Thursday, April 30, 2009

Jane’s Addiction releases a box set? It’s not shocking.

"Why this campaign for our sclerotic hearts and minds? Perhaps it’s because we’re the last generation to come up thinking of music as something we’re supposed to pay money for, and they figure they’d better milk us till we can give no more."

This quote is from a great article in the Reader (read in full here) about the new Jane’s Addiction box set that perfectly expresses my former love and current hate for this band. Yeah, I still dig most of Nothing’s Shocking and put it on once in a while, but the antics and idiotic statements of Farrell, as noted earlier on this page, turn me the hell off. Janes’s reforming—and flogging their past glory—makes me glad Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix died when they did. It would be embarrassing to see them as middle-aged has beens propping themselves up for a yearly cash-grab masquerading as a tour (as the Stones have spent the last 20 years of their career doing, not to mention Ozzy Osbourne, once the scariest man in music, now a sad old joke).

Hemon vs. the Amazon Customers

Having finished the wonderful Lazarus Project, I’m looking forward to reading the new collection of stories by Aleksandar Hemon, Love & Obstacles. So I decided to check out Amazon to see what the fawning goofballs and raving detractors think. Go here and read the reviews, especially the bad ones, and click the comments section to see Hemon himself addressing the criticisms. What an age we live in when an author can have such direct contact with her/his critics.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Trevor Dunn updates his site and speaks on the state of the industry:

My Stance on the Issue

While pouring water in a mug, over a green tea bag, I spilled a little on the office carpet. My boss scolded me, as he is obsessive about the condition of the carpet (even though we are going to re-carpet the office soon). I told him not to worry, that it was only water.

Then I began to wonder, if the water is poured over a tea bag, is it still water or has it become tea? When does tea begin? Is the line between dried leaves and healthy green tea divided by the second water touches teabag or is there more to it? Personally, I don’t call hot water with a smack of tea flavor “tea”—to me, tea needs time to steep, to cultivate, to form. (At least four minutes.) Otherwise, that ain’t tea and I have no problem throwing out hot, flavorless water that just happens to have a tea bag sitting in it for the first trimester.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

According to my Dr.’s nurse…

I don’t have the pig sickness. This from a mere a phone call. How 'bout that.

Italian Horror SC3 Style

What new music release makes me most excited? What is the only band that really matters? You know it: Secret Chiefs 3. Read all about the new CD due out next month. All original material inspired by Giallo Horror Film Soundtrack music. What the hell else could you want?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

How to Save Money and Get a Literary Education

I confess the main reason I chose Northwestern for grad school was so that I could take a class similar to one offered in the fall that was not, I regret to say, offered during my time at the Big University. The class in question is on Eastern European literature of the 20th Century and contains the following book list (pulled from NU's website):

Bruno Schulz, The Street of Crocodiles (1934); Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita (1928-1940, publ. 1966)--in the Burgin/O'Connor translation (1995); Danilo Kis, The Encyclopedia of the Dead (1983); Milorad Pavic, Dictionary of the Khazars (1983)--either male or female edition; Stanislaw Lem, A Perfect Vacuum (1971); Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire (1962)

It occurs to me that I own all of these books (I believe—maybe not the Lem). I shall now take the class—in a sense—by reading these texts on my own and digging for as many critical essays on them as I can find via the net and the library. Who needs to spend the money? Anyway, I’ve already read the Bulgakov, which is essential reading, goddamnit, and I’ve read a bit of Kis and Schultz, so I’m on my way.

Another class I saw is on Latin American literature—a big interest of mine. The reading list contains a lot of the usual Boom suspects (Garcia Marquez, Borges, Cortazar, Paz) though I noticed some lesser read authors (lesser read this side of the border, that is) such as Josè Bianco, Silvina Ocampo, Felisberto Hernandez, Juan Josè Arreola, and Miguel Angel Asturias. I think I’ll skip Garcia Marquez and move straight to Ocampo.

So long as I can read the booklists of NU, or the University of Chicago for that matter—though they privilege more “classic” texts—I won’t feel so bad about the aspects of the literary education I missed. So to anyone else eager and willing and unconcerned with the degree itself, or the so-called prestige, do a little browsing and you’re all set.

By the way, I realize I am not the first to think up this idea. Hell, it was in Good Will Hunting, right? But it’s a slow day in the Inferno and I’ve got nothing else.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Perry Farrell, Still an Idiot

As much as I loved Jane’s Addiction in 1991, I was quickly convinced of Perry Farrell’s stupidity when I read in an interview his claim to have looted during the Rodney King riots. Sure, Perry. Your skinny white ass didn’t stand out at all, huh? A white truck driver gets his head stomped on camera and you, with your silly white-boy dreds and heroin slim body, escaped unscathed? It’s not like there were a ton of Janes’s fans in the black community. But oh yeah, you fit right in.

