Saturday, September 25, 2004



Hugh is leaving us.

On the Departure of a Vulcanologist who Played a Little Cello on the Side


On the Departure of a Cellist who Did a Little Vulcanology on the Side

Occasional poetry must often content itself with occasional praise

Samuel Johnson

A man who plays the cello should know,
I say
a man who plays the cello ought to know
that the cello can with consummate ease
function equally well as an upright bass
and a man who plays the upright bass
ought to familiarize himself with the bow, you know?

Squeeze noise
out of all possible approaches,
arrange noise
artfully, listen to your ear,
spoon to thigh or mouth harp, shebabit asab's
reedy timbres perfectly evoking the desert sands
of the highlands, passed generation to generation,
as a grain of sand
rolls over the endless dunes I say
a man who clenches centuries of memory
framed in wood and catgut between legs must know
the blues, and a man
who would subject the ears of his friends
to unanswered word-chains
had god-damned better
have something good to say.

We frame, moving across borders, duty-bound,
those we meet in unspoken conceit:
cite nationality or favorite philosophers
as grounds for judgment, marks of self,
the true whole from our point of view
necessarily framed in terms of what is external
as we, framing, are external.

There are, in the average life,
one or two exceptions to this rule.
Or, not exceptions, exactly,
more, bendings, or
not bendings, exactly,
but tweakings,
like the cheek of a Brit schoolboy
in schoolboy trousers
by rough relatives,
maybe more like an ear twisted
by the headmaster, not tweaking,
more warping,
like a cello left out in the rain,
then played, or maybe not warping,
more mutation,
in DNA blind groping through environment
intent on nothing but survival,
but the DNA of idea's evolution which is
not progress,
but mutation adaptation to the prevailing conditions
with the eye of idea toward
surviving the fucking wreck--

all of which brings us back to frames.
That is, you had a life before all this,
before my wife spent a whole party calling you "pom,"
and there's a life after this,
and we who made artful noise with you
between before and after
imagine, the frames of this time
brackets of imagined time
unique to each friend's head.

Me, I mostly see 16-yr. old you laboring w/ face be-zitted & tongue clenched between trembling teeth in concentration as you reached for initial greatness in Dvorak,
or perhaps only greatness in the form of some voluptuous aunt you imagined in the position your then-cello occupied.

I will confess,
I might be off on one or two details.

As for after, I don't know yet
more than just
there will be an after, punctuated,
with a little fortune on both our parts,
by your presence there within that after,
confirming my own illusion or shattering it,
as you will.

For now we have now, what is framed by imagination
feeding that imagination, for now
we have now shining
where you play frisbee with hobbled ankle
trying to catch the disk with a stick,

beer-fueled night conversation on romance and desire understanding
a suitor rejected is still a suitor and shines
like a suitor in anyone's before,
shines like a lover as surely as a lover shines,

and again on streets young girls we pretend not to look at,
then that quiet moment of honesty acknowledging
stunned desire reined in saying, "It's not love,
it's a biochemical reaction to a full set of eggs."

These moments, soon to take on the pale shine of our framed befores,
1000 Euro loans to fund trans-national trip only at the end of which I realized I'd crossed and re-crossed Germany in a 24-hour period,
or later over Guinness minds on money again only this time thinking of KLF and a million pounds up in flame,
the Amnesty International office where we prodded the fax machine to no good end, and read,
or nasty boy Playmobile man, fucking up the girls' plans to the horrified delight of my 7-year-old daughter
who watched Ronia and saw in the rumbling songs of Ronia's father's band of thieves you, rumbling your own unself-conscious song in jerky-limbed dance,
Pop Chomsky, Real Chomsky, Alan Jones and Michael Moore and deep worries and sense of powerlessness in the face of this age's machines,
spooky cello sounds to Laurie Anderson and Leonard Cohen and my own words and "I don't wanna kill my China pig,"
or hovering over images poking not-so-gentle fun
at the naivete
behind some people's proclivities
rhyming "me" and "shun" to the hundred rhymes
presenting themselves in time
lyric misdemeanors or high crimes
don't worry, just let your light shine
and everything will be just fine

And your own deep eye seeing seeking beauty in lichen on rock,
moth on tundra, frozen bubble, knotted tree,
stark opposition of color in nature's smallest detail
and the lines and light of our world
enhanced and brought to our startled attention
by your framing eye...

you know, or you should know,
though it never hurts to be told so,
that though it is never right to speak of loss at time of departure,
when uncertainty makes gain at least as likely,
that in your absence, we lose a little of that sight.

These are my frames:
on one border, that rushed day you spent frantic searching
for an affordable flight to a conference you had to attend
after having missed the bus that morning,
only to arrive at your destination to learn
that your bus was leaving a full day later than you'd thought--
the consternation that caused in you,
and the perfection it signalled in all around you--

on the other, that vision of before
you gave me on one of many late nights,
yourself on a cliff, surrounded by thick fog,
alone and afloat and still perfectly surrounded by this world,
like a seed,
blind dancing on the edge of potential,

and somewhere in between
late hurried walks with rented equipment,
microphone stands perched on shoulders and amplifiers
bungeed to the back of bikes,
ragged guerillas (or maybe just gentle creators)
with joy as their only weapon.

Cello man, I marvel at your movement
as you toss bow aside, pluck the string with a callused finger,
Bach to BTO and back in easy uneasiness,
sure trembling at the edge of the frame,
and traversing this frame,
place my own faith in what you've already shown me,
time and again, in that music--

that moving from one frame
to another
and back
is as simple as willing the matter done,
is done naturally,
and with startling regularity.



Below is a piece of editing work that I rather enjoyed writing...some of you will be familiar with the story behind this.

The names have been removed to protect the innocent, coddle the guilty, and shield innocent by-standers from unwanted intrusions of reality into their sacred golden bubble.

BTW, it worked.

Dear _____,

Gene here, hoping you have two ticks to field a longer e-mail from me, because I wanted to touch base with you on a number of developments. I'm pretty happy with the way this next issue is shaping up, and I've managed to get a couple of nibbles on my own work as well recently, which is kind of exciting. Thing is, I am going to have to find some time in the near future to actually write some creative stuff, because although this last year has been very good on that front, I haven't done nearly as much as I'd like. Still, the Trip does leave me with a pleasant glow once a quarter, so I'm good.

I'm not sure if I told you, but our Spotlight this next issue is __________--I was put in touch with him by a previous spotlight, and though I am more familiar with his reputation as a showman than as a poet, his work in putting venues for poetry together is something I've been following since he was part of the __________, way the hell back when--how many worlds between me now and me then? I was an Okie kid reading Kerouac and Spin magazine during lunch breaks at my factory job at the time, dreaming of far off cities, so there's a part of me that's agog that I've even managed to talk to him to the depth that I have. Much as with the interview with you, which was by far the highest-profile interview I'd ever conducted 'til that date. I suspect no matter how much I manage to move forward into the world of poetry and writing, there will always be that part of me that's still that awe-struck Okie boy, amazed at the power of language in some people's mouths. In any case, conducting the interview with ________ was a blast, and putting links to the many names he sent my direction was an education in itself. It is, truth be told, the reason these interviews appeal to me--I learn more than any of those reading the thing could possibly learn. The whole thing was made even jucier (for me, at least) for the fact that he's based in New York, and our conversations provided the bread to a sandwich that included his own efforts during the recent protests there surrounding the RNC (thus providing me, with, among other things, the opportunity to link to such high-profile protest groups as Billionaires for Bush and the Missile Dick Chicks).

Between that and public congratulations for your prize, I suspect we'll get one or two more readers--and hopefully a few contributors among them.

I did, of course, have something in mind besides a rather meandering reflection on the state of the poet, but I have to be honest, I'm not sure how best to approach the subject. To keep it short, and please hear me out, the biography you submitted is a bit provocative. I suspect you knew this, and I want to say, before I go any further, that I fully sympathize with what it's saying, and I respect, and will honor, your right to say whatever you want to in that context. Before committing this bio to the formatting process, though, I wanted to ask you, in all honesty, if you think this is the most effective way to get your word out. See, I'm a decided voter, and I've decided, much as I have always been forced to, for the lesser of what I perceive as two evils. And while con-baiting does provide me with a certain visceral pleasure, I have to say, at this point in the whole process, I'm so sick to the eyeballs with both sides of the argument that I find myself too often looking toward the stars, placing the whole thing in that context (which makes it seem so, so tiny), and hoping against hope that there is intelligent life out there somewhere, and that it will deem it worthwhile to come down here and save us from ourselves. I know the issues--I know how deeply they run, and like many, I've reached a level of frustration that defies my ability to shape it in words. So it takes the form of hope, and a pinched nose at the polls. As hard as it is to believe, though, I know there are others out there who still do need to be reached, who still do need to be persuaded to pick the less evil, and I'd like to do my small part to help that happen.

So. Here's what I'm thinking, and I want to run it by you to see how far off base I am. I don't expect many turn to Triplopia for political information, nor would I expect them to--it is, first and foremost, a poetry magazine. I'd take John Ashcroft's poems if he wrote something compelling, and I'd take the bio along with them. I value the freedom of expression that much (and that really is saying something...because I really, really dislike John Ashcroft). I don't see my personal political agenda as being at all to the point, so if you feel you need the bio to take this shape, it will. I think, however, that the cause behind the third and fourth sentences of the bio, as it stands, may be better served if we are able to present the reader with cogent, easily accessed evidence of your own action on these fronts. As you know, from past work with you, we try to make all possible use of the hyperlink, and we would do so with any groups with which you are currently involved, and for which you might provide us with information. In addition, we would be more than ready to provide the reader with any information regarding recent work, either freely available or for purchase. To that end, I've already swung by the ______ website, and although the article is not at present available there, information regarding the purchase of that article is, and I am already planning on a link to that site. Incidentally, the _______ article is, I think, a most effective means of informing people of the real issues, which, as your area of study in that article implies, is global in nature, and reaches further back in history than last month--or even last decade. I admire anyone who is committed to getting word out on the very real, widespread abuses by the current global powers in Less Developed Nations, a historical trend that does much to validate the assertions contained in the fourth sentence of your current bio.

