Saturday, October 27, 2007

Last week I had a dream where I was in some kind of cafe and Bruce Andrews was telling me about Shakespeare and driving some kind of sharp object into my arm at a 90 degree angle.
I never do anything elaborate for Halloween. Tonight I'll go as World's Greatest Dad. But I have a theory that this pisses some people off, my lack of effort at Halloween. Because they went to a great deal of effort, even spent alot of money, to look the way they do. And then here I am, in a t-shirt that says World's Greatest Dad, a lame cap, a fanny pack, and a name tag that says Albert Einstein? What is that? Some kind of ironic shit? He's making fun of Halloween isn't he? I spent 100 bucks to look like the guy from Beetljuice, and this guy spent 3 dollars at Value Village!
Some Favorite Pavement Lyrics

I am the only one searching for you
and when I get caught
then the search is through

painted portraits of minions & slaves
crotch mavens and one act plays
are they the only ones who laugh
at the jokes when they are so bad
and the jokes they're always bad
but they're not as bad as this

let’s spend our quarterstance randomly

you’ve been chosen as an extra
in the movie adaptation of the sequel to your life
--Shady Lane

so drunk in the august sun
and your the kind of girl I like
because you’re empty and I’m empty
--Gold Soundz

wake up early in the bed
to you morning comes so easy
--Type Slowly

--Cut Your Hair

write it on a post card, ‘Dad they broke me’
--Stop Breathin (possibly #1 Pavement tearjerker lyric)

lies and betrayals, fruit-covered nails, eee-electricity and lust
--Trigger Cut / Wounded Kite At :17”

I got style
miles & miles
so much style
that it’s wasted

don't hold your breath too long
this tunnel is a texas mile
--Texas Never Whispers

Friday, October 26, 2007

Clarity is madness. Is isolate damage.
To cleave off a facet for will dims the whole.
To take but a part is to spin the song to a single pitch.
To hear the wind as a howl. To see the light as a fire.
The expert is the crazed mosaic, the blood-veined stone.
I must strike the crystal without touching it.
I must spread the same light.
Nothing taken but what is
still now.

--from The Crystal Text, Clark Coolidge

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


walk away all chocolate
past generations
repudiate the ordinary
whistful underbelly themes

prom performance
flight suit antics of negatory
big brother whistle blower

the car is parked
in our periphery

as a generation of
general underbellys
we, hapless
grow despondent in
white chocolate light

cooly shutting down venus
with the evidence handy
call to transcribe around
a bestial floor with an open bar

reverse conduits
or dropsy updates
Sexual Poem

you of
the opposite

from my po-

don’t know what’s
good for

hold my
cock a minute

ok I’m back

I have
no arms no legs
no nothing


Illuminated Poem

what if we
forgot the

and they alight?

what if we
their function

and we alight?

Friday, October 19, 2007

El Nino

you're not so great

(snare hit)
John Ashbery

Riding home and just beating a storm I thought, Boy this is really some dusk-charged air!

And I rode past a car with a bumper sticker: this too shall pass.

I wonder if the car was referring to itself.
When I was a teenager I wanted to be a rock critic, and I had a guidance counselor who was sympathetic. Or at least seemed to want to help. So he first set me up with this publication called Maximum Ink. I was sent cd's by bands called Walt Mink, Humble Gods and lowercase. (Get it?) What I wrote for Walt Mink was something along the lines of "The next time you see Bob Dylan at a coffee shop, kick him in the balls and ask him to sing 'Never To Be Found' by the Meat Puppets and you have the sound of Walt Mink." About Humble Gods I think I made fun of their punk image and how they have a song where the singer says he has to carry a knife because people are out to get him. And I think I made some vague comparison between the singer for lowercase and Lou Barlow (but I think I was actually remembering Jason Lowenstein's voice) and someone's grandma. At some point before or after the magazine actually folded and didn't exist for a while, a person called me and asked me if I wanted to go to Milwaukee to review a band at The Rave, which was the city's 'alternative' venue. I didn't know how to even get to Milwaukee then, so I chickened out. I said something to the effect of 'homework', but I also managed to brag about this underground paper that me and a friend had distributed at school that day. He tried to act interested. In the course of the magazine disappearing and reappearing with a different editorship, I never bothered to get back into it. The reviews were never published either.

