30 December 2006
Crazy Egmont’s No Money Down offer for preassembled labyrinths has been extended through next weekend. Only eight days remain! No interest payments until September 2007! His prices have never been crazier!
Get these low maintenance vinyl models out of your subconsciousness and into your backyard! Have you tried Gothic revival shrubbery patterns that don’t grow as fast as your ill-fated passions? Why are his prices so low? Not because it’s the end of the year, not because he’s overstocked, not because of competitor’s prices, it’s because he’s crazy.
Visit the showroom before time’s up! Get in your car and by the time you’re lost, one of Crazy Egmont’s friendly sales associates will be on their way!
26 December 2006
21 December 2006
1. It appeared at my residence, apparently towed all the way here from there;
2. Some of the models, including mine at times, had a map of the world painted on it out of scale with many factual errors and additional notes, and the van with additional maps and notes was displayed at a gallery show I attended;
3. A TV exposé of the van company, narrated by Wallace Shawn in between segments where he displayed his puppet collection, indicated that the company knew they had a problem with their wheel system.
18 December 2006
Feel free to use this, you know who you are, that is, those of you who know who you are can feel free to use this.
Dream journey: A cast iron footbridge had broken and there was a gap of about ten feet in it that a little girl was staring down at. I decided to climb around the support structure on the side to get across. This was dangerous because it was very high up. I couldn’t pull myself up onto the bridge again, but there was a tunnel underneath that transported me to the New York Public Library, which I entered through the ceiling causing dust and plaster chips to come down with me which made everyone look up.
An old poetry magazine put up a web version that made animated cartoons of two of my poems and some other people’s. The cartoons were hilarious.
I went to an old art school where a hairdresser died my hair red, gave me a comb-over, and dressed me in bike pants and a t-shirt, which looked silly but I didn’t seem to mind. My instructions were to ride a bike over to a house down the street where trees were being felled to be sent to Germany. When I got there I ended up catching tree limbs, which isn’t generally a great idea.
I was in a suburban house and a naked woman ran out front, and I thought it was an eccentric girlfriend and was embarrassed but it turned out I was in Terrell Owens’ house and a group of two or three naked women and a costumed man had broken in for some sort of prank. When I went out front the police were there and the public was cordoned off across the street and was shouting things, and TO was standing on his front lawn shouting things to the handcuffed intruders. A local news reporter said the arrested were going to employ the 20% irony defense.
16 December 2006
14 December 2006
11 December 2006
-Carlos Monsiváis, in Siempre!, April 1968
09 December 2006
07 December 2006
As it is, the Phils have a three year commitment to the oft-injured Adam Eaton and a two year commitment to the aging Jamie Moyer, and overpaying for a three year deal to get a top of the rotation starter after losing Randy Wolf became a less attractive option. Lieber strained under the pressure of being a no. 1 starter, and turning the distinction over to Cole Hamels, Eaton, or Beater Myers would work against their development.
Acquiring Eaton has the earmarks of the self-referential closure of publicized transactions that has troubled the Phils thinking. When Eaton was done high school, the Phils had a high pick and their PR machine started hyping the possible availability of college star Eric Chavez even though they didn’t have the top pick, and as fate would have it the A’s took Chavez higher up, leading to the wise Eaton selection and a long, contentious holdout. Then Eaton, despite being their top prospect, was traded for veteran Andy Ashby which would be a worthy offseason deal were they a competing team, but they weren’t. Ashby himself was a top pitching prospect of the Phils who was relinquished when the organization decided to protect both shortstops Steve Jeltz and Kim Batiste in the expansion draft, a move puzzling to anyone outside the Phils incest pool since neither was ever deemed a major league player to an objective outside scout. So getting Eaton reverses a domino feeling of inward shame of a stale partnership which may or may not relate to whether this is a sound decision based on his injury history, but the move is a cut above many starting pitching signings and outbidding for Soriano’s declining years and it is better to hoard starting pitching than to have too many corner outfielders, especially if the surplus is manipulated adroitly with a well-timed trade.
