In songs, Nick Drake, Tom Waits, Dylan, Elliot Smith… I look for the moments in the songs where poetry happens, conjunctions of lines and sounds, not for song lyrics that are like whole poems.


Great reading from Kasey last night at St. Mark's. Appropriated/ networked social word alchemy/comedic subversion.

Since thoughts and consciousness are types of networked computing, this is a kind of electronic social thought? The verbal materials are taken from the internet, and then changed-up in the mind-net. Very energized and funny, sweet but also demanding. Demanding that you be willing to try on a dozen different human perspective-goggles to dig it and check yourself at the same time. Kasey is insisting that these processes be a pleasure.

Signs from some of the older listeners, if I’m reading them right, that they are not understanding. I take this as a good sign:

How do you know if something is new? You don’t like it!


The thought of what America would be like if Robin Williams read Harry Matthews novels troubles my sleep.
Silliman on surveillance.
note to self:

Not gonna get killed by poachers as I enter the best years of my research.


Brandon Downing and Steve Benson
St. Mark's Church, 3.9.05

Brandon Downing

“one of those muppets was feeding on me when I came to”

personality / fantasy / joke / push-pull theater

greedy. I always come in 4th in poetry


Stoned, splintered echos of private jokes.

An odd, tweaked poetic immobilization created by the simultaneous contradictory embrace of wacky, relaxed and likeable / nervous tense and uncomfortable.

Picking odd objects of appropriation (films, cartoons, commercials) and then using them privately to keep the poem in a state of dissociation. The effect a funny and friendly energy bending itself into a pretzel to avoid directly addressing the dirigible-scale questions about failures of communication that the whole thing sets into motion.

Affability with a strong undercurrent of anxiety.

Also, gleaner-mind seeing discarded culture as possible alternate fuel source?

Purina Cat Chow commercial slowed down until it became a nightmare.

The fact that Downing is showing cable access shows or forgotten cartoons about Paul Bunyan means that for him poetry is state of looking at things, not necessarily a sequence of words.

Steve Benson

Benson started with a sequence of questions from a new book. I had heard a version of this material before, when it was being written you could say. He generated it at a performance a few years ago at the Bowery Poetry Club. At the Poetry Project, he started with written questions, but then started to make up answers, and, I think, to make up new questions, departing from text. A method of entering the improvised performance. Pondering riffs, expressions of self doubt riffs . "Is this entire thing fatuous?" Riffing from the vocabulary. Chains of puns. Tense, torturous, hilarious, depressing, amusing. The best sequences were on topics of "insecurity" and "certainty." He crawled from word to word, clearly navigation the energy from individual word to individual word. How they branch in associations. Descriptions of mental states. The mind reeling against an unacceptable environment. Against itself. Against an uncooperative language. This was free association, adapted to the needs of performance art, not exactly free. And it is performance art. Not sure if it would work if he read it straight from the page, but it's great with the wandering around and tortured expression.


Autolux. Corecraft, Secret Machines
Irving Plaza, 3.7.05

Last minute Ave/ D bus bolt to Irving Plaza after a call from Alex of Prosolar Mechanics to check out Autolux.

Autolux is a trio. They knocked out appealingly noisy, introverted-but-social grooves made out of elements that were simplified at every turn. The tasty drummer held back her chops, using traditional grip. All of them were resisting complexity, or sneaking it in tiny micro-dilutions. You feel the invisible hand of complexity pressurizing the songs from the outside like homework you’re blowing off for now but intending to do. It's like the band was saying: "no, this is all you should need." I've been wondering when someone was going to pick up on the Sonic Youth side of the 80s historical blender we've apparently set to frappe. Here you go. They were literally looking at their shoes for the whole concert.

The songs were consistent. I think they suffered from opening band bad-mix-itous. not enough mid-to high end tonalities, too much bass, vocals too low. Listening to the CD would tell me more. Anytime they brought the higher guitar tones up, or doubled the vocals the whole horizon of the song would shift from quite good to great. I wish they had done more of this. I guess there is a kind of tacit agreement in certain bands to not think too much about structure and contrast, as a kind of perceived implicit resistance to certain social strucures? They brought their own Christmas lights mounted to cardboard squares. Does it seem insane to be from LA playing music like this?

Corecraft is a J. Mascis's group, a drummerless free-rock improv thing, more like something you might hear at ABC NO RIO at the Sunday night COMA series than Irving Plaza: bass, flute, slide guitar, guitar, tape loops.

I had listened to Dinosaur Jr. all through the 80s, esp. Bug and You're Living All Over Me, but had never seen them live. Mascis, with shocking, long, totally white-gray hair, sat for the whole set. His guitar tone, when it came to the surface for air, was piercing and rich. The sound man, big surprise, didn’t understand what to do with the flute.

Messy one-chord swells and ebbs. Everyone half-thinking about the other players, half trying to hold their own direction down no matter what. Mixed feelings about independance, competition, collaboration, and collectivity: it can be like that. There were maybe three swells which where marvelous -- stoner rock meets Phil Niblock. The high volume level brought out all the crazy undulating partial interactions in the drone. The ebbs were like places you have to go before you get to where you want to be -- musical bus stations, and too much of set consisted of this mode. If this band had a heavy drummer behind it, and sounded like the high moments the whole time, it would be mind-boggingly great.

I always get as much information about the music by turning around and reading the faces of the audience as I get from listening. I had no idea what to expect, since the audience here was way too young to remember Dinosaur Jr. I assumed they would hear this as an odd or laughable hippy stoner noise anomaly? What I saw was fatigue, yes, but also curiosity of a kind I don't always associate with rock shows. Sometimes the social style affiliation with bands shows itself as a closed off, competitive kind of excitement -- no trace of that left here, it had been erased. Also no bewilderment, which is what I expected.

Secret Machines light show was better than the music. I went home after the 2nd song.


one day
I too
will be
going with -- what?

Your fixations? With what's gonna fly? With your likes and dislikes?


"Hell itself my be contained within the compass of a spark."


Checked out some blogs on my friend Sandhya Jain's Blackberry 7100 cell phone yesterday. Loads at old 28.8 speeds, and breaks down the pages into a single little column. Nice color display.

Blogs with tons of links in left margin (Nick Piombino and Ron Silliman) don’t work well because you have to scroll through the links to get to the body text. The Jim Side comics were too small to read.

Jordan faired best -- fast load in and minimal link clutter to thumb scroll past -- not bad.

You could easily blog on this phone, which actually looks like a phone.
Bonnie "Prince" Billy & Matt Sweeney. Kim’s downtown. Free in-store show. 3.5.05

A duet in a space not meant to be performed in. Music store consumer grid,isles flooded by 25-35ish scruffy hipsters, nobody going anywhere without a lot of trouble. I feel like an element of plaster poured into a mold.

No elevated stage or lights or forcing the audience to wait interminably to prove that the musicians are superior. The pleasantly envious and/or adoring goggling of the listeners (by gender?) from a power imbalance created partly by the appeal of the music, partly by the appeal of the indie-hero personas, not by the venue. The vibe is close to a house party, except everyone is uncomfortable.

Mountain music adapted to urban indie mind. Totally fluid fusion of elements. The opposite of the going NYC trend of purely gestural referencing / imitation of 80s music.

Though there may be a sardonic quality, it is not at all ill at ease with itself, as Beck is with his references. Mixed feelings flow undefensively, marvelously -- stylistic time made to twist over itself to create an image of the present.
Officially taken to taken to task by Jonathan Mayhew for not posting enough.