bailouts. If Americans are ever going to grapple with the power of banks over their lives, they are going to have to come to grips with the real track record of their leaders, including Bill Clinton. And it isn’t pretty. And until people like Bill Clinton can be compensated in ways that aren’t obviously corrupting, and their track records honestly assessed, elections will continue to be unimportant, simple popular ratification of an increasingly authoritarian creditor state."

The above quote is from Matt Stoller's article "Clinton's no liberal hero":

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Announcing my new e-book: POEMS BELOW THE LINE.

It's finally here: POEMS BELOW THE LINE is a compilation of new and selected "B-side" poems
spanning the years 1997-2012.  The book costs $1.99 and will gradually appear in various online e-bookstores.  Below is the link for its page on

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

More of what's in the SoCal poetry pond.

This bromantic poem isn't as irritating as "What's In The Pond?" but with some of the same in-the-club cutesiness.
Again stating that the two poets above are usually much better than this.  But Rat Pack-style joking
can often be found at ostensibly Literary poetry readings.
Also, notice the use of an ethnically-incorrect word (in a not-Lenny Bruce context) by the poet on the left, followed by audience laughter.

The temptation to escape your country in turmoil: Terrence Malick's wife on America and 9/11.

Having read the above article, I'm having a hard time figuring out exactly what went through the minds of Alexandra Wallace and her famed filmmaker husband Terrence Malick (someone whose reputation will always rest on his 1970s films BADLANDS and DAYS OF HEAVEN, regardless of his later work following roughly two decades of retirement).

Are they the type of showbiz people who want to escape the USA when it's in turmoil a la celebs who talked about moving to, say, Switzerland during the Vietnam War?

Or do the Malicks think the Canada of 2012 is a sufficient panacea even considering its Rightward drift over the last 11 years (from not heeding Bush 43's call to Iraq to Canada pulling its embassy out of Iran)?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Brief thoughts on Bill Clinton's marathon DNC speech.

Re Bill Clinton's 48-minute reprise of his Number One spoken-word hit from 1992, PUTTING PEOPLE FIRST:

I thought Clinton's too-long speech had its effective moments in making case for Obama's re-election--though it's too much to expect either Clinton or Al Gore (who touted his friendship with JP Morgan Chase's Jamie Dimon on Current TV) to apologize for NAFTA and repealing Glass-Steagal, helping create the mess Obama has tried (albeit mildly) to clean up and Romney/Ryan would only make worse.

Ted Strickland DNC Speech Democratic National Convention

Strickland wasn't part of last night's prime-time speechifying.  But he's worth watching--saying
things that need to be said--even if they're the kind of partisan rhetoric which apparently makes some DNC folks uncomfortable.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Chuck Norris and wife Gina's dog whistle to GOP evangelical Christians.

More coherent than Clint Eastwood's GOP convention talking-points improv, but resorts to invoking Ronald Reagan-as-God, plus playing on fundamentalist Christian fears of victimization.
Also, notice how Chuck and Gina don't motivate viewers to vote for Mitt Romney, but against "1000 years of darkness" presumably resulting from Barack Obama being re-elected for four additional yearws.