On another occasion, my guidance
counseler got the number of magazine based out of Milwaukee called milk. Not to be confused with Milk Magazine online that's edited by the estimable Larry Sawyer out of Chicago. milk was run by some guys, and one of them I think now writes about music for the Onion. I called the office and of course I was very nervous. The outgoing message was "This is milk, blah blah..." It was literally an outgoing message that trailed off at the end. Looking back it's pretty funny. But in the state I was in, I did not react well. I actually launched into an obnoxious sarcastic rant about the fact that they had an answering machine. I seem to recall the phrase "really blasting off into 1980s guys!", and then at some point stopping myself or realizing what I'd done or something. My incoming message ended with me actually enquiring maybe they would want me to review records for them or something, and leaving my name and number. I never heard back.

There was controversy earlier in my high school tenure over a record review of Jon Spencer Blue Explosion, where I said the f word several times and made some allusion about getting pissed at someone for standing up in front of my seat at a porno theater. The school paper advisor and the editor were both pretty liberal and they allowed the f word and everything else. And they allowed the f word and the allusions to rape I put in a couple 'creative' pieces. This all got mention on The Mark Belling Show. He's a local conservative talk guy here in Milwaukee. And
Slinger is a conservative place so you can imagine that enough parents were listening. And there was moral outrage. The paper's advisor and editor decided to make the next issue largely about this incident and the larger free speech issues at hand. And those were free speech issues because the paper would slowly become more and more subject to censorship under succeeding advisors. But my good friend at the time (hey there!) published an editorial called Jello Biafra The Oblivious Criminal, which ended as a diatribe about my taste in music. He compared it to a hobo walking into an opulent buffet and picking out one little crumb and praising that crumb as the best thing on the buffet. Jello Biafra was the name I published the creative pieces under. I guess they were sort of prose poems about my idea of some harsh reality elsewhere, but I didn't really know who Jello Biafra was. I just picked his name out of some magazine because I liked it. If you had handed me a Dead Kennedys tape I probably would've loved it. I was called into the principal's office and at some point after we agreed that I was going to clean up my act, he asked me what I was going to review next. I said I was writing a review of The Velvet Underground & Nico. He said, "The Velvet Underground? No one knows about them anymore do they?"

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Picante Sauce of Yore

opened with charm
they are rebuilding something along it’s edges
not through port or hole
did you sup in lee
trevino’s rippling tent
muttering ‘New York City New York City’
until the hush built to a kind of ambient clatter
the white spheroids as stably aligned
as geese flying over marsh waters
in films demonstrating THE MYSTERY OF GOD?
both of our boats were absconded
into the lacey fog
and us in them still waving toward
some point along the shore
we remember as orange
and with jollity dreaming of eggs benedict
texas toast and maker’s mark whiskey
and dreaming of thighs and low interest rates
and dreaming at last of reality of the ruins of
San Antonio and the urine stains
among the casual artifacts of our youth

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My new favorite band is Slowdive. This happened at around the tenth viewing of the below video for "Alison" last time. I would say it's about as good as shoegaze gets, which is very good. Something about the gently lolling chorus and the accompanying My Bloody Valentine-like searing guitar makes me wish I like didn't have a body or something. Know what I mean? Like really good music in this genre, MBV, early early Verve, Ride and yeah I'll include Cocteau Twins, it hangs in the air, barely existing and yet completely resonant. And the video's a pretty good approximation. There may some drug that can abbreviated to it's first letter involved. But what the hell do I know about that kinda thing? Oh yeah and two Slowdive songs appeared in The Doom Generation. The one at the credits, Blue Skied an' Clear, was also really good but then something on YouTube claimed to be it and it wasn't the song I remember. Check out "Allison".

