Ever wonder what it's like to be stranded on a Pacific island? You don't need to be shipwrecked, just have the US government repossess the one plane that goes there.


Stuff that came out this year, currently residing on silver iPod mini:

Boards Of Canada, The Campfire Headphase
Bonnie "Prince" Billy & Matt Sweeney, Superwolf
Broken Social Scene, Broken Social Scene
Clap Your Hands!, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!
The Decemberists, Picaresque
Explosions in the Sky, How Strange, Innocence
LCD Soundsystem, LCD Soundsystem
Mogwai, Government Commissions: BBC Sessions, 1996-2003
New Pornographers, Twin Cinema
Sigur Rós,Takk
Sufjan Stevens, Illinois
Various artists, Run The Road
Vashti Bunyan, Lookaftering
Wolf Parade, Apologies to the Queen Mar


Elizabeth Murray, Moma

Katie and I braved an absurdly overcrowded magic-tree-worshiping Rockefeller Center midtown crowd to check out the Elizabeth Murray show at Moma. The show covered several distinct periods. Some notes:

-Casual, doodle-like use of line as a fundamental design element. These kind of lines have as much to do how the tendons, muscles and bones of the arm and hand want to work as they have to do with the visual effects painters seek to create with this technology. Murray uses the kind of lines and interacting shapes you might fill in semi-consciously on a notepad as you talk on the phone, but she brings this to a epic level.

-Insistence on traditional oil on canvas, but custom molding the canvases into puzzle pieces, often in layers, giving the ground of the paintings a unique sense of freedom -- elements related one way that could just as easily be re-arranged and done another way. It gives her partially hybridized approach - painting pushing into sculpture -- the looseness, quickness, levity and freedom of a doodle or piece of off-the-cuff comic art.

-An interestingly complicated take on coloration. The early stuff -- earthy and subdued, the middle stuff -- bold and raucous clashes, the late stuff -- pull out all the stops visionary integration. Not sure you can call it visionary, though, since this work is sane and is possessed of so much levity. It's an entire class of it's own: cute/visionary?

The work in the final room from 2000-2005 was the most interesting for me. On a large scale yet totally approachable, integrating much of what had come before it. Integration in subject matter -- internal organs, pets, tables, rooms, keyholes -- living quarters inside and out. In patterning -- where the elements work together in a loose but highly coherent kind of co-operation without any part being forced into servitude to a grand scheme. All with a wild coloration that made me think of Huichol visionary yarn painting.


There something about the moment when the Northeast Corridor train emerges from the perpetual darkness of the Penn Station tunnels into the space and light of New Jersey: a sudden expanse of frozen marsh grass, dilapidated power lines and rusting storage containers. The expansive openness and stasis contrast sharply with the constricted views and hyperactivity of the City. You are in another world. It's a moment I never grow accustomed to.


I had to explain to Richard Pryor that Richard Pryor had died. He was standing on some kind of elevated floor, like a stage.

Because I didn't know the late Richard Pryor personally, I felt uncomfortable being the one to relay the sad news.


Hybrid Poetry Class #2

Walter Abish, 99:The New Meaning

"Wasn't his body after all, exploiting the capital formation of his thoughts, thriving on surplus value of his mind, and gorging itself on his will?"

Kamau Brathwaite, The Zea Mexican Diary

"And it was here I couldn't help her . . . for the lungs, I was in touch w/ Betelgeuse . . . beating there in the heart of the cold fury of Orion . . . whenever she coughed or seemed in danger, I wd bring that throbbing nebula into the very centre of my head my heart & hold off . . . it seemed . . . whatever was going on wrong..."

Emily Dickinson, The "Master" Letters from Selected Letters

"You send water over the dam in my brown eyes"


This piece on Petroleum Hat just out in the Dec Publisher's Weekly (click the Google link and scroll down). Check out pieces on Shanna Compton, David Larson and Linh Dinh.

Petroleum Hat
Drew Gardner. Roof (SPD, dist.), $12.95 paper (96p) ISBN 1-931824-17-7

The most salient form of "Google poetry"—or the collaging and strategic search-and-replacing of text from Web searches—has come to be called "Flarf" by an Internet collective that produces a great deal of it. None of the Flarf poets—including K. Silem Mohammad (Deer Head Nation), Gary Sullivan (How to Proceed in the Arts; he wrote the first Flarf poem, and coined the term) and Katie Degentesh (The Anger Scale, forthcoming)—is exclusively such, as is true for Gardner, also a Flarf listmember. Gardner's debut, Sugar Pill (2003), used hemistichic verse to slow down and process, beautifully, the money-and-information assault of contemporary culture and to develop a countering eco-animism on a par with that of Juliana Spahr. This book, clearly written (or Googled up) in reaction to the current Iraq war and the political climate surrounding it, is a lot more acidly ironic (or, in group parlance, "Flarfy") in an "extreme times, extreme measures" sort of way. Dropping the most absurd first-person declarations (some sweet: "I am reduced to being a fluffy lifeboat again") into nearly 50 lyrics, Gardner conjures the kind of complicated, childish political ignorance and faulty, malevolent citizenship that George Carlin can only joke about. It is this book's particular genius to make tightly grafted stacks of assertions like "A woman's hormone-driven 'logic'/ will equate power with war" (from "Chicks Dig War") start to look like a cable news crawl. (Dec.)


I know not having words is the major stumbling block for many pop/rock listeners trying to approach jazz music. I'm sometimes trying to get away from words in music, because language can have such power to ruin music. When listening to a band that is new to me I sometimes try to avoid understanding the words for as long as possible for this reason.

Listening today to Quasi, Sea Shanty. When I hit "Drifting on the Murky Sargasso of the Everyday," enunciated clearly, I'm like, oh well, I can't go back and suffer though that line again, despite the fact that the music on the track is good.
There's something about the intense acidic beauty of the lead guitar tone in Elliot Smith's Strung Out Again -- it sounds like it is about to come totally unglued but remains intact and strong -- that made me go back and listen to the song three times on the iPod this morning. The feeling of -- shouldn't I be coming a little unglued under some dire but routine set of circumstances -- and yet I'm not? The tone is similar in spirit to the sound in Eddie Hazel's Maggot Brain guitar solo, but ends up in a different place. Hazel allows the substance of his tone to pull completely apart at moments, embracing a dissolving force of experience by channeling it into a kind of escape route.


Peter G. S. Schjeldahl on Petroleum Hat.
Jonathan reviews the worst french fry ever.


Maybe it's time to re-think the age-old Bob Grenier vs. Ice Cube dichotomy.



from Packet One -- 1st Hybrid Poetry Class, Poetry Project.

Bernadette Mayer from Midwinter Day.

"The Three Little Pigs ... Two of them got eaten by the wolf because they built their houses out of flimsy materials. The third pig who has a brick house which he got by posing as a cripple, winds up boiling the wolf alive and eating him. Admiral Byrd was the first person to spend the winter alone at the South Pole. For a while he did well and wrote a lot of speculations on the nature of the universe, then the stove in his hut began to poison him with fumes."

Rumi, A. J Arberry Trans.

"And even if you turn your back to the water, the water runs hurrying before you. How shall the shadow save its soul from the sun, seeing that its soul is in the hand of the sun? If the shadow stretches forth it's neck, the sun's face that instant is shrouded. Brave Sun, in which this sun in heaven quivers with fear like quicksilver!"

Charles Reznikoff, Testimony

The man at the wheel turned. / with his flashlight: / everybody was turning and pushing against each other; / those near the window / were trying to break them, / in spite of the wire mesh."

New York Times Nightly Television Schedule listings:

"Fire In the Sky (1993) Arizona lumberjack abducted by aliens. Polite to the point of boredom."

"Convoy (1978) Truckers in trouble. Churning but vapid."
Sally Silvers: Puppy Skills, PS 122.

25th Anniversary string of pieces including a remixed series of solos choreographed for group dancers. The first piece had a playful vibe, with three of the more seasoned dancers engaged in humorous activities with wearable sculpture and window door/shadow prop. Family dynamics? Sisters? Friends? Maturity? This was followed by the most grueling piece (in a good way) involving the youngest dancers - complex athletic group movement like a Benetton commercial that has been transformed into a extended gender role nightmare from which you cannot escape. A nightmare of youth?

The dancers were all-female, and the complex element in Silver's work of repurposing gender stereotype material was interestingly splayed across the evening in different ways. Every piece had different manifestations of this mixing with her other major dynamic: a drama of characters interacting, stepping in and out of the stage of power, with the relationships changing, and power dynamics between individuals and groups of players constantly shifting positions. The virtuosity of the choreography and dancers somehow ups the ante on the feeling of conflicts in these social themes, which is opposite of what I would normally expect.

Excellent sound collage by Bruce Andrews with Michael Schumacher -- clear, decisive texture switching maintaining intensity without distracting attention away from the dance. I was struck by the similarity in thematics between Silvers' dance and Bruce Andrews' poetry, that they both deal unreservedly with negative social emotions/perception/dynamics and that in both cases these things are transformed into energized dramas.


Thought-provoking scrap between Joshua, Franklin, and Ange.


Last night I heard Peter Cully read a long, far-ranging, swinging mid-tempo poem-sequence in Lee Ann Brown and Tony Torn's living room. Peter delivered the poem from a throne-like wooden chair, surrounded on all sides by cake-eating, wine drinking poetic revelers. His vocal intonations mixed nicely with sound of the airplanes coming in through the window. The poem included a gentle rebuke directed toward Albert Ayler: "It is about me."


