Saturday, October 11, 2008
we had a yard sale today. I spent 25 bucks on an ad in the local paper, then took an ad on Craigslist. I know Craigslist is legit, but it is hard not to think that an ad for a yard sale there will bring people interested in Star Trek-themed threesomes or some such, because didn't I know the code??? happily, it appears only yard sale enthusiasts came by. and sure that enthusiasts they are. I set the time for 8-12, but I knew someone would appear by 7:30. which was the case, if not earlier. I was still hauling stuff out. the ads listed books (a modest thinning), furniture, clothing and, what the heck, outsider art. meaning that which I myself created. I weeded some of my more egregious paintings, honest experiments, and just piled them up. wouldn't you know it, one of the 1st people to arrive asked to see the outsider art. fairly speaking, I do not think you can consciously create outsider art, you have to be oblivious to that idea. so to use the term, I was applying marketing rather than a description. I like my visual work, tho cognizant of its limitations. and as I noted, this was not my A stuff. the woman looked thru the pile of stuff with interest and by gum selected 5. when she asked the price I said a dollar a piece. so that is my first sale, woo hoo. Beth got rid of a lot of jewelry. most of the people who came were older folk for whom yard sales apparently are a regular entertainment. one woman was interested in a silver whatsis. almost everything was selling for a buck but that does not mean that one should not be cautious. she asked if we had toothpaste. I think the letters H=U=H-N appeared on my forehead, because she directly explained that she wanted the toothpaste to polish the item. if it polished up okay, she would divest herself of that dollar. I fetched toothpaste and she said, oh, Tom's of Maine, that might not work. and I nodded knowingly and said, probably not abrasive enough, and she said yeah. but luckily it did indeed polish the item, and she bought it, and several other things. by 9:00 it seemed like the game was up. it was a brisk but electrifyingly bright and intense autumn morning. one man bought largely of the poetry books. I only got rid of ones that had been succeeded by collected editions, or a few books that I had multiple copies of, and a few stinkers (nothing by you, Dear Writing Reader). one other guy bought poetry books. it is a reassuring pleasure to see poetry books find an audience. a man asked how much for my stamp collection. Beth said 10 bucks, the guy said, would you take 8. Beth said no, so the guy turned away. a while later he handed her 10 bucks. I think of the bartering scene in Life of Brian, the formal code. there is a chance that my collection could have been worth something at one time. I had a number of older stamps that I found (age 10) amongst family papers and stuff. and my friend in high school gave me his collection, which he claimed contained some international rarities. last spring we investigated the possibility of selling this marvelous collection (realize that in my infinite 10 year old wisdom, I might have a time or 2, used Scotch Tape to affix my stamps in my album, but still), only to be told that there was ZERO market for stamps outside of a precious few. we pulled back a number of items, a table that belonged to Beth's father, a chair of my father. I had a book, that was in my parents' collection, that was about the hurricane of 1938 in the northeast. this was a devastating storm that arrived without warning. a car pulled up and an elderly man got out with difficulty from the passenger side. the driver jolted me by superficially resembling my oldest brother. I will only allude to familial rupture here, tho perhaps that is a reference. the guy was taking his father out for a run at some yard sales and what not. let us just say that the aforementioned rupture had some little to do with sons and fathers, and expect no foot notes. this elderly man picked up the hurricane book. I knew it would be of interest. I said, I am sure you remember that hurricane. I did not say it loud enough, even tho my father was deaf, but the son said, oh yes, he remembers. I mentioned that my father drove home from work in that storm, drove a co-worker home. he remembered driving along Storrow Drive in Cambridge, alongside the Charles River, and seeing trees being flattened in the wind. the man asked for the price and I took his dollar. Beth did not realize that this book was in our collection, and wanted the book, but saw the value it held for the old man. a pleasant chatty woman poked thru the goods and conversed with us. the mailman had just delivered the mail, in which was a letter from Christian Children's Fund (we sponsor a child). Beth mentioned that the US now has THREE CCF offices, the only 1st world country that partakes of CCF (which is shameful, is it not?). Beth explained that she was not christian, but appreciated the work CCF does. the woman said, I'm not Christian either, I am a Catholic. which effectively shows how a fundamentalist concept of Christianity has absconded with the norm. a woman and young daughter looked at a bed that we had. I slept in it as a child and it was not new to me. Erin also slept in it, when he was still of plausible size to fit it. it was the sort of thing we wanted rid of, it just takes space, and which did not seem likely to move. but the woman was excited to find it, what with the economy, etc. she wanted to come back with her husband, which happily happened. he wanted to put it together to make sure the pieces all worked. situation proved green. they packed the springs on the roof of their car, yikes, tied it with electrical cord, and presumably got it home. earlier a car arrived with a couple and a young woman with, perhaps, Downs syndrome. she was very direct, and entertained by everything. she wore a highly decorated bicycle helmet. at the same time an older man arrived on his bicycle. he too looked thru things while wearing his helmet. Beth asked, are you here for the bookcase? the young woman's father was pleased to find a book on mechanical drawing, and handed me a dollar. the young woman said to me loudly, he's a real wise guy, and laughed. the man gave me a quick look to see how I took her behavivour. so that is how the front part of the day went. and yes, we recouped the price of the ad. the sale precluded our going to Lowell, where there was a gathering of poets and presses. I hope to hear a report.