Then I saw his movie, Gift, which stands as the worst thing I’ve ever seen burned into celluloid. I threw away the Jane’s T-Shirt later that evening.

Despite not making any interesting music in over a decade, Farrell continues to get his name in the paper simply for being in charge of the Lollapalooza music festival. This allows him to say asinine things to the tune of, bummed about the recession, come check out Lollapalooza, it’ll distract you (paraphrase). Sure, Perry. How much are those tickets? Exactly. Sorry, but I can’t afford to throw away money on a bloated music festival, especially when it’s headlined by a reformed irrelevant band that was at its peak when it broke up.

Castellanos Moya at PEN

As much as I love (or is it hate?) Chicago, sometimes I think life in New York would be preferable, but that is only when I consider what I miss by living here, which is cool literary fests like the PEN Festival. I skipped AWP in Chicago because I didn’t really care, though I would have definitely gone had Horacio Castellanos Moya been speaking. For all my discussion of 2666, Castellanos Moya’s Senselessness is, I feel, the best novel published last year. I’m still reeling from it. Go read it now. Now, fucker.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Rhino 2009 is out featuring a poem by yours truly. I went to the release party with mi niña yesterday and ran into one of the students from the workshop I taught. Overall, it went well. I sent Rhino three poems and they took the one I felt was the worst. Once again, I don’t know what works and what doesn’t. Evidence of this came when I read four poems and the one I am most fond of (a poem based on a conversation with my friend Matt regarding riding the red line when someone jumped to their death in front of the train, which I tried to make somewhat funny) kinda bummed folks the hell out. I heard the room deflate when I finished it, though I got ‘em back by saying, “Yeah, I know, it’s a downer.” Clearly I like my worst poems and dismiss my (few) good ones. What do I know?


Writer, NU prof, and staunch adherent to formal poetry (and her opinions), Mary Kinzie critiques quotes from Chicago notables such as the mayor and Kanye West, which the Tribune has cut into so-called verse. Reading these reminded me of her class and made me question how I ever got out of there with a passing grade.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Aleksandar Hemon

Check out this site for The Lazarus Project, which is shaping up to be a pretty great book:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

More Blog Adultery

My review of the new Ernesto Cardenal collection for Three Percent.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Tom Waits Self-Interview

Q: What’s wrong with the world?

A: We are buried beneath the weight of information, which is being confused with knowledge; quantity is being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness. Leona Helmsley’s dog made 12 million last year… and Dean McLaine, a farmer in Ohio made $30,000. It’s just a gigantic version of the madness that grows in every one of our brains. We are monkeys with money and guns.

Click here for a whole lot more.

In the Neighborhood

Thursday, April 09, 2009

It’s all for you!

Because my niña likes to see updates, I’m updating. Things have been a bit slow ‘round these parts, due primarily to work being the opposite of slow and things being balled up at the head office. (Name the movie.) Subsequently, I neglect the blogthing and other questionable pursuits.

Nevertheless: the show must go on, despite the lack of readers. There is at least one reader and she (you) is (are) the most important of them all. So let’s make her (you) happy with a new post, which is officially set on random (hola, niñis!).


I went out last night and had drinks with the only people from NU that I can be around for an extended period of time. Though we discussed some mild political issues and debated the merits of every president from Obama back to Teddy Roosevelt, and also addressed the pressing question of whether or not the 2016 Olympics ought to be held here in Chicago (which, of course, they shouldn’t), the conversation drifted to the subject of poetry. It was with a sigh that I met this discussion. I try to stay away from talking (or blogging) about writing, as it is too easy to yap yap yap about being a writer and not actually write. But there was hardly a moment that struck me as obnoxious and everything my cohorts had to say was free from pretension and I found the talk engaging and relevant to more than our fucking egos. Now I remember why I like these guys.

We collectively decided that the term “poet” is loaded with too much and that the community of poets might be doing something of a disservice to themselves by being a somewhat insular group. I cannot understand how anyone would want to only write poetry (or prose) or, for that matter, only read it (or the other). 3 beers and 2 tamales deep, I felt happy with the world and less concerned about the job, the possibility of never utilizing my degree, the nagging issues that flood and drown my relentlessly ticking gray matter.

