Sunday, March 29, 2015

On the subject of featured poets who leave readings early.

An interesting discussion is taking place on a Bay Area poet's Facebook feed.  She posed the issue of featured poets/writers who leave a reading early, as well as poets/writers who leave an open mic early.

First, let's hear from a literary poet, well known in California:
been on both ends. features know when the crowd is there because they want their 3 minutes of glory with the mic, not to listen to the feature. i usually stay, and like most open mics, might hear 1-3 really good poems, and a lot of really bad poetry. then i'll watch them exit with their hands in their pockets because they sure have no intention of buying a book or copy of my poetry mag. if i'm lucky, the host might give me 20 bucks for my gas and a trip to McDonald's. it's a glorious life. and the open-mic crowd wants a pieceof the action.

Another commenter:
  I think it'd very bad form to leave before the end of a reading, if you are reading yourself in any manner - unless of course circumstance compels you to leave. In which case, it's very good form to let folks know that you'll need to while you're at the mic. I generally assume that in most cases, when someone gets up to read and then leaves without mentioning that they need to, that they're only there to hear themself. Which in turn makes me disinterested in listening to their work in future, no matter what I might think of it.

Another commenter, who names Famous Names:

In the 1980s I drove some ways to Cal State Dominguez Hills to hear Robert Peters and Billy Collins, plus open mic. Pre-Mapquest, GPS, Google Maps. Found the building on-campus and was delighted by the features. They stayed for a little bit of the open mic but not the whole thing. I was sad they didn't get to hear me but not sorry I'd come. I believe Collins had been flown in for the event, and I'm sure these giants of poetry had plenty to say to each other.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Signing copies of HOLLYWOOD POETRY: 2001-2013 at LA TIMES Festival of Books: the information.

Author: Terry McCarty
Book: HOLLYWOOD POETRY 2001-2013
Date: Saturday, April 18, 2015
Time: 12:30PM – 1:30PM
Booth #: 208  [AUTHOR SOLUTIONS]
Location: North Trousdale [Trousdale Parkway] USC campus

For additional information on this year's Festival of Books:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sean Young, star behavior/misbehavior and Hollywood sexism.

From a GUARDIAN profile (inspired by a British theatrical reissue of BLADE RUNNER) by Danny Leigh
( :

It's strangehow the Blade Runner legend now leaves out both [Sean] Young and her co-star Daryl Hannah, presenting it as the collective triumph of Ford, Rutger Hauer with his “tears in rain” speech, and Ridley Scott orchestrating it all. Then again, that kind of thing often blights actors. Like a lot of what befell Young, it could only have happened to a woman.

The past is unknowable. But the idea that a young female actor new to Hollywood would be directed to the casting couch is hardly outlandish, or that the same actor would face the same demands even as a star. On-set, male actors can scream abuse at underlings and have it passed off as being “driven”; making Wall Street, an unwitting Young had a sign reading “cunt” stuck to her back by Sheen. And when the media reported her trials, they did so with the particular pursed delight that greets a woman’s fall from grace.
As for Hollywood, it often finds it easier to give second acts to men. Young could be excused a smile on noting that the highest paid actor in Hollywood for the past two years has been Robert Downey Jr, whose struggle with drug addiction in the 90s saw him spend time in state prison, as well as mistaking a neighbour’s house for his own and falling asleep in a child’s bedroom.
There are probably too many stories about Young’s “theatricality” for them all to be untrue. In the course of our email exchange, I am not always struck by the urge to get stuck in a lift with her. She admits to a “knack for pissing people off.” It is also rude to heckle someone while he’s collecting an award. But it’s unlikely any of this was helped by how the industry treated her. And she can be funny, and self-aware, and if even half those stories were embellished, and just some of that treatment was down to sheer misogyny – well, that’s quite a bum rap. You’d be angry too.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

UK GUARDIAN follows Kate Gale's Los Angeles list with readers' choice.

Here is a list of GUARDIAN readers holding forth on what they consider to be Essential books about Los Angeles:

I agree with the choices of CITY OF QUARTZ and MY DARK PLACES.

And some of the other volumes on the list (particularly Michael Connely's Bosch series) seem worthy of adding to a must-read list.

But I detect iconoclasm for its own sort-of-bratty sake--particularly the consignment of Raymond Chandler to the dustbin.