Friday, October 10, 2008
I noticed that Hulu has Slacker on its menu. Hulu could become an internet force, free movies/tv shows (NBC, etc) with minimal commercial interference. I have seen Slacker bunches of time, and it has never worn thin. there is absolutely zero star power amongst its performers, and in that sense seems like reality tv, albeit of a trompe d'oeil sort. the director, Richard Linklater leads off in the concatenated vignettes. he riffs philosophically to a disinterested cab driver, and sets the picture's tone. not that 1st time viewers have a read on the tone, or anything, yet. Linklater's character moves out of the scene and the camera picks up another person and story line, and this occurs thru out the film, a la Mrs Dalloway. it is a compelling device, as the narrative is handed from one character to the next. the vignettes are steeped in ordinariness and recognition, but an underlying anarchy bubbles up frequently. the characters in their commonness are immensely involving. the movie should be dated, it is so 90s, but that is not how I have ever felt it. in a low key way, this is a movie homage to Woolf and Joyce, without being artsy at all. I have seen dazed and Confused and that one with Ethan Hawke and Julia Delpy moping improvisationally (the 1st not the 2nd movie), and both had their moments but neither were a patch on Slacker. the movie ends like a student film, really just letting the camera run until the audience understands that the movie is over. things have been so rich prior to that that I forgive the lameness.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
the Issue 1 controversy has gone further than I expected. aren't people used to such exercises yet, they pop up often enough? at least Jack Kimball went to the trouble of googling the perps, which added dimension to the project. you know, to find out about it. why take offense? really, what is the argument? studying one's points of resistance is ALWAYS useful. reveling in them is just small. I mean, to take this project strictly as an affront lacks scope. to lob such a wad into the affray is at least interesting, if only in the sense of seeing if anyone salutes, and to act all plaintiffy is to reveal a terse Republican heart. I imagine that everyone listed in Issue 1 has embarrassed themselves online to a greater degree than any possible wound from this public spectacle. I know I have. to view the internet as a place of sanctified boundaries is really to misread the document entirely. yo, 1997 went thataway, so come up for air. how off has Ron Silliman or anyone else been ripped with this? to me, complaining about the appropriation is more like poopypants talking. I DIDN'T WRITE THIS GARBAGE I WROTE MY OWN GARBAGE, etc, till the puddle is no more.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Demolicious Valedictory: we went to the last Demolicious reading. John Mercuri Dooley and Andrew Richardson are shuttering the series after 4 years. the annals will show that the 1st reading that we made was Rob Fitterman's. we went to many, as best as we could. this was the 1st time that we attended an event at the new home, the Pierre Menard Gallery, much closer to Harvard Sq and Yard. a tonier place, and more comfortable as a reading venue. this was not strictly a reading but a multi-media event. 1st up was Jean-Claude Charles, and when I say Jean-Claude, I am afraid I might mean Jean-Paul. I did not take notes and there are no readily available info sources (more on that later). Jean Dash is a musician and sound artist, a doctoral candidate at Harvard. he is from France. he came equipped with a bass clarinet and a laptop. I guess I have never met a bass clarinet in person. Charles 1st played a solo excerpted from a larger piece. he said what the other instrumentation was but I forget. he made simply extraordinary sounds with the clarinet, overblowing and trilling and such. it had the sort of unclenched fascination as electronic music can have. he followed that with more of a demonstration. using an audio program, which he explained, he coupled his live playing with hacked sounds of his output. the program would select audio ranges and whatnot. it was really wonderful and vitally strange. I would love to hear more. following him was a film maker, tho I guess there's a more accurate term since film is not in the equation. his name escapes me as