Saturday, January 14, 2006

Beth learned from a friend in West Virginia that the God Hates Yous, that Kansas gang of self-righteous fundamentalists, will be demonstrating in Glenville at a memorial for the dead miners. they laugh and cheer at God's punishment. their schadenfreude is inexplicable insofar as the extent that anything in WV resembles Gomorrah in the least is next to nil. as fundamental as so many in WV are, this kansas group out fundamentals them. nd this snake bit nastiness seems to have nothing real to go on. just as hounding elementary school children, as happened up here last spring, seemed like simple derangement. apocalyptic visions aren't new, but the instigation of these folks seems nothing but pure crabbiness. miners trudge into the mines, the mystery play of poverty. and they very well do have a god, much-invoked. which si to say, I could see the guns coming out. becasue the deaths are raw wounds, indicative of the commerce of raw wounds that is the state of West Virginia. all the usages that have been made of the land and the people. them kansas folk, messing with that. our correspondent, who I am pleased to call a good Christian, just asks why. the Kansas group is a cabal of lawyers, truly. slick and knowing and sure of some letter of heartless law. the God Hate Yous Church in Kansas is small, like 100 in the congregation. but they must be rich as sin.

another final tree

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Friday, January 13, 2006

paying close attention

in itself,
a political act

those lines are from a sequence by Tom Beckett in the Hay(na)ku Anthology. hello Alito, etc. I do not, in fact, pay attention so well. at least in a political sense. Beth does, and Stephen Vincent, and Jack Kimball. etc. but I understand the directive. well 1st, I have to say that Tom has boiled it down, because it is simply alertness that keeps us going. or anti-alertness is our death. I want to make the side note that the format of hay(na)ku exactly BECKons the means of Tom Beckett, whose boiling down process rhymes nicely or integrates into this simplicity of making. but that political point stabs me. I was ruminating blandly (I suppose) within the format, jotting these 6 word stanzas, with Alito in mind without having to be placed there. I may put the pome here if my typing fingers are up to it. I'm just swirling round the campus of the idea of how the collecting of 6 words into 3 lines and one stanza kept grasping at Alito (in mind), Bush and such and such. I'm not a rigor guy, insofar as writing in form, but I am taken by how the idea in mind stays patient to the strictness of a (sensible) form. I mean, when form is prevention, quel est la pointe? but when form indicates a path, without being a chute into the industry of spew, then there's some useful glimmer.
it is not enough for Carl Annarummo to mention Blue Cheer, on several occasions. he now gives mench to Golden Earring. and not just "Radar Love" (what was the other hit they had, some 10 years after RS?). the description of the peacenik rock band from the future laying down a killer bass solo is just the prettiest idea to start the day with.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

this also just in, but not recently...

I've had Dark Brandon by Brandon Downing (Faux Press 2005) for some months but haven't had the opportunity to dig into it till recently. it is both dense and frisky. it apparently derives (somehow) from movies and tv, that seems to be his palette. there's a glancing energy of pop culture to his work, but I wouldn't want to brand (oop) his work with that sensibility too eagerly. this is not flippant writing, tho it can be wacky. I like the intersection of voices, in the way of several radio stations meeting. Downing, I would say, is receptive. also quite funny. I haven't heard Downing read but I can hear these poems performed. I guess I could scrape up the word performative at this time. by which I mean, differing timbres and tones. these are just glancing, off the top of my head notes. Downing's previous book, The Shirt Weapon (Germ Monographs 2002), seems a looser affair. perhaps not as dark as this one. that comment maybe owes to one notes disruptions in speech, syntactical twists and ellipsis. to behonest, I found the work 'difficult' (which I guess is what I mean by dense). a matter of calibrating to the lightness of his touch and quickness of his moves. also that I'm not the piercingest reader. this is real and different work that I want to know better.

this also just in...

Eileen Tabios sent me a copy of The First Hay(na)ku Anthology (Meritage/xPress(ed) (2005). I saved her life back in Nam (I don't like talking about it, being extremely modest), so she feels obliged to send gifts. nice looking book, with cover art by Jukka. and just skipping thru, it's lovely. many noteworthy writers collected herein (edited by Jean Vengua and Mark Young). the hay(na)ku form offers a pulse, let us say. 3 lines / 6 syllables. one isn't forced into oddities for the sake of maintaining the form, yet one must keep a grip on the machine as one writes. and reads. too often, formal writing fails (when it fails, I mean) when form overwhelms content. when concerns of form distract the writer. this form is neighbourly, not demanding. yet writer and reader must pay attention. Sandy McIntosh went to the trouble of supplying a pronunciation guide for every letter in his lone poem, which is a nice touch, and it suggests the giddy energy in this anthology.

this just in...

