Friday, July 28, 2006

So do we just blame summer for nationwide power outages? Flooding? Deadly heat? I can already feel this ideology taking hold in me. But that's kind of the same logic one hears when discussing small businesses stamped out by corporations, and the general alienation that continues to socially divide the country. Discussing Wal Mart, my Dad once said, "Well things change." But is the way a corporation like that operates to be compared to something like a thunderstorm coming from the west or how nobody wears zubaz anymore. Just trends and currents all permeating around us like trees in a forest? Do I blame summer for global warming? No. That would be like blaming a pie for baking after you put it in a 400 degree oven. But there's this kind of 'what are you gonna do?' logic, that most ascribe to. Where you blame directly whats in front of you.


There's this cell phone ring that is without a doubt the most annoying I've ever heard. It sounds like depravity disguised as playful jollity. Like two murderous clowns masturbating each other.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

No one can say precisely why a certain artist does what they do. But the Raincoats for example were directly spurred on by seeing the Slits. But artists aren't necessarilly trying to critique whats around them as much as we might think they are. Critics do fill some of that in. Its partially their job-- address context, circumstances. I mean there's always the question of how do you talk about a thing that needs to talked about in order to survive, in our minds. Neglectorinos, as a concept, invite a sort of comparison between themselves and what would seem to be more available, but less stimumlating, less interesting, less original. This can set up a phony dichotomy. What can also happen is that one places them in a tradition. This does make sense. Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie are in the same tradition. One can say that Frank O'Hara and Ted Berrigan are in the same tradition. Basic examples. Placing a band like the Raincoats in a certain context, the context of bands-Kurt-Cobain-likes, that existed during the 90s, might be what got their records reissued. I mean its a silly way to look at them. One might even say I was a poseur, for getting that first record on Kurt's distant recomendation. But if it makes the stuff available, we'll take it y'know? There's something very elitist about the idea that everyone has to find out about things for themselves. That old 'we went through this now you have to go through this' logic.
I won't 'call the authenticity police'. Acutally this makes sense. What most made Milwaukee famous, besides Sidney Moncrief, is Pabst. Hasn't been manufactured here for a long time.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I wonder when people will start being nostalgic for the 90s. What? They already are? What? They were nostalgic for the 90s during the 90s? Whoah...

Monday, July 24, 2006

I've noticed that when I write prose there are alot word drops. It make sound like Tarzan.
I've never trusted the idea of music-that-real-people-listen-to. Its usually used as a kind of leveraging against indie music. I mean nobody will really say now that they're favorite kind of music is indie rock, because the indie thing no longer means any specific kind of music, and also (and this is the major reason I suspect) because the indie thing is almost more a social signification now than anything else. But as recently as the early 90s things were still somewhat defined. There was a clear division between someone like Garth Brooks and Pavement. Garth Brooks obviously sold more records and what not. And Steve Malkmus never hovered over his audience suspended from wires. But there's also a difference in demographic. There's a level of obsessiveness with Pavement's music, and the pursuit of it, 7" singles, imports, EPs etc. Could you by the same token say that Garth Brooks fans hunt down all Garth Brooks recordings that exist with the same fervor. I don't think so. I mean I can't say for sure, but I really doubt it. When you move that many units it comes down to the idea that the thing is a commodity, not even something to own, but something to buy. There's a perverse kind of decadence to spending 35 bucks on a Pavement bootleg too. But I think the difference is in the obsessiveness. Most people who bought Garth Brooks music probably didn't obsess over them. They don't invite obsession because there's nothing to obsess over. Its a pure kind of distraction, an entertainment. Its meant simply to be identified with, in a generic way. I worked in a truckstop in the late 90s. I remember noticing how defiantly generic the lyrics were. It was weirdly slacker, though this was the supposed antithesis of 'slacker music'. A song would take pride in being nothin' special. I remember a lyric that went something like "Lets just stay in watch TV and eat onion rings". Can you get more 'slacker' than that? But apart from those kinds of statements the music was really just meant to be listened to and then taken out of the deck or CD tray, or whatever. To come and go. And not bore you, or make you think too much. Pavement's music, regardless anything the band conciously tried to put forth, does invite obsession. I'll never be able to fully figure out why "Gold Sounds" makes me so happy. Its one of the reasons I still listen to it. The lyrics aren't really trying to identify with me, not at least, in the way of a statement like 'hey you like stuff too huh?'. At one point, Malkmus says 'we need secrets' and repeats 'crets, crets, crets, crets, crets...' And at another point, there's the phrase 'because you're empty and I'm empty'. But the song is utterly uplifting to me, in more than just the happy-song-with-sad-lyrics way.