I am with you in spirit on this one--Monsanto is a curse word in my household--so I do want to see what you have to say succeed with people who otherwise might not know. What I am suggesting is simply a subtler, but potentially much more effective means of achieving the same goal. I am not certain of precisely what areas of activism you are currently engaging--I know you are an animal rights activist, and a peace activist, but I don't, at present, know what means you employ to put that activism into action. For me, this is a bit like poetry itself, which, for this reader, at least, is much more effective when the concepts are firmly coiled inside immediate, tactile, and accessible physical realities, ones that I can reproduce in my own experience, and with my own senses. Similarly, in activism, if I have a sense of where I could go to translate into action my own deeply felt frustrations at the current state of humanity, the lesson, at least potentially, burrows much more deeply into my being, and creates an individual whose commitment is much stronger, and much more effective, than would a strongly worded statement of opinion by any one person, no matter how high a level of esteem I might bestow upon that individual.

Anyway, this is long, and I hope that it results in a constructive exchange of ideas, rather than becoming victim to the same quite justifiable level of frustration that those who think like you and I feel toward the prospect of another 4 years of the United States under the Bush regime. It is, of course, my sincere hope that you take these suggestions in the spirit they are offered, and that I might hear back from you in the very near future.

_______, I need to attend to a couple other correspondences before this morning is out, so I'm going to leave it there. I send you all hopes for peace, for justice, and for the realization of a world that better understands the fundamental value of life than the one we currently inhabit. Let's work together to nudge this old world in that direction, so that there'll be one less befuddled poet whose only source of hope entails looking to the stars, and understanding the heavy odds we face as a species. Whaddya say?

Peace to you,


Wednesday, September 15, 2004


I must like pain...


But this is actually one of the more intelligently done op-ed pieces I've seen in a while.

Among other quotes (I know at least one of the members of the 'friends' list is a fan from way back, having harangued him from the left often enough during High School...) is the one by William Buckley: "With the benefit of minute hindsight, Saddam Hussein wasn't the kind of extra-territorial menace that was assumed by the administration one year ago. If I knew then what I know now about what kind of situation we would be in, I would have opposed the war."

And yes, I know, once again, there are those that will maintain that Salon is but yet another anarchist rag--but this one puts the case quite cogently. I'm certainly not the one most likely to get up and defend Reagan's fiscal policies, but, if a conservative is measured by that yardstick, Bush is not a conservative.

At least not fiscally.

Socially conservative, fiscally profligate: this does not strike me, and never has, erm, stricken me, as a workable solution--but especially not in light of the issues we really MUST address. Either that, or do ourselves in earlier than we really needed to. Running the high risk of being labeled a left-wing doom-and-gloomer, the risk of the latter is actually much, much higher than most people are willing to acknowledge.



This is the real issue, damn it

I feel I can no longer rationally comment on current events, so I have turned to poetry, where I have more freedom to irrationally comment on current events.

Plunged into a mad hopelessness, really, in which Bush is very likely to be elected (shakes his liberal kook head again at the thought that Clinton was impeached over a blow job but the stuff going on right now merits re-election), but, much more to the point, that Kerry is unlikely to make any real difference to the real and global problems that persist out there. This hopelessness strikes very deep with me--I discuss, on a very regular basis, the likelihood of whole species surviving after a certain point in their evolution with Doctorate level scientists--they remind me that the Earth is moving under my feet (Earth tides--that's a trippy thought), and that anti-matter has been captured--albeit very briefly--and not even those in a position to know actually know what happens when it is used in certain ways.

Nietzsche's hope, man. When you go to bed and sustain yourself until the following morning by reminding yourself that you actually do have the ability to opt not to live through the night.

BUT...assuming that there is a way forward at all, and that democracy (whatever that is) is actually part of that way forward, or perhaps it's something far less noble, like boredom or morbid curiosity, keeps me on the lookout for stories like this one.

The real issue.

That what we are fighting against has yet to be properly defined.

Nietzsche again: 'Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.' (Okay, so that was a gimme from a long time ago in this process)

It's not apathy. It is a genuine shrug in the face of the machine bearing down upon me...the awareness that the most honed of my gifts are words...and the further awareness of the ineffectualness of those words in the long run.

Monday, September 13, 2004


On Why I Stopped My Poems Explaining

The prophet, known by many names
(though none of them is fitting),
sought out in youth that which he found
in age by merely sitting
(a career move referred to
by less thoughtful folks as “quitting”).

In ancient Greece were two great minds
by the teeming masses sought;
though neither felt compelled to meet,
one of the other taught,
to which the one taught of replied,
“I know that I know not.”

And Christ, whose entire life was spent
with priests and emperors vying,
found he could not the din surmount
(‘twas not for lack of trying),
achieved his most complete success
through the expedient of dying.

Mohammed, in impetuous youth
by hiking kept quite trim,
trekking forth to far-off ranges
to keep his figure slim,
but growing sage in his old age
summoned the mount to him.

Buddha, shielded from the pain
in which our world is bound,
left his comfort to seek light
in the fury and the sound,
but later learned this light to be
interiorly found.

So, if you fault my lassitude,
regarding me quite lazy,
I’ll listen, though those faults you name
are unlikely to faze me,
as those great minds in which I find
myself in pleasant company,
do steel my will to sit quite still
as the world approaches me.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004


The Love Doctor

I love language. I really do. I have a special love for English, just because that's the one I learned first (some'd argue that in spite of efforts in three others, it's the ONLY one I've learned).

I dunno. Maybe that's why I have the politics I do.

But this one?

There are some depths that I truly cannot plumb...and some sentences that I do not have the ability to make sense of.

You know, without the arsenal, I'm all for putting the fools in charge...

Sunday, September 05, 2004


Party animals

Friend Tania sent me this article, thought I'd share.

Think I'm gonna get seriously into writing, now. I've seen and heard enough about the subject.

Saturday, September 04, 2004


Up for Debate

"It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech."

Zell Miller, Georgia's "Democratic" Senator

Defend or refute.

Update: though clearly an editorial piece, there's a great opening paragraph, from a strictly writerly point of view, in this article...

' was a surprise this week when the Republicans revealed the real message of their 2004 convention: We need President Bush to protect us from Zell Miller. The Democratic senator-turned-Democratic scourge laid into John Kerry Wednesday night with an Old Testament rage that crescendoed when he looked into the camera, quivering, and promised Americans that if they voted for the Democrat from Massachusetts, he would personally come to our houses and "whup your traitorous, Osama-loving asses with a hickory switch."'



...for the place Whitman references in this piece:

When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.

I'm feeling destroyed by this week's news, really and truly scooped out. Went to bed last night with only Nietzsche's hope to get me through til morning, wondering how I make this world seem liveable to the gorgeous creature I'm raising, wondering how I will ever be able to explain the hell I feel when I watch large numbers of humans engaged in collective action, talking steep nausea here. Talking about how one justifies the continued hell of other humans to a 7 year old who is filled with wonder and still convinced of the essential goodness of others.

It swings like this. Days when the miracle of awareness is enough, and asking for anything more seems nothing short of greedy--then days when the woeful gap between what we are capable of and what we accomplish seems so great and so reprehensible that simply surviving from one day to the next seems supreme virtue.

You know, as an undergraduate, I read Cardinal Newman's The Idea of a University, in particular a passage in the section titled Knowledge Viewed in Relation to Professional Skill, in which he discusses the relative merits of breadth and depth based approaches to education. He does defend breadth, to an extent, couching the discussion in these terms:

"In saying that Law or Medicine is not the end of a University course, I do not mean to imply that the University does not teach Law or Medicine. What indeed can it teach at all, if it does not teach something particular? It teaches all knowledge by teaching all branches of knowledge, and in no other way. I do but say that there will be this distinction as regards a Professor of Law, or of Medicine, or of Geology, or of Political Economy, in a University and out of it, that out of a University he is in danger of being absorbed and narrowed by his pursuit, and of giving Lectures which are the Lectures of nothing more than a lawyer, physician, geologist, or political economist; whereas in a University he will just know where he and his science stand, he has come to it, as it were, from a height, he has taken a survey of all knowledge, he is kept from extravagance by the very rivalry of other studies, he has gained from them a special illumination and largeness of mind and freedom and self-possession, and he treats his own in consequence with a philosophy and a resource, which belongs not to the study itself, but to his liberal education."

--specifically, 'he is kept from extravagance by the very rivalry of other studies'. This is my education, I think, in a being that period of my life when I was moved from a stubborn insistence on certain 'truths' to a belief in--I might even say an understanding of, but even that would presume too much--the essentially transient nature of all human endeavor. Not least my little venture into poetics...indeed all human culture and knowledge rendered so much noise in the vastness of the universe's sense of time. The odd thing is that this understanding does not lead to despair, but offers an odd sort of hope, knowing that all cruelty will be crushed in that vastness as surely as is all beauty.

Ach. I feel hopeless in the face of this. What can I say?

People, no matter where you come from in politics, please, swing any developing story by Fact Check. On a universal scale, the bullshit going on at present means nothing. On a human scale--from where we stand--it is an incredibly defining moment.



Okay, I am seriously thinking I should scoot over to blogspot soon and set up something a bit more comment friendly, cuz I have been getting some response via e-mail to these. Don't get me wrong, I can see the potential of DA, just thinking maybe a different format, in which one does not have to become a member to comment on journal entries, might be better for what I'm doing. That said, at least this format has me thinking along these lines.

