Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I'm constantly thinking about how I measure my life against others' lives. I get into the habit of thinking that some people 'have it better' than I do. And all this really does is set up a dichotomy whereby I look at my life as shitty. Indeed, worrying about one's 'lot in life' to an excessive degree leads one to become very self-absorbed. But in the first sentence there's an indication of meta-measuring- measuring how much I measure my life against others' lives. Because I realize what this does and don't like it.

Monday, February 26, 2007

American Beauty: has anyone noticed the pervasive and awful influence this film has on culture? Leading to a trend of mysterization of the suburbs. Such as a somber commercials selling phones. Or the show Desperate Housewives. "The suburbs are alot weirder than you think." No, they aren't. Or did all this start with Edward Scissorhands?

I think the whole trend of tv ads regarding themselves as some kind of aesthetic gesture is really disturbing. Is it too much to ask that tv ads just be inane and annoying, without laying some profundity trip on the viewer?

The thing is that what is behind this mysterization of the suburbs is cheap reassurance. "Everythin our country's doing is right, everything we do is fine. We're all just a little weird that's all. And hey, cut loose, buy something" etc. The idea that inspiration is a commodity. That, as Master Card says, it's 'priceless'. But the inspiration itself is to buy things.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Before I sign off, The Simpsons tonight had a part where Flanders says 'Abso-notley'. No shit!
But what am I doing talking to you, when I could be at home reading this and this. Just bought em.
I also have a theory, with regard to American comedies. If a film is 'good', that is 'good' by conventional standards of having of a tight plot, 3-d characters all that, there's a good chance it's not as funny. The Marx Brothers are a case in point. Groucho regarded A Night At The Opera and A Day At The Races as their finest achievements in film. They had plot, characters to empathize with and root for. But they are just not as funny as Duck Soup or Horse Feathers. There's an anarchic energy that's essential in comedy. And that gets sacrficed when the film has to become Good, or Of Value To Society, or Correct. The most effective satire in film in the 20's and 30's was arguably Chaplin. And those are beautiful films, but what's important in them, what is the base for the satire and story of City Lights and Modern Times, is the whirlwind of energy that surrounds The Tramp. What happens to The Tramp. What The Tramp does. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy, as great as it is, can't and shouldn't be compared to The Godfather. They just work on different levels.

And while I'm at it, I feel like listing some of my favorite films, in no particular order.

Good Fellas
Duck Soup
Horse Feathers
The Spirit of The Beehive
The 400 Blows
The Naked Gun
About Schmidt
Beauty And The Beast (Cocteau)
The Doom Generation
Blazing Saddles
Young Frankenstein
Mad Max
Surf Nazis Must Die
Thou Shalt Not Kill Except
Blue Velvet
Night Of The Living Dead
The Jerk
K. Silem Mohammad writes about American comedies at Lime Tree, and yeah these are great films, but what about Blazing Saddles? Might be the funniest movie of all time. But who knows. Never has 'holy shit' been used in a film with such perfect timing. I've noticed over repeated viewings that there's constant use of the s-word but no f-word. One can only guess that there was some in-between period in Hollywood where the s-word was cool but the f-word still wasn't allowed. I'm sure one could make alot out of the racial aspects of Blazing Saddles. What Blazing Saddles does is comment on how Westerns cast race. It deals in the stereotypes that Westerns (and other films) deal with. Its a satire. And a mind-boggling one at that- see Mel Brooks playing a stereotype of an Indian Chief as a stereotype of an Orthodox Jew. What made for so much institutional racism in Hollywood was how one-sided it was, no? In this film everybody gets it, and the only thing that's important is comedy.

A film like Gone With The Wind seems much much worse to me, because not only are stereotypes unquestioningly presented to us, but the dichotomy of White/Black characters is so jarringly unrealistic. The white characters are genteel and courageous, while most of the black characters are presented as people who are better off being led by white characters.