Now things have changed so drastically that the divisions that once could be taken for granted really don't exist anymore, not the way they did. I mean, mainstream country still fills stadiums, state fairs and festivals in rural areas. But who is its biggest star? That Keith Urban guy seems to exist almost as Nicole Kidman's husband more than as a Big Country Star. And an artist that I currently obsess over is Ariel Pink. But that obsession doesn't seem to mean the same thing. In the 90s (tho I only realized this in retrospect) Pavement were the band to say you liked as a leveraging against mainstream music. Ariel Pink has a following I'm sure. But 'followings' have multiplied exponentially. A friend of mine has a running joke where he's being asked "Whats your subculture dude?" But there really haven't been any new subcultures in this decade. Can you call 'electro' or 'alt-country' or 'garage rock' a subculture? Goth is a subculture. It exists almost indenpendently of the music. But the subcultures almost seem to be disappearing. Where did rave culture go? It might have just gone where I can't see it. But there don't seem to be viable subcultures within which innovative music is happening-- where an integral part of the subculture is that music be somewhat forward-looking or at least try avoid cliches. There's always been an uneasy detente between style and music in musical subcultures. But the word subculture, that nomenclature just doesn't work anymore. It doesn't mean anything to say you're punk. In the 90s, maybe right before it ultimately got subsumed into the mall culture, it seems like it did mean something to say that. But now, if someone's a punk it might just mean they shop at a certain store. Or that they ride the rails. There are still basement shows. They're a part of indie culture, which is a huge thing. It can encompass restaurants, shops, bars. Its always been like that. But now it seems to have lost definition or at least shifted.

It might just be that I'm out of touch. I was never in touch. I never went to punk shows as a teenager. I ordered CDs through the mail, from my house in the Township of Addison, Wisconsin. Of course alot weird music still happens inside and outside the indie network. But opposing the mainstream doesn't seem as vital now, because its harder to see what the mainstream is.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Regarding the last post, of course most poets (most of the ones I know) would rather be writing than doing whatever it is they do to get money. I'm not alone in disliking my job. But I really would like to do something, where people generally don't notice me, and so don't get peeved too easily at me. Maybe mailboy would be nice. But if someone doesn't get their mail they'd take it out on the mailboy I'm sure.


One of Language Poetry's main innovations seems to be forefronting the process of writing a poem. Like, to put it bluntly, how the fuck did Bruce Andrews write this. Of course I'm completely ignorant about Bruce Andrews and alot of other Language Poets. And the term Language Poetry is kind of outdated and maybe was never taken that seriously by the people who are classified as such. I mean Charles Bernstein and Bruce Andrews edited a mag called L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, but I don' t think I've ever read anywhere where one of them said, "Well, as Language Poets, this is what we do." I know the early writing is kind of in the vein of manifesto, which turns me off from the get-go. And there is some sense of a project, a collective undertaking, but only in that the writers read each other's work and encouraged each other. Almost all writers who don't live in the mountains or something do that. LP's were maybe just more explicit in doing that.

There's alot of paranoia almost to the point of urban myth surrounding LP. I heard a story about Robert Grenier having lunch with Tom Clark. So the other 'language poets' parked in front of his (Grenier's) house as a protest. This is they story I heard. Whether its true or not really doesn't matter.

When I've taken workshops, I've heard people say things like 'well its kinda languagey' about certain poems. To me this is just code for 'I'm not gonna try and understand this'. But then if one goes into most workshops in hopes of having a really enlightening experience, they're gonna be pretty dissapointed. I had a professer who warned their students about Language Poetry, which is totally stupid and defeating what they should be doing, which is saying 'Well check it for yourself. Go investigate.' I think anyone who's dedicated will do that anyway, but it still doesn't help to have a stigma attached to something. I don't see the point of telling your students not to read something.

I don't really know why I'm spending so much time on Language Poetry. Its way in the past. A phenomenon of the late 70s and 80s. Alot of those people are still doing interesting work. But the 'Language Poetry' thing is over. The way LP was treated tho seems to be applied to 'experimental' poetry in general now. 'Experimental' seems like an even more meaningless term. There's a level at which this is all rhetoric. Throwing words around.

At the university level, poetry is regarded as part of a canon. And certain poetry is willfully left out of the canon. And you could say, "Good. I don't care whether people regard Joseph Ceravolo as in the company of someone like Robert Frost anyway." But then, right now, no Joseph Ceravolo books are in print. So one can't really say "I'll have my Ceravolo and you'll have your Frost" because Ceravolo's books are not available, except from certain university libraries and rare books rooms. Or you could look for them online. A copy of Wildflowers Out of Gas might run you hundreds of dollars. With Frost, you could find his books at any local bookstore.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I think its pretty well understood by everyone I work with that I'm kind of lazy, that not much can be expected of me on the job. Maybe this will sound pretentious, but there's a kind of bitterness that builds when you realize that the thing, maybe the one thing, you're on the planet for will never help you sustain yourself financially. That is, writing poems. So 'work', your job, becomes a kind of con: trying to pass yourself as being what you think they want you to be. You find yourself having thoughts like, 'Just like let me work here. Just let me come and do stuff and leave and get a paycheck every other Thursday so's I can pay rent and have food.'

Friday, July 14, 2006

FOH's criteria: what poetry is better than the movies?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Language Poetry is one of those things, like William Carlos Williams, where I find myself more interested in their influence than in the actual work. Is that weird?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Again the philosophgy thing. Does a poet need it. I mean its good and nessecary to have a philosophy. But to what extent is it nessecary to have Philosophy? Obviously it would inform my writing. But then maybe it wouldn't. But then maybe I'm uninformed. But then maybe I'm.