This phenomenon and others suggest circumstantially the degree to which Gillick is getting marching orders, and it is for this reason that it is better the club has an experienced GM that can assert some boardroom authority rather than a malleable young stathead (which works for other organizations).
The similarities between Wes Helms and David Bell are counteracted by retaining the lefty hitting 3B Abraham Núñez, and there is the possibility that Helms will continue to hit for a high average and power in line with his small sampling of last year. Chris Coste has done nothing to lose the catching job and so far has not lost it to a higher paid newcomer. Taking a flyer on a defensive catcher and two middle relievers in the Rule V draft is vintage Gillick (vintage being a more hopeful expression than the folly of self-imitation), and suggests he has overcome the pressure from above to counterintuitively hoard veteran relievers.
Gillick with 80% of the budget of Minaya and Daddy’s Boy Duquette should come out ahead, and now he is coming out of the constraints of Ed Wade’s long term contracts to easily replacable veterans (sooo un-Moneyball). He is giving Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Hamels the chance to beat Carlos Beltrán, David Wright, and José Reyes, which is all you can really ask of him based on the cards he’s been dealt.
05 December 2006
04 December 2006
Love, or as noted, the heart, would seem to be one such feeling, not considered intentional. Commonly called ‘blind,’ or reflected in Hume’s Treatise "Nothing more powerful animates any affection than to conceal some part of its object by throwing it into a kind of shade, which, at the same time that it shows enough to prepossess us in favour of the object, leaves still some work for the imagination."
Sartre’s Being and Nothingness would seem to have none of love as a feeling, though: "If Tristan and Isolde fall madly in love because of a love potion, they are less interesting." Rather love is a product of the beliefs that comprise a person’s motives and claims to identity. Sartre’s take on emotions proceeded from Heidegger’s innovation that emotions are rooted in being in the world and situations, not isolated from reason, belief, reflection or calculation, and took the position that emotions are a conscious, transforming choice. In BN Sartre commented that lovers tended to be shamed by subjectivity, using phrases like ‘soulmates’ and ‘we were born for each other’ to cloud the chance aspect of their coming together, and the relation between organized religion and love reflects this.
Sartre’s beliefs in emotions as being transformative came right before the second half of Zukofsky’s "A"-9, which treats the question of love and motive/identity:
Eyeing its object joined to its cause,
joins motive to sense:
An eye to action sees love bear the semblance
joins body to thought:
A body ready as love’s steady token
Fed thought unbroken as pleasure increases –
True to thoughts wearies never its ideal
That loves love, head, every eddy.
Zukofsky was reading Spinoza’s Ethics, which takes an early interest in emotions but never gets into emotions’ being-in-time because of his belief in Divine predestination.
01 December 2006
"El Caminante (The Traveller)" by Gerardo Bonilla, who is currently being held in a maximum security prison outside his home state for standing in the street in Oaxaca at the wrong time.
BTW, despite photographic evidence of federal paramilitaries shooting Brad Will, the government’s investigation is focusing on the theory that the activists who rushed him to the hospital killed him.
30 November 2006
27 November 2006
25 November 2006
1. Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, TX. I had always thought that Henri Gaudier-Brzeska’s Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound was in a private collection somewhere and I would never see it. The first part is true but this collection is now public. I wish the sculpture were positioned against a blank wall instead of a window so that I could look at it better, but as it is you can look at its back, which looks like nothing but a sculpture of a penis, see on the corner of your left eye Picasso’s equally totemic Marie-Therese, and across the room make out Miro’s feminine Caress of a Bird. Don’t mess with Texas!
As is the case with an outdoor Serra in Fort Worth, the Texas sky is put to use by a James Terrell installation which frames it in a square sitting room. Angry post-WW2 David Smiths, two Jonathan Borofskys: one that can be seen from the outside of people walking into the sky and another of the Hammering Man series that frames actual crane construction nearby, Dubuffet’s The Gossiper, a Barbara Hepworth fountain, Giaciamotti drawings, and I’d say this joins the new National Gallery sculpture garden as besting previous sculpture gardens in this large and prosperous land, this one being the more unforgettable of experiences.
