Friday, January 30, 2009

My Vote Counted!

Check out Savage Love this week and you’ll see that my vote mattered, as the term “Saddlebacking” – a reference to the church of a certain anti-gay minister, who also happened to speak at the inauguration, thanks to the invite of our new President who was really just appealing to the conservatives who got overly upset at Obama’s former Rev.— has now been converted to refer to my favorite “abstinence only” sex-phobic consequence among kids who certainly know the letter of the law if not the spirit.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Nice to know someone out there is as geeky and fond of Time Bandits as I am.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Obama Nerd Toys

My favorite is the one with the gun, though the light saber is pretty interesting. Check it out.

Monday, January 26, 2009

“I’m not as young as I used to be!”

Evidence of this was handed to yours truly in the form of a lingering headache and an overall feeling of uselessness that followed two nights of drinking. Friday was the office party, which was, you know, an office party, and I put away a steady—though not excessive—amount of whiskey. Good times in a way. Then Saturday was a wedding, which was a lot of fun and a lot of booze, which seemed fitting considering the groom (more on that another time). I might have had only 2 or 3 whiskies and a standard issue number of beers, but goddamn it ruined my Sunday. And I never felt “drunk” while conversing with old friends and hanging on the arm of my lovely, though I might have seemed more far-gone than I realized—a common occurrence. What the hell?

Anyway, I really wanted to talk about the wedding music, one song in particular: “The Star Spangled Banner” which began the dinner portion of the reception. I asked Wally, the groom, why this song was played at a wedding, as it seemed a bit surreal, and he answered: “Everyone knows the words, so why not?” which was funny. For the record, I don’t think anyone knows all the words, not really, but I’ll never forget that wedding reception as a result, so there’s that.

And I wonder how that poor adolescent is doing, the one who was in the men’s room crying: “I really wish I didn’t feel this way!” for the better part of the night, that first taste of over-intoxication running out of every pore (and then some). The poor kid looked like he’d just crawled out a grave as they (at last) carried him out of the bathroom. I’m sure he felt worse yesterday than me, which is some (small) consolation.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Not confessing anything, but…

for some sick, sick reason, I can’t stop listening to “Goodbye Horses” by Q Lazzarus, which will forever be known as the song that Ted Levine dances to in Silence of the Lambs while in drag and, um, tucked.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Vote Terrycloth 2012!

Thanks to Carla for sending me this link to the ravings of what may be the single biggest idiot in these United States:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New Means of Distraction

Daniel Borzutzky, local author and translator, whose book The Ecstasy of Capitulation, brought me to a wonderful place and continues to amaze the more I go back to it, who I saw read a poem about Andersonville that just killed me, has a blog:

Unlike the diaries posing as blogs, or the overly excited literary ramblings that pop up on blogs like, well, this one, Borzutzky’s is pretty interesting, thus far comprised of a well thought out response to a Dubravka Ugresic essay, an excerpt from the before mentioned book of poetry, and a bit from my recent interest, Thomas Bernhard. Check it out.

As a side note, the piece inspired by Ugresic’s essay makes an interesting point about Bolaño and his recently published story in The New Yorker. While I found the story to be somewhat compelling, albeit very odd (business as usual), Borzutzky asks a legitimate question regarding why The New Yorker felt the need to publish it. The story is strange, sure, though not subsequently bad (and I knew who Enrique Lihn was before reading the thing, though I admit that the other references were over my head), but one can argue that they would never have touched it were it not from the literary flavor of the month. Personally, I’m still glad they did, though it reminded me of a story by Huruki Murakami that appeared in The New Yorker called, I think, “My Year of Spaghetti.” I was thrilled to see anything by Murakami at that time, but I found the story to be slight. (Rereading it a year later, I loved it for all the reasons it first turned me off.) So a pattern is evident: The New Yorker jumps on the bandwagon. It has not been (was it ever?) a magazine that takes big risks. This is not a complaint—I like The New Yorker (most of the time), and I am glad they are publishing the occasional story by a writer I am interested in, but I see Borzutzky’s point. It’s sort of like the argument/complaint I heard often in poetry workshops, that if any of us were to turn in “experimental” poems similar to the ones our instructors were gaga about— written by published, respected, established poets— we’d likely get them torn apart.