In Blazing Saddles, the protaganist is played by Cleavon Little, an African-American. As the new sherriff of Rock Ridge, he's possibly the only character who doesn't show himself to be an idiot. There's the saint-like doe-eyed Gene Wilder, but he's in a bottle for the first portion of the film. Like the Marx Brothers' Duck Soup, the film solves any and all problems with regard to 'plot' by allowing itself to simply succumb to insanity. Blazing Saddles has the wildest last 45 or so minutes of just about any film I can think of, and then, after the fourth wall's been blown up many times over, it returns to Western satire, but hey this is the 20th Century, 1974, so Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder ditch their horses and get into a classy ride. They drive off into the sunset. If you're still hung up on the racial epithets in this film, I direct you to the scene where the town of Rock Ridge is forming a group to stop the Governor from demolishing their homes to make room for the railroad. A comment on the provincialsim of Westerns, but you'll notice how diverse the group is. Unlike a satire such as say Team America, which has the "America Fuck Yeah" song, but no real point of view, Blazing Saddles has a position. It's anti-greed, anti-exploitation, pro-solidarity, pro-humor. Blazing Saddles comments on racial stereotypes, but it doesn't exploit them unquestioningly.
Can anyone tell me what 'torque' is? I have an idea. But I've heard the word 'torque' used in reference, usually in a sort hushed, terrified tone, such as the "Beware the 'torque' of a poem by so and so" (fill in poet). Is it referring to a poem one can easily lose control of? Like have you had to use a rotary scrubber ever? With a black (most abrasive color) pad? And it veers violently into the wall, at first, until you get it down. The other night I saw Jackass #2. I know critics are starting to warm up to Jackass, making it possibly one of those 'anti-movies'. The other night at Pick n Save I told Zack he should try the 'anti-pasta'. I don't know if there is anything particularly iconoclastic about this pasta, like if it's the Lenny Bruce or GG Allin or Kathy Acker of pastas. The GG Allin pasta would just be made out of poop. That's a no-brainer. Anti-brainer. But 'torque', maybe it would be like the Firehose Rodeo stunt in Jackass #2. I kind of like the idea of a poem as farmer-blow. And I think it would keeping with the Outrider Tradition, which I place myself in, firmly. Charles Olson is not giving me enough room on the couch. O, and a band called Tough Lesson. Kind of like those Scared Straight specials, only Indie Rock. But wait there's already been plenty of Straight Edge.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

There seems to be a phenomenon in poetry blogging that's similar to the Tracy Morgan bit where he's paranoid that his kids are looking at him and thinking to themselves, "I think I could take him."
I'm a poetry junkie with a short attention span. I check out books of poetry from the library, and barely look at many of them. I always think that I should find other things to read, just to read something, instead of watching The Simpsons or my roomate's Mr. Show dvds. Which reminds me, I was going to ask if anyone whose reading this could reccomend a novel or something for me to read. Fiction is difficult for me. I would say that one reason I read so much poetry is because I have a short attention span that is better suited to the amount of time it takes to read a poem (a short one anyway). I think that's partly true, but it would also seem to imply that poetry doesn't require attention. It does. Good poetry anyway. One can find language working through all of its aspects. Maybe one reason I love poetry more than any other literature is because it makes words do more than in other kinds of literature. But yeah, someone give me a book to read and I'll read it. I promise.
Before I was into poetry, I was a music person and for better or worse, read alot of Spin Magazine. In one issue, there was a review of two books of poetry; one I can't remember and the other, Decoy by Elaine Equi. I read the review and went and bought the book, basicly based off the fact that the author (Joshua Clover? he wrote for Spin sometimes) compared her poetry to Aphex Twin. Now that I'm familiar with both artists' work, and have read alot more poetry, I'm not sure how well the comparison holds up. Maybe. I don't know. But does anyone remember this? Probably the only time a once important music magazine ever mentioned poetry, besides Byron Coley writing about Ginsberg.

Monday, February 19, 2007

I work as a dishwasher at the local Art Concern's cafe. I sometimes write in my notebook when there's downtime. The other night I learned that when my manager sees me writing in it he 'wanted to slap it out his fucking hands'. Hmm. (Alot of those bemused hmm's on this blog lately.) He wanted to fire me on the spot, but my more immediate boss vouched for me.