Gotta whole lotta work on slate, so this is short. So far, most of the comments I've heard on the Salemi article are pretty much along the lines of my own--that is, there are valid points tucked away in there, but the guy is a bit stiff, and everyone's having a bit of a difficult time understanding what the crisis is. Fave quote I've read so far comes from a poet named Tracy (from a different forum) who cites her 'young, hip friend' who generally responds to alarmist rhetoric with 'What's the damage, dude?' More elegant than my rant, in any case.

There's also Randall, who e-mailed me with the following comments, here replicated in their entirety, cuz they pretty much state the case as it is:

'I find it more than a bit ironic that someone bemoaning the “almost totally ahistorical mindset of young people” should fail to recognize that, historically speaking, nearly every critic who has ever pronounced the “death” of a given art form eventually ends up the subject of profound mockery when their “death throes” turn out to be, in hindsight, the birth pangs of renaissance.

Which is not to say that Salemi is entirely wrong in his criticisms of the state of the art – I agree with many of his complaints.

What I don’t find, however – and again, this speaks to Salemi’s own ahistorical perspective – is that our times are particularly unique in this regard. His arguments, in fact, are actually pretty clichéd, and can be found echoed in the critical writings of many others throughout the ages. And yet the arts somehow stumble along.

And while a plethora of bad and mediocre poetry is certainly a burden for
editors and publishers, I think Salemi’s two complaints may contradict each
other. To wit: he chides “the increasing inarticulateness of the general
population,” “the continuing debasement of our language,” and “above
all the vulgar commercialism and materialism of our culture, now so utterly
pervasive that they define modern life.” Then he complains about the glut of wannabe poets.

I should think that a serious interest in the art of communication would
actually be the preferred antidote to “the increasing inarticulateness of
the general population,” “the continuing debasement of our language,”
and “above all the vulgar commercialism and materialism of our culture, now
so utterly pervasive that they define modern life.”

As for the pervasiveness of the “confessional lyric” and “Portentous Hush”
in modern poetry, I would agree that they are both egregious in the extreme,
but I can’t say that I see in either a recipe for disaster. Instead, I find
merely the usual igneous transformations by which each generation eventually
becomes professional enough to trap their own genius under glass.

And then round about the time the inevitable self-important critic announces
that the oxygen has all but run out in the exhibit, along comes the next
generation to smash in all the cases and set our minds free, again – for a

--See why I'm thinking forum with easier commenting function?

Randall also brings up a crit of my crit (and I'll in turn crit his crit of my crit...this is the REAL problem with the humanities...but ne'mind), by asking the very relevant question: "Are riot grrls really suckers for Italian love songs?"

Umm...good point. I guess I was just trying to keep Salemi in character. I'm just having a hard time imagining him doing a Iggy Pop inspired rendition of 'China Girl.' (Perhaps Cake's 'Never There' might be even better...but I don't see him going for that, either.)

He's consistently a lurrrrvely poet, BTW.

Anyway, for all that, I should probably at some point post something re: a poetic 'movement' (doncha just love it) that I consider to be somewhat outdated and more than a little mistaken for much the same reason I'd call Salemi mistaken, a movement that goes under the title of The New Formalism. One seminal essay, dating back to 1991, is Dana Gioia's 'Can Poetry Matter,'--I could probably stand to hit this essay as well, but today don't have the time--suffice it to say, it'd be a taller order than Salemi's screed, tougher target all around, because it states the case with a bit more of both force and finesse. It is also a bit less clearly aligned with any particular political viewpoint--though Gioia and, in fact, the movement as a whole is, as a rule, associated with conservatism in the American sense of that word, Gioia is a bit more able to sway the more moderate among his readers.

Okay, so...heads up, not anytime real soon, but I am still considering that move to a blog site that is a bit more comment friendly, though I may wait a month or two because of personal busyness, and the fact that namaste was kind enough to pop for a 3 month subscription here...pity, really, that there isn't a feature on this site that would allow me to let anyone comment, and not just DA members. But...I suspect that's largely because the site is not particularly designed with a journal-only membership in mind.

Gonna go to work now. Viel spass until then--tchitch


Why Poetry is Dying

Double post, this, cuz I'm smack in the middle of editing, among other madnesses, and my co-editor is currently recovering from surgery--which hopefully explains my absence. There's hellalot to write about...including the tarot reading namaste gave me (hurry over there, I think the offer is still open), which I'd like to post with comments but haven't had time to do--and I'd like to talk about Bregovic's music cuz I got to see him live on Tuesday and it's among the best live music I've ever seen...not that I've been to just a whole lot of concerts, but it's good fun music...bit klezmer, but rowdy and good, lots of brass and an accordion, and 3 babushkas singing. Ex-cellent. And then there's the book...worth a read, but not uplifting. But good. Good enough I want to do a review on it.

The 'Disorganized Minds' piece went over well. I still need to work on delivery, cuz I didn't have it as well down as I would have liked, but it'll get there with a couple more goes, and a little more time to memorize.

But: time presses. Someone posted this at a poetry forum I frequent--if you're into the poetry thing, go have a read, and come back for the fisking.

Okay, my initial crit of this was based largely on the title, and the thrust of it can be encapsulated in one sentence: Anyone who tells you that poetry is dying is trying to sell you something. But then, exhausted from work on the next Trip interview, I thought I'd have some fun. That, and I wanted to make sure that I wasn't missing something by dismissing the man on the basis of his title alone. I wasn't, but I may track this fellow's online persona down for a more thorough critique in the future...second crit: a bit more detailed, and as follows:

(before I get to that...I welcome all input on this matter, whether it agrees with this guy or me or some other person we haven't imagined yet...this is a subject I enjoy discussing, and all views are heartily welcomed, all comments heartily encouraged.)

First, I think the overproduction thang is a bit overplayed...we're overproducing humans, poetry comes with them. What to do?

The solution to poetry's malaise is sex education and better birth control methods...

on a more serious note:

>>>>>>>>the almost totally ahistorical mindset of young people; the continuing debasement of our language; the ubiquity of audiovisual entertainment; the adulation of technological gadgetry; the increasing inarticulateness of the general population; the triumph of that stupid nerd-box, the computer; and above all the vulgar commercialism and materialism of our culture, now so utterly pervasive that they define modern life. All these developments have been poison to genuine poetry.

We've been through a lot of this, it's the same basic division you'll find between Pound's version of Modernism and Eliot's version of Modernism. One sees the 'fragmentation of central values' as being a death knell, the other sees it as an opportunity to explore new forms. So I can't really go with his 'insight' into the 'triumph of that stupid nerd-box.' We all probably knew that.

As for the 'debasement' of our language and the 'inarticulateness' of Joe/Jane public, besides striking me as elitist, it's just plain wrong. Language evolves. Sometimes people don't like the way it evolves. I hate the use of the word 'orientate' for 'orient,' but I've been lead to believe that this may have something to do with me being an American (standard use in the UK, apparently, involves the pet peeve cited above.) For a good, strong argument that will set any grammar maven on their (yes, I said 'their') heels, read 'The Language Instinct,' by Steven Pinker. He'd be one for setting this fellow right...and he's got better credentials than this guy has, as well.

>>>>>>>what we see around us is decay and deterioration masked by frenetic activity and useless overproduction.

There's an ideology at work here. The guy needs to do some sphincter stretching exercises, or something. You'd think there was something really alarming about a lot of people writing poetry. My guess is, in Shakespeare's day, there was a lot of poetry floating around as well...the cream rises to the top, always. We just can't see what it's likely to be from where we stand...which is, basically, in the milk before it's been squeezed from the udder. There are, I think we'd agree, more pressing problems that we face right now.

>>>>>>>>It isn't something spontaneous, and it most certainly isn't something natural.

I'd have a couple of quibbles with him, here. Let's skip them, though, and just note that mostly what he's doing is telling us what poetry isn't. And his definition of what it is?

>>>>>>>>>A poem is a fictive artifact created by someone who has the special skills required for the task.

Again, disregarding my disagreement with him on this point (most vehemently centered on the word 'artifact'), something tells me that he's applying for the job...that he's suggesting that he has these special skills...and that, of course, makes him part of the elite.

>>>>>>>>an unmanageable flood of poorly made poems.

'managing' poems? Clearly, I just don't speak the same language.

On the Gresham's law economic analogy, in which this appears:

>>>>>>>>Look at it from a reader's point of view: why subscribe to a poetry magazine if ninety-five percent of the material in it is mediocre and unmemorable? Is the five percent of creditable work really worth one's time and effort? Any editor will confirm that it is notoriously difficult to get subscribers to a poetry journal, except among those people whose own poetry is published in it. As a result many journals face the choice of going out of business, or serving as vanity presses for their regular contributors.

Like I said before, anyone who tells you poetry is dying is trying to sell you something.

>>>>>>>>But the lyric is only one out of many rhetorical modes that have been developed over the centuries, and it is by no means the most important or the most prestigious of them

While I'm not particularly keen to be a champion of the confessional poets (though I love Sexton), I would be very interested in seeing this man's heirarchy of rhetorical modes, sorted by rank in categories of importance and prestige.

>>>>>>>>>the sclerotic leftist magazine The Nation

verrrry nice, indeed.

>>>>>>>>this is more out of a fossilized committment to an art form as obsolescent as the magazine's politics.

Well, politics aside, if we read his words literally, he seems to be suggesting that the art form of poetry is obsolete. That's a pretty severe judgment call from someone whose ostensible purpose in writing this is to save poetry from an imminent demise. All I'm saying is, if I'm interested in reviving that near corpse, I'm not sure this is the doctor to whom I should go.