Monday, January 19, 2009

2 out of 4 Ain’t Bad

So I submitted 4 poems in response to an email I received asking for poetic responses to the 2008 Presidential Elections. I had what I thought were the perfect poems, 2 of them both dealing (albeit absurdly) with the goddamn elections and the hellish fear they made me feel. I spoke to the growing anguish that those dog and pony shows inspired, the feelings of indifference that I noticed in some, which worried me, and the fervent scramble to one side or the other, which worried me as well, though my side was clear, which means I’m guilty. I tried to write about the disenfranchisement that these things can conjure up in the average red-blooded, debt beset citizen of these here United States.

Anyway, those poems were rejected. The other two poems, which dealt somewhat with Barack Obama, were accepted. Go figure. The first has more to do with the 1968 Democratic Convention and the legendary mayhem that resulted. The second is a response to the film Taxi to the Dark Side and the things that were rattling in my silly head during my “political” period (last fall when I was swallowed up in all this and watching documentaries about torture and simultaneously hearing about “exhuming García Lorca,” which I thought would (off) rhyme well with “electing Barack Obama”).

Thanks for accepting the poems, I thought, although I stumbled on them by accident—I was not notified that they were accepted. This is what happens with online publishers. Tighten it up, folks. I still think the other 2 were more germane, but what do I know? I just wrote them. Anyway, yeah, nice to be on the list of folks who reference Obama in a poem, although one of them (at least) is pretty critical. Nice: an even-sided collection. Fair and balanced. Sort of.

Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

On Random

Who wouldn’t love a band called Bohren & der Club of Gore, especially when they title their songs “Maximum Black,” “Street Tattoo,” “Destroying Angels,” “On Demon Wings,” “The Art of Coffins,” “Nightwolf” and so on. What’s funnier is that my Windows Media Player lists their music as “easy listening.”


Finished Yes by Bernhard. Loved it. That I am just discovering his work (as arrogant a thing to say as can be said, much like Columbus “discovering” the New World or the yuppie brigade discovering green wine) mildly upsets me. I seem compelled to put another writer’s book between his, having read The Loser, and then Mammals by Pierre Merot, then Yes, and am now starting Swallowing Stones by Lisa St. Aubin de Terán, which, so far, based on 24 pages, is pretty captivating, though there’s a long way to go. More on that as I progress.


Didn’t see the Dirty Harry is a racist with a shotgun and doesn’t want kids on his lawn movie, though I really want to. Instead, saw Brad Pitt as an old man who backwards ages, which I enjoyed quite a lot, thank you very much. It appears that I am incapable of watching standard American 90 minute films. The last few movies I’ve sat down and watched were loooooooong. Ben Buttons (which was not very much like the F. Scott Fitzgerald story) was long. I spent the hellidays watching Peter O’Toole in The Ruling Class, which was amazing and, yes, quite long. I have, at home, La Dolce Vita. And then there’s the Bollywood movies mi niña brings over, the last one, Silsila was a solid 3 hours. I’m feeling slightly exhausted.


Began teaching the class last weekend. This shall prove interesting, agonizing, odd. Stay tuned for updates in that regard, but yeah, moving on…


That’s it, goddamnit.

Web Slinger Elect?

Whatcha reading?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New New Yorker

The Dec. 28-29, 2008 issue of The New Yorker made its way to me recently (don’t ask how) and I must say that it is one of the better issues of late. Of course my attention was given immediately to a short piece by Bolaño—about a dream of meeting Enrique Lihn—but I must call attention to the list of other contributors/subjects including Mark Twain, Colson Whitehead, Zadie Smith, a fantastic poem by Arthur Vogelsang, a piece on the great contemporary painter, Marlene Dumas, a review of Susan Sontag and a bit by Alice Munro, who people seem to like.

So yeah, a pretty well packed issue. Check her out, if so inclined.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Today’s Water Cooler Report

The two most interesting things overheard today in my office as the Pro Palestine rally was being held across the street:

“I ought to go over there and sell some swastika armbands, make a little money.” – said by the right wing reactionary of the office.

“Don’t these people know I have work to do? I wish I had an air gun to shoot that way.” – said by a Jewish attorney, who, I assume, failed to recognize the offensiveness of this statement in regard to the situation ‘round about Gaza way.


