Saturday, November 10, 2007

I see that Norman Mailer has died. I've never read a novel by him, don't think I've read any of his non-fiction work tho I know that in high school I read a collection of his poetry (sic). so I guess I'm in a perfect position to comment on his writing. and my comment boils down to: why did/do people read his work? talk about thingness, the thingly aspect of Mailer's work is what? being a celeb, he has this high impact presence, and that seems to be the igniting agent to people's imagination. I, personally, don't hear talk about the particular shimmer of his work, the vague lines of artistic extent that map into the plush dimensions, or whatever art does. what I hear is the Time Magazine jazziness of notoriety, in other words the prefab meaning that flies with this particular bird. just to repeat, I have read close to none of Mailer's work. what I am reading here, then, is the public imagination, or lack thereof. how reputations are onslaughts, and that sort of thing. in the sense that Allen Ginsberg can be replaced by or Madonna (or whoever you want to list), it's that stuff about the person before anything else. I think matters of criticism plunge often into Behlresques of thoughtfulness, punchy provocations instead of internal challenges. so a Norman Mailer becomes a battlefield, he and his work. like we will always need a dickweed to fuss over. maybe I've missed something in not reading his work. I never made a proud stand against his work, only selected other avenues to explore, as one must practically make such choices.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Geof Huth, not Jeff Booth, gives a clear appraisal of the Shively/Beckett reading truth (rhymes with Huth), I cannot absorb the words in a reading, as Geof so obviously does, so I involve myself with the mechanics and surroundings. I sense the poet's work but not in a readerly way. Geof, I saw, took copious notes (I took random intersections), and he must have a better auditory memory than do I. perhaps the note-taking, or his particular responsiveness, caused Shively seemingly to direct his reading towards Geof. not that Shively didn't scan everyone, make eye contact. but his professor instincts perhaps were drawn to the one most obviously connecting. anyway, I did apologize, twice, for my numbness in introduction to Geof. I guess I don't even think of the power of the blog (any blog, I mean) because I am always surprised that people recognize my name. selah. I look forward to Jack Kimball's promised account.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Pats won, Sox still are champs, and a nifty reading at Demolicious today, featuring Charley Shively and Tom Beckett. nice weather too. I'll speak of the reading. Beth in NYC with her mother so I trained in. killing time I walked from Porter Square to Central, then rambled some more. finally, in front of the gallery, I saw a familiar, from photos, figure, and the clincher that he's tall: Tom Beckett. I introduced myself. I've 'known' Tom for more than 20 years, I imagine. his journal, The Difficulties, however I came to it, was integral to my development as a poem making type writer. I think Tom's contribution to poetry as an editor is worthy of whatever Hall of Fame that exists for poetry (none, I realize, but pretend one does), just as Babe Ruth's pitching stats could put him in Cooperstown, forget about the 714. Tom's poetry, as I discovered in the spare publications of his own works that I got, is a strong, definite statement. we have the further category of blogger, tho he's seen fit to shutter his latest blog. Tom was accompanied by his daughter and son in law, who live in Brookline, home town of Theo Epstein. as he and I were conversing, I'm an awesome converser, he told me that a friend of his was behind me. this friend, I heard his name as Jeff Booth. from NY, near Albany, I think. it wasn't till Tom read a poem dedicated to this Jeff Booth that I gleaned that Jeff Booth was in fact Geof Huth. Geof Huth is a wonderful, I'll even say cruciual, poet and, dare I say, scholar. his work is really avant in the visual context. I hope he can be persuaded to read locally. the reading, as usual, began with the local poet, Charley Shively. I only knew him by name. he was a friend of Wieners. he was also, and I'm sure still is, a legendary gay rights activist. he's a retired history professor. none of which did I know before he read. his reading was quirky and charming. think absentminded, if not dazed, professor. by dazed I am trying to describe an ephemeral quality. a very present and unencumbered attention. I mean, he wore unmatched shoes, and he said whatever sluiced into the main channel first. I can imagine he was a popular professor but drove a cetrtain few students crazy. such students would not just wonder what his last remark had to do with the Peloponnesian War but what the Peloponnisian War had to do with anything today. his observations and tangents were integral to his reading. given his general driftiness, which I do not present as a negative quality, his muscular sense of syllable was maybe a surprise. his poems appeareed to be short-lined affairs, and he read them with a careful syllable by syllablpe rhythm. he didn't exert much vocal dynamics, but the words came thru with a strong metric. he read for quite a while, timelessly, you might say. no way that I can replicate his performance. his 1st poem, which was to Wieners, and in fact was edited by him, included an aside about a dream he had in which Wieners was blowing Bob Dylan. I don't know what I can add to that. happily Jack Kimball attended and his reportage will no doubt supply a richer impression of the event than I can supply. from the small sampling I am willing to suggest that Shively is a great poet. Wieners class, that is. that was a hard act to follow but Tom gave a terrific reading too. he read entirely from Unprotecxted texts. which is a wonderful book, highly recommended. he read the entire Zombies series, which is funny, quirky and inviting. the lengthy, self-revelatory piece that followed, argh what's the title, was a tour de force, and solicited deserved applause even as he was starting his next set of poems. Tom read in a dry but involved way. his last reading was 7 years ago. you'd think the powers of NYC would be enlightened enough to invite someone of Tom's credentials to read. special thanks to John and Andrew for bringing Tom to town. let's get it straight: Tom isn't just sputum from an mfa program, he isn't just the newest vanilla to write a poem, he isn't just that friend of the friend of the friend, he isn't the latest advertising approach, he isn't the glory of sneer factor. no, Tom Beckett is a writer and editor of poetry, a poet living not on the cushy pulse but in the rugged definitions of the hinterland. do you see that the colostomy of networking is a failed sizzle, New York New York? the heroes aren't the ones who tell you they are heroes, okay? Beckett and Shively are clearly under-regarded. and Geof Huth, unexpected guest, should be given David Ortiz level praise as an innovator. as per, extra innings occurred at a pleasant Irish bar down the block (food's pretty good, tho I didn't partake today). where I sat didn't allow me to enter the conversation of Tom, Geof, Charley and Jack, but I had a good conversation with John Mercuri Dooley, who helped bring the event to fruition. I didn't start writing till I was 16, which is later than a number of writers I know. John didn't start till he was in his 40s. it is curious how we come to our expressions, how the necessities declare themselves. John and Andrew deserve commendation for the variety of readers that they've chosen for their series. that inclusion extends to the friendly nature of their events. the gatherings after the readings are as important as the readings themselves. alas that I had a train to catch. I scooted while things were still bubbling. great event, even so.