Erin called Ayer Courthouse, to discover that a verdict of guilty came in the trial noted below. I wasn't really rooting. one doesn't want drunk driovers on the road, but the guy is up shit river, and he has a wife and 2 sons living at home. yu can tell jurors about beyond reasonable doubt, but emotions will have their influence.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I just spent 2 days in court... and with such a boffo opening, I can now disclose that it was just as spectator. Erin is on a Mock Trial team, thru the homeschool cooperative to which we. Mock Trial is a competition in which students make fun of the trial process. heh heh. actually, they compete seriously, doing an entire trial, coached by actual lawyers, who do this gratis, pro bono, to show the nice side of lawyers. yesterday the team went to Ayer District Court to watch a real trial. my only courtroom experience is Cambridge Superiour Court, which is a mite larger. some 12 kids attended, plus a collecion of parents. had to empty pockets and pass thru a metal detector. I had Brandon Downing's book Dark Brandon, which passed inspection. the courtroom was a 2ndary one, small, about the size of a large classroom. it seemed like a nothing trial, operating under the influence but it was fun watching the preliminaries before the jury was selected. when the jury pool filed in, us spectator had to abandon our seats, because there was just enough room for the prospective jurors. a selection of jurors was made, winnowed, and confirmed. one person was called up and immediately called away, as if the lawyer saw an unsightly mole or something (each side can excuse two jurors without any explanation). is this civics lesson necessary? but it was fun!!! so quit interupting. and then the trial motored into action... in low gear... with papers shuffling. using my keen bias, I was pretty certain that the defendant was guilty. he just looked it. we heard from the arresting officer, and the sergenat who helped. we had to leave before the session finished. the court officer, when the jury was taking a break, talked with us. with real excitement he said, this looks like a good case, both lawyers are really good. and it was true. both were youngish, in their 30s. the asst DA was somewhat stiff, lacked the dash that the defense attorny had. the defense guy, in introducing himself to the jury added after giving his name: with offices in... the case was that a cop driving along at night saw a car coming at him in the wrong lane. he swerved (said he), turned around, observed the car weave, pulled the car over. he smelled alcohol, discovered open cans of Bud Lite, found the perp unsteady, so took the guy in. arrested him for drinking weasel piss. at the station he adminstered a breathalyser. the reading was .29, well over the .08 limit. what the jury was not allowed to know: the perp has had 3 priors. the arresting officer was a trim young fellow, still had the sturdy cop posture. his sergeant a little more battleworn, but still seemed positive about the job. alas we left in mid story. Erin was enthused by the case so we went back for the conclusion. we missed the state's expert witness, came in for the defense's. this was a woman who gave chapter and verse why the machine used isn't likely to be accurate, and the testing methods were terrible. she was like an overly wound up science teacher, and tho she certainly drove some nails into the coffin of the case, she could also have bored jurors. it turns out she's a lawyer as well as a scientific expert. she probably won the case. the perp admitted to having an open can of Bud Lite in his car. if the jury knew that he'd been convicted three times before, that detail might've carried more weight. were he to have been convicted in this instance, he faced a mandatory 2 year imprisionment. which is why he had the no doubt expensive lawyer and the expert witness. alas we again had to leave before the jury deliberated. we saw the summations. before the jury came back for that, the lawyers joked with each other. we talked with the cops a bit in the hallway. 2 days wasted for them, sitting in court. when they entered the courtoom, the defense lawyer welcomed them then and said, now I have someone I can point to. which indeed he did, pointing at them as he sliced and diced. the young officer looked ticked, the older one used to it. the defense made a sad story about going 1st, but he went down the list of places where doubt could settle. the ADA wasn't quite as sharp or as charismatic. he had a way of talking: as he gatherd his words he'd raise his right hand to his ear, and when the words came out, the hand went forward, as if pulling the words out. on this 2nd day, we were the only spectators, aside from the perp's wife. which made for a nice intimacy. when the summations ended, the court officer came over to inform us that we couldn't leave the courtroom once the judge began giving the jury its instructions. we had appointments, so we dashed out then. the court officer happily talked with us about the case and about the court room. we can call the court to find out who won, but likely the perp got away. as we left the building we noticed tv camera crews. we asked one of them wuffo. they were there to document the arraignment of a 6th grade teacher in a nice suburb who was arrested for heroin possession. Reznikof made hay with this stuff...
Tom Beckett's latest, ongoing