Jordan on Petroleum Hat. Pegs me as crypto-naturalist. Yup.


Life is just a box of Petroleum Hats.

Petroleum Hat, my second full-length book (from Roof Books), arrived from the printers just in time for the BPC trio performance/book release last Sat.

Jonathan and Nick report.


If there is a lump in the throat feeling gotten from this poem, it is the same kind of feeling gotten from a phone company TV commercial. Other people might value that feeling, but I don't -- it's just business exploiting easy emotional triggering. Can you say certain phone company commercials are well crafted? Sure, you could say the well crafted phone company commercial is successful when it gives you that lump in the throat feeling AND leads you to pay money for the service. Is that un-impeachable? If you're a formalist or have formalist tendencies, I suppose you have to give props to any piece of art that reproduces an agreed-upon template. In this country, tacky, lazy, dishonest workshop treacle is a dominant template. So is smooth jazz. This poem is at a level of like, Special EFX, that is, at or slightly below Kenny G.


Kasey does an extreme sports version of the standard debate team trick of exaggerating and warping what someone has said in order to score points in opposition to a stance not actually being made. It's not that he's intentionally being dishonest, it's that he wants to get his argument over so badly that he's not responding to what I'm actually saying. He's projecting onto to my statements the position he wants to debate against. For instance he says:

"Drew seems to mean something other by this than simply that he does not appreciate the poem: he implies a quantifiable mechanical deficit on the poet's part (in another comment, he uses the word "ineptitude"). That is, he implies that Oliver literally doesn't have basis syntactic competence, that her metaphors are literally incoherent. Maybe he doesn't really mean this, but if that is the case, this is a perfect example of the way in which dissatisfaction with a poem's general raison d'etre can slide into a hazy use of craft-based terminology."

Clearly he knows he's on shaky ground here. In fact, I went to some lengths to make it clear that I was providing a subjective response to the poem. "So what am I feeling when I read this?" may have been a clue to this. "I see it as a kind of" usually indicates that the speaker is framing their position as a subjective opinion, not the statement of a provable, objective fact. Ditto "The poem seems like total BS to me." Later he backs off the obviously unworkable direct proposition that I'm positing my perceptions and opinions as objective facts, and he substitutes the weaker and vaguer point that some of my vocabulary was enough to imply this. Then we get this:

"First, he invokes the specter of bad craft by denouncing Oliver's supposedly awkward syntax and inert metaphors. Then he says that these defects are not actually indices of Oliver's craft ineptitude at all, but rather that her "attitude toward reality" and toward her own "role" as poet have somehow "resulted" in bad craft. But then isn't her craft the problem on one level after all?"

These solipsistic rhetorical switchbacks don't really address my point so it's hard to comment on them.

"My suspicion here is not that Drew has failed to give coherent expression to his idea, but--more radically--that there is no idea there to give expression to. When we dislike what we believe a poet or poem stands for, too often we convince ourselves that on that basis alone we may assert that the poet's "craft" is lacking."

There's no idea here for Kasey because, at this point, he's finally wriggled free from what I was saying and is peaking on the trip he had set out for from the beginning: this bit of preaching.


Ange Mlinko and Richard Hell,
St. Mark's Poetry Project, 10.26.05

Before the reading, I was struck by the beautiful crepuscular light of Soho -- the gigantic, uncanny face of Marvin Gaye hovering above Houston St. on a billboard.

Ange Mlinko

The strongest reading I've heard Ange give -- "transformation vs. encryption" -- family and memory -- Duchamp's Etant Donnes in the Philly art museum -- reacting with anger to the piece -- that the figure looked to her like a crime victim -- trying to remember a nightmare -- "an imagination which produces folklore and science alike." -- "Orpheus near store front"

Richard Hell

Hell started with twenty minutes of extemporaneous stories about being one of a couple of "knuckleheaded" punk kids hanging around the periphery of the 1970s St. Mark's poetry scene -- he followed this up with forty-five minutes of amateurish, sloppy, tedious fiction.


Dreamt that Jordan Davis and I were playing a game of chess, and in the first series of moves, all of our major pieces were mutually destroyed, leaving only pawns, kings and queens.


Steve identifies the possibility of a new prose genre based on a the script of I Walked With a Zombie.


My favorite moment of Juliana Spahr's reading at St. Mark's was a lovely, compelling list piece using all manner of species native to the area of Ohio where she grew up. These things were plugged into set phrases like "I let the (raccoon) into my heart, and "(crabapple), don't add to heartache." This localized, highly diffuse environmental information about Ohio (and really much of the northeast US) included poisons as well, "I let the (chloride) into my heart."

Another set phrase was "I didn't even say goodbye to (pumpkin)," where the implication is that a childhood connection to natural environment is gradually and unconsciously replaced by an adult social and sexual environment. The piece would almost fit into Technicians of the Sacred.

She introduced the poems as "sappy." This work did activate a simple, and, in a way, traditional mechanism of sentiment -- feelings associated with connection to the natural environment, but not at all of sentimentality -- displacing actual feelings with formalized, strategic clichés of feeling based on a projection of audience expectation. The poem was a kind of retrospective coming of age poem and environmental protest piece.


Jennifer Moxley, Often Capital, Flood Editions, 2005

Two early serial poems.

The First Division of Labour:

Themes of partnership / work / love (and estrangement)

"desire returned as topiary"

The poem proceeds though an assembly of vocabulary and detail from a text we’re not necessarily privy to, transforming it, but without rorschaching the material, without rendering it’s interpretive horizon open-ended.

"The minor, graffiti / in / Atlantis"

Enlightenment Evidence:

Excess creativity in humans was possibly evolved as a result of sexual selection?

"Let sweetness be the creator of moments, building revolution / one kissing at a time."

The poet/speaker of this dramatic monologue associates her love life w/ a famous historical character and imbues this dramatic framework with political grandeur. Not a historical take on writing as straight documentary, but using history as cognitive reverb setting for one’s immediate situation. Something both Olson and Creeley do.

"the paramour trades beauty for silence"

Attachment to historical figures and amorous attachment. The problems of attachment -- Sorting through the significance of attachment through the filter of another text/aura -- sorting/attachment/association.


It finally stopped raining after a straight week of downpour. I thought I might never see sunlight again.

The mysterious repaving of the East Village continues with the top layer of many streets ripped up and left that way. The dust from the uprooted asphalt gets kicked up by the recent wind, making Ave. B look like the old west.


The artist must have wanted this footage to be about the surveillance cameras, but the compelling thing about this fox loose in the National Portrait Gallery in London is that the fox is sleeping overnight in the museum. Looks like he found himself a comfy chair.


Anselm Berrigan and Marianne Shaneen, Bowery Poetry Club, 10.8.05

Marianne Shaneen

Funny, information-rich poetry fused with a poetics of film.

She started with a sequence focused on, and wildly riffing off of, dolphins. Specifically the history of American... uh, use of Dolphins in covert operations. It was sloppy in a good way, that is it was Charles Mingus sloppy: with a relaxed open gangliness capable of accommodating a large amount of elements, all of which were allowed to act with a certain independence, while maintaining an upbeat overall forward momentum.

"The CIA was concerned about a looming 'Dolphin gap' with the Soviets."

"Wealth is a form of violence."

The second series was organized around themes of oil / petroleum, ranging over the politics of oil production, inescapable plastic based objects/ commodities, body fat, flensing boots etc.

We also heard about "cans of liquefied ravens and hawks" and "nostalgia for dinner table alienation"

The delivery was sometimes a little stumbling. With poetry this good, I couldn't help but think Marrianne should read through the work once or twice before getting on stage with it.

Language stretched across a historical, filmic membrane.

"Carl Marx stars as the Lone Ranger."

Anselm Berrigan

"regurgitation means birdie love"

The lines have a unique consistency and forward momentum. Almost every line has a high tensile strength, and therefore, the feeling of a certain weight, but the overall tempo and pacing moves with the kind effortless momentum that is normal accessed though a much lighter line strength.

"I know the bottled water isn't fooling anyone."

Beautifully interdependent language play and full-on subjective personal responsiveness embracing it's own ambiguities. This is as information-rich as Marrianne's poetry, but in a much differnt way, or using a different take on drama.

"Fear of looking normal but in fact being a wack-job"

Graceful, sinuous riff-switching between perception and declaration.


Robin Blaser & Etel Adnan, Poetry Project, 10.5.05

Etel Adnan

Details of everyday life set against a distant war felt as a kind of ever-present absence/force.

Welcome details of a late Steve Lacy concert.

"We are angry and you know what it means"

Robin Blaser

Funny to think The Holy Forest came out 12 years ago. Curious to see what the new U. Cal vers. is like.

Blaser looked the same as the last time I heard him - tweleve years ago in SF. I hope I age this well. He also read many of the same poems from the Holy Forest, so he must have favorites which haven't changed too much.

"Alien exotica," in classic tonality. The voicing and pacing very much like Robert Duncan. Ditto the play between the imagistic hinges, self-portraiture, historical references, and generally intense, expert, sprawling intellectual control over the materials. What differentiates it from Duncan is the Midwestern speech tones shot through, which are also my favorite element of this work.

"licking stones to improve their color"

The things that might, or, should, bother me about this poetry, the grandiose self-inflation, the pretentiousness, the too self-conscious mesmerism effects, don't for some reason. Because, I think, there is so much pleasure and range in this poetry. Because... that dude can write a poem!

