Friday, March 30, 2007

Post Script to Seeing Red Tape

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Seeing Red Tape


Richard Roeper, that lucky schmuck, today decided to write about As usual, Ritchie is a little late. Hell, my sources told me about it a good while back and it was reported here instantly, as I recognized its importance as not only a bizarre antidote to the MySpace reign of terror, but also as a grim reminder of the clock’s constant ticking, time’s winged chariot, insert your favorite death metaphor here. Though the ceaseless profiles of dead young folk on MyDeathSpace can be frightening, even weirder are their actual MySpace pages that continue with a little help from the living. Profiles once laden with the typical inane comments about loving the movie Pretty Woman and hangin’ with the posse now sport the eerie “MISS U GRRRL!” comments that can only come from bereaved teenagers. Creepy. Anyone who says MyDeathSpace is morbid ought to take a closer look at MySpace sometime.

I joke, but MyDeathSpace is infinitely more interesting than MySpace. The sad facts of these deaths are considerably more entertaining (spiked with a little bit of healthy guilt) than pouring through the silly photos of bad T & A and banal hipster doggerel. MySpace is all about presenting yourself in the best light so you can make fake friends you’ll never really meet and possibly get laid. Or promote whatever it is you do (ahem…). It’s similar to the blogosphere (which, though I am here, I am constantly critical of) only worse because it is predicated on the idea of community, which, given its domain, strikes me as sad. I like emailing friends and staying touch when the schedule allows, but cyberspace is more about information and distraction, not about meeting people. At least not to me. I have a few E-pen pals (for lack of a better term) but to put my picture up on MySpace and beg for friends seems depressing in a way I am not prepared to manage.

Conversely, MyDeathSpace is about shattering the image. They all look so hip and cool, or geeky cool, or goth cool, or whatever. But they all end up dead. Reading about the brunette who died from overdrinking and snorting nose candy is interesting enough, but when coupled with her happy, bright smiling picture it becomes chilling. Innocence lost right before our eyes. Wow… that’s worth checking out.

The sad truth is that people are so fucking dull when they put on their best face and so much more interesting in their ugly defeat. Or, less cynically, people are so fucking dull when they put on their best face and so much more interesting when their imperfections and quirks are revealed. The imperfections and contradictions make us human. I prefer human reality to cyber illusion. Okay, so maybe reading about their meth habits and drunk driving sprees is an extreme way of getting to the truth behind the manufactured, but it sure beats reading about their mundane likes and dislikes. And it is probably more interesting than reading someone ranting about nothing of grand importance.
Yeah… [gulp] bye.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A little late

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Get Your Geek On

Anyone feel like hitting D.C. this April to hear a lecture and a reading from Northern Ireland’s finest poets?

Medbh McGuckian, Ciaran Carson and Paul Muldoon will be there, as well as a taped interview with Seamus Heaney. Ought to be worth missing work and school. And maybe I'll have time to visit the Vietnam Memorial Wall and that holocaust museum.

I Love Chicago Yet Again

Raining in Chicago today. I walked from lunch back toward the office and was witness to two men screaming at each other with total disregard for societal conventions. One was Asian, the other looked Indian—sort of a Harold and Kumar mixed with “Shut Up, Little Man!”



And so forth.

It went on for the length of LaSalle from Monroe to Madison before they turned west and left me, mouth agape.

Friday, March 16, 2007

State of the Union March '07

Well, the first quarter is done. I turned in my little project for class last Wednesday at the Celtic Knot in E-town. The Celtic Knot… if I had a dollar for every bar in Chicagoland with “Celtic” in the title I’d be able to afford a drink at any of these overpriced, glorified dives.