Slowdive - Allison

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pony Boy

I once saw the Arcade Fire play in Milwaukee on bill that included The Unicorns (who I call the Hughnicorns) and my friends' band The Holy Mary Motor Club. I enjoyed The "A.F"s performance a great deal. I went up to the table where the girl in the band who dates the singer (not the girl in the band who wasn't dating the singer) was sitting, and handed her a piece of paper that had some kind of terrible poem with the word "fart" in it. This other person named Anthony was standing next to me. We were vaguely trash-talking Montreal to her. The next day I stood up in a wedding and read a poem about love, having been asked to do so. The person in the bride's party just read a Kenneth Koch poem. Which I should have done because Kenneth Koch probably knew more about love then I do. The sun just came out. I now have a new understanding of the title to one of Kenneth's early works, When The Sun Tries To Go On. It could be like in the show biz sense of "Sun! You're on!". In a way, Kenneth Koch was the Lorne Michaels of that poem. Enter sun stage left. Huh?
Huh? And the clouds have weight problems and stage fright. Or is it I who has those issues? What if I owned a motorcycle, like a Honda Goldwing? Do you think people would call me Honda Hauser? "There goes Honda Hauser on his Goldwing, off to another night of crime fighting." If you would like to be rescued by a pudgey man on a Honda Goldwing, please leave a comment in the comment box. I have a friend who once said, "What if Jesus were a Cyclops?", and I laughed for nearly five minutes. We were at Dairy Queen, and I always think of seeing the film The Outsiders and how there's a scene where Pony Boy is eating some sort of Sloppy Joe-type sandwich. And I always wished because of that that you could get some kind of Sloppy Joe-type sandwich at Dairy Queen. I don't know about you but I think they have the best fast food burgers. The sun just started trying to come out again. If you disagree that Dairy Queen has the best fast food burgers, please leave a comment in the comment box. Sometimes when I am talking to a visiting poet, I think it might be less awkward if we were at Dairy Queen. I once wrote a poem that is as follows:

Bless You

We fall asleep
inside Dairy Queen

We wake up
outside Dairy Queen

If you think that is scary, please leave a comment in the comment box. Joe Massey was asking people to help him name a press, and I just thought of Pony Boy Press. I am laughing now, but I think I may actually use it at some point. Now the sun is behind a cloud again, but it looks as though at some point it won't be.

A Geology of Groovy Patois

there’s only one way to rock
and that would be back-to-back
lexicon participle fracture

of course one would prefer
to have been asked
and given courtly shoes
to be hunted in

but hey that’s just me
I’m one of those
kinda guys

my friends have said I’m a kidder
or dead in the morning
but perky in the afternoon

warming up in the bullpen of love
Ned Yost is known to rest his head
on my knee

and everytime this happens
and the insert button is accidentally

we have to get up
drink coffee
pack our backpacks

and drive all the way
out to Watertown to
cheer this guy up

alone in bed
a certain slant of sunlight
away from feeling pretty ok

and he always said
“there’s only one way
to hunt for truffles”
and he would know

alternating between the resistance
to glossing one’s memory

and becoming an outright
lexicon of indifference to
shopping malls on the outskirts

which actually makes them
a little more fun

there are balloons
children in their pantaloons
who are really an inter-
ference within a much more

shrouded, desperate one

as inimitable as a of glass water
resting on the ledge of the air

as crystal clear as the light
between your thighs

which Rich say reek of
Honky Tonk Revenge Fantasies

but I think not

remember when we lost
Kip at the auto mall?