Some recommendations of Los Angeles authors/poets:
F. Scott Fitzgerald's THE PAT HOBBY STORIES--sardonic tales of the bottom rungs of the ladder during Hollywood's Golden Age.

Horace McCoy's I SHOULD HAVE STAYED HOME--the best Hollywood novel I've read to date.


Poetry by Wanda Coleman, Ellyn Maybe, Amy Uyematsu, the late Scott Wannberg, David St. John, Suzanne Lummis and Daniel McGinn--to name a few.

Novels by Terrill Lee Lankford (also a producer of Michael Connelly's Amazon series BOSCH).


Add the above to the GUARDIAN readers' list for a more well-rounded sampling of what literary Los Angeles offers to readers.

THE JINX backlash begins.

There’s a lot of hearsay and misunderstanding about the way movies/TV shows get put together in the ongoing speculation about what happened behind the scenes with The Jinx, but it’s hard not to conclude that the filmmakers withheld evidence (the letter, the bathroom confession) in order to transform their otherwise boring TV show into a case-breaking cultural phenomenon.
This matters because the question of where journalism ends and moviemaking begins is absolutely essential. In a post-Jinx world, are audiences going to be unduly suspicious every time a filmmaker stages a scene or uses ethical uncertainty to make a film work better as a piece of cinema? What does even the faintest possibility that Jarecki, Smerling and their team could have helped police get a potential killer off the streets sooner – a truly contemptible charge – do to our collective viewing of a documentary like Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe’s Sundance-winning (T)ERROR, which is a movie that foregrounds ethical ambiguity but is built on sound journalistic practice? (Oh and by the way, if it really took Jarecki and team months or years to find that bathroom confession, as they’ve claimed, then they’re truly the sloppiest filmmakers alive.)
The passage above is from Robert Greene's article The Jinx: not my documentary renaissance for SIGHT & SOUND:

Thursday, March 19, 2015


sometimes instant outrage
can be a good thing
when directed at targets less easy
than misbehaving celebrities
case in point:
the San Francisco Archdiocese
drenching homeless people
to drive them from sanctified property
[interrupting this poem for
a message from the Archdiocese:
go away, weary dirty people
we aren't patient like Jesus
you'll get no rest here
Christian charity, what's that?
it's 2015
and the new San Francisco
is a plush parlor, bedroom and bath
for the Secular Saints of Silicon Valley]
instant outrage
led to the Church apologizing
and promising to withdraw
the sprinkle-people system
meanwhile, the news anchor
on a Los Angeles independent station
introduces this story
with the words
"creative ways of dealing with
the homeless problem"

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

30 years after THE BREAKFAST CLUB--re-evaluating the John Hughes humor/angst canon.

Last week, Universal reissued John Hughes' high school detention/encounter group film THE BREAKFAST CLUB on Blu-ray/DVD (on its own and bundled with SIXTEEN CANDLES and WEIRD SCIENCE).

Nowadays, the Paramount Pictures period of Hughes' career seems to yield more repeat-viewing experiences than much of his Universal output (WEIRD SCIENCE and THE GREAT OUTDOORS are hard-to-sit-through nadirs).  PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES and (up to a point) SHE'S HAVING A BABY are good adult films; SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL is Hughes' best, least self-sorrowing teen film (and, consequently, the most forgotten today).

THE BREAKFAST CLUB must still be considered seminal by admirers due to its outcasts-marginalized-by-authority-and-peer-pressure dynamic.  Ally Sheedy's socially-averse proto-Goth, Judd Nelson's blustering (sort of an ancestor to T.J. Miller's character Erlich on Mike Judge's SILICON VALLEY) and Anthony Michael Hall's repressed A-student still resonate with me, as does Paul Gleason's sharp-tongued, you-don't-matter-to-me principal.

But, as adolescent films are concerned, it doesn't come close in quality to genuine classics of the genre such as Nicholas Ray's REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE and John Frankenheimer's THE YOUNG STRANGER.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Blog commenter with informative CHAPPIE review.