>>>>>>>Satire and epigrammatic verse go against the soft, sentimentalizing tendency of modern American thought,

Provincial. There is a world out here, you know. Now, if the speech were titled 'Why American Poetry is Dying,' I could excuse this, but it isn't.

>>>>>>>Right now the short story is a lifeless art form, having been worked to death in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. That is why short stories no longer appear anywhere except in tweedy little journals published by college English departments.

You know what this guy really needs? He needs a little riot grrl with a pierced tongue to capture his heart, eyeballs, and testicles, run him around a few times, make him slog through needle-strewn alleys risking muggings or worse to sing Italian love songs up at her skid-row fire-escape balcony, let him in and give him the ball of his life then rip off all of his money and leave him begging for her to do it all over again.

I can't go on like this. So let's just get to the meat:

>>>>>>>Avoid any declamatory, hieratic, or self-important tone that might infect your poem with Portentous Hush.

If this fellow had shown, at any point in this essay, even the slightest modicum of humor in his bearing, I just might buy this point--because a self-important tone is indeed one of those things that will make me put a poem down. It is, yes, probably the strongest point he makes. Unfortunately, that point ultimately proves damning to the essay, because a self-important tone is also something that is likely to make me walk out on a lecture...and this guy has it in spades. I'm not convinced by his alarmist argument--I'm not even convinced that he knows what poetry is.

One thing I'll maintain it isn't: it isn't dying.

Friday, September 03, 2004


For anyone who didn't catch it...

I must confess, I have not been a terribly keen observer of American media for a loooong while I know who Ted Koppel is, I have never seen, though have often heard the name of, Jon Stewart. If I stumbled off the plane tomorrow and tried to go out for a beer with my mates back home, I would probably be mired in pop culture references within the first five minutes. I haven't owned a television in over 9 years. The internet, and what I catch in passing, IS my media.

And yet, I have an extreme interest in media affairs.

Which is why I feel it necessary to offer you, anyone who is reading this, this exchange between Ted Koppel and Jon Stewart, which I think gets to the real heart of the matter, in the oddest way possible.

Thursday, September 02, 2004


In Praise of Disorganized Minds

(caveat: all the usual formatting problems, including loss of all italics and spacing (very cavalier use of the tab button in this one...) --but hopefully you get the drift. If you're in Munich on Thursday, come by and watch.)

(Dress: uptighty. Glasses are good, as is button-down, tucked-in shirt. Tie. Poems in pin neat notebook—as flash as you can get. The idea is to dress in an orderly fashion.
…introduction: take your time. Make sure everything on the stage is just-so. Adjust tie. Brush dust off of book, pick imaginary lint from your sleeve. Table: adjust books, glass of beer, anything you happen to have up with you to exact configuration. Take, at the very least, 30 seconds to arrange things as you want them to be. Adjust microphone. Much neurotic busyness.

Then…announce the name of the poem)

In Praise of Disorganized Minds

(Breathe. More adjustment. Let it build. Begin with voice laden with gravitas—and awareness of same. Round the words out, get all the sounds in.)

Let us begin, then, in the beginning,
attribute spin, then, to unspinning,
bright breathing freezing form to this unforming,
breath into sound, sound into name
Chaos or Kali or the primordial sea,
then from names to stillness. Old Frost-Brow,
pale death rumbling in his voice,
blowing over the surface of being
chill fear, shaky thunder crouched in his voice
grows trembling comical, an old fool
whose jests turn sour with knowing,
subject as we to King Decay…

Here is a trick of fools:
that, by fortune graced, and in time placed
at the happy silence between two unconnected events,
they then claim that space as their own.
Those who look on applaud, when they do,
neither those events, nor that silence,
but the measured stealth by which
a practiced hand may intersect the two.
A fool’s greatness lies in waiting,
in quiet watching of the turning seasons,
patient attendance to winter’s approaching,
then, with fumbling flourish punctuating
autumn’s last dark days
with one well-timed blast of breath,
shattering the waters’ singular swell
into a thousand-crystalled shell
and only at that precise moment,
with each particle of this sea grown visible
in shimmering six-sided crystal glory
do fools, in smug-deep silence,
claim winter’s hand as their own.

(Falter. Freeze. Blank look, followed by questioning look aimed at audience. Hand goes to mouth, eyes down first, then up and left, remembering. Another questioning look at audience. Let enough time go by that they think you’ve forgotten the next line.)

I should probably explain.
You see, by now, I should already have invoked the muses.
You know, to be there, as moral support.
Sort of a cheerleading squad for poets, only they don’t wear those little skirts or do
the splits and let us see their knickers for a split second,
and even if they did, they’d probably be an enormous distraction
from the main game…
I mean, who needs it, really?
Because overall, it’s a pretty mousey conception of the muse, isn’t it?
Bit domestic, really. So, okay, she uses big words, because, you know, you can’t just
call her, you have to invoke her. But it’s still you that’s doing the invoking.
So, what I’d really like to know is, am I the only one here who thinks this sounds like
some of the silly games that go on around dating?
Because I keep imagining the muse acting like she’s not listening for her telephone to
ring, and there’s her sisters, and they’re saying, “Come on, Thalia, if you
really feel that way about him, why don’t you just pick up the phone
and call?”
“Oh, no, I couldn’t do that. He’s supposed to invoke me.”
And you know, there are nine of them. Right? Which sounds good in theory, but
come on…nine women? Excuse me—nine sisters?
Sounds a bit exhausting.
And each of them has her own specialty, right?
So before I invoke, I’m supposed to decide just exactly what kind of words I’d like to
Does anyone actually write like that? Sitting there, thinking, hmm…I wonder if I
should try for epic or lyric today…
And all right, so I decide, and then I invoke the appropriate muse, and maybe she’s a
little bit moody, but when it comes right down to it, if I call, she comes, right?
Especially if I happen to be writing a poem about how gorgeous she is.
So, think about this for a minute, because, you know, if this is the right formula for
writing a poem people will listen to, then it all works something like this:
“Oh, honey? Musey? My favorite? Could you come here for a minute? I’m thinking
about writing something…”
“Really? What about?”
“Umm…well…I was kinda hoping you might help me with that, actually…”
“Oh. Oh. I see. Well. I don’t know. I mean, there are so many things to write
about, really.”
“Well, I did have one idea…”
“Oh really? And what was that?”
“Well, I thought I might try a play, you know. I had this one idea—I thought
“Well, it’s about this prince, you see? The prince of Denmark, actually, and…”
“DENMARK? But it’s so cold there…no…I don’t think anyone would sit still for
something about Denmark.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. So, what should I write about, then?”
“Well…let’s see…I know! You could write about me!”
Well there’s an original idea.
So okay, because if I’m gonna invoke the muse, I probably ought to listen to
her, right? So there I am, trying to write, about her, and she comes in wearing
a cheerleader skirt, and she starts in with these cheers:

Rah! Rah! Rise!
Write about my eyes!

Your eyes are like the deepest ocean, stretched to infinity…

Rah! Rah! Reeze!
Write about my knees!

Your knees are like the pulsing waves, come crashing over me…

Rah! Rah! Ritz!

Oh, come on, now!
I mean, imagine having to shout over that.
Especially in a pub full of horny males on the make…I mean, look at me!
Like anything I’m gonna say is gonna keep your eyes off some girl’s knickers.
If that’s what it’s all about, this isn’t about beauty, it’s about vanity—what’s worse,
it's about the vanity of some girl I can’t even see.
So, you know, if I start there,
if all my power comes from some muse we can’t see,
if my whole aim is to capture her beauty, instead of setting it free,
to cage some abstract notion in physical reality,
then it’s not a poem about beauty,
it’s me bragging about being able to capture beauty.
Bragging about how beautiful my girl is, and how your girl doesn’t stack up.
And what’s so beautiful about being captured, even if it is only in words?
A cage…
is a cage…
is a cage
…and any muse that’d let me drag her into one ain’t the one for me.

(brief pause, lower voice conspiratorally.)

You wanna know who really rocks my boat?
The primordial sea.
Tough girls.
Just try that invoking shit on them and they’ll kick your ass.
The point is, though, you don’t need to invoke them, do you?
Because they’re already there—
in every cloud
thundering the returning of water to river,
in the crooked fires, searing the dying branch,
in the ash of the branch burned liquid, penetrating,
soil to soil, and in the soil,
in the remains of the dead
housing the roots of the living,
in every dying thing
and in every seed
and in each seed life
and the ending of life,
in every trembling shoot,
every progress, each step the last step
through the last minute, never to be relived,
present, horrible glory,
sweet lady entropy,
undividing the indivisible
in which part and all and all in part
apprehend one instant’s apprehension
--not fear, but knowing cast adrift
on the terrible sea of the infinite
in thrall struck dumb to the tumult
of all words wrecked on the rocks of being,
and all the high-minded and bellowing beasts
stupified into stunned silence
by the passing of a single instant
and in that passing the loss of all sound save praise
for now and now again—

praise for that unreachable,
praise for the ice-blue core of the flame,
praise for beauty and praise for its terrible empty eyes,
praise for our own end and our own beginning and
praise for the presence of both, here, now,
in this house
(praise for this house)
at this hour
(praise for this hour)
with this being
(praise for this being).


The Importance of being Mouthy

(news links are dead in this one...the last, random link is still active, and still, I think, fun. I'm scooting the DA stuff over, have two more to get to this blog and then I can consider myself unpacked. In the meantime, hole you're enjoying the oldies...p_g)

So among other headlines is this one: ‘Talking Reagan Doll Orders Surge After Death’

I love headlines. (Pulls string, causing a plastic facsimile of Reagan’s jaw to swivel on a small metal screw, and a tinny voice to issue forth from the doll) “There he goes again. Surge! That’s an order, soldier.”