I’m taken back to those days
swimming through the aroma
of lemon grass

basking in total glow sperm
John Waters What-up moments

we discover first that
out west Hardee’s becomes

with a splotchy star where
the asterisk would be

those days of kissing in stables
how recover those?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I Guess This An Essay

It seems like whenever I read something in praise of Pavement, the writer is also quick to note that there are some Pavement tracks they definitely don't like. These devisive Pavement slay tracks have included "Hit The Plane Down", "Brinx Job" and "Fight This Generation". I don't dislike any of Pavement, that is I think it's beside the point. If you want concision, you really shouldn't be listening to them in the first place. To some extent I've always loved artists, be they Allen Ginsberg or Pavement, who are willing to fall on their faces once in a while. I think the greatest rock record of all time is probably The Raincoats. So that establishes that I like what others might call sloppiness. Why do I care why I like what I like tho? Especially since my taste doesn't make all that much sense to me anyway. I've always resisted liking things that I should like, just because I like these other things. I know that there are some people who are obsessives and have an encyclopedic knowledge of certain types of music or poetry or cuisine. But I've always kind of thought that I would never be one of those people (who I respect!), because after about 1 to 2 thirds of the way into the steeping process I just lose interest and move on to something else. I'm actually lucky to have been born when I was, because if I were kid now, I would probably be on every ADD drug under the sun. Which doesn't seem right. But I like to think that there are times when I can use this short attention span to my advantage, in making inroads toward post-avant membership (ha HA), or at least being willing to fall on my face in the process. And then there's sincerity. If I write something, I really don't see why anyone should go about investigating whether I meant it. But I do believe in two things I guess: one is devotion and the other is seriousness. This is how I understand devotion. Once I've published something, I will care about whether it's recieved to some extent by an audience that appreciates it and loves it, and I will also care about how it is recieved by that audience. As an addendum I also subscribe to a loose idea of being commited enough to the process that one is willing write things that are potentially stupid, embarrassing or even petty. This ties into how I understand seriousness, that once I've started writing I will follow that through or least investigate until the thing itself seems to be exhausted. Does this mean that I have to be exhausted? I don't know. For example as I write this, I'm not winded. But I'm interested in your response.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

One of the most amazing readings of poetry I've ever heard in my life is here. I sat there listening to this, my mouth agape, like some joyfully retarded pumpkin. I think if I had actually been present at this reading, I would have caused some kind of scene. They would have asked me to leave, or stand outside, and I'd have had to spy on the rest of it, Creeley-peering-through-The-Cedar-Tavern-window style. So it's better that I was solitary in me room for it.

Monday, October 08, 2007

How Weird Is This?

A dream where I'm on tour with The Arcade Fire, and I think me and the blond one are like stranded in a McDonalds parking lot somewhere, until Marx comes by in his Hummer to pick us up, so we can catch up to the rest of the band on tour.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


I've been reading the Jacket discussion about humor in poetry, and apart from the entire thing getting bogged down in the question of what is "unintentionally bad" poetry, I've noticed that this and many other discussions of said topic seem to center on whether humor and poetry can be reconciled. But I like Kenneth Koch's quote, which can be read at right under the title of Jonathan Mayhew's blog: "The very existence of poetry should make us laugh. What is it all about? What is it for?" (Completely off-topic, I was never a student of Kenneth Koch's, but having an insight such as this must be a big part of what made him a great teacher.) Another idea Koch had was that the most absurd thing he could write was better than the most serious or solemn thing another poet could write, and so (my shakey interpretation anyway) we get a poetics of most absurd thought-best thought.

The problem with the perception of humor in poetry seems to be bound up in a tendency to approach humor from the perspective of seriousness. Whereas, as he himself points out, a person like Gary Sullivan came from humor to write works that, in the scariness of the truth that is illuminated, approach seriousness. Much the same way Lenny Bruce had material that was literally funny and scary. Thanks perhaps more to Kenneth Koch than anyone else, there is now a real indentifiable tradition of humor in American poetry.