"Your saxophone is by your bed / think of starlings / and their sharp quick sounds / goodnight."

Patterning of image / pun / setting / self-reflection /historical reference/ speech movement / image / etc.

"there is no future unless it be unpredictable"

The surface layer is romantic, but the underlying engine here is cybernetic -- events as information / information as events.

Identifying and going with complexity.


Listening right now to WKCR, Phil Schaap playing the marvelous, pristinely recorded and unlikely quartet recording of Coltrane and Monk live at Carnegie Hall, 1957, due to be released by Blue Note on Tuesday. This recording was discovered buried in the Library of Congress. Great way to spend Coltrane's birthday.


I waited in line for an hour in the rain to get free tickets to Jordan's Million Poems Show. Finally got in, pushed through the excited crowd, and nabbed a seat right next to Shanna. The crowd warmer, Jim Behrle, did some good preflight audience interviews, which he recorded, apparently, with a pack of Marlborough Lights.

I ran into Jordan just as the wardrobe person was getting his clip-on mic adhered to his tie. Jordan's talk show look/vibe is excellent: formal, friendly, a little nervous, slightly distanced but enthused and aiming to please. The suit says I care about my look, and the wrinkles say I don't care more than I should. He uses a Craig Kilborn-like posture on stage, but with none of the smugness. He's somewhere between Dick Cavett and Johnny Carson, leaning toward the Cavett side of the spectrum. The nervous part is in a good way -- he makes the audience and guests feel that they are important enough to get nervous over.

The opening monologue concerned the dangers of engaging in an interesting conversation with Ange Mlinko while trying to navigate in a car in upstate New York. Davis also touched on the surprising gaps in knowledge that can be found among the outlying population of Ithaca, NY as to where Ithaca actually is.

Jordan's house band, JJ Appleton, has a great theme song. If you even need to hear a catchy indie-pop talk show theme that addresses questions of what Jordan Davis dreams about, trust me, you're gonna want to get down there and check this out.

The first guest for the evening was Anselm Berrigan, a poet and Artistic Director of The Poetry Project. While Appleton played Elvis Costello's Less Than Zero, a winking reference to Berrigan's last book, Anselm hit the stage sporting a Macy's-looking button down striped shirt, cargo shorts and grey cross-trainers offset with black socks. The promoters over there at Edge Books are smart to get him out into the media early to start the buzz about his upcoming book, Some Notes on My Programming, which is gonna be big.

Anselm also read from an advance copy of The Ted Berrigan Collected Poems, which is slated for a November release from U. of California. The book is so large that many New Yorkers may have to knock down a wall to make room for it. I was concerned that it might throw Anselm off balance and into an unintended stage-dive. According to Anslem, there are hundreds of pages of work in this book that were never printed in any book. I figure if I can pre-order Halo 2, I can pre-order this.

I'm not usually one to complain, but there were some serious problems with Davis's musical guest, Leslie Mendelson. There is a tradition in singer/song writer performances done at poetry venues that one has to learn: 1) Sing out of tune and off-mic. 2) Have a weak sense of rhythm that feels like it's about to fizzle-out at any moment 3) Forget the song parts or lyrics and start over on at least one number, sheepishly apologizing. Mendelson simply ignored all of these time-honored traditions. She sang catchy 70s AM radio-like pop tunes in-tune and with a confident, appealing tone, crossing Carol King, Norah Jones and Randy Newman. If people just start throwing out the rules of our society like this, then anything goes, it would be total chaos. I guess if you want to break the rules of poetry-music, you could, but you first have to prove that you _know_ the rules. After a few years of paying your dues playing weak, wince-inducingly out of tune songs that just don’t work, then maybe you've earned the right to bend the rules _a little_ and perhaps sing in key. But to sing well in-key and to have the whole thing sound really good? This is just not how it’s done.


At 145th St. a moth flew in the open doors of the A train.


That's reassuring that W is showing a new can-do attitude by promising to lead an investigation into his own malfeasance.


Can we just drop the facade of even having a federal government anymore? From now on, let's call it the American Oil War Corporation, AOWC. Their job is to take over oil-rich areas around the world to keep their profit margins high.

AOWC has been revising the taxation system to exclude services not related to Oil Wars. This increases productivity for the company. It's a private company, but it's paid for with public funds. The beauty of this system is that you can tax working poor and middle class people to pay for it. Think about it: why should oil millionaires be taxed to run their own Oil Wars? They created this business in the first place.

AOWC owns the National Guard now. There was a buyout. We sold it to them for a dollar. If you've been wondering where the National Guard has been in New Orleans, remember, AOWC's job is to kill people in other countries, not to rescue them in ours. Think about it, if you're too poor to escape a hurricane, it's doubtful that you're contributing much tax money to help fund the Oil Wars in the first place -- more likely you're unemployed, elderly, an infant, sick etc. -- i.e., not productive. So it's not a big deal for AOWC. Best to just let it go.

Needless to say, doing anything to keep entire American cities from being destroyed is not a part of AOWC's business plan, as it might have been with the old-fashioned Federal Government, even when the disaster was predicted as #1 of top ten possible disasters.

Did I mention that AOWC is a company guided by Christian values? Thank goodness those Christians in our country got out to vote for AOWC to prevent gay marriage. The scenes of totally obliterated society you're seeing on TV are the product of Christian values. Normally you only get to see scenes like this in big-budget Hollywood apocalyptic science fiction movies. The people at AOWC can make this shit real. Look at the footage of desperation and chaos in New Orleans and when the CEO of AOWC uses the word "Freedom," you'll now know what he's actually referring to. If you have a problem with any of this, remember: this is no time to talk about politics.



Elsewhere (Japanese Notebook), Gary Sullivan, 2005

Elsewhere is a poetic comic art essay on the blurry boundaries of subjectivity, individuality, context and the space between cultures. It is composed of remixed snapshot-based visual travel notes and notebook entries of odd, translated phrases rendered into a truly fused form of poetry/comics. The vibe, scale, pacing and continuity of the book is close to avant-garde film. It’s as if the Kuchar brothers were making art composed of comics, flip books, poetry, and Flickr blogs.

Sullivan uses a lot of humor, and embraces the weirdness of an unfamiliar cultural environment, as well as the oddness of seeing another culture’s interpretations of yours. There is a sense of balancing the discomfort of unfamiliarity with it’s charms.

Much of the material at play in Elsewhere is composed of material taken from the public surfaces of Japan, and then remixed: signage and advertising art. In this sense the book is close to a straight-forward travelogue addressing a public space in which one is an outsider. These materials are remixed into a poetic fantasy-space, as if Little Nemo In Slumberland was addressing issues of cultural context rather than the daily, dislocating experience of dreaming and waking.

There is an indirectness of relation between the text and art which is not at all a disconnection. They are like two simultaneous layers moving intriguingly out of phase, but the phase patterns add harmonic depth to the overall effect, as in Steve Reich. There is space allowed between the images and the lines that allows for breath in the overall coherence of the art.

A feeling of balanced elements which might seem to be inherently in conflict is constantly maintained. For instance, there are moments when a cute quality and a disturbing quality are perfectly fused. The book adjusts to accommodate such combinations. Details which can be dizzying, beautiful, funny, nightmarish, infantile, and strange are fused within the space of a few panels.

The panels work individually and in groups, and this creates a feeling of integrity on the micro and macro scales. There is a strong overall sense of rhythm and build-up that rewards multiple readings. Sullivan also allows the material to have a certain diffused or relaxed energy despite considerable wackiness and strangeness.

There are certain challenges and stresses that come along with using multiple art forms, and I can only hope these don't slow Gary down too much. I doubt they will. Considering the amount of talent in evidence in this book, I look forward to seeing a full-length graphic novel-type project.


John Godfrey, Private Lemonade, 2003, Adventures in Poetry

“the azure is shatterproof”

Ruminations on time, place, body, memory, and the intersections of these at particular instances.

The lines in the book are like a metal grating through which thought and sense pour. They are mostly paired-down to single word and two-word movements, a condensed economy of vocabulary, like Eigner, but heavier.

"some/ sunset / thing / Cocktail / fill / moves / three / blind / mice"

Crypto-amorous mood-thought assemblages.

These poems have an certain force of generosity, in that one can feel in them the assumption that the reader is capable of intimacy and complexity, as well as the assumption that the reader is capable of being curious, and of understanding. Godfrey is not selling any of this.

At moments, it feels like a memory of lost love overstepping the proprieties of immediate perception.

Rhythms like: mood / environmental detail / thought / atmospherics / object relation / dream / attachment / social observation / proposition / relaxation / visual observation -- a swing pulse of transient consciousness and transitory existence.

"Print of rattan on your calf / Succinct and nearly cruel"

Sparse, staccato, percussive paratactic line groupings, harmonized with thematic scaffolding.

Constant change-ups between sensation and memory.

Complex mediations which are cerebral and tactile.

Concision and the refusal to encapsulate.

A herringbone pattern of hinting/hiding/saying.

Little bits of personality, personal history, and environment fused together into some other substance that isn’t any one of these things.

Commentary on people, and, more so, people’s situations. A nurse’s-eye view? Observing symptoms?

The physical feeling of Godfrey's line produces a certain buzz, “I have always had here with me here.”

The lines always feel like parts of information, never abstract. Though sometimes inscrutable, the poems are never trying to be mysterious.