Okaaay. So I’m going to ease into this one in my own space, cuz I spose I’ve been watching a lot of the tributes, etc., emanating from the many quarters, seeing a whole lot of the Gipper’s face, and generally being a good guy by keeping my mouth shut at the funeral. Now, I’m gonna pull punches, just because I’m that good guy, and although 93 is more years than most of us will get, the death of another human being is never something to gloat about. That said, I gotta say, attending this particular funeral, is, to me, a bit like being the middle-aged step-son of a wealthy ranch owner who, as far as everyone else at the funeral was concerned, was one helluva good guy, but who beat hell out of me when nobody was looking. I’m a little raw about the man, and there’s no love lost between the two of us.

Put it this way: Reagan gets a lot of credit for ‘ending the cold war.’ Even assuming that this feat was somehow pulled off by one man, even dyed in the wool conservatives will generally accept that the way this was pulled off was by earmarking a far larger percentage of America’s resources to the manufacture of an even bigger arsenal—an arsenal that frankly, I don’t like having around. And before I go on along this vein, I have to make a couple of caveats: I was a loony liberal even during the 80’s. There are people reading this who can testify to this fact—and I was probably MORE loony back then than I am now. Change for change sake, I believe, and I remember spouting off with more than one ‘youthful indescretion’ during that time (for example, responding to news of race riots by entering the local community theatre exultantly saying ‘There’s a rrriot going on’ to anyone who engaged me. I wouldn’t do that today. I’m too attuned to the fact and face of human suffering to take any pleasure out of such things—but back then, well, I was into punk, and chaos was a good thing, unreservedly.) So, for me, the 80’s were a very stultifying time to grow up, and they were made the more so by the particular environment I grew up in—a small town in Oklahoma. Stultifying enough that when I found myself in Chicago, during the 90’s, listening to music played by bands that dressed much as I did (to much ridicule) during my high school years, I very much thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Youth was the 90’s, grunge, and having a Democrat for a president, so far as I’m concerned. Reagan was something we’d overcome. Which isn’t really true anymore, is it?

That said, I’m more reserved about such matters these days, and that has something to do with having been around folks who too easily go in for conspiracy theory. I tend to reserve judgment on such matters, though of course, there is that time when the weight of the evidence does tip in the direction of suspecting the powers that be. Case in point, and a good portion of the reason that I tend to approach the whole question of politics on a much more local level (i.e. trying to hammer out policy for a child-care co-operative, to take but one example), is my own experience with a too-little discussed (of late) episode of Reagan’s tenure as president: The Iran-Contra affair. Now, for those who have forgotten (or are too young to remember), one of the targets of Reagan’s struggle (I hesitate to use the word ‘crusade’) against Communism was the legitimately elected Sandinista government of Nicaragua. Why? Well, that could be argued. Reagan, and political thinkers aligned with him, would say that the Sandinistas were in fact not legitimately elected, and that they perpetuated truly horrendous atrocities on the Nicaraguan people. Maybe so. Those on the left have opined that the reason was that the people of Nicaragua had freely chosen a government more aligned with Communism, that this constituted a threat to U.S. interests, in terms of cheap produce, among other things, and the very real possibility that a truly Marxist government might well decide to ‘nationalize’ industries that had heretofore been sources of profit for American businessmen, but also because the government might succeed, and thus provide a bad (read: good) example to other Latin American countries, thus producing a ‘domino effect,’ in which, one by one, Latin American countries would fall to the ‘evil empire’ of Communism, potentially bringing this scourge right to the borders of the USA. So, as has happened too many times in American history to count, the United States, with superior firepower and a lot of money to buy more, if needed, made a decision to help, in this particular case by funding a group of paramilitaries that went by the name of the Contras. These were not, need it be said, terrorists. They were freedom fighters.

This decision was one that I did protest, as a teenager, albeit very ineffectively. That is, I stood on the steps of the local courthouse of my hometown and tried to pass out leaflets with about three other people, leaflets that detailed our opposition to US policy in Nicaragua. We didn’t get much for our efforts, except for the odd ‘good feeling’ for being out there and trying to spread this word around. As with most such political efforts, even this 'good feeling' didn’t last long, because we weren’t even one hundred per cent sure we were right. More often, we just fielded mild abuse from the locals, most of whom were firmly in line with the prevailing policy. And here's where the personal political lesson enters: after a few weeks of this thankless work, there came a weekend when we could not attend. The following week, we approached the organizer, a rather earnest woman who might have had more insight into politics than she did human relationships, only to be told that we should ‘get our priorities straight.’ We did. We never went back. Of considerably more importance, though, is the fact that it later emerged that the US had funded its support of the Contras by selling arms to Iran. Where this gets a bit spooky is when one realizes that, at that time, Saddam Hussein was a good guy—or, at the very least, he was ‘our’ bad guy—a leader who was receiving at least political support, and maybe more, from the US, because his was a ‘secular’ government, one that was meant to counter the Islamic fundamentalist regime then in power in Iran. To which Islamic fundamentalist regime we were, by all appearance, selling arms.

I do, of course, draw conclusions in the face of such evidence, but I’m not going to detail them here. Probably anyone who is reading this already knows all this shit (minus the gratuitous personal asides, but hey, this is MY journal, yes?) and anyone who can actually read this far through my rather lengthy screeds doesn’t need just too much help connecting the dots. Suffice it to say that the above situation, to my mind, taken from an Iraqi perspective, might be enough to make a certain residual resentment, if not justified, at least understandable. And yes, I do think this but the tip of the iceberg. Much of this was, after all, covert operations, which suggests that perhaps we weren’t privy to just every facet of the actions of those who were exposed to the light of day.

Point being? That the period of mourning, so far as I am concerned, has now and henceforth been properly observed, and that any appeal to the humanity of this man to excuse those actions of his that I honestly do consider to be wrong is no longer applicable, especially in my little corner of the web. I have heard it said, elsewhere, that others no longer actively fear the bomb. I do not join them. I am more worried about it than ever. I am confronted on a regular basis by news stories suggesting that Al Quaida may already have the capability to launch a ‘dirty bomb,’ capable of wiping out up to 20,000 humans in one go. Do I make a leap from the above, heavily moderated observations to the belief that this is all Reagan’s fault? No. But to say this is a safer world after the ‘fall of Communism’ seems to me a bit short-sighted. This is to say nothing of the question of just how well those nuclear weapons that were once under the control of the USSR are accounted for or controlled by ‘trustworthy’ people (and I don’t really think any person is trustworthy with that sort of firepower). Those weapons didn’t just disappear, and I don’t think even the most virulently optimistic anti-Communist out there could put forth a persuasive case that they are all accounted for. And the present day conditions in DC do nothing to put my mind at ease on this score.

So. Rant over. Before I start getting really depressing.

Interesting case, though, and a bit of a coincidence: for those who might not know, I took an undergrad degree at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. I did all right there. I also supplemented my official ‘course work’ with many, many hours producing and djing shows at the student radio station there, under the call letters KSUA. Some were music oriented, but my real baby was the poetry show, Free Verse. This started because I was listening, early on in my stay there, and happened to catch the weekly poetry show; half an hour of poetry being read on Sunday evenings by a couple of girls who weren’t particularly good at reading poetry. It didn’t take much convincing, at least in those days, to get the powers that were to let me take the show over, but I wanted a solid hour. That hour turned into 2, and later 3, and still later, became two shows, one during ‘regular’ hours (a ‘sanitized’ show) and one during ‘safe harbor,’ which meant I could play (but not say) poetry that had the dreaded curse words in it. This meant running a poetry show in the middle of the night, essentially. Probably, not many listened. But I did learn a lot. Anyway, bopping by my e-mail today, I noticed this headline: ‘DJ Reassigned After Feting Reagan's Death.’ So I clicked, of course, to find out what sort of case was involved, and lo and behold, where did it happen? At the only radio station that ever saw fit to hire me, that’s where.

Quick one, and wrap it up: I might have mentioned before, I don’t think anyone’s death merits celebration (unless, like me, they are the kind of person who would prefer the funeral take the trappings of a drunken orgy of friends whose only lasting memory of seeing me off is the naaasty hangover it left them with). That said, there is some reason to be uneasy about the state of one’s freedom of speech in America, and there have been a number of extremely questionable cases floating around of late. I probably don’t have to say this to anyone who’s read this far, but folks, fight for that. That freedom of speech is what many of those soldiers in Iraq have been told they’re fighting for. It’d be a pity to lose it while they’re away.

Mouth off. Early and often.

(the author of this blatantly political diatribe would like, now, to offer you a random link, to cleanse your palate of ill-feelings, should you need it. Given the nature of the random link in question, perhaps the word ‘cleanse’ would be better replaced by ‘annihilate’. Viel Spass, foax.)



Just your average, everyday update...

I went 'n saw Prisoner of Azkaban, cuz it was meine tochter's b-day proper (and not just the day we threw the party...), and much quality time since spent trying to master the bicycle and going to swimming pools, cuz after a verrry rainy and cold spring, the weather in Munich has suddenly turned to mid-summer temps and clear, clear girl's beautiful, beautiful joy in the water...oh my goodness...I just fall in love watching her, to explain, that sense, in what we call love...