My classmates don’t seem to be the big drinkers I thought they might be. Yes, a few knocked ‘em back, but I had finished two tasty Danish beers by the time most of them were done nursing their first round. And the teacher, a nice enough chap, took his sweet time with a black and tan, which he specifically asked to be three-quarters amber and one-third Guinness. He has a book coming out, which seemed to be preoccupying him, so some of the students played kiss-the-ass by trying to come up with a suitable title to something they have not read. I thought best to stay out of that. The last time I suggested a book title was to a girl I knew at DePaul who wrote lousy poems about “the liberation of my CUNT.” I told her to call the book “Empty Calories.” I thought it was an insult—what’s more useless than that? Dolt that she was, she thought it perfect. I hope somewhere there’s a chapbook with that title in the dustbin of the fake literary world.

Sour grapes? Maybe.

Anyway, I ended up getting pulled in and suggested a twist on an Anne Sexton poem, telling him to call his book “In Celebration of Your Uterus.” Finally, after weeks of trying to crack his stony façade, I managed to raise a dry smile. This is poetry—it doesn’t have to be serious or scholarly all the time. It should be full of all the stuff of life, including the odd laugh here and there.

Of course I ended up sitting next to the one person I dislike. If mi niña were there she would have found a way to throw something in her drink. Alas… Perhaps the biggest annoyance came when I was looking over a classmate’s anthology of favorite poems. I mentioned that I liked Sharon Olds and complemented her on her choice. My enemy heard this and said something like, “you only like her because she writes about sex!” Just hearing that word come from this hated creature was nearly enough to banish all thoughts of sexual congress from my mind for the remainder of the evening, maybe longer. I wanted to turn to her and tell her that not only did I like Olds because she is a good writer but that I have probably read more poetry than she has ever heard of. I have certainly written better poetry than this twit ever will.

That aside, it was a nice night, even if my classmates tend to lack in the drinking department. NU may not offer grand evening paying tribute to Bacchus (as Roosevelt did) but there’ll surely be a lot of chances for pretentious poetry readings and backslapping bullshit. I’m paying for this? What have I done?

Other news:

Rushdie and Lethem were in town giving readings and signing books. I missed them both. The Secret Chiefs 3 and the Pogues… didn’t go to either show. Mono is coming; I have to see them if for no other reason than to reestablish myself in my own eyes. Missing these events makes me feel my years. I grow old… trousers rolled… do I dare to eat a peach… all that Prufrock shit. Think I’ll curl up this weekend with a bottle and my advancing age and sit in the rafters and fucking ruminate.

Kiss kiss, homies.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Big Business

I should check out Big Business one of these days. Who are they? Oh, the new bass player and second drummer for the Melvins, perhaps the most important rock band of the last 20 odd years. Yeah, they have two drummers now, how ‘bout that.

But Big Business has a record out with the funniest goddamn song titles I’ve seen since Anal Cunt. Look:

1. Just as the Day was Dawning
2. Hands Up
3. Shields
4. Grounds for Divorce
5. Another Fourth of July ... Ruined
6. Start Your Digging
7. I’ll Give You Something to Cry About
8. Another Beautiful Day in the Pacific Northwest

Track five is espeically hilarious.

Thanks for listening.

Kiss kiss.

God Bless Winterson

From here:

"And how bored rigid are you, - as bored as me – by the current fashion for ‘great storytelling’, as though that is all all all a writer has to do. No wonder people turn to poetry. But I also believe that the novel is much more than a story, and that in the exploring of what it can be, we gain more than we lose, even if our good writers make mistakes and get it wrong sometimes."

Poetry Corner: Joseph Brodsky

A second Christmas by the shore
of Pontus, which remains unfrozen.
The Star of Kings above the sharp horizon
of harbor walls. And I can’t say for sure
that I can’t live without you. As
this paper proves, I do exist: I’m living
enough to gulp my beer, to soil the leaves, and
trample the grass.

Retreating south before winter’s assault,
I sit in that café from which we two were
exploded soundlessly into the future
according to the unrelenting law
that happiness can’t last. My finger tries
your face on poor man’s marble. In the distance,
brocaded nymphs leap through their jerky dances,
flaunting their thighs.