Particular, bodily instances, “sweat under sweater”

In the midst of a highly disciplined paratactic linguistic space, Godfrey sometimes drops dauntingly perfect-sounding transitive sentences: “Night briefly unwraps / inevitable hallways”

Self-locating images: “Holiday lights reflects you / on windowglass / at bar's end”

Staccato associational fluency.

Overlapping layers of weather, setting, mood and memory are temporarily allowed to eclipse other things in the space of the poem -- they are given a social space via the poem where they would otherwise only exist in a private burst of neuron firings.

An undertow of unrelieved amorous distance.

Sometimes I feel he is withholding too much. But withholding too much is part of his art.

The poems are short and pleasurable, and also demanding.

Complex mixtures of back-story and proposition in particulate form.

"Shorten my shrift / Expunge the retinal soup // Without cunning, with posture / Let alone a fallow lie"

“Time hangs in braids”

Playfulness set against elegy.


Separation Sunday

The Hold Steady makes a unlikely combination of elements work. The music is composed almost entirely of rock clichés -- though they are played with a lot of life. Not everything is about originality. The songs manage to activate the information in these clichés, releasing a superficial but real quality of feeling. That's one of the main powers of pop music. The band is tight, and all the instrumental timbres work well.

This music is combined with a singer who does not sing, he vocalizes like a guy alone in a car, yelling the lyrics of Born To Run over his cassette player in an earnest, woozy monotone, but landing right on the bar and capturing something essential about the rhythm and vocal timbres. Incredibly -- this also works. There are only a handful of bands that can pull off a yelling/talking approach-- The Fall, Can, Slint, This Heat....

If you removed the music and left the vocal track it would sound like a recording of high-level slam poetry. There are moments where I'm like, "Man- would you just sing already, "but the Dylan-quality lyrics occupy the space where my brain is crying out for vocal melody. There's also a rock-theater, Frank's Wild Years-like unity to the character portraits of fried rockers at various parties and underpasses.


I was following Ron Silliman while he was walking around in a suburban area at twilight. He was urgently exploring people's backyards, following odd private and public-seeming paths between houses, pushing through hedges, taking notes about how everything was arranged and what it meant about how people were living. It was hard to keep up with him.

I couldn't help admiring his curiosity about people, that he was so energized about exploring all these mundane, but very real territories of people's lives. At the same time I was unsure if this was the best way I could be spending my time.

Just then he stopped and asked me, "So, Drew, when are you going to become something?" I smiled, nodded and said," Yea, I guess I better get started on that." He suggested I begin working for the Democratic party. This seemed like a good idea.

By that time the setting had changed, and we were sitting in the cab of a moving truck just before it crashed through the wooden garage door of a closed mechanic's shop. After the accident Ron was gone.


John Stewart is one of the only sources of sane political discourse on TV. It's frustrating to see him stumble in the face of a double-speaking Rick Santorum. Brian Lehrer also blew it this week when Santorum was on his show. Both hosts spent way too much time being gracious during the interview and not nearly enough in preparation for interviewing a guy who is a disturbingly well-prepared and reasonable-sounding generator of reactionary disinformation.

Both Stewart and Lehrer have a literary bent, and some of the limitations of this showed in their encounters with Santorum. When an inane conservative essayist is on the Daily Show, Stewart reads the book and tears him to shreds in a hilarious and affable way. Faced with a well-prepared figure with real power, taking the host seriously by appearing on the show, and repeating discourse that a team of people came up with, both interviewers crumble. Stewart similarly crumbled in the face of Colin Powell, for the same reasons.

Despite this one weakness, the show is great. Maybe the success of the Daily Show could signal the beginning of more cultural phenomena where, in the face of the current overwhelming abject inversions and denials of fact from the public sphere, some people turn to truth-telling by using the power of sarcasm for good rather than evil?


Cape Cod notes

This is very new land -- less than 20,000 years old. It was created when a mile-thick sheet of ice scraped and melted away, dropping tons of glacial drift, which became the materials for the sandy, ever-changing landform we have now. Mastodons hung out here back in the day.

The area around Falmouth, where we were staying, is peppered with kettle ponds, formed when the receding glacier left giant ice blocks that gravel and sand settled around. When the blocks melted, the negative space these reverse-ice molds created left bowl-like forms in the earth that became these present day ponds, which are also exposed parts of the water table. Large, beautiful dragonflies and damselflies kept themselves busy around the edge of the pond near us, and tree swallows swooped down over the open water to grab some insect lunch.

The porous nature of the glacial drift makes it easy for the aquifer to become polluted, since the pollutants move through it as easily as the water does, as with the soil in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. One of the biggest sources of pollution on all of Cape Cod is the MMR -- the Massachusetts Military Reservation, which has been dumping military waste in landfills for years with little accountability. We could hear the menacing roar of military aircraft once or twice a day from the otherwise extremely peaceful cabin in the woods where we were staying.

We got out to the National Seashore for some hiking in an area on the west side of the Wellfleet Harbor. The landform there is gentle and ever-shifting: dunes anchored somewhat by spare pitch pines. The Cape loses about four acres of land per year from water and wind erosion. Millions of tiny hermit crabs live in this area. If you gently pick up on of these crabs, they will fiercely menace you with their claw, though they are only about the size of your thumbnail. That's the spirit! Otherwise the land was notable for it's unassuming, curving dunes and beaches, watched over only by a few cormorants.


Vanitas Magazine pull-quote sequence, ala John Latta / Nick Piombino

Ann Lauterbach

"token analytic muse in the glove compartment"

Fanny Howe

"to remember ourselves / as beings with no-fire costumes on"

"Gordian brain"

Ange Mlinko

"The mythical orgone box is in the woods, pancreas of our passions"

Carol Mirakove

"epiphone at all those brazilian voters. but all this action doesn't / stop me fantasizing make-out sessions"

Judith Malina


Nada Gordon

"What, you think you're special because you have / A DIRECT LINE / TO THE SONG OF THE UNIVERSE?"

Marianne Shaneen

"this isn't the first time that this has been said for the first time"

"amorous secret encounters between here and there"

"objects are only there to hold the empty spaces together"

Sarah Manguso

"marriage partners invite me to consider the possibility of being a deer"

Elaine Equi

"no god / no countries"

Anne Waldman

"With this you will be ready to star gaze and get your revenge"

Jim Dine

"listening to the years / ooze by / I don't see / the kindness of the left / helping those millions who hate / by the river of tattletales"

Jerome Sala

once I was a hog catcher / now I tattoo fine filigrees on snowboards/ you wouldn't believe how much I love it

Carter Ratcliff

"my darling, my pretext for opening my eyes in the morning"

David Lehman

"The task of painting and installing a door is a charming respite for a soul fatigued from the struggles of life."

Francis Ponge

"the collision of words and verbal analogies being one way to scrutinize the object"

Nick Piombino

"Watching / Those birds / fly south / again // my / sky / miles / are / no // consolation"

Richard Hell

Chocolate / Figures in colored foil / Come to life and speak.

Charles Borkhuis

"don't talk to me about your nightmares"

Daniel Bouchard

"new asphalt fills the street like black snow"

"I bet the president knew how to get seriously / fucked up; I bet he knew how to do some / serious damage."

Michel Bulteau

"Rabbit's ass near the eternal. / To make the wooden sword in silk. / Huge clouds slam on the breaks. / Solitude then traverses / the non-existence of objects. The shadow swallows up the kaleidoscope."

Clayton Eshleman

"centuplicating with the beliefs of Christian reconstructionists / whose 'immortality' is posited on / the extermination of humanistic idolaters"

Alvin Curran

"Thelonious Monk discovers 'frozen' time between keys and challenges Einstein to a duel for violin and piano"

"The voice of the president commands this ragtag ensemble into convulsive action, which leads to a strategy of silence, insubordination and sex"

Martin Brody

"Irregular, analog moves (melismas and timbres) link the various planes of discrete polyphonic events, shunting smoothly between data points rather than jumping from one to another. In the end, a vertiginous, virtuosic, analog move -- a 2 + octave emblematic arabesque descending through an impossible variety of vocal timbres -- leading to, juxtaposed with, a single self-contained data point, the last word -- and now the only remaining implausible mode of address: the "natural" speaking voice, Prince saying "kiss."

Morgan Russell (writing about Lydia Lunch)

"she is more a habitual pied-a-terre full-gamut embodiment of triune goddess for me...while she might be viewed as autochthonously self-regenerating, one could also just say she is easily possessed by some aspect of the goddess & always refreshed...

Vincent Katz

Ellsworth Kelly made a proposal for the World Trade Center -- a big green shape, bright like one of his colors, of uneven sides, not, at least in the collage he made of it, to indicate a planting of grass, or actual space, but a color space, a collage that could exemplify art's ability to take over actual, mismanaged public action.
Vanitas is packed with really good poems. Hilarious intro essay by Jordan: the history of New York School poetry done completely without using names, except for Joel Lewis!


Dinosaur Jr. Central Park Summer Stage, 7/14/05

Yes it was the original line-up -- Macis: looking like a gen x Gandalf with trademark long greasy hair gone totally grey. Murph: completely bald and looking a lot like Geoffrey Young. Barlow: he aged the best.