Okay, this could get thick, cuz the word 'love' is one that is tough for me. Not to say: I'm not one of those papas that doesn't know how to say 'I love you' on a very regular basis...but because I *think* hard about using any such word...I want to know that I'm telling the truth, and it's important enough to me that when I run across a word like that, like 'love,' one that doesn't really have some physical thing you can point to and say, 'That's what I mean,' I really have to question the word from all angles. And there's been oceans of ink spilled on this word, and a lot of it is directly contradictory to other words written about same. So...a couple of stories in preface:

One: friend Tania, Mauritian, 3rd culture kid, reigning riot grrl of the English poetry slam community in Munich (as measured by one off the wall, out of the way amateur night in a poorly attended, soon to be closing Irish pub...that's soon), talks to me about her early experiences with language, her love for same, and her curiosity and the way it expressed itself at a young age. Multiple language perspective--she speaks several, including English, Arabic, and German. She remembers, her earlier memories, were of latching onto a word and moving the sounds around, that at an early age, it was the sound that intrigued her, and her inner experiments on the matter concentrated on sound. So, for example, she would hear a word like (to pick one at random from the titles on my resource bookshelf) 'complete,' and she would go through permutations in her thoughts, changing the sound of the word, for example, to:


etc... A bit like a song one of my younger sisters used to annoy the fuck out of me with, involving the following sentence:

I eat apples and bananas

which was then shifted in sound to represent five of the basic vowel sounds, thus:

A Ate Apples and Bananas (long A)
E Eet Eepples Eend Beeneenees (long E)
I Ite Iypples Iynd Biyniyniys (long I)
O Oat Oapples Oand Boanoanoas (long O)
U Ute Upples Und Bununus (short U)

And okay, so as not to bore you shitless with lists of vowel permutations, the conversation turned to different approaches to language, i.e., this is not how I first remember fascination with how sounds work. My own experience, and in fact the first I can remember, was much more attuned to questions of meaning. I can quite vividly remember questioning how 'green', the sound, came to mean a particular range on the spectrum...that is, the fascination took the form of how meaning was attached to certain groups of sounds. It was about connecting the word to the thing. Full circle: 'love' is tricky in this respect, cuz you're not pointing to any 'thing' or even, really, a quality of a 'thing.' This means that often, when wandering around, living my everyday life, there will be weeks when there is a single word, or group of words, that is battering around in my head, with me coming at it from every angle of meaning that I can access with my infinitely finite capacity for comprehension (read: small brain). I can remember one particularly tough period of time, in terms of personal development, which happened to roughly correspond with the Sept. 11 attacks, which sent me on a months-long contemplation of the word 'innocence' (and the word was rather being tossed around without any real regard for its meaning at the time...).

So: story two. In my family, there is a raging debate about this particular subject, with both sides citing the infinite wisdom to be gathered in pop culture to back up our positions. It basically goes like this: my wife's position is that 'All you need is love.' Now, with full acknowledgement of the Beatles' much wider appeal, I tend to go for the much more cynical wisdom of the less-well-known (or at least less-well-appreciated) Iggy Pop, who said, in his song, 'Lust for Life,' 'Love is just like hypnotizing chickens.' For the present, my daughter is on my side, though I'm sure she will react strongly against this at a later time. She is on my side because of our exercise of prioritizing the needs of aerobic life forms, namely, 1) air, 2) water, 3) food, and numbers 4, 5, and 6 subject to shifting positions depending on prevailing climatic conditions, 4) clothing, 5) shelter, and 6) lurrve (and in my own view, this would be interpreted on a very basic, biological level, i.e. sex. )

All that said, there are those moments, either watching my daughter, or even in her absence (while riding my bike to various tutoring assignments, for example) when I am overwhelmed by my feelings for this creature. They are not, however, unrelentingly positive feelings, and that is the point I'm centering around, I think. Because the whole package is in there, isn't it? Hope and fear in equal, and equally powerful portions. That sense that she will shine, and that sense of the world around her, and its tendency to dull the shine of even the most bright among is that knot, here represented by the word fear, that potential for real harm within the thing we call love...that having invested so much of one's emotional well-being in the development and continued well-being of another human, there is real risk involved. I'm realistic enough to understand the possibility that this entire complex of emotions is very possibly nothing but a set of bio-chemical reactions centered, largely, on my natural, biological need to perpetuate my own genes...but romantic enough to believe that taking that risk is, yes, necessary to one's own well-being.

So--I don't know if that explains a damned thing, but I was smacked in the head with it yesterday, watching my daughter in the pool, watching as she ventured closer and closer to the deep water, restraining myself from diving in and calling her back (a difficult task for me still)...her beauty, her hands flying in joy at contact with the water, her smile, incredible, in some blissed-out space (she has lost the front two of her upper teeth recently...her smile is still new to me, at present)--the beauty of THAT, and the very real desire, from the point of view of her father, to want to preserve her in that bliss...but again...that knowledge, that attempts to preserve that bliss are ultimately mechanisms of control...that her life, that her being needs relief from that bliss, must experience something other from that.

Okay...this was meant to be a brief update of practical goings on...the many projects (at present, deep editor duties, work toward grad. proposal in Perth--I have a positive reaction from a couple of the profs there, but it's very much on the surface at present...I have to contact refs. and flesh out the proposal, and quick...and a skit proposal with Tania that necessitates finding good 'carpe diem' quotes, either scriptural or poetry...btw--that last is a call for suggestions, so if you've a fave, do send it along...)...instead, it's turned into a rather extensive, and circumnavigatory, exploration of the basic bond between father and child.

Such is the nature of journaling, I spose.

All right...lengthy this...and I have a lot I need to do today, so I will sign off as




Street Theatre, Belief, and a Shitload of Poetry

So, today we celebrated my daughter's 7th birthday, which doesn't happen until Monday, but we hit the weekend with the kiddie party...more intimate than usual (her record, I think, was when she turned 5 and invited all of the kids from her kindergarten class...and they all accepted. 30 children running around in our yard at the time--oy vey!) --today was 4 girls, 2 from school, one a friend she gained through her mother's work. And, with 4 girls, 4 nationalities, none of them German: American, Turkish, Chinese, and Spanish. Sounds like one of her parents' parties. Easygoing, for the most part, except for the fact that my daughter is well known for her meltdowns after a solid dose of chocolate...and there was plenty of that to go around. Her cake (made by yours truly) was chocolate fudge with whipped cream filling and cream cheese icing, and we'd lollies enough for 12 children, just in case all of the children invited came. Germans have this bad habit of not understanding what R.S.V.P. means (why would they? It's French...), and that makes for difficulties planning.

If a kid's birthday party isn't enough action for one day, I had an appointment with 3 women at the Pinakothek der Moderne to discuss a possible street theatre venture...2 of said women did not end up showing up. One, Erika, a Canadian woman who shares both my daughter's sun sign, Gemini, and her Chinese zodiac animal, the Ox (and boy, can't you tell...I look at Erika and think, yeah, there goes my daughter in 25 years...) had to pack for a 'free' trip cruising the Greek islands....she landed this trip by working a job translating voiceovers for a film detailing another cruising trip, and it's free in the sense that she doesn't have to pay anything, but she does have to work the two weeks on the ship. Anyway, she had to pack. The other, Dory, an older comedian from Texas (the one who convinced me to try my hand at the stand-up gig...) heard of our last brainstorming session, in which we lit upon the idea of not street theatre, but a 'literary' tour of Munich, in which tourists are guided from one site to the other, where the sites are accompanied by someone's reciting something from one of the many artists that have passed through this city. (It's packed.) This didn't light her up--and I think she has in mind more of a free-for-all, with all members of the proposed troupe dressed in religious garb and basically taking the piss out of organized religion. Dory gets a big kick out of wearing the 'pregnant nun' costume, swilling Bavarian masses and smoking cigars, and countering anyone who challenges her on her negligent behavior whilst pregnant by saying, in a loud Texas-volumed bray, 'What the fuck you talking about? I got the LORD inside me!' Anyway, I'm up for hijinx like that, but the original proposal was to do something a la Andy Kaufman, in which we generated an air about the performance that allowed (nay, encouraged) any onlookers to leap to the wrong conclusion--to assume that something was going on that was not--and then disabused them of that conclusion in comic fashion. Thing is, if there's a gaggle of 10 players in religious costume, the audience is pretty much clued in, isn't it? ended up being Tania and I, and after an initial exchange of gifts (Tania gave me a pin to give to my daughter--Tania had picked it up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and said that she especially wanted to give it to my daughter because, as a child who moved around a lot, she remembered wanting things associated with the place where her parents grew up--and as both my wife and I grew up in Oklahoma...and she gave me two jars of Mauritian food, which she said I needed to fix for my family within the day...I, unfortunately, had less to give...a cup full of lollies from my daughter's party), we got candid, and ended up at pretty much the same place: that the initial project had drifted, that as the two people being called upon to draft the whole thing, we possess the power to pull the project back into line (in the beginning was the word...) AND (with me prefacing this last with an observation to the effect that I wasn't sure if my editing gig was making me More or Less patient...cuz I've gotten a whole lot better at dismissing anyone who comes off as flaky to me of late...) that we were going to do so. We then set about drafting up a few overarching structural ideas that would allow for anywhere from 2 to 20 players to perform, and we have our assignments.