well. he showed 2 pieces. the 1st was called My Hustler Boyfriend. this held an immediate inside joke since the boyfriend in question was portrayed by stalwart Demolicious attendee Cedric. it consisted mostly of stills with a voiceover. it was an arch paean to the boyfriend and their hustler lifestyle. the 2nd piece was also rather arch, a satiric look at America. it was pleasantly heavy handed. the name of the 3rd performer is, consistently, not readily available in my brain pan. I trusted the Demolicious web site to have such like available (more on that later). (this just in: Vanessa place is the poet's name, and the musician is Jean-FRANCOIS Charles. thanks to Boston Poetry Collective for the info). she read from a lengthy novel. she asked for two numbers to be called out. those were the pages she would read, plus what she chose to read. she began by reading the copyright page, every bit of it. then page 17 was read by John, then she read a page or more. this page consisted largely of synonyms for female genitalia. she had quim, I believe, which I first read in Auden's commonplace book, but not pen wiper, which likewise I learned from the honourable WHA. she read this part vigourously, like Beat poetry. Joel Sloman read a page, then she read the last page backwards then forwards. the two pages were torn from a copy of the book, not the one she read from. they would not, as she said, ever be rad again. well,I do not know if she took the pages back, to ensure that they would remain unread. I liked her presentation but did not absorb much of the text. I am keenly interested in novels that bump against the boundaries but I would have to read her work to get a fair idea. the final piece was an excerpt from a film by Jonas Mekas. it was a piece about Utopia. it consisted by Mekas talking to the camera. he sat at a table and rattled on philosophically. his ramble was loosely bound, so I had trouble staying with him. beyond that... he wore a brimmed hat and resembled, at least in my mind, Studs Terkel, but with a Lithuanian accent rather than Chicagoan, or whatever it is Studs speaks. as Mekas spoke he began gesturing with his right hand. due to camera placement, the hand seemed overly large. and because the elbow was out of frame, the arm did not seem attached to Mekas. additionally, light glaring on his hand produced a plastic effect. the result was that it looked like this intruding fake hand was entering the picture. the sight of this completely fried me, I was in tears laughing. Beth and I sat with Jack Kimball at the back of the room, and I think we were the only ones to laugh, at least at 1st. I did not make clear that he sat low at the table. at one point he lowered his head, so that his hat completely obscured his face. I did not want to be snide but the absurdity of these bits was overwhelming. and so ended Demolicious' run, and the environs of Boston are the poorer for it. John Mulrooney, who seemingly has attended every reading that I have been to, and clearly more besides, still runs a poetry reading series. William Corbett has a series too, I believe, but I am thinking that he's stones in the passway for this poetry scene. so we gots ourselves something close to a wasteland now. both Armantrout and Ashbery read this tuesday, tho different venues and essentially competing, so Boston CAN get readings together. but it is a yank that one must choose between these two poets (which I shan't alas attend, it's a school night). what would kick out the jams here? Demolicious certainly was a noble effort. but really, the Demolicious web site is not updated often enough, nor is it content rich enough to keep you hooked. John espoused disappointment at the meager turn outs for Demolicious. this aint the 50s, when readings were like rock concerts. people who came to Demolicious were serious, tho, weren't just there for photo op. after-reading gatherings were vital connections that I appreciated. it is too bad that Demolicious could not keep going. it is not like NYC isn't balkanized, from what I hear, and other scenes probably have their hobble. Boston lacks a central force (it aint Corbett, I know), and those barriers called universities rarely supply anything close to generous gumption. the result is a spacious landscape of not much. Jack Kimball, Beth and I performed post mortems at a nearby Cambridge restaurant. then home to this report.