Their nonplussed vibe on stage was hard to read at first. As it turned out, nonplussed is how these guys look when they're trying really hard to make music sound really good. It took three or four songs for them to warm up, but then the whole thing just took off: fast, aggressive, tight riff-switching parts that toggled between introverted and expansive. A true power trio, they cram as much music into every bar as possible, with everyone doubling everyone else and filling in the spaces in a way that just makes you feel like you are being given very large helpings of a dish the servers know is completely delicious. The standard talking point is Neil Young, but I couldn't help thinking Dinosaur is more like the Who in some ways, if the Who was riddled with a multidimensional and multitextured self-doubt that is.

This is the sound of socially hopeless guys who could not learn to fake the normal things people learn to fake, so instead they learned to play really well, and just hoped this would be enough to make things okay -- unassuming people unpacking a surprising amount of music from frustration and longing and a certain amount of desperation.

The report form Mascis is a detailed mass of information from a guy who didn't get the girl and will never get the girl. You can hear the songs emerging from raw unrequited love, an inability to communicate, and feebleness. But then also there is this complete awesomeness at the one thing of playing the guitar and putting these songs together. And the guitar sound is unmistakable -- biting and trebly but somehow still pliable and covering a wide spectrum of tones, suddenly uncontrollably erupting from it's own horizon to include beautiful, alienating and welcoming elements at the same time. A second later the tone recedes into a sharp, jangly clarity. What should sound like lazy, whining vocals are dropped into the power of these song parts and alchemically transformed into a melodic sensitively embedded in a block of conflicted awesomeness.

Working against a bad drum mix (maybe it's expecting a little much to have the Summerstage sound system be able to keep up with the four stacks of Marshalls that Barlow and Mascis had between them), Murph's drumming was aggressive, tasteful propulsion blending seamlessly with the other parts. It's hard to play that much and not sound busy. Barlow's picked Rickenbacker lines boomed and swerved and filled out a bed for all the noise. He has a way of emphasizing the perfect part of the chord in the song peak-outs, reinforcing the melody more than the noise.

As with the Pixies reunion, Dinosaur Jr. recreated the best things about the band without a hint of necrophilia. All the songs were from You're Living All Over Me, and Bug, with a few of the worthy tunes from the first album, like Repulsion and Forget the Swan, done with a Bug-like arrangement that made them sound much better than the original recorded versions.


I'm going to Miss L Sov@ the knit tonight because I'll be ripping into a three-song power-trio Live Aid recreation with Mr. Daniel Nester (guitar) and Mr. Gene Cawley (vocals, bass) over at the Bowery Poetry Club. What’s on the menu?

Simple Minds' "Don't You Forget About Me," with Gene's brilliant done-as-a-T-Rex-song arrangement.

U2's "Bad" (not the 17-min version!)

Queen's "Hammer to Fall"


I seem to have overcome my inability to listen to things while they are being hyped:
iPod mini shuffle in love with Lady Sovereign today. From Run the Road.

Cha Ching -- Jessica Hopper via Jordan
Yo La Tengo at Battery Park:

Listening to music stretched on a blanket on a beautiful day with plenty of snacks sure beats standing for hours in the S and M discomfort routine of a rock club, but alas, speaker cabinets need wood to bounce sounds off of. They do not sound good outdoors. Over-zealous park organizers turned people away when the lawn wasn't even full, so we didn't get to hang out w/ Ange or Jordan.

In this setting, with trees and sunlight, Yo La Tengo did best in their quiet, casual, open song mode -- esp. w/ the breathing room created by brushes on the drums: intimate, relaxed, and operating within a carefully selected spectrum of shyness with anxiety as a back-story to give it some depth.


Jim Behrle, 6/6/05 Poetry Project
Why I Am Not Post Avant, Pressed Wafer, 2005

Jim Behrle performed this gig reclining on a piano, sporting a shiny blue wig. Three musicians provided scratchy improv accompaniment with processed dulcimer, prepared guitar and sax. Spaces of silence bubbled out from the lines and music, fully interactive. It was fantastic.

Behrle's poetry is funny on the outside, serious on the inside. You don’t have to get too far past the layers of irony and jokey self-deprecation to perceive that the mental and social particle accumulation happening in his work is deftly controlled and directed on the larger scale. The work is gross, beautiful and hilarious by turns. The humor he uses is not just crowd pleasing, it’s also a little window into a potential poetic energy liberation policy. Notice how he can handle fun and dissatisfaction simultaneously? That's difficult. Anyone can do something simplistic, but making something simple work well ain't easy. Behrle handles it with aplomb:

"Everything gets clearer after a kick in the groin"

"We met at the jaws-of-life party"

"Like I'm going to stop walking cuz some red hand tells me to"

He's trying to get the lines to sound like throwaways, but it's obvious he cares desperately about each one. The loosely assembled observations and ironic references operate under the pressure of a massive cultural fact-denial system like a bathysphere with the sea crushing down on it from all sides. You can feel the subtle shifts in scale operating within this pressure of culturally suppressed information. What information is important? Where does it fit? How does it relate to what I have to do and what I need? These shifts between the details are not jump cuts but cognitive glissandos that sound like someone looking for new paths, and not wanting to do it alone: a poetic cry for help. The ironic Lucite dive suit here is not made of the armor of defensive superiority, but of pain in the face of the pervasive cultural denial of fact staring down one's own personal reality-check.

There are audible remixed poetry parts -- Berrigan, Silliman, Padgett etc., certainly, but more importantly they are remixes of all the pathways in the mind that don't connect right when wired with the traditional schematics. These lines, details, jokes, loosened in this way, feel as though they can route the brain's electrons in ten different directions at the same time. There is an openness to searching for new connections. I can't wait to see how Behrle develops this work.


Kasey, who I believe is some kind of expert on horror films, brings up some good points about the new Romero movie.

The problem with evaluating Land of the Dead is that it's hard not to compare it in overall impact to Dawn of the Dead, Romero's masterpiece, and it's just not on that level as a film. But it's also not trying to do the same things, and it does work in the overall spectrum of the series. It's closer to an extension of the third film, Day of the Dead, an overlooked movie that earned scorn from Romero fans for not doing the same things as first two films. Though arguably not the strongest, and certainly the least popular of the first three films, it addresses new issues. Set in a military encampment within a general zombie besiegement, where there is an intra-class power struggle between scientists and soldiers.

One of the things that make the series so compelling is that the films dramatize people struggling to survive in a situation where they are caught between equally unappealing groups competing for power. This is the situation that much of the population of the world actually find themselves in. Just ask Iraq's population if they prefer Saddam or the US. The films are about issues of class warfare explored in a setting of the general breakdown of the social contract.

Dawn of the Dead is largely a critique of consumerism. It's about the dissatisfactions of comfortable, isolated, consumerist American life. It has a lot of satire in it and it is funny, though viewers who lack a gallows humor might have trouble accessing this. Like Night of the Living Dead, it also has the pervasive feeling of another reality despite the low budget, and is highly unnerving, like a hyper-real nightmare. Neither the acting nor the writing in the movie are particular stellar, but they nevertheless contribute powerfully to the feeling of another reality despite a certain awkwardness. This feeling of being immersed in another world is gradually deepened by a plot process where much of the action in the film is comprised of the characters learning and managing mundane problem solving skills within the alternate reality: how do we get to the food and water? How do we keep out the zombies? How do we enjoy ourselves? What are the rules of the new reality? This process sucks you into the film. The overall directorial vision is just incredibly strong, and the film is smart, and extremely inventive. Day of the Dead also has this pervasive feeling, and is full of interesting twists, themes and issues, but the characters aren't quite fleshed out enough to have the overall impact the of Dawn of the Dead.

The first thing I has to adjust to in the new Land of the Dead is that it wasn't particularly scary. 28 Days Later, an excellent hodge-podge of the first three Romero movies, is much scarier, and for the same reason Dawn was -- social contract breakdown and power struggle among humans with lots of mundane problem solving to suck you into the reality. I'm fairly inured to horror movies, and the film genuinely disturbed my sleep.

So Land of the Dead is not so scary, what it is is exciting, fun and kind of uplifting. It's much closer to a dystopic action film fused with a zombie movie. It bears a lot of resemblance to George Miller's Road Warrior trilogy. John Leguizamo's outfit is designed to look almost exactly like Mel Gibson's in Mad Max, and there is a scene of zombie gladiators in a cage riffing directly off of Beyond Thunderdome. The action dimension of the film does work fairly well.

Unlike Kasey, I didn't read the scene involving the navel ring as sexualized. I read it within the context of it's moment in the film: a yuppie urban elite being devoured where they shop and show off. The navel ring is an emblem of the hip side of urban status display. The lesbian scene I'm a little less clear on, but I read it as showing that zombies don't discriminate: equal-opportunity cannibalism.

The strength of the film, though, is not in how it handles these variations of who gets eaten/killed and how, but in the fact that the zombies begin to develop self-consciousness. The real heroes are not the boy scoutish leader or the tough-guy turncoat who eventually redeems himself, but the zombies themselves who begin the process of developing class consciousness in the course of the film. The most compelling scene doesn't involve decapitation or picnicking on innards. It is a long static shot of the masses of zombies lining up at the river's edge realizing, with the help of their revolutionary leader Big Daddy, that they can cross the water by just dropping into it and walking underwater. What are they going to do, drown? They have nothing to lose. This is the nascent revolutionary power of an oppressed population being born on the other riverbank: the zombies' heads emerging from the black water.


fantastic cache of stuff in the mail recently:

The Poker #6, Dan Bouchard, Ed.

Hounds, by Alli Warren

Jennifer Moxley, Often Capital, Flood Editions

Soft Hands, Stan Apps, Ugly Duckling Press

George P. Bissell and Rob Fitterman Zuk chapbooks, via Benjamin Friedlander
I love it when the fan shuts off and the noise floor opens.

Catherine Meng:
"It's okay to pretend to be sensible while stockpiling the fruits of resistance."

The Pixies Veloria video:
The best rock video ever. Band members walk past camera in slow motion in a rock quarry. Must have been done a budget of like $30 dollars. Mostly gas for the van to get to get there. There is no better video.

What's bigger:
Your head trip, or the world?

Poltergeist on cable:
Watching though a gauze of teenage memories. Tobe Hooper was induced into directing exactly like Stephen Spielberg, who wrote and produced it. Spielberg makes reality-denying exploitation flicks -- a very different kind of thing than The Texas Chainsaw massacre, which is an art film. One can only hope Hooper got paid a lot. The Spielberg exploitation involves deeply committing, and, I suppose, believing in a grotesquely untrue myth of suburban existence. His movies unfailingly exclude the possibly of registering an actual situation in the world as the price of the escapism. It's a long way from Roger Corman, or the earlier Hooper, neither of whom makes any such demand.

The ostensible theme of Poltergeist -- that TV removes family connectedness -- hovers weirdly above the real message, that TV, and the over-financed TV-like Spielberg productions which do the same thing on a bigger budget, are actually a portal into a true spirit world where actual social reality is a non-issue. What the film is saying is: replace your own judgments with the sensations of television. That’s the same message you get from Everyone Loves Raymond. It's a part of high imperial culture. Without this kind of thing, we couldn't have the current war.

The opposite of this is George Romero, all of whose films are escapist fantasy totally infused with social reality and critique. Land of the Dead is fantastic. I'm dreading the onslaught of War of the Worlds. Cruise is the perfect actor for Spielberg: a totally movie-killing, reality-repulsing actor, like Matt Damon or Winona Ryder. It's the type of reality repulsion that people respond to, though.


"Night has laid a heavy tax of stars upon the sky."


Get through a Bush press conference, Dan Bouchard-style:

Imagine loud, knowing laughter between sentences.
"rendition:" kidnapping whoever we feel like kidnapping, in order to pay other people to torture them.

"not a guerrilla war:" because you don't want people to think of it as a guerrilla war.

"private property:" can now be seized if it's for the general good of millionaires.

"standard of living:" spending $700 billion more than earning.


Poetry reviews: The surrounding fabric of competition and inducement combines with a self-discomfort and conspires with a poor labor-to-reward payoff to render the average poetry reviewer mostly incapable of using their own perceptions in their writing or responding to what is in front of them. Under such circumstances, what kind of thinking are reviewers likely to engage in? What kind of writing are they likely to produce? Mostly the kind that reinforces the blurry panoply of passive-aggressive clichés that serves as the current critical landscape of poetry reviewing, the kind that drains all energy from other people's bodies.

What the reviewer has in front of them is a sequence of words and a set of consequences it sets in motion. They also have a big gangly protective metal bear suit of preset expectations and automatic competitive reactions to deal with. 94% of what makes it past the bear suit serves the rote fulfillment of projected reviewer social expectations and/or stock competitive positioning maneuvers. In reading reviews I'm basically scanning for the 6% perception that remains after this filtering process is done.

So: lack of money and poor or no editing standards and a general lack of scrutiny where no one says "huh?" So I guess we could try to add these things. And the reviewers could stop and ask themselves: am I writing what I think about what is in front of me here?


"It's hard to read the writing through the flames."


Yuri Hospodar on Robert Fripp:

"...by the time he left the stage, I had the distinct feeling of having sat in a neighbor's tool shed while the family grandfather slowly, meticulously arranged his collection of rakes."

Amy Jacob on the Webster Hall LCD Soundsystem show:

"I don't know why, but the male LCD fans are all abnormal in size. The place was filled with stinky, short monkey men under 5"4 and skinny, sweaty tall boys 6'5" and over. Very odd to watch such an odd crowd of white men trying to dance."


The Peripheral Space of Photography, Murat Nemet-Nejat
Green Integer, 2003

The Peripheral Space of Photography appears at first to be a straight-forward extended essay on a 1993 exhibition of early photography at the Metropolitan Museum and grows gradually into a fascinating work on poetics with a kind of philosophical novel hiding within, with the narrator Nemet-Nejat and the history of art in the last century vying for the lead roles.

The book starts with a disillusionment. Despite the writer's hopes, a show of the earliest photography would not reveal a new art form in a moment of raw revolutionary inception, but, rather, would show the first photographers to be lamely aping the conventions of middlebrow 19th century genre painting. This initial disappointment leads to an exploration of how the medium itself is able to defeat the photographer's own obfuscational ideas about art and procedure.

One central point Nemet-Nejat makes in the Peripheral Space of Photography is that photography is the first art where the subject of the art can look directly at the means of representation. This agency of the subject, the ability to look at the camera when someone is photographing you -- to make a decision independent of the artist where you are acknowledging the medium -- is taken here to represent a kind of radical democratic quality.

This point, and where the author takes it, is not an argument for photography as an artistically objective form. It is a cybernetics of photography, as such, also a poetics. Poetry that likewise acknowledges the medium, it is implied, shares this democratic quality. This quality of photography forces the reluctant artist to deal with sharing power with the subject.

The question of whether this acknowledgment of the medium likewise in a verbal art can bypass the artists unknowingly obstructionist ideas and allow life information to pass directly from the subject to the reader is one that Nemet Nejat will have to develop fully in his next book. But the implications here are exhilarating.

One of the other central ideas in the book is that photography and language are inherently fused. The spaces outside of the frame of a photograph one has to consider when looking at what is within the frame immediately generate language in the form of thoughts and questions. Photography is more of a poetic art than a plastic art.

Nemet-Nejat's equally thought-provoking essay, Questions of Accent, can be found here.


Amy, on the evolving song-structuring habits of PMX.



Dragonflies have
six legs, but
cannot walk.


Avram Fefer and Bobbie Few, Kindred Spirits / Heavenly Places, Boxholder, 2005

Piano / saxophone duets are a great form, featuring the fullness of the piano's range, while still retaining intimacy, space and detail.

Kindred Spirits is a collection of confident, sensitive duet interpretations of Monk, Mingus, and Ellington compositions from two players associated more with avant-garde improvisation than traditional jazz. Of course Monk, Mingus, and Ellington were composers who totally blurred the difference between avant-garde and traditional in the first place. Not to mention the fact that free jazz is itself a tradition that goes back almost fifty years.

Few's playing has a lot of solidity without losing a sense of levity. He's relaxed and straight to the point. He plays in a style that sounds very filled-out and supportive yet seems to be wasting nothing: not easy.

Fefer has a lush, balanced and incredibly mature tenor tone. His seriousness of purpose and grasp of history here made me think of Frank Morgan.

The playing on Kindred Sprits is actually conservative playing, rather than conventional, in that it is literally conserving the spirit of the original music, not just the rules and atmosphere of that music. Keeping it alive in other words. There are many recordings of classic jazz compositions done over the last twenty years where I hear it and say -- that's fine, but why would I listen to this when I could listen to the original? Kindred Spirits is a CD I would eagerly put on as well as putting on the originals.

The CD ends with a couple of originals by Fefer, including gorgeous lullaby that ends the disc.


This is a pan-tonal, free-flowing rhapsodic free improvisation session with sense of patience as well as a density of pulsation.

Few is using chordal vocabularies of Monk and Ellington, but for different ends here.

One long track covers much territory -- variety and contrast... dense and light sections flow effortlessly and seamlessly.

Fefer doesn't repeat himself while developing his statements. He says something, adds to it, says something else, changes, develops, qualifies, so you are left with the feeling of having heard responsive and intelligent music that covered territory. Like someone thinking something through, feeling through something thoroughly.

Few's playing here is comprehensive and rhapsodic, with beautiful harp-like cascades. You can hear him using everything at his disposal.


I come up John Keats.


On the C last night, every male in our car had a look of intense abjectness. One guy in his forties with an expression as though something he cared about deeply had been taken away with incontrovertible, unfair irrevocability. Another -- early thirties -- beamed with an intense scheming anger. Another -- mid twenties: numb withdrawal and denial. They seemed to represent some negative trinity of pre-middle age male life cycle. What are the stories behind these expressions?

The amount of brainpower we've evolved to identify and process human expressions must be considerable. What is the result of these thousands of expressions that pour into our minds from a simple commute? This must have a major effect in any poetry where the writer is working in a context of urban density.


Ellington-Blanton duets, Bluebird/BMG, rec 1940

Pitter Panther Patter

Sequenced vamps of elasticity and élan, with mini-trade fours scattered within. Ellington and Blanton weave in and out of the melody, and the elaboration and content blend seamlessly into one.

Body and Soul.

The opening arco playing coaxes so much melody out of the lowest of partials. The ear is not meant to understand melody as well in those low pitch area, so as to avoid being overwhelmed by the sound of our own heartbeats and blood flow. Lets be clear, the deviation here from equal temperament is for vocal expressivity. The vocal levity in this playing is amazing on an instrument that, in arco mode, can so easily be associated with a whale.

The outro piccicato soloing on take three is so detailed, so present, as to create the feeling of a person before you photographically detailed in its specificity. You're not just hearing the bass, you can hear the guy's hands playing the thing. It feels like a person is physically present. The feeling is impressive enough that you might even forget that Blanton, at the age of twenty one, is inventing the modern approach to the bass here. He would die of tuberculosis a few years later.