Sad news for the Alliance of NYS Arts Organization, Open Letter, and the U.S.A.’s dwindling cultural consciousness:

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Thomas Bernhard

For anyone interested in reading some of the most hypnotic, relentless, and engaging prose you’re likely to find, read Thomas Bernhard. I am sure the more savvy readers of world literature have already devoured Bernhard’s iconoclastic novels, and don’t need me mumbling about them, but I’ve just read my first (The Loser) and am starting my second (Yes).

I learned of Bernhard’s work about a year ago, stumbling on a quote about him, one that made me remember the name. I bought The Loser for a buck at the Brown Elephant, a good investment. Months later, the big goofy lit prof at the big goofy university had us read the opening of Bernhard’s Correction. I was stunned. There were no paragraph breaks, the sentences went on and on, expanding and turning back into themselves, spiraling and whirling, and the tone was… learned and strident? That works, sure. Bernhard was critical of his native Austria, so much so that an old woman once attacked him while he was boarding a bus. He relished riling and ruffling and any other R word you’d like to insert. He was a gadfly, but a wise one, one who could spin a sentence into gold. And he had a dislike of the standard beginning/middle/end novel with a plot and rising action and all of that. His books—from what I can tell—do not do anything so commonplace. The Loser knocked me on my ass solely for its (lack of) structure, which is essentially a circle—though, if one were game, a pattern or “plot” or conventional linear tale could easily be fashioned. This is not to say that the book lacks a story. By no means. The story is, I feel, secondary to the language and the characters—the “loser” and the narrator and, to a lesser extent, Glenn Gould, the famous pianist. There is a lot going on, and anyway, novels need not obsess over plot.

So what brought me to Bernhard? As intrigued as I was by the little bit from Correction, I resisted Bernhard because the prof, who was stomping for the dead Austrian, was not my favorite professor (or person) and I have a juvenile inclination to rebel. “He likes Bernhard, then fuck Bernhard,” I might have said. How sad. How silly.

It took me a few months to get over it and read The Loser, but this was spurned on by another book, one I am still reeling over: Senselessness by Horacio Castellanos Moya. Moya is obviously a fan of Bernhard. One can tell that from reading the two of them, though Moya’s run-on sentences and lack of paragraph breaks drives the reader along on a more linear path. Also, Moya’s breakthrough book (yet to be translated) was titled El Asco: Thomas Bernhard En San Salvador. As is often the case, I get the next book from the last one.

So I’m just starting Yes. More details to follow once I finish, though you can find all kind of Bernhard tidbits, excerpts, and hoo-haws here and all over the web. As always, I am late to the game.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

New Year

Sorry to be more like a blog than what I prefer this blog to be, which is a place to share, share what I am reading, watching, thinking about only in the sense that it corresponds to so-called art or something ephemeral and does not deal as much with the inner workings of this here person, but I do occasionally drift from that superficial place of being and get all bloggish and start to talk shit or say something that borders on the (gasp!) personal, which I shall now do (thankfully) briefly:

2008 is fucking done. School is fucking done. I’m a graduate of the big university in Evanston. I’m readying the search for more meaningful (to me) employment. I’ve scratched off people from the list of fuckwits I’ve too long called “friends” and am focusing on cultivating lasting relationships with people who are not so full of shit. I’m working on things, things that matter to me, even if they matter not a bit to anyone else. I’m trying, lord, I’m trying. I’m going to make this a year to remember. I’m going to embrace the positive (and positivism) that I have previously shunned, which is not to say that I shall become the dreaded Pollyanna, no, never, but the adolescent fashionable faux nihilism that I might have displayed in times past has long since become a bore and anyway it has done little for me. I begin this Saturday volunteer teaching, and even though my students number only 2, it’s a start. (What I will tell them is a mystery.) I begin again battling the dirty tobacco weed. I make plans to travel and to move to different digs where I might have a better mindset and less murderous thoughts. I try to erase the nonsense, turn off the TV, stay on point, stay off the anger treadmill, stay in the gym, focus, focus, focus, drive, driven, drifting and, at long last, getting somewhere closer to where I want to be. Enough bullshit, says I. This is the goddamn year. Check with me next January and see if I am still this up. If so, then something was accomplished. If not, well… please buy me a drink.


I’m addicted to this site:

Okay, I know, it’s easy to make fun of idiots, and not all religious folk fall into that category, but the fundamentalist jackasses quoted on this site are ripe fruit waiting to be picked. And mocked.

Have fun.

PS: Thanks, Carla for sending me this link. It’s always nice to have a new place to go to waste time and feel superior.