America's true poet laureate - gravelly voice of our tortured, torturing national soul, trickster guide to lost highways and long dirt roads - turns 70 today.
May the old mischief-maker and expectation-breaker keep on keepin' on...
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
America's true poet laureate - gravelly voice of our tortured, torturing national soul, trickster guide to lost highways and long dirt roads - turns 70 today.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Things are a little crazy for Alexandra and I right now. We're in the midst of a move, the semester is ending, and both of my jobs have a lot going down. Don't really have time to post anything. Not that I have much to say these days.
In time, however, I do plan on posting more regularly.
In time, perhaps I will have more to say.
In time, we will be moved into our new cottage.
In time, the semester will be over.
In time . . . Well, I'll let Sly and the Family Stone spell it all out. From the great and groovy 1973 funk classic, Fresh.
Sunday, May 08, 2011
Alexandra's new collection of poetry, Dear Jean Seberg, has now made its way into the world. Winner of the 2010 Burnside Review Chapbook Contest, as selected by Matthew Dickman, the book features a wonderful cover by the artist Robert Edwin. Inside and out, it's a beautiful work of art - and a steal at $6.
Here's what Alexandra has to say about the book on her blog:
This collection of poems really came out of sitting on the couch--I mean sitting on the couch watching films: black and white films, Technicolor at its most Technicolor, Steve McQueen car chases, French films (thanks to my librarian husband's knack for discovering obscure, and then not-so-obscure, directors and actors and then being very good at using the local library system to get access to sometimes hard-to-find DVD or video copies of these films). We found ourselves coming up with our own homespun versions of film cycles: William Holden Month, or Yves Montand Week, or, a Jean-Luc-Godard film cycle. Thus, I re-watched "Breathless" and discovered a new interest in the cherub-faced, blond American from Iowa, Jean Seberg, who found herself (via a rather circuitous route) in a Jean Luc Godard film in the 1960's.
Hence, the title poem of this collection. This chapbook is really a journey onto a fuller, longer collection, but I believe it stands on its own as a verbal stamp of some of the images, films, words and sounds that have influenced me over the last few years since moving out to the eastern end of Long Island. I don't consider Dear Jean Seberg to be about film; I consider it a collection of poems infused with the atmosphere of some films I watched and how images and moments in those films flickered in and out of my life long after watching them. . . .
Jean Seberg led an enigmatic, hard-to-categorize life, and my only hope is that these
poems begin to capture some of the wistful strangeness that was the backdrop to her life and the surreal collisions that can occur, at times, in anyone's life.
Here's a sample poem from the collection that was published last year on Verse Daily:
Dear Babaushka, dear
ba-ba-ba-boom, dear oh-my-God
don’t broil me alive. The world
is a percussive instrument
we strum until we die—hum, hum
go the car wheels over the drive;
pluck, pluck the rain sings
for the one-millionth,
bloody time. The feet
earn their calloused soles
and are the saintliest
body part of all—stomp,
stomping along. Dear
Bang on a Can, I like the way
you slap the sunken-eye
of the hollow drum. I like your
New York band’s underwater,
booming sound. I like the sea’s
surface as well—how it’s
hard or soft depending
on the distance from which
you choose to approach. Just try
jumping from the Brooklyn Bridge
towards that ruffling,
dark scarf of water
purring beneath. A kiss can be
the softest slap of all, but
I admire the snow, its soft-shoe
shuffle, its Fred-Astaire
panache, as it debonairly dresses
the trees in white, while slickening
the pavement towards
tuxedo black. Blah, blah, blah,
people do go on about whatever
it is they think they know. Bruno
was my mother’s maiden name—
a brood of Italians from Sicily
settling in a small, sea-side,
Rhode Island town,
near the prosperous,
budding, rubber factory.
That factory’s been converted
into high-brow, assisted living now—
with pale sconces in the hall
and a recreation
room—a place we almost,
but never did,
send my grandmother to.
sunrise: the world vacillates
documentary and James Bond
thriller, but the clouds burst
and explode between genres;
some evenings, splitting the sky
into lavender, melon
and a wintry vanilla.
Friday, April 29, 2011
The only Royal Wedding that captures my interest. Fred Astaire and Jane Powell performing a great tune by Burton Lane and Alan Jay Lerner - with one of the longest song titles ever: "How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Loved You When You Know I've Been a Liar All My Life?"
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Have enjoyed discovering the Isley Brothers 1970s stuff. Dig this cover of the Seals & Croft hit. With some wicked guitar by Ernie Isley, who was influenced by a young guitarist who joined the Isley Brothers backing group in 1964 and stayed until 1966, living for a while in the Isley family home: Jimmy James. Better known as Jimi Hendrix.