Here's commenter MovieBob from Jeffrey Wells HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE site:
It's not bad.
Blomkamp's problem is that he's a crazy-gifted visual storyteller who's also a Big Thoughtful Idea machine, but he's bad at actually arranging a story. Obviously, he had Peter Jackson's help on DISTRICT 9, which is why the narrative part worked so well there and not so well in ELYSIUM or here. Still, it feels wrong to harp on a genre movie for having too many ideas or too complex of a story.
It's a weird animal because it wants to be all shades-of-moral-gray re: the "good guys" being violent gangsters (also, Die Antwoord are playing themselves, for some reason?) but the bad guys are Saturday Morning Evil - as in, Jackman's character is a meathead who bullies the nerdy engineer guy... AND he's a Jesus Freak who hates Chappie because A.I. is "Godless"... AND he's ex-military which in Blomkamp-verse means he's a psychopath whose sole motivation seems to be that he thinks tearing poor people apart with military-grade artillery is fun.
The thing is, if you like the robot you're going to like the movie, and it doesn't surprise me that there's a backlash on that front: It's a hard-R action thing, but Chappie himself is 100% a Disney/Pixar bleeding-heart-sincerity thing - a Terminator but with the personality of a puppy and the mind of a five year-old (he freaks out when people lie or break promises, literally cries for his "Mommy" when he's getting hurt, etc) ...if you can't groove on that, you're gonna HATE this.

Monday, March 2, 2015

A rebuttal to the Ryan Boudinot MFA article.

There are over 100 comments about Ryan Boudinot's article on THE STRANGER site--which I excerpted for my last blog post.

Here's one from "emmaz" and I've highlighted a certain passage that perfectly summarizes what I've been trying to say for years about "the poetry community."

The irony of this article is that Boudinot seems to genuinely think that he's courageously speaking a truth that no one wants to hear, when he's actually just spouting the dominant ideology that has held sway for a few hundred years now about the arts. That old saw that creativity is best left to a few genius artists who are "born that way," and if most of the celebrated voices are white and male, then that is just an indication of how God distributes talent. That's a western enlightenment attitude that supports the ruling class and the hegemonic status quo. I personally think that the more people who engage in the arts, in any capacity, the better the arts will be and the more interesting and just our culture will be. Why would we ever want to encourage less participation, if not to police who gets to speak?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sifting out the good advice from the bad re Ryan Boudinot.

Recently, an article from Seattle literary majordomo Ryan Boudinot appeared on my Facebook feed---something about what he'll tell you about MFA programs.

Here's the constructive portion:

You don't need my help to get published.
When I was working on my MFA between 1997 and 1999, I understood that if I wanted any of the work I was doing to ever be published, I'd better listen to my faculty advisers. MFA programs of that era were useful from a professional development standpoint—I still think about a lecture the poet Jason Shinder gave at Bennington College that was full of tremendously helpful career advice I use to this day. But in today's Kindle/e-book/self-publishing environment, with New York publishing sliding into cultural irrelevance, I find questions about working with agents and editors increasingly old-fashioned. Anyone who claims to have useful information about the publishing industry is lying to you, because nobody knows what the hell is happening. My advice is for writers to reject the old models and take over the production of their own and each other's work as much as possible.
It's not important that people think you're smart.
After eight years of teaching at the graduate level, I grew increasingly intolerant of writing designed to make the writer look smart, clever, or edgy. I know this work when I see it; I've written a fair amount of it myself. But writing that's motivated by the desire to give the reader a pleasurable experience really is best. I told a few students over the years that their only job was to keep me entertained, and the ones who got it started to enjoy themselves, and the work got better. Those who didn't get it were stuck on the notion that their writing was a tool designed to procure my validation. The funny thing is, if you can put your ego on the back burner and focus on giving someone a wonderful reading experience, that'sthe cleverest writing.

Other times, Mr. Boudinot plays the Tough Guy to grating effect:

If you didn't decide to take writing seriously by the time you were a teenager, you're probably not going to make it.
There are notable exceptions to this rule, Haruki Murakami being one. But for most people, deciding to begin pursuing creative writing in one's 30s or 40s is probably too late. Being a writer means developing a lifelong intimacy with language. You have to be crazy about books as a kid to establish the neural architecture required to write one.
No one cares about your problems if you're a shitty writer.
I worked with a number of students writing memoirs. One of my Real Deal students wrote a memoir that actually made me cry. He was a rare exception. For the most part, MFA students who choose to write memoirs are narcissists using the genre as therapy. They want someone to feel sorry for them, and they believe that the supposed candor of their reflective essay excuses its technical faults. Just because you were abused as a child does not make your inability to stick with the same verb tense for more than two sentences any more bearable. In fact, having to slog through 500 pages of your error-riddled student memoir makes me wish you had suffered more.
The article in its entirety: