Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The "weed them out" poetry community mentality in a nutshell.

Was on Amazon a few minutes ago and noticed this comment on an anthology of Southern California poets:
I like the idea of providing an alternative medium to recognize poetic talent. The different levels of accomplishment, though, really dilute the truly talented .

Monday, October 27, 2014

Two AV Club commenters sum up BOARDWALK EMPIRE.

Commenter "CCRN": Nucky's character just wasn't compelling enough compared to the other giants in the room.

Commenter Jehoshaphat-ass bass: Yeah, but that was the point.  Luciano/Capone stories have been done a million times. It became a straight gangster story by the end, but it was really about the sea change from local political machines controlling everything to the awesome profits of bootlegging upsetting the whole equation and necessitating the strong arm of the federal government to develop a terrifying national police force. The central story was not a Sopranos-esque narrative of an uber-powerful Alpha Male raging against the cosmos, it was a Wire-esque narrative of sweeping changes in political and economic power throwing everything into chaos..  Granted, it didn't always work, but I'm glad they didn't go the Sopranos well for the millionth time.

Suzanne Lummis, THE NEW YORKER and the likely impact in Los Angeles literary circles.

Let's look at this--a win for Suzanne Lummis and her vision of "craft-conscious poetry" and a win for West Coast literary poets who thought they'd never be accepted in the august pages of THE NEW YORKER--on several levels a la INCEPTION:
1. Suzanne will have a boost in the number of potential future students.
2. She'll also have several peers (or those who imagine themselves as peers) who will likely show adoring faces to her while harboring secret "why did SHE get in and I didn't" thoughts.
3. Unfortunately, it's a victory for those in Los Angeles who prefer all poetry emerging from the city to be rather homogenized in terms of notions of quality (the only exception being the welcome election of Luis Rodriguez as the city's Poet Laureate).
4. It's the final, fatal stake through the heart for the more unruly, DIY, coffeehouse non-slam community which used to exist side-by-side with the more Aspirational folks.  And the arrogant, destructive behavior of some of our community's "greatest" poets towards perceived inferiors will increase--along with the timid, for-career's-sake silence that enables it.
5. With THE NEW YORKER achievement and the new book, let's see if Suzanne can use her upsurge to leverage the revival of both the Newer Poets series and the long-dormant Los Angeles Poetry Festival.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Time for women in Hollywood to age naturally without plastic surgery.

As most of the world is now aware, Renee Zellweger had the kind of "work" (aka facial surgery) done which erased much of the face she exhibited during her years of Movie Stardom in the 1990s and 2000s.

And, of course, it's difficult to make a nuanced complaint about it in a quick-to-polarize, fueled-by-social-media world.

The last time a major actress appeared as a victim of bad plastic surgery was Kim Novak at the 2014 Academy Awards.  She was greeted with a lot of sexist mockery countered with "it's her choice" pushback.

I watch the still-running ABC daytime soap opera GENERAL HOSPITAL and wince (but not from sexism) when I see Jackie Zeman and Donna Mills appear.

They've had the kind of plastic surgery/facial injections that either immobilize the facial muscles (which appears to have happened to Donna Mills) or puff up the cheeks so much that they're immobile when the actress smiles or exhibits emotions (Jackie Zeman).

True, there are women of a certain age in the business who opt for relatively minimal Botox treatments--some who look a bit blurry as a result (Kelly Ripa) and others who still resemble their younger selves (Rene Russo).

Like it or not, people get older and age visibly on their own.

And it's time for women (and men)--and studio/network executives--to accustom themselves to this without ludicrous or hideous attempts to halt time and force a mask-wearing vision of unwrinkled "youth" onto consumers of "product" and "content."

My modest proposal: plastic surgery should be avoided unless it's intended to undo the results of automobile accidents and/or face-slashing by mentally disturbed criminals.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Abby Norman on Ebola in America.

The truth is, in terms of virology, Ebola should not be a threat to American citizens. We have clean water. We have information. We have the means to educate ourselves, practice proper hand-washing procedures, protect ourselves with hazmat suits. The CDC Disease Detectives were dispatched to Dallas almost immediately to work on the front lines to identify those who might be at risk, who could have been exposed. We have the technology, and we certainly have the money to keep Ebola at bay. What we don't have is communication. What we don't have is a health care system that values preventative care. What we don't have is an equal playing field between nurses and physicians and allied health professionals and patients. What we don't have is a culture of health where we work symbiotically with one another and with the technology that was created specifically to bridge communication gaps, but has in so many ways failed. What we don't have is the social culture of transparency, what we don't have is a stopgap against mounting hysteria and hypochondria, what we don't have is nation of health literate individuals. We don't even have health-literate professionals. Most doctors are specialists and are well versed only in their field. Ask your orthopedist a general question about your health -- see if they can comfortably answer it.

From the article "I'm a Hazmat-Trained Hospital Worker: Here's What No One Is Telling You About Ebola" on

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

RIP Los Angeles' New Beverly Cinema.

I'm happy to say I was one of the donors who made now-former New Beverly Cinema employee Julia Marchese's documentary OUT OF PRINT (about the 35mm vs digital controversy) a reality.

Was saddened to read today about Julia being ousted by Quentin Tarantino's personal assistant Julie McLean.  Before Julia, Tarantino relieved then-manager Michael Torgan (son of original manager Sherman Torgan) of his duties

Here's Jen Yamato's take on the story from DEADLINE:

And here's the entire blog post from Julia, with a link to see OUT OF PRINT for free:

Monday, October 13, 2014

Bono explains the righteousness of corporations paying lower taxes in other countries for you.

In the midst of rock writer Dorian Lynskey's mostly-wet-kiss profile of U2 and SONGS OF INNOCENCE, there's this passage of Bono the Plutocrat formerly known as Paul Hewson waxing eloquent:
Of course, the biggest blow to Bono’s activist reputation has been U2’s collective decision in 2006 to transfer U2 Ltd, which handles their publishing royalties (not the bulk of their income but a significant chunk), from Ireland to the Netherlands to reduce their tax bill. Their Glastonbury set attracted a small lobby of banner-waving protesters. Edge is painstakingly even-handed about it. “Was it totally fair? Probably not. The perception is a gross distortion. We do pay a lot of tax. But if I was them I probably would have done the same, so it goes with the territory.”
Like the protesters, I think the arrangement sits badly with Bono’s development [charitable] work and we go back and forth for a while. It isn’t a clandestine offshore tax haven, Bono insists. “All of our stuff is out in the open. How did people find out about it? Because it’s published. The sneakiness is when you don’t even know what’s going on.” Eventually, we agree to disagree, and the conversation moves on to Ireland’s corporation-friendly tax laws, currently the subject of an EU investigation.
“Look, Ireland is not going to back down on this,” he says. “We are a tiny little country, we don’t have scale, and our version of scale is to be innovative and to be clever, and tax competitiveness has brought our country the only prosperity we’ve known. That’s how we got these [tech] companies here. Little countries, we don’t have natural resources, we have to be able to attract people. We’ve been through the 50s and the 60s, and mass haemorrhaging of our population all over the world. There are more hospitals and firemen and teachers because of [Ireland’s tax] policy.”

The complete Lynskey profile of U2 can be found here:

Friday, October 10, 2014

Guessing the 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees.

From Andy Greene's announcement article in ROLLING STONE:
The nominations for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Class of 2015 are in, and the list includes Green DayNine Inch NailsN.W.Athe SmithsLou Reed and Sting. The rest of this year's hopefuls are the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, KraftwerkChicJoan Jett & the Blackhearts, the Marvelettes, the Spinners, Stevie Ray Vaughan, War and Bill Withers. The top vote-getters will be announced toward the end of the year and inducted on April 18th, 2015 at a ceremony in Cleveland, Ohio.

Read more:

Here are my guesses for next year's inductees:
Green Day
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Lou Reed
The Smiths

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Years ago, I wrote a couple of chapbooks about the Southern California poetry scene as I experienced it (and witnessing its effect on other poets).


For the next three months, it will be on-sale exclusively from Amazon.

It costs only 99 cents.

Here's the link:

Monday, October 6, 2014

I have a free e-book available now--CONSPICUOUS PRESUMPTIONS.

Not repeating the mistake of U2, their megamanager Guy Oseary and Apple with SONGS OF INNOCENCE, here are links to reading or downloading my new and free e-book of poetry CONSPICUOUS PRESUMPTIONS:
(Note: the 4shared file is Microsoft Word)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

GONE GIRL the movie and the real-life perils facing women.