Monday, January 09, 2006

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Sunday, January 08, 2006

another zowie from Jordan Davis. I'm not plumping up my photography or demeaning his by saying I relate to his work. it seems like an adventure of out and about. camera ready(or awake). Alli Warren and Stephanie Young are more peoplish, and I like that too (can't do it myself, feel intrusive), sort of journalistic and present here and a part of the goings on. god knows how many pix I've lost in my computer scrape, I haven't done the investigation yet, but those pix are (were) precious even if so many are lose-able. and I didn't mean to swerve away from Jordan's pictures, which are quite definite in an 'artistic' way (have to isolate the word artistic there, it's just too much), I wish mine were. it's a mechanical use of the present, I guess I'm, saying. writing is so much that, moment, and if you have a camera, especially digital, you can take a selection from the rivering flow. the one I highlight here: it's he light. too often, I can't get the light I see, which is both me and maybe the camera's limitation. which is to say, there's something to learn about photography beyond click. but gosh, it's a lovely fun. and I'm neglecting Stephen Vicent's wonderful thoughtful shots, walking thru SF, out and about.
I didna know the cause of Brainard's death but the suspicious physical indications, as the narrative proceeds, then yes HIV, wasting disease, hard to read. my father died an entirely different way, but in fact, cause of death the same: pneumonia. I'm reading Kerouac's journals, which relate in a way to Brainard. an artistic intensity, really wound up. but his word counts get oppressive. that's the economics of it, each word has a possible price, if only they were the right words. which Brainard was less concerned about, that money function (he turned down some lucrative jobs that were too too). tho he did apply for grants, and he sold his work, which is to say he worked that angle even if he wasn't 'good with money'. I wonder how Brainard's art 'does' nowadays. I suppose his poetry is minor, not saying much but I don't think I've ever seen a book by him. but he's there, I mean here. Kerouac is a bestseller no doubt. they both suffered for their art, if that can be said without hauling up Hollywood's sweat about artists. they both had, were subsumed by, that level of seriousness. not just serious but belief in--can I say this?--the antics. of scrabbling and full doubt and scrambling, and on, with the future oddly nearby, the past perhaps nearer, and is there really a present?
picture in Joe of Joe Brainard, Ron Padgett, Dick Gallup and another guy, high school pals at work on the literary journal. all 4 have short dark hair and glasses, primal nerd times 4. one sees Brainard as an exceptionally industriuous and creative artist, at the same time oddly unsure of himself. can't say I know his work well but both his art and his poetry (and his journal and letters, as excerpted here) are vivid with a happy curiosity. there's a goofy element to his work that does not conflict with its seriousness. you don't want to speak too much of his sweetness for fear that that image will overwhelm the darkness in his work. he had a frailty to him but jeez he could talk about the tenderest wounds and confusions freely, bravely. he associated with a lot of people who were willing to back him up. true as well with Schuyler. that scene seems quite tight. I'm sure that there were more conflicts within it than I've heard about, but still, it hung together. I got thinking of Truman Capote. who was highly motivated as a young writer (not as an older one), but glib. he came to feast on notoriety, then notoriety feasted on him. his claim to fame, really, is the extended New Yorker article, but he took it to the bank. Brainard's unsureness didn't stop him, whereas Capote froze. Capote went all Bianca Jagger and Lee Radziwill, worried that his rep didn't match his output, dah-dee-dah. there's something important here that I'm just not articulating. there's a quality, lack of anchor it seems, in some artists. Brainard, Capote, Berrigan seem anchorless somehow, whereas Koch, and O'Hara (for instance) do seem achored. family can be an anchor, but aint the only. it doesn't have to do with 'how good an artist one is'. drugs and alcohol certainly have something to do with this quality. and it is interesting to see how it is dealt with. Brainard always seems to be floating away, that's how I read it. I don't want to play the Hollywood vision of artist but there is an artistic battle: the difficulties, which is the beat of bounding beyond one's comfort. there's also the notion of fame, context of integrity, how not to adapt to the pleasure of acclaim. you see this battle quite ferociously in Dickinson and Keats, juggling inward and outward. I guess I'll trail off here, but there's something...
computer has been widgety of late so I decided I had ought to scrape it clean and start again. which has the further benefit of encouraging me to backup files. a couple of cds seem to be acting like assholes, so maybe I didn't manage to save everything. oh well. I guess I've have to make some more. Kerouac's self-ultimacy.