Riding home courtesy of one of the lads, I heard the song “Shout” by Tears For Fears on the radio. I have never liked this song. The lyrics annoy me. I heard the song several times in Mexico, as the American pop radio stations are stuck, it seems, in the ‘80s, though they did toss in this horrible song by Katy Perry that makes me skin crawl (you know the one). Other songs I (we) heard too often while riding in a car in Mexico:

“What’s Up?” (aka “What’s Going On?”) – 4 Non Blondes
“Young Turks” – Rod Stewart
“Personal Jesus” and “Policy of Truth” – Depeche Mode
A weird new bastardization of “Personal Jesus” by some girl pop singer who changed the refrain to: “Reach out, touch me!” Ugh.
“The Final Countdown” – Europe
“Gangsta’s Paradise” – Coolio
“Careless Whisper” – Wham
“My Humps” – Black Eyed Peas

Thankfully, I did hear “Matador” by Los Fabulousos Cadillacs, which is great song by the popular Argentine outfit. That was one of the only songs in Spanish I managed to hear. I recall the first trip to Mexico when I arrived at the bed & breakfast and heard “Hey Ya” by Outkast. Hegemony, I thought, though is it really any different than my interest in Manu Chao or any other foreign music? (It is, but that’s the subject of a longer post.)

On my way to the bar last night, I encountered not 1 but 5 women pushing strollers on Damen Ave. A good 6 joggers passed me on the sidewalk, their iPods rendering them oblivious to potentially life saving street noise. I saw boutiques and kitchy looking eateries, salons and gourmet/organic grocers. None of this is surprising, but I got to thinking about the Bucktown/Wicker Park area and how it was once a low life part of town. I work with an attorney who laments to death of Wicker Park as the heroin capitol of Chicago, which is how I sort of remember it. I know it started to turn in the ‘90s and I blame Liz Phair for a lot of that. (Did I ever tell you that I hate Liz Phair and her music? Indie witch!) I’m not going to say that I was there, I saw it all; I’ve never lived in the Wicker Park area, but I do remember going there when I was in high school. It, along with Humbolt Park, was grimy and dangerous. Like in that movie about a serial killer.

I don’t mention all of this for any real reason—I don’t really care if Wicker Park becomes the next Lincoln Park—but I must admit it made me a little depressed walking among all those mothers and joggers and soon-to-be closed shops. I started thinking about all the things that have changed in the years since I’ve been a northsider—not to mention the things that have changed since I’ve been a kid in the nearby burbs—and all the things I’ll never see. The Union Stockyards, for example, closed the year I was born. I wish I could’ve seen them. I can’t imagine the stink. The Chicago Stadium. The United Center is certainly no Madhouse on Madison. Things chance. Sigh.

All sad bastard thoughts went away when I arrived at the Charleston, which is a nice little neighborhood bar. Thankfully they didn’t have live music last night, though they often do. I cannot bear live music anymore. It takes a lot to get me to go to a concert, even to see my favorite bands. The Melvins are coming yet again. Will I go see them?

I think I’m bummed about iTunes and subconsciously (not anymore, since I realize it) rebelling by ignoring music. I still buy CDs and will truly be sad when it all goes digital. It’s not the bands’ fault, I know, so I ought to be going to shows still and keeping up with the so-called scene, but what do I care? I’m getting to the age where I couldn’t care less about anything other than the artists I knew about 10 years ago. Shit, it took me 5 years to realize that Pavement was an important band. I’m so behind.

Okay then, enough rambling? I think I covered a lot of nothing— perfect for the medium. That’ll do until I get something substantial between my teeth. Until then, be well, mi amor. Te quiero.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Is That All There Is?

Guillermo Rosales

Three Percent has posted a review for the forthcoming book The Halfway House by Guillermo Rosales. I have been waiting for this book for a few years since first reading a snippet on Words Without Borders. The book comes out next month. I’ll be first in line for a copy.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

IOC, just say, “Hell no!”

If the Reader's editors had some balls they might have made this their cover feature—so that the IOC members might actually see it— instead of putting Nelson Algren’s picture on this week’s issue. Nevertheless, this is a pretty good collection of reasons why the Olympics should not set foot in Chicago:

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Go to and check out a few short bits from the new CD by Dälek, maybe the most exciting and strange hip-hop outfit left in America. Hip-hop is dead? Not as long as this type of shit is being made. Yeah, Lil’ Wayne thinks he’s the shit and Kanye West, that arrogant fuck, is talking about carrying the hip-hop world on his back, but what do they know? I’d love to hear something as daring as Dälek come from any of those clowns.

But Dälek, for all their experimenting, may never record a better record than their first EP, Negro Necro Nekros, which is damn near perfect. Since then they have been mining some strange, dark, heavy, loud samples and looping odd beats and, in one particularly brilliant package, dueling on record with Faust, all of which has yielded interesting results. The samples on Ipecac’s page (happy B-day to them, by the way) evince more of the same.

Want more? Can’t find the CDs on iTunes? Go to and get yourself indoctrinated.

Missing Greenaway

It looks like I missed Nightwatching, Peter Greenaway’s latest film (or is it?), which was at the Siskel Center last week. Damn. I am way too slow these days. That shit better be on DVD soon. I’ve been waiting for this one for, what, 3 years? Still haven’t fucking seen Prospero’s Books either. What the hell?

Today's Thought

As graduation approaches I wonder if I can get NU to play “Liquid Swords” by GZA as I walk across the stage.