From Wesley Morris' GRANTLAND review (SPOILER ALERT):
The movie doubles as a snide contradiction of the serious conversation Americans have been having lately about men, women, exploitation, and violence. Gone Girl isn’t complicating that conversation. It gets off on thumbing its nose at it, using a vengeful false accusation to exploit an old trope of the terrifying femme fatale.
One of the ladies in Nick’s life happens to be played by Emily Ratajkowski, a model made notorious for appearing to enjoy herself while frolicking nude in Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” video. Ratajkowski doesn’t have a large role here, but it’s significant to the plot. Her presence reminded me how much of the song and the video, like a whole strain of rap and R&B, hinges on a woman being a “good girl,” which in turn hinges on a kind of permissiveness toward the performer who’s paying the compliment. In the music, the good girl is also a “bad girl.” There’s virtually no difference.
The debate about rape and “rapeyness” in pop isn’t a new one. But it has new resonance on college campuses, where protests, vandalism, and lawsuits have challenged the long tradition of silence and slow action in issues of sexual assault. A Columbia University senior named Emma Sulkowicz has become a symbol of the refusal of assault survivors to be cowed: She’s been dragging an actual mattress around campus and vows to continue to do so until the school expels the classmate who raped her. This isn’t the first time that female student activists against assault have insisted on being heard (one need only recall the Take Back the Night rallies of the 1990s), but the protests have gained broader resonance. They’re more confrontational and less tolerant of what can seem like patriarchal or, at best, bureaucratic foot-dragging and opacity. They’ve swelled beyond campuses to include criticizing even the conduct of once-untouchable professional athletes. The release of the Ray Rice video brought men into a conversation that for so long happened mostly among women. Recent investigations into domestic violence and assault in the military, police force, and even small-town Alaska have created a feeling that maybe, just maybe, the country is turning a corner on a serious and divisive issue. And then along comes a major work of Hollywood fiction based on a huge best seller written by a woman about a woman whose greatest power is to cry wolf.
It’s probably the case that Flynn just wanted to tell a fun story about a “complete psycho bitch,” to mock the shallowness of some chick-lit heroines by having all of that frivolity and idle time and man-hunting mutate them into film-noir monsters. It’s also possible that there’s a strain of ideology that could locate the heroic feminist in Amy’s master plan, an argument that the most radical thing Amy can do to avenge her sex — or just herself — is to make a man spend the rest of his life with a woman he despises and distrusts. I just don’t see Camille Paglia asking to get an Amen for that.
And from Tom Shone's blog THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS:
The movie’s many twists and turns eventually reveal a sociopathic villainess who is the architect of Nick’s downfall and whose m.o., when she is not framing innocent lunkheads for murder,  is fabricated charges of rape. It is this that landed Flynn in the cross-hairs of feminists critics who have charged the author with peddling “misogynist caricatures”, and “a deep animosity towards women”. “Gone Girl is the wet dream of every misogynistic men’s ‘rights’ activist,” alleged Interrogating Media in a post entitled Gone Girl and the Specter of FeminismDefending her book on her website, Flynn wrote, I’ve grown quite weary of the spunky heroines, brave rape victims, soul-searching fashionistas that stock so many books. I particularly mourn the lack of female villains — good, potent female villains… The point is, women have spent so many years girl-powering ourselves — to the point of almost parodic encouragement — we’ve left no room to acknowledge our dark side.”  
Certainly, the movie’s timing could not be worse — or better, depending on your point of view — coming as it does in the middle of an ongoing conversation about sexual assault in the US military and on college campuses, where what Millenials quaintly refer to as ‘rape culture’ has prompted petitions demanding the cancellation of a Robin Thicke concert because the lyrics of his song “Blurred Lines” allegedly celebrate “systemic patriarchy and sexual oppression”. (The song has already been banned by more than 20 British universities.) Activists at Wellesley College, in Connecticut, recently demanded that administrators remove a statue of a naked sleepwalking man they said could “trigger” memories of sexual assault for victims.  “To bring up a conversation about rape sets off everybody's discomfort buttons,” says Rebecca Traister, author of Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Election That Changed Everything for American Women. “Rape is one of those crimes that generally includes only two witnesses, which makes it very fertile ground for imaginative fiction, especially when you're talking about interpersonal drama. It's like two-person Rashomon — it’s the ultimate he-said-she-said.  To see the monster we all have within us, to show our little sexual monsters, is uncomfortable.   We can have our brand new feminist ideas about workplace economics, equality, about reproductive rights, and so on, we can have all those ideas, but still have this voice within us telling us these really old ideas about how sex works between men and women. I’m not condemning the book. It’s a page turner, sold a zillion copies, I read it right to the end.   You're going to have troubling gender elements in fiction, because these are the troubling gender elements in life, but it becomes far less liberating when you understand that they are trading on very, very old ideas about the power that women have to sexually, emotionally manipulate men. When you boil women down to only that, it's troubling.” 
At the same time, says Traister,  “Gone Girl explodes marriage,” says Rebecca Traister. And it explodes precisely the one kind of marriage that is still idealized, between white, urban sophisticated people that meet in mid-life. There are many marriage models out there but this is the one that is still viewed aspirationally:   between white, beautiful, privilege educated New Yorkers. That is the picture of marriage that is sold to us, the one we all must desire. And that is the one the book vandalises. So there is a subversive argument being advanced about marriage in the film, that it's not an institution that can tame women any longer.”'