UPDATE: I said "1970s," but that includes some of their late 1960s stuff as well. For instance, their classic, "It's Your Thing," from 1969.
Friday, April 22, 2011
"Arthur," a remake of the sloshed "classic" from 1981, has so many things wrong with it that one can only stare at the screen in disbelief.Ouch.
I was reminded of the famous opening line of Greil Marcus' 1970 Rolling Stone review of Bob Dylan's Self Portrait album:
"What is this shit?"(It was an awful album. Though it had a few gems buried in the muck.)
Which got me thinking about Roger Ebert's book and ongoing web site section that collects his most brutal reviews: Your Movie Sucks. Critics always seem to save their most entertaining work for the least entertaining films. Here are a couple of excerpts from recent dogs:
"Battle: Los Angeles" is noisy, violent, ugly and stupid. Its manufacture is a reflection of appalling cynicism on the part of its makers, who don't even try to make it more than senseless chaos. Here's a science-fiction film that's an insult to the words "science" and "fiction," and the hyphen in between them.There's also a special section called Ebert's Most Hated, which has a number of enjoyable reviews.
"The Green Hornet" is an almost unendurable demonstration of a movie with nothing to be about. Although it follows the rough storyline of previous versions of the title, it neglects the construction of a plot engine to pull us through. There are pointless dialogue scenes going nowhere much too slowly, and then pointless action scenes going everywhere much too quickly.
And now I am faced with this movie ("Atlas Shrugged"), the most anticlimactic non-event since Geraldo Rivera broke into Al Capone’s vault. I suspect only someone very familiar with Rand’s 1957 novel could understand the film at all, and I doubt they will be happy with it. For the rest of us, it involves a series of business meetings in luxurious retro leather-and-brass board rooms and offices, and restaurants and bedrooms that look borrowed from a hotel no doubt known as the Robber Baron Arms. . . .
There are conversations in English after which I sometimes found myself asking, "What did they just say?" The dialogue seems to have been ripped throbbing with passion from the pages of Investors’ Business Daily.
I hated this movie (North, from 1995). Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.I have to say, though, Ebert's never been as gleefully vicious in his reviews as others. He likes too many films, giving some pretty bad movies decent ratings. I mean, he awarded two stars to "Batman & Robin," the 1997 motion picture turd with George Clooney as Batman. Even the teenage boys at IMDB gave it a 3.5 rating.
I've been enjoying the reviews of Andrew O'Hehir at Salon for the last few months. He's a good writer. And he does get gleefully vicious:
"Your Highness" must have seemed like a great idea at the outset -- and by "the outset," I mean the six baked minutes it took co-writer and star Danny McBride to scribble the basic concept on the back of an unpaid invoice from the swimming-pool guy. That basic concept appears to be "Cheech & Chong make 'The Princess Bride,'" or perhaps "Beavis and Butt-head meet 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail.'" Except, two things: Both of those concepts sound way funnier than this movie is in practice and, no, it shouldn't take six minutes to write that. I'm thinking there was a lot of giggling and high-fiving and talking in junior-high Shakespeare accents involved. . . .Anyone have a favorite brutal review?
Gingival surgery would be more fun than watching this brain-draining, spirit-sucking attempt at a stoner spoof, which combines the cutting edge of frat-boy wit, the excitement of a mid-'80s made-for-TV action flick and the authenticity of a Renaissance Faire held in an abandoned field behind a Courtyard by Marriott. A bus trip from Duluth to Sioux City would be more fun, and don't think I didn't do my research: That takes 13 hours and costs 96 bucks. . . .
For a few hours after having seen "Your Highness," I considered the possibility that it was the worst movie ever made. The image of McBride as the dim, smug and beefy Prince Thadeous, who begins the story as an irritating lardass loser and ends it as an even more irritating hero, was burned into my brain. . . .
Almost a full day of near-sobriety later, "Your Highness" no longer looks like the worst movie in history (although it might make the top 1 percent). . . . It's not a criminal act, exactly, that [Danny McBride] has dragged a once-promising director and several talented co-stars down the cannabis-scented rathole that is this epic, unwatchable disaster. I can only assume that his parents and friends and various other people genuinely enjoy his work as a writer and performer, and do not wish as fervently as I do that he would find some other occupation.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
With the King and Queen in attendance*, Real Madrid finally won Spain's Copa del Rey tournament again, after an 18 year drought, defeating Barcelona 1-0 in extra time.
Unfortunately, while celebrating the victory in Madrid, Segio Ramos dropped the trophy off the top of the team bus, which then ran over the cup.
"Emergency services gathered up the broken pieces and returned them to the bus, but the trophy did not reappear at the club's traditional celebration spot at the Plaza de Cibeles in central Madrid."