Just what, you gods—if this dilating blot,
glimpsed through a murky window, symbolizes
your selves now—were you trying to advise us?
The future has arrived and it is not
unbearable. Things fall, the fiddler goes,
the music ebbs, and deepening creases
spread over the sea’s surface and men’s faces.
But no wind blows.

Someday the slowly rising breakers but,
alas, not we, will sweep across this railing,
crest overhead, crush helpless screams, and roll in
to find the spot where you drank wine, took cat-
naps, spreading to the sun your wet
thin blouse—to batter benches, splinter boardwalks,
and build for future molluscs
a silted bed.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Goddamn, my hair is long.

Art Corner: Max Ernst

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Twice now a stranger has been able to intuitively know something about me. At the airport last December, a woman checked me in for my flight, saw my last name and knew exactly which part of Italy my Grandfather came from. Not just the general area but the exact town. And then, two days ago, a man saw me on the street and yelled, “Siciliano!” He was from Sicily, or so he said, and recognized a brother. I apologized for not speaking Italian, much less with any understanding of Sicilian dialect, but managed to figure out his sob story and help him with some change. Even if he was a con man, he was that damn good and had certainly earned the money.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Role Call

Mikhail Bulgakov, Pablo Neruda, Mike Patton, Eye and Yoshimi, Bill Hicks, Sergio Leone, Roman Polanski, Anna Akhmatova, Martin Scorsese, Robert De Nero, Oleg Gitarkin and Zombie Girl, Francis Bacon, King Buzzo and Dale Crover, Peter Greenaway, Reinaldo Arenas, Sean Penn, Gibby and Paul Leary, Lux and Ivy, Tom Waits, Robert Duvall, Umberto Eco, David Thewlis, Plug One, Dave, Maceo and Prince Paul, Jeanette Winterson, Salman Rushdie, Shane MacGowan, Medbh McGuckian, Ciaran Carson, Paul Muldoon, Seamus Heaney, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges, Octavio Paz, Manuel Puig, Ariel Dorfman, Franz Schubert, John Zorn, Ann Magnuson and Kramer, Vaclav Havel, Lev Tolstoy, Keith Moon, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle, Roger Daltrey, Ray Davies, Joe Strummer, William Faulkner, Kurt Vonnegut, Diamanda Galas, Joey Ramone, David Cross, Chuck D., Trey Spruance, Trevor Dunn, Rainer Maria Rilke, Frank Zappa, David Cronenberg, Mark Twain, Helen Mirren, Joel and Ethan Coen, Max Ernst, Takeshi Kitano, Billy Wilder, Dalek, Dean and Gene Ween, Omara Portuondo, Giovanni Boccaccio, Groucho Marx, Charles Burns, Dante Alighieri, Terry Zwigoff, Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones, Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmondson, Nigel Planer, Christopher Ryan, Alexei Sayle, Rodney Dangerfield, Patti Smith, Malcolm Lowry, Cyro Baptista, M. Gira and Jarboe, Charles Mingus, Phillip Glass, William Shakespeare, Otis Redding, Robert Altman, Masami Akita, Federico Fellini, Peter O’Toole, Gunter Grass, John Carpenter, Samuel Beckett, Charles Bukowski, Haruki Murakami, Klaus Kinski, Mark Knopfler, Alejandro Jodorowski, Odd Nersstrom, Marlene Dumas, Flannery O’Connor, Anne Sexton, Charles Baudelaire, Franz Kafka, R. Crumb, John Fante, Lord Byron, Tilda Swinton, Dylan Thomas, T.S. Eliot, Agata, Stewart Copeland, William S. Burroughs, Smokey Robinson, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Christopher Marlowe, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Krzyztof Kieslowski, Slavenka Drakulic, Patton Oswalt, Marc Ribot, Jennifer Charles, Milo Aukerman and Bill Stevens, Kazu Makino, Simone and Amedeo Pace.