watched Blades of Glory yestreen. Will Farrell now identified as a go to guy. neither of the WF star vehicles that I've seen are perfect but they have a consistent artistic demeanour, let us say. I don't think that Farrell is a one trick pony. it seems like he has a vision of his work. but my experience of his work is slight so I wouldn't want to press this opinion too far. this one is about competitive skating, which is as likely as a subject, because of its local weirdness, as NASCAR. Farrell is paired with ugh I can't recall the actor's name, as rival skaters. the other skater, Jimmy, is fey (1st time I ever used that word) and sensitive, stereotypical skater type. Farrell's Chazz is bumptiously macho, rowdy rock star. our 1st encounter with the adult Jimmy, he wears peacock feathers on his rump and is a study of ridiculous skaterly grace. the movie captures the obsequious patter of skating announcers, and the crowd as suckers for the show. near the end, famous Jim Lampley gets to tell his announcing partner (Scott Hamilton, in fact) that he just wet his pants. Chazz comes on like a pro wrestler, strutting and emblazoned sex. it's such a toot to see. naturally the 2 get into a fight during the awards ceremony, naturally they are banned for life from competition. after a quick 3 years of dark night of the soul for them, they are brought together as a pair, since it isn't specified in the rules that they can't. that's all de rigueur stuff. fire and ice. I'm not capturing the good parts of the movie with this recount. the two actors work well together. Farrell, the star, looks comfortable sharing the screen. his characters need something to bounce against, anyway. his swagger arrives from the moon or somewhere, just as in Talledega Nights. Jon Heder, who must be someone but he's new to me, looks properly whippet-like to suggest a skater but Farrell looks like sitting on the front porch with a beer. the movie sneaks past campiness, just barely I think. for all the grace and athleticism of the sport, it has a high density of schlockiness. the whole play to the crowd aspect is what undermines it as a sport. so the target is rich. the skating routines are great, combining piss ant drama and physical impossibility. the movie tails off when the plot becomes needy. I know plot and denouement are integral to such a spoofy approach but plot really becomes dead air so often, a linear express to the next set piece. it's time, friends, that we review our need for plot. the resolutions seem mostly sham or incomplete. the Pirates of the Caribbean movies have been criticized for their confusing plot. I think the confusion comes from a need to make plot sense. if Johnny Depp et al weren't bound by that necessity, the play could be more adventurous. poetry is far from cured of that narrative need, that sort of storytelling completion, but at least the issue is on the table. we're totally inured to the auto pilot in artworks, it's hard to break thru to the mechanics. in the finale of Lord of the Rings, movie version, there's a smirky grand depletion of plot points amongst the survivours. Tolkien did the work at a respectful pace. in the movie, clock running, it's a nod to all. which particularly gives the scene with Viggo at marrying point with Liv an odd scantness. the movie's so homoerotic, another word I've never used before, that this ceremonious inclusion of a female jostles the mind. where'd she come from, basically. from a need to tie loose ends. a satisfaction exists in that, but girls are so rare in the movie that we really aren't prepared for this normative streak. it almost happens in Blades. you can see the bond between the guys, similar drives and interests. when the girl comes along, the attraction is mostly that she's kinda pretty. well gee whiz, if you want to make plots work, you have to cut out a lot of interesting stuff. if you want Viggo and Liv to look right together, you'll have to cut out monsters and sword play. in Blades, if you really need to tie Jimmy to the sweetheart, you'd have to sacrifice the good stuff on the ice. ah well. it was a fun movie, anyway. I'll take Farrell over Jack Black, who seems like a 2nd rate Lou Costello or even Curly Howard.