Report from Amsterdam Ave.

Delicately spinning gyre of pigeons high above the buildings, set off in bright white specks of sun.

Strange, filthy four-foot piles of snow halfway into the street -- better than anything in the museums. No millionaires threatening to own them. Jordan also noticing this.

All art should be meltable art.


Snowbound blizzard weekend. Eight foot plough drifts on Ave A this morning. Difficult snow navigation on unshoveled sidewalks via NewBalance. Everyone walking slowly. The A train standing room only from W 4th all the way to 168th.

Katie’s great mushroom and carrot loaf -- two dinners worth of food. Plenty of milk and espresso. Fighting cabin fever. Metal of Honor: Frontline on the Xbox. Spielbergy soundtrack, intolerable in high drama moments, not bad in ambient stretches. Heavy use of bass/french horn pairings. Undercurrent of tension transmitted via the low and mellow settings on the partial series dial.

The art of video game music requires the composer to be as interesting as possible, while also arranging the material to be able to withstand constant, repeated listening within a single level -- esp. if you’re not doing very well. It must stand up to replay without getting annoying. In replay, pointed musical qualities become a drawback. A similar aesthetic in Brian Eno’s Music for Airports. In Metal of Honor, the musical moments of high drama are redundant -- you’re already actively engaged in the drama -- you’re helping to save the world from Nazis. You don’t need reminding that’s it’s epic and tragic.

Metal of Honor’s graphics are well below what the Xbox can do, being a PSII port, but it doesn’t suffer from the odd blocky green-hue emphasis that seems to inflect older PSII games. Despite this, it’s actually quite good with atmosphere, esp. the night sky against the roof lines and streetlamps of a small town. Pastel quality rather than the CGI movie vibe you get in Halo. Lots of burnt sienna. A beautiful day with burning windmills.

Work alleviates the shut-in feeling from seeing the snow go sideways outside the living room window. Video games, esp. FPS games, are work -- series of tasks that need to be accomplished. You eliminate obstructions and threats, protect yourself and collect resources. Metal of Honor doesn’t try to hide this it -- it emphasizes it. You actually get a to-do list and the game checks tasks off as you finish them.


Headed to SF for a couple days to check out some poet's theater.


New Year’s reading at St. Mark’s. Far too sprawling to ever fully experience, which is part of its appeal. If you stay for five hours it’s still just a window on a much larger event. Friends visiting town, so I couldn’t hang and sell food as I usually do. In and out.

Normally the audio in the main hall would be siphoned off into the parish hall via a single speaker for preparers and sellers to hear everything. It’s a great feeling, like a radio show being broadcast from twenty feet away. Alas no channel could be spared this time around, so I missed much while in the back, readying cymbals and tomtoms for a quick staging. I got there late -- post-Patty Smith. She usually hits at 9:00 with standing room only, and people swarm out of the place after she’s done. That still leaves the house with several hundred people, though, who were still there when I split around 1:00.

The backstage activity is where the real show is. Rapid intersections of people. Poets you haven’t talked to in years, people you see often, people you’ve read but never met, all mingling. Friendly talk and the inevitable prickly exchanges. Strobelike conversation. A lot of flip-flopping between contradictions: excited and exhausted, open and wary. On stage it’s a mass encouragement vibe. Everyone gets a lot of clapping.

Gary and Nada read a duo google thing on the word ululations, and talked about the tidal wave and dedicated the poem to the people killed. Many people talked about and dedicated poems to John Fisk and Jackson MacLow. I thought of my many conversations with John -- how we would get on some parapolitical riff and three hours would go by in a blink. I also thought of an evening walking home with Jackson and Alan Davies after a concert at Riverside Church. Talking about intonation etc. The air crystal-clear. A special feeling. Jackson -- interesting, interested and kind.

Hal Sirowitz cracked me up with his perfectly calibrated stupidity. A lot of it is the delivery, too, and the look. Marcella Durand played drums behind Douglas Rothschild reading Ezra Pound -- really great stuff. It was Joe Elliot’s kid’s drumset actually, which I helped Dug tune before he went on -- I love feeling useful!) Great to see Marcella playing drums. CA Conrad used a portable tape player as part of his performance back and forth dialogue and interruptions -- simple and effective. He has a good stage presence --- balanced hamming and nervous energy very nicely, not so easy to do. Frank Sherlock knocked out a strong, straight-ahead reading, no bell or whistles, which is actually one of the hardest things to make work in this context, but he pulled it off. Eddie Berrigan sang w/ guitar -- much more contour to the vocal melody than last time I heard him. Am I hearing some Devendra Banhart influence?

Wish I could have seen more people but what can you do. The marathon, as tiring as it can be, always leaves me with a good feeling -- like having moved through a briefly uncovered massive ambient poetic social texture.