Tania is a recently acquired friend (and how very out of place the word acquired is in that context)--she moved to Munich about 3 months ago, and immediately set to work identifying what artistic communities there are in the area. Her search landed her at the open mic I've been hosting (or frequenting, on those nights when Dory takes over the MC duties) --her first night she won the contest, hands down, largely on the strength of a poem in which she described the precise way in which she objectifies men when she's ovulating. That was followed by a poem entitled 'Dream Man,' a title that she followed immediately by saying 'you know who you are' (thus prompting every man in the room to start mentally strutting and saying, 'Yeah, she's talking about me...')--it is very, very excellent to talk to her, because most of my interaction with like-minded poets occurs online, and it's rare that I get a real chance to talk to someone who knows the same sort of things I do. We get on well. An immediate connection, and so, in drafting up ideas, we fused a couple of ideas being floated (both based on a simple, 'competing groups' framework...the first, two groups of buskers (or just two, depending on the number of players being worked with) set up camp near each other, and, after much glaring and competition, begin to step on each other's acts--culminating, of course, with the two acts fusing, the second, two preachers taking different sides of one issue quote verse at each other, and end up, in the process, quoting the same verse in unison to back up their opposing arguments. These two have been melded somewhat, and the idea is for Tania to adopt a stern, Emily Dickenson-like air, and to take the basic stance of deferred pleasure (in the interests of a greater good at a later time) and for me to don a fool's outfit and come at the same material from a carpe diem perspective--pleasure now--with the two fusing, somehow, into a realization that both outlooks are still centered on pleasure. We've lots of work to do, but it's all geared at exploring the viability of the basic structure, even if nobody else is really interested in seeing it through, while at the same time researching ideas that others can join in on. The other, grander project has to do with a 'rolling' band of players, possibly extended over an entire afternoon (or longer), but with stage entrances and exits marked by surprises from the audience. This could accomodate 20, and a much wider variety of approaches--it is, in fact, an elaboration on the Absolute Beginners framework...much more potential for chaos and genuine befuddlement on the part of the audience.

Tania is good for all of this because she does things like stopping in the middle of the brainstorming and saying, 'Okay, then, we need to identify the MOTIVES. Why are we doing this?' Because this was a huge part of the reason for drift...what began as a way to have fun and get practice (and experience) turned into either A) schemes for getting specific messages across or B) schemes for turning a buck. I'm not against either of those things, but I do have a central aesthetic that asks that either of those outcomes be brought about organically--that they be the end result of something that was originally undertaken simply because we wanted to do this thing.

All good, and a good session, and I haven't written down a tenth of what went on between us in conversation.


over 40 entries to the contest, over 30 poetry subs, and a shitload of work...but it's all good. Much better to be sending good stuff back than to be trolling the internet trying to find it. May this state of affairs last a long time.

Oh--in closing, also, my friend Tony asks this question, which I with much anticipation would invite all and sundry to respond to, if they feel so compelled: What do you believe in?

Belief being very central to my own idea of who I am, I'll offer mine, first posted at Tone's palace, first:

I used to be evangelical athiest. Now I'm a devout agnostic. Part of that radical doubt. I went and read Derrida and started doubting my doubts. urrgh...

I've been known to take up whole evenings discussing the difference between saying 'I don't believe in God' and 'I believe there is no God.' The question of what I believe in is actually central to who I think I am...but I'm damned if I can think of one single thing that I could say, unequivocally, I believe in.

But then, I think most of the things we think are solid are actually pretty fluid, and that this is a good thing. I.e. anything that labors under the name 'god,' being a perfected being, must be able to change. And must want to...goodness. AND....if I had to pick a god, it wouldn't be exclusionary. In my more high-flown moments, I like to think that all that we do and feel and think--ALL of us--is part of the experiential component of 'God's' knowledge--that you put the whole thing together, and THAT's god. But a little thought into the sheer scope of the universe does rather dampen any sense of certainty I might feel around any such proposition. Any such scheme could easily be wishful thinking on my part. Still, if there is a creating force, I'd like to think it wouldn't be something that excluded some of the beings it contained.

My fave is something I was once taught in regards to the Bhuddist view on the matter: We are nature's way of perceiving itself.

That, yes, is, if nothing else, a beautiful way of looking at it.

& that makes it your turn, if you wanna play.

Back to work, then--


Wednesday, September 01, 2004


We're only in it for the money.

The Absolute Beginners anthem
(or, more accurately, MY Absolute Beginners anthem...)

You hear it every time
a poet spins high words
of love's delights
and passion's heights
and souls that sing like birds--
a noble strain
taints each refrain
with hyperbole absurd.

But I've a different story,
one that’s not so touched by glory,
and with a little help
from the muse herself,
I’ll trust my song is heard.

Don’t get the wrong impression--
my muse, she’s no great beauty,
she gets uptight
about cellulite
and diets like it's duty.
But if you'll lend an ear,
I'll offer this confession:
my humble lyric
ain't stratospheric--
it's earthbound, full stop, honey.
There's just one thing
that makes me sing—
I'm only in it for the money.

Some say I'm nothing but a hack--
my sights aren't set on greatness--
but you'll be stuck with the blues
if you court my muse
with a pitch marked by ornateness.

My muse, she likes a poet
who can keep his books in black,
and the way she burns
through the money I earn,
that takes a lot of jack.

She isn't shy--she likes to sing,
and she can really belt it out,
but it takes a poet with a lot of scratch
to make that come about.
She don't mind kissin', or being held,
cuz a good man’s hard to find,
but if love's your thing, and you got no geld,
you're not what she has in mind.

No "wand'ring lonely as a cloud,"
no "mermaids singing each to each,"
no "walks in beauty like the night,"
she's heard it all before.
My muse ain't pretty, she ain't proud,
she's done with boys who like to preach
of beauty that confounds the sight
--she thinks that mob a bore.
It's not that she's fickle, or mean or untrue,
she's just got a keen sense of what she likes to do,
and after "services rendered" comes "payment due,"
cuz she don't put out for love, honey,
she's only in it for the money.

Now, I hope you've been listening closely,
and you understand my song,
cuz if I've done the counting right,
I don't think I'm alone tonight
when I advance the proposition
that what really matters
ain't the strength of your chatter
but the state of your wallet's condition.

You might not think I'm serious,
though I've tried to be perfectly clear,
so if you think it’s a joke
put the question to the folks
from whom you have the most to fear:
ask the judges for their position,
find out just how low they'll sink:
will they make you a winner
if you slip them a tenner,
or will they settle for a drink?
I've got a hunch
you'll find that bunch
to their duties quite devoted--
but as you sing your song,
pay heed to their sensitive ears:
they've got perfect pitch
and you'll encounter no hitches
if your song's been properly noted.

I'd like to say just one last thing
before I end my ditty:
I know my song’s not very good--
where it's true, it isn't pretty.
But since I've thoroughly spilled the beans
by offering this confession,
I'd like to ask each one of you
to ask yourselves this question:
Can you really say that payday
doesn't give your spirits a lift?
Now be honest, can you tell me
full pockets aren't a gift?
As long as you're not greedy,
why mire yourselves in "shoulds"?
The root of all evil may be money...
but it's exchangeable for goods!
So if you've got the notion,
and you understand my song,
I'd like to humbly ask you
if you'd please sing along,
because love might be a grand thing,
and though beauty's free, it's true,
when you spot a friend a beer,
it's money gets you through.
That's why I say, let's cut the crap,
and state it baldly, honey,
this ain't about nobility...
we're only in it for the money.


Absolute Beginners

...okay, I have about 15 things I should be doing besides this journal, and projects are piling up madly--the next three months are going to be very busy, with another issue to bang out, a proposal for graduate work to flesh out, a street theatre project to get into shape by August, and continuing work on any number of fronts...I'm starting to seriously think that there is no way in hell I'm going to get everything written that I want to get written in this life. BUT, I did want to take enough time to come here and say that last night's open mic was stupendous...I opened with the usual general rules, plus a little piece of doggerel that was generated for the very first of these shows (for anyone who is reading this and NOT in the know on this matter, I've been organizing an open mic for ex-pats--not strictly, but aimed toward them--here in Munich for the last year)...the piece basically compares my muse to a fat whore, which might seem bad politics, but I think my muse gets off on things like that. At least I hope so. Or maybe I just need to have a harpy for a muse in order to do anything, so I have to feed into that cycle...last night's show was, of course, the 1st anniversary celebration for the show, called Absolute Beginners, and with the week I've had, I was more than ready to party. Anyway, lots of new faces last night, and lots of old friends as well...the very first of these shows we held in a pub that had no stage, so the pub put a couple of pieces of plyboard on a pool table and let us use that as the stage! Now, if you just take a minute to imagine 3 musicians crowded up onto the stage, you should get the general idea of the air around those first few shows...and some of the logistical problems faced. One of the acts, at the first show, was my daughter standing up with Erika, her best adult friend (and one who shares both her Zodiac sign and Chinese zodiac animal...they're amazing together), and telling knock-knock jokes, in exchange for which she got a bag of lollies. It has taken a somewhat more adult turn since then--we're on our second venue, and that may not be in place for next month, which has nothing to do with the show, more problems with the venues. Anyway, when I started out on this project (and I'll skip the details right now as to how it got started...maybe another day...), I made a goal to myself of maintaining the show for one year, so last night was a big deal to me, and apparently about 45-60 other people thought it big enough to come out and celebrate with us.

So...the format is such: Anyone can perform, but they have to sign up on the list. We've never had a night when we've had too many acts, but of course, 12 would be a cut-off number if that happened. Each act has a maximum of 10 minutes in which to get done what they're going to get done. Before the acts begin, I field the audience, finding 3 judges. Judges (usually) have to apply for the job (unless it's a slow night--some nights have consisted of 8 of us sitting around a table getting drunk and doing verrrry bad acts...but getting ideas while we do it...) by writing 1 sentence explaining why they are qualified to be a judge. Funny sentences usually win the honor, and there is no compensation for being a judge, save for the fact that I generally actively encourage bribery while onstage. Each judge rates each act on a scale of 10 (being the highest) to...well, there is no lowest number, because negative points are allowed. The person who gets the most points gets (depending on our mood) either one free drink, or a chance at 250,000 euros, in the form of a lottery ticket. This is basically slam poetry in a nutshell, though the details differ from venue to venue, and, given the paucity of English speaking poets in Munich, our venue is open to musical acts, martial arts demonstrations...anything, basically, short of public masturbation (at least in its literal form...). Acts included have ranged from a 10-second impersonation of Sigourney Weaver in 'Alien' to professional opera arias, from the sublime to the ridiculous, but the always fun.