* "Coach Jose Mourinho bowed before King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia as he received his mini-trophy, while Madrid goalkeeper Casillas hugged the pair before using the king as support to climb up on a support and hoist the trophy high."
I love Iker Casillas. Evidently, he played quite well in the match.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Part of the "burned" memo, stamped Top Secret/MJ-12, rescued from a fire before it was destroyed. The memo is written by the director of Central Intelligence (circa early 1960s) and refers to Lancer (Secret Service code word for JFK), and states that he has made inquiries about their activities "which we cannot allow."
Obviously, the Cigarette Smoking Man has his hand in all of this...
Was JFK killed because of his interest in aliens? Secret memo shows president demanded UFO files 10 days before death
An uncovered letter written by John F Kennedy to the head of the CIA shows that the president demanded to be shown highly confidential documents about UFOs 10 days before his assassination.AOL News (who knew there was such a thing?!) offers a more in-depth look in The JFK-UFO Connection: Bogus Documents or Unanswered Questions?
The secret memo is one of two letters written by JFK asking for information about the paranormal on November 12 1963, which have been released by the CIA for the first time. . . .
Alien researchers say the latest documents, released to Mr Lester by the CIA, add weight to the suggestion that the president could have been shot to stop him discovering the truth about UFOs. . . .
[C]onspiracy theorists said the documents add interest to a disputed file, nicknamed the ‘burned memo’, which a UFO investigator claims he received in the 1990s.
The document, which has scorch marks, is claimed to have been posted to UFO hunter Timothy Cooper in 1999 by an unknown CIA leak, but has never been verified.
In a note sent with the document, the apparent leaker said he worked for CIA between 1960 and 1974 and pulled the memo from a fire when the agency was burning some of its most sensitive files.
The undated memo contains a reference to ‘Lancer’, which was JFK's Secret Service code name.
On the first page, the director of Central Intelligence wrote: ‘As you must know, Lancer has made some inquiries regarding our activities, which we cannot allow.
Now, if we could just find a connection between JFK and the Knights Templar. . .
Oh, wait. Pope Clement issued the papal bull Pastoralis Praeeminentiae, ordering the arrest of all Templars and the seizure of their assets, on November 22, 1307.
Coincidence or conspiracy?
Nine seasons of the X-Files, and they couldn't do this episode?!?!?
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Glenn Greenwald has a good summary of recent examples of how our two-tiered justice system works, or, as he describes it, "the way in which political and financial elites now enjoy virtually full-scale legal immunity for even the most egregious lawbreaking, while ordinary Americans, especially the poor and racial and ethnic minorities, are subjected to exactly the opposite treatment: the world's largest prison state and most merciless justice system."
The New York Times this morning has a long article so perfectly illustrating what I mean by "two-tiered justice system" -- and the way in which it obliterates the core covenant of the American Founding: equality before the law -- that it's impossible for me not to highlight it.
The article's headline tells most of the story: "In Financial Crisis, No Prosecutions of Top Figures." It asks: "why, in the aftermath of a financial mess that generated hundreds of billions in losses, have no high-profile participants in the disaster been prosecuted?" And it recounts that not only have no high-level culprits been indicted (or even subjected to meaningful criminal investigations), but few have suffered any financial repercussions in the form of civil enforcements or other lawsuits. The evidence of rampant criminality that led to the 2008 financial crisis is overwhelming, but perhaps the clearest and most compelling such evidence comes from long-time Wall-Street-servant Alan Greenspan; even he was forced to acknowledge that much of the precipitating conduct was "certainly illegal and clearly criminal" and that "a lot of that stuff was just plain fraud."
Despite that clarity and abundance of the evidence proving pervasive criminality, it's entirely unsurprising that there have been no real criminal investigations or prosecutions. That's because the overarching "principle" of our justice system is that criminal prosecutions are only for ordinary rabble, not for those who are most politically and financially empowered. We have thus created precisely the two-tiered justice system against which the Founders most stridently warned and which contemporary legal scholars all agree is the hallmark of a lawless political culture.
In a 1795 letter, George Washington vowed that "the executive branch of this government never has, nor will suffer, while I preside, any improper conduct of its officers to escape with impunity." Thomas Jefferson -- in an April 16, 1784, letter to Washington -- argued that the foundation on which American justice must rest is "the denial of every preeminence." It's literally difficult to imagine how we could be further away from those core principles.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
After what's seemed like an endless winter, when yesterday was cold and foggy, the sun came out today and the temperatures finally broke into the 70s. I'm sitting outside on the roof next to us, listening to some groovy music, sipping on a margarita and staring out across the Long Island sound all the way to Connecticut. Grateful for this life and this sun.