Please understand that I'm not accusing the people were involved in that Jacket discussion of not having a sense of humor with relation to poetry, a sense of how humor relates to poetry, or a sense of how poetry in and of itself is humorous. But Silliman suggesting that (corrrect me if I'm wrong) humor has less staying power because it relies too much on a specific context, lit up a big WTF in my noggin, and seemed to steer the discussion for longer than it should have. If that's true, it would have to apply to all poetry.

The elements of humor, from irony to nonsequiter to satire to juxtaposition are so central to my own sense of poetry that I can't imagine what kind of dreadful tripe I'd be writing without them. And there's comedy abound in a work like Tjanting, tho not the same kind of humor in say The Simpsons. Coolidge? Hilarious. Rae Armantrout? Ditto. Likewise Berrigan, Ashbery, Notley, hell even Niedecker has a sense of humor, even if her work isn't always high-larious. (Though I could find some passages that are.) And of course there's Ron Padgett, who has the reputation of being a "funny poet". Two people on the guest list at my dream dinner would definitely be him and Steven Wright. Having no sense of humor is just not an option in poetry.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Sibylle Baier, Colour Green

Earlier this year, a friend lent me Colour Green by Sibylle Baier. Recorded from 1970-73 on a basic reel-to-reel machine after a trip through The Alps in Genoa, it's songs achieve a starkness that will make some recall a certain floppy-haired English songster who sang of pastel moons. Some may even say Sibylle Baier is the female version of this person, he of the Fruit Tree.

Sibylle Baier doesn't appear to have been among an entrenched folk music or hipster culture. She did appear in the Wim Wenders film Alice in the Cities and it's speculated that "Wim" is about Wenders. A google search brings up as many hits detailing that one film appearance as her music career.

But the music sets itself apart, with a deliberate wistfullness, and a sober ken for the basic struggle of one's existence. One might say that Sibylle Baier doesn't sound like a very happy person, but that's honesty they're hearing, which involves alot of pain. Most people aren't willing to soberly face pain.

The bareness of the compositions (all but the final "Give Me A Smile" find Ms. Baier's voice accompanied only by
herself on the Spanish guitar) belie a melodic inventiveness that brings to mind at some points Joni Mitchell, but less jazzy. "Softly", for instance, has a subtly acrobatic structure, a steady sing-song besieged by an almost lilting chorus of "my daughter my son one by one". The lyrics for the most part address simple encounters with friends and lovers, the fact of those quietly intense moments. One imagines a person alone in her kitchen fingering songs she wrote, keeping time with whatever's at hand, alone with various prospects and possibilities.

"Remember the Day" begins with the simple intonation "remember the day/ when I left home to buy some food/ myself in my painful february mood/ I did what I could". It goes on to describe the circumstances of a trip to Genoa, which brought her face to face with "the cold ocean", returning to "I did what I could". This countenance of one's own striving, besides bringing to mind any number of Robert Creeley poems, displays an exceptional kindness toward the self and the circumstances that bracket it throughout a life.

Though the music is soft, it evokes the muted after-effects of a harrowing experience. But maybe all of life is beautifully harrowing.

No song is more poignant than "The End", a document of a person quietly struggling with the end of a friendship, dealing in the plain facts of the situation and what can't be known on any other than a purely emotional level: "dear friend I cannot tell the reasons/ why we started well/ good time/ gave me some wine/ when you opened the door/ you seemed hurt/ didn't try to speak a word to me."

Sibylle Baier sings in a kind of breatheless way, albeit with a diction sometimes as plain as speech. When I hear Colour Green, I'm reminded of how lyrical song, whether in the context of music or poetry, can help a person who is otherwise very shy articulate themselves, even in detailing loss.

This record achieves a feeling like being completely alone, at say 3 in the morning. So naturally it's perfect for listening late at night. The final "Give me a Smile" is a nice lush composition with strings abound, but it also demonstrates that if the previous 13 songs were given that same ornamental treatment (compared to a single person with guitar anyway), their subtle genius might have sounded slightly less audible. Ultimately, with this kind of music, one wants just the person doing it. Quietly, bravely.