6.30.2005

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.

6.27.2005

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

6.24.2005

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.

6.17.2005

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 clich├ęs 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?

6.13.2005

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

6.12.2005

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."

6.11.2005

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.

6.10.2005

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

6.07.2005

#128

Dragonflies have
six legs, but
cannot walk.

6.02.2005

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.


HEAVENLY PLACES

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.