Sophisticated Lady.

Ellington is restrained, relaxed and distant in the mix, since this recording was meant to showcase Blanton, but there's something powerful about Ellington being at this unusual volume remove in a duet setting, where the detailing of the piano is still vivid in spite of the distance. It's as though the sonic magnetism that is a central quality of his playing was amplified in direct proportion to the distance.

The sense of a person dealing with society in a complex way, which is often foregrounded in Ellington's big band, is not entirely absent here, but is transformed into the subtext of private conversion. Pleasure, subtlety, relaxation, intelligence, sensitivity, confidence, and expertise are the overt materials of feeling being put into play. The complexity within these things, and the necessity of balancing conflicting elements of life force and social world are still the fabric this is made from, channelled though a private exchange we are overhearing. Both things are in conflict with themselves and with each other, and yet a image of _dealing with it_ is created with an amazing sense of balance and beauty.

Mr. J.B. Blues

Even when Ellington is in his most restrained, minimal, straight-forward comping mode, he still can't keep the life information from pouring out of the voicings: information-rich dissonance. Arco solo from Blanton has its tension/relaxation thresholds fused in a way that suspends the normal dramatic tension one gets in a blues form. The duet tensions are broken into chucks the way they would be twenty years later on Money Jungle. This music was way, way ahead of it's time.


Sharon Mesmer, In Ordinary Time, Hanging Loose Press

These short story/micro fictions/prose poems expertly balance absurdity, comedy, pluck and pathos in shifting proportions. Here’s a section from the opening piece, The Mexican Shirley Temple

"She tried and failed at grabbing her ankles to assume "rock and roll" pose -- she was just too old now -- and slipped slightly out of the harness. A gasp rose from the audience. Laughing, she just sat up in the harness and swung back and forth. The other mistake she made was wearing a dress -- everyone could see right up it. But it didn't matter, everyone loved her, and then more than ever because of her failure, which amplified her innocence. She was never, of course, innocent. She was pure evil. But to her audience she was the Mexican Shirley Temple."

Any readers who are afraid of enjoying themselves are going to want to keep a safe distance from this writing: the fun and style meters are off the chart, which may hide the fact that part of what we are getting is nuanced portraiture -- in this case portrait of the artist as an old circus performer, done as a kind of dream fable.

If you've ever seen Mesmer live you know that in performance she is, far and away, the greatest slam poet ever, period, while also transcending that genre, since these prose poems work just as well on the page.

Mesmer commits herself to a setting -- circus/black magic convention/ French town etc./ and then puts the details in motion with a unique kind of sympathetic satirical aplomb.

The fact that this book is not yet being breathlessly discussed in major magazines as the real chick lit is just wrong ... though I guess if some of my favorite underexposed musicians -- say, P.J Harvey and Joanna Newsome -- were suddenly played 24/7 on pop radio it would piss me off, so I should consider this situation as a kind of blessing... for me anyway.

Some are carefully wrought, engaging fantasies, like a post-Catholicism Italo Calvino, but with zaniness in the place of pretension.

Mixed in with these poetic micro-fictions are longer stories, adept straight-forward reportage of Ghost-World-esque adolescent rights of passage set in Chicago. These feature a certain sympathy with past selves that produces some of the more poignant moments in the book.


26 Magazine, issue D, has arrived.


Stans Apps, Douglas Rothschild, Bowery Poetry Club, 4/7/05

Stan Apps

"Mainly I feel like a meek oppressor."

"Nothing is more enormous than that person you haven't become yet."

"It needs to be so intensely not true that it is immediately real."

"I love a cheap epiphany, but an overpriced epiphany isn't worth a damn."

Douglas Rothschild

"It's the bad smell coming out of the kitchen that worries me."

"I've never met you, I'm only taking it out on you."

"If you don't have a cake, you can't eat it either."

"Try to figure out exactly what it means in relation to the bees."

Anyone wanting to read a PDF of the selected poems of Douglas Rothschild, please email me: drewgardner9 at hot mail dot com.


The electric guitars pierce through the sound of the machines, finally.

As for the instruments too delicate to compete with this, we’ll find a place to hear them, later, in private.


The Hat has arrived.


Yesterday a one-hundred year old retaining wall collapsed near 181st St in Washington Heights. Helicopters were kept a mile away to keep the vibrations from setting off more avalanches, so the video shots all presented the scene from a distance, blurred, with a trapezoidal area of dirt splayed across Riverside Dr.

The overturned trees look like broccoli, except they have firemen walking around among them. Cars backed up for blocks all around. Fantastic balance of themes: scale, obstruction, collapse, growth, structure. Dirt, trees and broken mortar as content... collapsing and spilling onto the highway as form.... Helicopter as publisher...


Anselm Berrigan, Matt Hart, Ron Silliman, 11th Street Bar, 5/9/05

Showed up too late to hear Hart or Anselm. I only knew Anselm, Karen Weiser, John Coletti and Murat Nemet-Nejat in the audience. The room was otherwise totally packed with a 20-something crowd, so I hovered at the bar/backroom no man's land, separated only by a curtain.

Silliman was accompanied by a jukebox and loud talk from the front of the bar. This combination reminded me a little of the old Ear Inn series, where the frying bacon and football game would provide distraction/ambience accompaniment. There was lack of oxygen in the room (Anselm would later emerge drenched in sweat), so I fell into a rhythm were I would listen for five minutes, go get some fresh air, listen for another five, repeat.

All these elements combined would normally create an impossible atmosphere for hearing poetry: lack of seating, bad PA, no air/too hot, loud conversation and a jukebox playing. To my amazement, this turned out to be an interesting way to hear Silliman's work.

Hearing this poetry separated into several disconnected five-minutes chunks didn't change the way it worked, or its effectiveness. It actually enhanced a quality of it: the fact that it is composed of sequenced autonomous units which operate by accrual. If you pull a chunk out, even skipping across poems, the poetry still works. The resolution just changes. Despite it's sharp and odd particulars, there is an ambient quality to this poetry. It's values are distributed with an environmental equality through it's extent. You're not going to miss a crucial punch line or plot twist.

This ambient quality was enhanced by the sound-bed of conversation and jukebox in the background -- after a period of mental adjustment, the poetry co-existed with it rather than competing. People talking about their credit cards and bosses, a John Mayer tune, and Silliman's atomized paratactic non-hierarchical sensory description, puns and recountings all formed into an interesting poetic/sound/social ecosystem.


Michael Gizzi, Clark Coolidge, Poetry Project, 5/4/05

Michael Gizzi

Gizzi's work is charged with an original pleasure of creation intense enough to shoot through the full spectrum of it's materials even when those materials plunge toward the melancholic and tragic. This work is welcoming, rich, wildly wacked-out impressionistic autobiographical poetic crime-jazz with family history as the plot: beautiful, comic, heartfelt and possessed of the power to frighten square people of all types.

"a ukulele speeding towards the heart"

Clark Coolidge

Shelly Man in warmth and relaxation, Hans Bennick in humor and spectrum of response. Jazz/noir voicings with an intense improvisational sprit. An inexhaustible feeling of positivity. Answering everything -- experience, memory, dream, art, politics, environment -- with artistic productiveness, like saying, no, THIS is the mental space I am choosing, one that can't be contained within a bullying consumerist expansionist apparatus -- wacky, quirky, hilarious, joyful, melancholy, unceasing. Theatricality blurring in and out of the language with micro-characters and settings, like a quantum-theory Tom Waits.

“oops. My mother is a gas tank”

Lines that make the top of your head boil over:

“You can’t put your arm around a manta ray.”

“Imagine a dental pain that helps you express yourself”

“There’s a snake in the hallway and we WILL be friends.”

A musical response to everything at the same time.

Heavily grounded, and heavily playful, responding to a gigantic spectrum of life information. Seamless conversational riffing mixed with zany vocab strings.

Total interdependency of the recombining elements of life information, life energy, and language.


Booklet for the Music and Poetry Workshop #5:

Williams Carlos Williams, from Kora in Hell: Improvisations. Short prose sequencing working across a wide spectrum of creative and social concerns. Journal/poem/criticism fused. Accumulation.

"Between two contending forces there may at all times arrive that moment when the stress is equal on both sides so that with a great pushing a stability results giving a picture of perfect rest. And so it may be that once upon the way the end drives back upon the beginning and a stop page will occur. At such time the poet shrinks from the doom that is calling him forgetting the delicate rhythms of perfect beauty, preferring in his mind the gross buffetings of good and evil fate."

Carla Harryman, from Gardener of Stars. Working across a wide spectrum of creative and social concerns. Intimate, critical, cosmic and dramatic. Character, theme, scenario and thought operating in speculative environmental space. Large-scale reverb settings mixed with close-up character information. Seamless transpositions of scale.

"Some people say I'm impatient and others don't notice. Appearing, disappearing, grouping, regrouping the stars, about which I personally know nothing, do not want to research, but plow over obsessively, mentally, as if I were trying to read my own genetic code for no reason other than that I had been genetically programmed to read it. Thus, the stars form or inform, shape, deplete, slacken, and even leave my thoughts to their own devices. Which, ill-informed as they may be sometimes, do not sleep piled up on themselves as male captives in sloughs of despond but bounce toward the massive externality named the world: this is were "there is so much to be grateful for" drives it's messages. The messages then take root, lining the streets with palms that rise to such heights one blinds oneself looking for their tops."