But the writing is on the little notebook of the wall it seems. I'm probably going to get fired from my dishwashing job, if I don't find something soon and quit before that happens. (If you leave anywhere near me and know of anything, babysitting your cat for instance, let me know.)

I don't usually 'blog' about this, but I'm at a point in my life where the possibility of me ending up homeless, due to my chronic unemployability, doesn't seem that far-fetched. I've even thought about the possibility of trying to get myself diagnosed with something, so I can collect some kind of gov't money. In the immediate future, I guess if I ran out of money I'd have to move in with my Dad in the Township of Addison. Which would be ironic considering that the way I moved past the previous period of depression in my life was by moving away from there. But anyway, I owe multiple parties lots of money (there's one law firm that has a garnishment at the ready for me as soon I start making enough). I also owe my university 3300 bucks, and this keeps me from being able to take the single class I have left until I get the bachelor's degree that's ten years in the making.

Its hard for me to see anyway out of this, apart from suddenly marrying a woman who has, or whose family has, alot of money. You can dissect all the mommy-fruedian-bullshit in that sentence if you like. The idea that I would actually see that as a viable option.

So when one finds oneself in such a situation, one begins to really 'take it one day at a time' if one knows what's good for one's psychological well-being. Of course I realize I need to get a job, but if I get fired from my post as a dishwasher, well its gonna start to seem really hopeless.

I get the impression that alot of other 'poetry bloggers' are people who are either in Grad School or have an office job. Or they lose their job, they get another one almost immediately. And in my correspondences with other poets, they seem to complain about how busy they are. I am almost never busy. Maybe I should try to be busy. To make myself busy.

I don't know why I'm writing this. I guess the only people I figure will read it are friends anyway.

What keeps me going? I'm a poet. In the scope of the universe, the cosmos, what I owe to the spector of all things living and non-, my job is to write poems. I might be dead if it weren't for that. So I keep doing my thing which is no big deal. And the weather changes. And so do I.

Friday, February 16, 2007

I really want to write a poem that as joyful as the Beach Boys 'I Get Around'.


Poetry assignment: write a poem that illustrates the difference between the way turkey tastes and the way chicken tastes, without mentioning either.
So last night I saw Kent Johnson read at the UDub, and man I really was not feeling it. I tried to hold out judgement on the guy's work, knowing all about the internet involvments. But in the end, he read his Bahgdad/Iraq War/Experimental Poetry stuff from the Auschwitz book, and it seemed like shame was a major implement. Now, shame is not nessecarilly all bad. But maybe with a little subtlety. This was shame like double-bass drums, in-your-face, making devil horns with the fingers shame. Like someone who is operating with the idea in mind of 'just what can my audience handle?'. Which I find incredibly presumptuous.

Maybe this makes me sound like a pretentious aesthete or something, but I just don't see what rankling 'The Poetry Establishment' (whatever idea one has of what that is) will do towards ending the Iraq War. And its hard to take someone's anti-war stance seriously in light of the fact that they wrote a book of gossipy epigrams about other poets. Gossip and righteousness are a yucky mix indeed. But then maybe I just didn't get it? Hmm... I don't feel compelled to go back and look for it.

I know Kent Johnson might be considered old news. But UWM is actually his alma mater, and I think this is the first time, in a while anyway, that he's read here. The audience reaction was hard to gauge. Milwaukee's 'scene', tho less 'there' in some ways than a larger city's, is the same as NY or SF, I think. People have their groups and cadres they save their words for. It is irritating to me, because naive as this may sound, we are in a tradition. Poetry is a line of people connected. I do believe that. So I don't want to rip on other poets, but last night did leave a bad taste in my mouth. And maybe it was supposed to. But it would have been much more fun he'd jumped in the audience and grabbed their shirts, hitting himself with the microphone, ala Suicide shows of lore. The whole thing just felt like someone wagging their finger at me.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Why do I do this?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Tony Dungy is the new Charles Bernstein. On the rainy weather and the many turnovers, "Once we saw the forecast, we thought there'd be a chance of this." Get it? Chance of this? Ha! I have eaten the many turnovers! You try it. Its fun!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

I thought of a new band name: The Thirst For Mike Hauser