Last night's acts included:
Opening act (warming up) by Christoph (a guitarist who generally gravitates towards blues) and Giam Pierro (on drums).
My spiel, patterned on the above paragraph, followed by the poem 'We're only in it for the money.'
Then 'Hermann the German' who played a couple of traditional Bavarian songs on the guitar
Then Ralph (the one and only) (self-described) on sax, with 3 songs, including 'The Pink Panther'
John doing his Irish/Rastafarian freestyle poetry
Dory, doing her best to reciprocate for my stand-up comedy with an 'attempt' at poetry (which can be seen here) then spending the rest of the act on stand-up
Tania, riot grrl/punk poet with brand new poetry that she was literally throwing at the wall to see what would stick
Then...ah, poo, I've forgotten his name, think it starts with a P, but he was good, and has promised to come out again...poetry in German, surprised us all with his hip-hop style (cuz he looked anything but hip-hop), followed by a brief comic monologue centered around a book entitled 'Simplify your life.' This fellow was good because it was all auf Deutsch, and my understanding was limited, but his basic thrust was coming through loud and clear
And finally, Eruin, the opera singer/cook who works at the Turkenhof and has graced our stage since the inception of the show--good tenor voice, he comes in wearing dress jacket and dress shirt, and leather pants, and belts 3 arias out for us...bringing the house down...then tells me that the judges are not allowed to give his act points at all. Eruin shared our birthday, because luck had it that our celebration landed on his 37th, so I baked a cake for him, and immediately after the applause for his 3rd song, the ENTIRE crowd burst out into 'Happy Birthday to you' for him, and I rushed to the kitchen and pulled out the cake, which Eruin then cut and served to the audience.

There was one other performer, but not on stage. His name, though I don't think I have the spelling right, sounded like Vienna. He asked me to put him on the list, but immediately, after I started introducing the show, he started yelling over me--'What do you think about Martin Heidegger? What do you think about Robert De Niro'--with not even enough space between the questions to allow for an answer if you felt like giving one. This continued on and off all night--Tania delivered a poem about mother earth, taking a different tack from her frostiness for losing her daughter to the underworld, started burning things, to which Vienna shouted 'Come on baby, light my fire!' Dory, the pro stand-up, took that in hand, though, by offering up her entire free time to the audience, who was invited to shout a subject or question to her, upon which she would improvise. Vienna was remarkably short on questions at that point...but the fact is, one of the other regulars, Asher, who has significant martial arts training (and is a trainer himself) took the man in hand, very gently, made Vienna sit by him, and basically engaged him enough in conversation to keep him from disrupting the show thoroughly. During Eruin's performance, he kept shouting 'Rock & Roll!' --to which shouts Eruin's responses were just fucking classic, and very much to the audience's liking (typical exchange, V. 'Rock & Roll! Mick Jagger.' E. 'No. Puccini.') At the end of the night, Dory suggested I ask the judges what their scores for Vienna were, and, when Eruin refused to let his songs be included, I got Eruin his only boos for the night, by announcing the fact, then saying 'but, we do have one more act to judge.' The judges then awarded Vienna a combined score of negative infinity and two food stamps--possibly our lowest, the only one that might be lower being the negative infinity minus 6 that Alfonso earned when he decided, one night, that he knew how to play the cello, and then proceeded to grace us with his new composition, 'Sympathy for God.' But I think the food stamps might beat that. Even then, Vienna didn't stop...because while everyone else was done with the competition part of the show, he kept jockeying for mic time (the proprietor had told me NOT to let him on during a break...even had I been predisposed to doing...he really was kind of a crazy, though mostly harmless). At one point he came up to me and said, 'You give me power.' Which I thought an odd compliment, but shrugged and said I was happy for him, only for him to come out with a second sentence that totally changed his meaning: 'Two minutes. Only two minutes.' (prompting me, of course, to go into deep thought about the 'power' of the microphone...)

It was a crazy, hilarious night. And when the show ended, there was a room full of very happy people, people who then stayed with each other long into the night, getting to know each other, or getting to know each other better than they already did. Not to moralize, but this, I think, is the whole of the purpose of any such expression--to cause joy. To make people think through joy, of course, but primarily, to inspire that precious happiness that makes one moment in a person's life worth remembering...and, if you can make them bring that moment about for themselves...even better.

Okay...debrief...but, if you'd like to follow the locals on the matter, you can always check out the busiest forum for expats in Munich, where we do most of our online promotion of the show

The 'Food for Thought' flyer features yours truly, hovering over a of the smelliest fruits known to humankind.

I'm going to stop glowing any week now, I'm certain. Til then, breathe in contentment...because it's only offered me on a very irregular basis, and it would seem a pity to miss it.

bis bald--tchitch


Rebirth of a Comic Genius

(note--an old post at DA--at least 2 of the links here are no longer active...but...)

Well, so whatever made me think I was going to have enough time to do this every day? Doesn't matter so very much, because I'm fairly happy with 12 entries in 3 weeks, and it does make me put something together, even if it is to no-one's amusement other than my own (though I'm gonna buy myself some seriously potent intoxicants when that view counter hits the triple digits--not because the occasion will be especially worthy of it, but because big round numbers make good excuses to buy potent intoxicants...). BUT, this week it's all about the next show, which is the one I've kinda put together here in town, and which is celebrating its 1st birthday this Thursday! So maybe the big one hundred and the birthday celebration will coincide and I can just make it a night out...

maybe not, but then, I'm not just real concerned with traffic, just having a place to bang out observations and collect web-weirdness...

Speaking of which, if you haven't recieved it yet, Andy Kaufman is alive.

Andy Kaufman is alive?

Well, follow the links below, in the sequence given, because if you mix them up, you will detract from your web pleasure, let me assure you. Your choice.

Link 1
Link 2 (this is the same one embedded in link 1, so if you went there already, you can skip this one...

and (drumroll) Link 3

Well, in any case, it couldn't have come at a better time, because my next article is centered around Laughter (as if you haven't been told that often enough...) and so I'm busy compiling all sorts of nonsense centered around humor. Kaufman being a HUGE hero of mine (and no, Milos Forman did NOT get it right in 'Man On the Moon.') ever since I caught his act in the third ever episode of Saturday Night Live...this was Kaufman at his absolute best, and suffice it to say, I think he was bloody brilliant and waaaaay beyond anything his audience could really get a handle on. What's interesting about his whole career is that it probably would have played out very differently during the era before television, because he would not have been hornswaggling such large can pull this shit on a hundred people and make it last a lifetime, but on live television...a different creature. Because he was all about surprise.

One day I will have to write up a real homage to this man. In the meanwhile, for anyone who does NOT know this man's work, here's somewhere to go.'s an emerging talent... ...emerging talent? Hardly, and perhaps many DA denizens are familiar with this man's work, but I've encountered one of those odd little cultural pockets around this fella's works, because Americans (where he is from) are just now getting to know this fellow, ten years after he died, but everyone I ask over here says 'Do I know Bill Hicks? What do you mean do I know Bill Hicks?'--meaning that they, of course, know Bill Hicks, and find it appalling that I would feel like I needed to ask. I'm just barely starting to get comfortable with this guy's stuff, because I'd not encountered it before...but, worth a search. There is one site that I've found (actually, that I was given) where you can access some audio of this man, to be found here.

(update--see sidebar under 'just fun' for link to 'Sacred Cow productions, which contains a whole page worth of Hicks video, of varying quality...)

On the comedy gig, what can I say besides it was fucking great. Not me, especially, though I did all right, I could see plenty of places where I could use a lot of work, but it was a cool challenge, I'd never held an audience for that long before (unless, of course, they were trapped in a classroom somewhere, and that does NOT count), and it was an incredible feeling, to be witness to the instantaneous feedback loop provided by that medium. Either they laugh or they don't--and I got a few big laughs in the course of this. I also got an audience that was starting to feel taxed at the end of 30 minutes, so it wasn't all unrelentingly bright--it was just, seeing that process in motion, and knowing that I could set that process in motion, was very cool. I'd go for it again, though I've enough of a ram-rod up my ass to wonder how in the hell I would manage something that called for heavy-duty impromptu skills, like, say, a legitimate heckler. I suspect that's largely a matter of practice...but that means facing one down, and that's just one more thing to be scared shitless of. But I enjoyed it enough that I just might go in for the same again in the future. Perhaps the near future, because there's a group of crazies here in town who want to get some street theatre rolling for August--straight from the ground up, words on paper to performance with street audience in 3 months. Which may provide yet another venue.

In the meantime, it's all about the 1st birthday of the Absolute Beginners, where I will be playing host after a 2 month hiatus from those duties (someone else took them over in order to let me do the performance thing--prior to that, I was in the rather unenviable position of both hosting and being one of the acts...not easy, believe me...). I'm cool with that, because last Thursday was pretty full on, emotionally. As I don't envision bursting into any scenes in the real near future, I'm good with working with a little slower pace for this week. AND, I'm about delirous with happiness simply for having kept the show going for a full year, which was all I'd hoped for it when, after our first show, we agreed to put on a second one. It's proven to be much, much more than that within that year, because I've found a place where there are some genuinely talented people that happen to be sharing meat-space, and that truly enjoy each other's company. And I've been pushed in directions I might not have gone as a result--of course! It's always about growing--which, I think, means doing shit and taking all the errors on board with the times you hit the thing square on the head. It means doing shit you don't necessarily think you can do.

Of course.

I'd meant to describe some of the denizens of this pocket of the world, but I haven't quite gotten there, have I? So, that for next time. Might let me end one of these passages without lapsing back into a moral, eh?

Okay, many more words to bang out today--and back again later with more.


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