Saturday, November 01, 2008

Erin decided that we needed, our triumvirate, to do something for Halloween. he carved a pumpkin, and, dare I say, his finger (which I frequently did when I used to carve wood). Beth got some brie to bake, and also, scandalously, a morceau of some honest to god truffle infused cheese, tres cher mais delicieux. truffles are amazing, period. Beth and I had a bottle of Guigal Cotes du Rhone BLANC at the ready. thought to read something appropriate to the night but there's nothing on the shelf currently of that ilk or flav. so I offered to go to the library, looking for one of Edward Rowe Snow's books. okay, you don't know who he is. he wrote 100 or more books about New England legends and history, ghosts, pirates, and such like. he'd appear periodically on local tv, and I recall seeing one of his presentations, perhaps with the Cub Scouts, which included at least a couple of scared the bejesus "true" ghost stories. so that was my quest. I biked up to the library. the town centre was unusually clogged with traffic, and of course troops of costumed children with their parental units were all about. sirens were sounding, and when I reached the library, I saw smoke. a block from the library, a former school, now a collection of condominiums, was burning. the smoke was thick enough to irritate the eye. I went to the library entrance, only to discover a sign saying CLOSED DUE TO AIR QUALITY. as I was heading back home, sigh, 2 groups of teens convened. one fellow, coming from the fire, said, I'm going to be on television, yo. that yo demanded irony, but I am afraid the speaker thereof did not get the memo. the gist of that was the local newscast on which the kid believed he would appear. it really was a substantial fire, tho I did not attempt to get closer. tv news copters, I like to call them choppers, flew overhead. with smoke thick in the air, and throngs of excited children in costumes roaming all over (I think there might have been a gathering at the library), it was a pretty surreal scene. a beautiful fading autumn day, cloudless and still bright. I cycled home and bethought me plan B. I ended up reading an account on a sea serpent sighting in Provincetown (at the end of Cape Cod), from a 19th century book on the town. the witness, one George Washington Ready, somehow has a Professor attached to his name. I got the impression that he was more like the town rummy. there's a full front drawing of Professor Ready, aghast. one must presume from the pov that the sea serpent drew the picture. no, there is no picture of the serpent, just stunned Professor R. by his account, this creature was seen offshore, it made its way ashore, crawled to a pond and disappeared into it. in its progress it scorched the ground and sliced trees through. as it sunk into the pond the water receded. it left a 20' wide hole that was later plumbed to 250 fathoms without striking bottom. confirming what I believed, a fathom is 6'. do the arithmetic: sounds like Lovecraft material. another glance at the picture of the professor and you will realize that he had good reason for the look of disquiet on his face. a note at the end indicates that Mr. Ready resides at the head of Pearl Street, where he is willing to discuss the sighting further. perhaps a drop of the pure would make the telling go even better. we cycled to the fire saturday afternoon. it is this castle-like brick edifice, 4 stories high and more than a century old. the roof was burned thru. the place was cordoned off. workers and police were about, as well as the curious. Beth remarked how sad to a passerby, an older woman. this woman lived in a condo there. she said a worker soldering a copper gutter saw a spark get away. tho he responded quickly the fire was quicker. it was a breezy day. she seemed calm but she had yet to see the damage. she said she and her husband had given their place in town to their son, and could stay there. there's a sign near the building, with an old picture of it, to indicate the town;s history. someone, probably before the fire, had painted an X over it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I just wanted to make notice of these publications by Lanny (with whom I have no) Quarles. he, like Alan Sondheim, among others, seem to be online constantly, producing and posting an enormous and varied amount of work. Lanny writes dense thickets of words, philosophical, grotesque, and weirdly musical. in addition he produces visual and sound works. I have seen much of this work, as it has flown by on the Wryting-l list, and on his blog (the address of which I have incorrectly to the right: I shall rectify this). oh, and also in the occasional comment box. I commend this work to the curious, if any such exist.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I just read all the John Ashbery links that Ron Silliman recently collected. it has been several years since I last read much Ashbery. we'd gone down to visit Beth's aunt and mother on the Jersey shore. I brought Flow Chart with me. that, some writings by Lenin, and sitting thru the better portion of a James Bond movie marathon resulted in a series of poems, to wit: The Lenin Poems. which has little to do with my initial instigation here, thoughts on Ashbery. I think it might be said that Robert Grenier championed Ashbery in class. we wrassled with the texts something fierce. the main book that we read was Tennis Court Oath, a monumental book, tho at the time the disjunction and the coolness of the author voice really distressed me. Three Poems had just come out. I responded to that better, because it turns out that I always liked the possibility of prose tho I did not realize it then (a Richard Grossinger reading broke the realization home). Grenier invited several of us Franconian poet types to dinner with Ashbery when JA came to read. Ashbery arrived from NYC by bus. Franconia was definitely The Sticks. I wonder what he was paid. Franconia had a modest event when I was there, the headliners of which were David Bromberg and the Holy Modal Rounders. Bromberg, whose claim to fame was session work with Dylan, got $750 plus room and board. the very awesome Holy Modal Rounders, a 6 piece electric band at the time (they began as an acoustic duo), got $150. Grenier was active in getting poets to the distant realm of New Hampshire. Ashbery is probably shy but he was warm enough socially. I remember we went on a road trip looking for an antique store where years ago Ashbery had seen some interesting piece that he hoped to find again. now that seemed weird. I believe we located the store but the piece was no longer available. during dinner Ashbery asked if there were any poems we would like him to read. I said "Le Livre est Sur la Table", I hope that's the title, from Some Trees. he dismissed that poem as inconsequential, and did not later read it. I liked it for being jokey, or at least what I perceived as so. astrological talk arose and JA and I connected for both being Leos, as likewise Grenier. JA noted that Leos and Cancers get along, and that O'Hara was a Cancer. of course now we know that O'Hara was born 3 months prior to the June 26 birth date he has been assigned. anyhoo, I was honoured to be included in this select group. the reading itself was a let down. it was a large room, or small auditorium. the audience was sparse, and spread thru out the room. so it was a terrible venue for Ashbery. and he read without much inflection, as I recall. I know that he read "The Skaters" and a portion of A Nest of Ninnies, which I have to admit has influenced my writing enormously. I felt sorry for him, stuck with such a weak crowd. his poetry has a blur to it, like the stuff that shows up as New Yorker column filler. there are so many of these pieces that fear, it seems, declamation. picaresque moods and moments. I am amazed at his popularity, his work does not seem user friendly but I guess they give satisfying pictures without that dowdy weight of the poet's impinging biography.