Bruce Andrews, from Divestiture – A. Crammed paratactic structure -- small sequenced blocks of noise. Using negative social emotions to foreground social issues. Employing unusual settings on creative social filter dial. Discomfort/humor. Accumulation. Zero/negative reverb setting.

"Do microscopes turn you on? My desire for freedom is too weak, just kiss yourself and watch the blood run out, making her feel guilty, externalizing my self-dislike & laying it on her -- pretty great! "What we need is a female victim of sudden death. Can you do it?" -- you wear it when the novelty wears off BEFORE THE EVENT. "

Joe Brainard, from I Remember. Attenuated list structure with uniform syntactical template. Allowing unusual (embarrassing) social filtering settings to create social-environmental detailing and intimacy across scales of time and place. Equality of units -- heavy and banal treated the same. Accumulation. Memory and time as environments (w/ particular reverberation characteristics). Clarity.

"I remember the first ball point pens. they skipped, and deposited little balls of ink that would accumulate on the point.

I remember Aunt Cleora who lived in Hollywood. Every year for Christmas she sent my brother and me a joint present of one book.

I remember the day Frank O'Hara died. I tried to do a painting somehow especially for him. (Especially good.) And it turned out awful.

I remember canasta."

John Godfrey, from Midnight on Your Left. Lyrical/mental/environmental tangle.

"It must be ecstasy to die in action. To think children are afforded this privilege. The sky suddenly comes up real close and your body is on it's own in the middle of the whole world. De-boned legs of such a drug are roasting in a room next to the one I am in. Hunters are waiting to be paid. Without the moon things go better. All the heroes come out of the firmament smelling blood. "

Rae Armantrout, from Made to Seem. Ambiguous or negative emotional resonance or framing (self/social inducement/ coercion) transposed into meditative, lyrical, comedic with energetic "pop." (i.e. cold fusion) Clarity.

"The idea that they were reenacting something which had been staged in the first place bothered her. If she wanted to go in, she'd need to ignore this limp chronology. She assumed he was conscious of the same constraint. But she almost always did want to proceed. Procedure! If only either one of them believed in the spontaneity of the original actors and could identify with one. Be one. For this to work, she reasoned, one of us would have to be gone."

Christopher Dewdney, from The Natural History. Large-scale lyric/environmental time/place reverb settings.

"There are two worlds -- one diurnal and that other world, where lunar mottled eels stir like dreams in shallow forest water. Allowing both to continue, we painstakingly remove and replace their parts with corresponding and interlocking absences. The glass machinery equally full of allusion to our summer carnality, an infinite part of the pattern that references itself with it's own repetitive logic."


Tim Hawkinson, The Whitney Museum/ The Sculpture Garden

Rough materials, around the house/off the shelf /jury rigged DIY (not expensive, but time-intensive) – crazy whimsical/inventive/humorous hand-made robot-poem-instruments.

Very large and very small scales.

Propagated self-portraiture – interconnected community in tree playing percussion instruments with different body parts.

Inflatable man self-portrait in-utero air compression plastic cow sounds.

Mundane objects made into clocks -- insane meditation on time, scale and object significance – one might not even notice these are working clocks -- a hair brush with two hairs as hour and minute hand.

Most of this won’t come across in photo or description. You have to be there. The essence of sculpture.

Tiny toy motor turning many gears increasing in size across the room with courtory cloth gear-teeth until the last wheel turns once every hundred years.

Micro Horton hears a who stuff from body growth materials- nails and hair. Their growth is also a kind of clock. From these materials, tiny bird skeleton, feather.

Percussion tree dripping water controlled by elaborate switch box. Such pleasure in the handmade construction of the switchbox, the careful but simple construction creating a personal feeling from a machine. Transparent mechanics -- you can see how everything works -- hence a feeling of honesty. A punk -I could do that- feeling of permission.

Giant blown-out tire as rearing monster.

Lee Bontecou influence/ dark whimsy.

Gaskets and air pressure/ the tubes and chambers of bodily functioning.

Uberorgan -- At the Sculpture garden on 56th. Too big for the Whitney. Football-field-scale machine/ robot instrument player piano bagpipes.

Cardboard tubes. Plastic sheeting. Aluminum foil. Materials a kid might use to build a robot costume for Halloween. Plays every hour. Plastic bag / body organ / bagpipe shapes hanging from ceiling, tubes crisscrossing everywhere like part of rainforest canopy. Giant “score” “recording” dots and dashes read by electronic eye, going up to the highest point in this outside/inside/ public/private corporate space. Birds flitting around trees. Very low cow moos/Godzilla goose honks from organ. Somehow still unassuming. Enormity, but with handmade feel/open wiring, open construction. Silver cardboard tubes hanging from ropes. Powerful Dr, Seuss vibe. It’s like the opposite of Matthew Barney, who is all about liking it when money/class war/capitalism forces its way into your dreams and calls the creative shots. Hawkinson is about constructive dreams and poetic questions that are undeniable in any space, that can’t be ruined.

What’s incredible is that work this inventive, this poetic, this anti-corporate could even be in this space at all, and that it would work when it is here. This shouldn’t have happened. It exists here the way the birds exist inside this space: they make it work. They are themselves.


Booklet and listening session for the Music and Poetry Workshop #4:

Charles Olson, "The chain of memory is resurrection..." from The Collected Poems: Dramatic address combined with intimacy of thought and detail, improvisational spirit in zigzag of associations, forward momentum and pulse. Propositional rhythm. Proper Nouns.

"The large theme
is the smallest (the thumbtack
in the way of the inkbottle..."


"the blossoms
are already
gone green green
the worst green
like paint floods
the sky
is like a bedroom wall
in a motel"

Bernadette Mayer, five poems from Poetry: Dramatic address combined with intimacy of thought and detail, improvisational sine wave of associations, forward momentum and pulse. Epistolary register. Word-grouping textures and environmental textures and details. Proper Nouns.

"we’ve solved the problem, the problem is solved

     men are women, women are men

          i'm pregnant for a while, you’re

pregnant for a while

     “if someone doesn’t change into an animal,

          we won’t be saved” someone must

change into an animal so that we can be saved."

Opal Whiteley, from The Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow: Journalistic register with intimacy of thought and detail. Simplicity of construction (child-vocab) subtly odd word groupings. Word-grouping textures and environmental textures and details. Proper Nouns (invented).

"Between the ranch house and the house we live in, is the singing creek where the willows grow. We have conversations. And there I do dabble my toes beside the willows. I feel the feels of gladness they do feel."

Alice Notley, from The Descent of Alette, from Close to Me & Closer (the Language of Heaven: Dramatic address with intimacy of thought and detail, improv zigzag of associations, forward momentum and pulse. Word-grouping textures interrelating with imaginative/speculative environmental-textures and details. Stanzaic pulse /rhythm.

"But thinking ... is fluid here -- a... connection-- or light. If you thought like that, why the essence could be as much between... between you and what you are. Not a struggle, trying to be something... especially something that doesn’t... really work. Instead you can... float between. Around. We do. We are... that."

Alan Davies, Void Where Inhibited, from Hole magazine: Dramatic address (w/ low volume effects) with intimacy of critical thought and detail, improv sequencing of associations; use of slow tempo in thought sequencing. Autonomy of thought / word stanza sequences/units. Critical voicings/. Stanzaic rhythm/ propositional rhythm.

"If you’re not happy your ideas are shit."

Morton Feldman, In Memoriam: Edgard Varese, from Collected Writings: Dramatic address with journalistic register, intimacy of thought and critical voicings. Forward momentum and pulse. Passionate autobiographical/critical intensity of proposition.

"...do we love Music, and not the systems, the ritual, the symbols -- the worldly, greedy gymnastics we substitute for it?"


The Grey Album, Danger Mouse. Mash up Of The While Album, The Beatles, and The Black Album, Jay-Z. Fusing culturally and stylistically separated materials.

Pauline Oliveros, Stuart Dempster, Panaiotis, Deep Listening, New Albion, Total poetic conception of creative event. Environmental detail (reverb) and sound texture.

Morton Feldman, Between Categories, from Voices & Instruments, Mode. Transparency of texture, space and low-volume effects. Slow tempo effects. Autonomy of tonal sequencing units.

Julie Patton, minidisc practice recording. Simultaneous spontaneous improvisation of words and music.


"Nothing is more boring
than stone"
"papa eats bread
mama eats danderlions
and the worm
am the end of it


"Asparagus is feathery and tall,
And the hose lies rotting by the garden-wall."


Booklet and listening session for the Music and Poetry Workshop #3:

Harryette Mullen, from Trimmings, Tender Buttons

Tom Raworth, from Eternal Sections, Sun & Moon

Derek Bailey, from Improvisation, Its Nature and Practice in Music, De Capo. Chapter on church organ improvisation.

John Schaefer, Who is Lamonte Young? from Sound and Light, La Monte Young And Marian Zazeela, Bucknell Review, ed William Duckworth

Leroi Jones/Amiri Baraka from Blues People

Leo Smith, from notes 8 pieces) | source | a new | world | music | creative music


Harry Partch, The Letter, from The Music of Harry Partch, CRI

Harry Partch, Barstow, Eight Hitch-hiker’s Inscriptions from a Highway Railing at Barstow, California, from Enclosure 2, Historic Speech-Music Recordings from the Harry Partch Archives, Innova