2. Saint Louis Museum of Art. Construction was going on and my only criticism of this free museum is that there is not enough space. This is one of those places where everything is a masterpiece. Has two of Van Gogh’s last paintings in Auvers. The Beckmann collection is without equal in this hemisphere, but only one room is devoted to him, others, I presume, are in storage, and the pickings tend to privilege studies over allegories. Beckmann’s contemporary compatriots are well represented along with a spirited effort of keeping the new Teutonic canvases coming to St Louis.
3. Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh, PA. This is the granddaddy of the warehouse museum concept that went onto physically bigger things at Dia Beacon and Mass MOCA, but the curating here is still unmatched by the new kids. A wonderful permanent Turrell installation that takes twenty minutes to be seen. In residence are Huang Xiang, a poet banned and persecuted in China that speaks no English (I tried) who painted a poem on his house (pictured, MF in background), and the Tom Museum, where you visit the house of twentysomething artist Tom Sarver with the amiable artist hosting you. Free parking, which is something the Warhol and the Carnegie don’t have.
4. Dallas Museum of Art. Saw this on the way there, and Ft. Worth on the way back. On my previous trip to Texas, I had skipped Dallas for Ft. Worth. This is nonetheless chock full of masterpieces and has good temporary shows like a Russian modernist book show when I was there. Really wonderful early Mondrian landscapes. Design flaw is the lack of a central hall that forces you to see the whole museum in sequence, and the Reves Collection that puts major impressionist paintings across a blocked off period room which calls attention to the opulence and keeps you from a close inspection of the masterpieces. This is the monkey on the back of Texas art, that it functions to show off money and the cosmopolitanism of collectors and has to stop there.
5. Kimbell Gallery, Fort Worth, TX. This is a great, free, small museum, though the building commonly called Louis Kahn’s masterpiece is one of those layouts that puts the architect’s ego behind only the prominence of the gift shop, followed by showing paintings at a distant third. Every painting is a masterpiece and the budget is so hard to contemplate that more gallery space would surely offer a lot more to look at, especially for the locals. One of my favorite Watteaus to go with my favorite Caravaggio and an early Gaughin self-portrait (pictured) painted for his new friend Van Gogh.
6. Cincinnati Museum of Art. Like St. Louis, it’s free, with free parking in a wonderful park, and has a bunch of Van Goghs from his last year. Major John Singer Sargents.
7. Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, OK. The best of the three Western Art Museums I saw. Western art museums have a lot of Remington and Russells and Native American art, with a section on the Taos school of which they try to reproduce a period workshop. This one is free, has the most paintings, and is surrounded by colorful gardens.
8. Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK. In a incredibly opulent section of town, the background gardens here that highlight the Palladian Mediterranean villa are arguably without equal in this country. Collection minor.
9. Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA. Rather irritating design but a well-financed collection with a major Munch, a few major Gaughins & Van Goghs, and a good contemporary collection with many of the usual suspects. One unique feature is John White Alexander’s 1905 mural The Crowning of Labor, commissioned by Andrew Carnegie for a fat sum to illustrate his views, which predates the age of populist murals and does so with an Art Nouveau allegorical look that vacillates between the sublime and the silly.
10. Museum of Modern Art, Fort Worth, TX. A truly wonderful building by Tadeo Ando which frames the skyline, its pools of water, and provides square-shaped rooms for this collection of mostly contemporary paintings.
11. Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, Indianapolis, IN. Costs admission and parking but has especially good display of the Taos school and had an excellent exhibition of contemporary Native American art up for a while.
12. Indianapolis Museum of Art. I was all set to see the Turners, and no, they weren’t up. I tried to arrange a warehouse visit, but got the runaround. The female guard that initially broke the news to me said, ‘We have a Rembrandt show, and he’s European.’ Truly, showing the art of a foreigner is big stuff in this museum across from the Lilly mansion that’s only concession to the world out there an unfortunate architectural resemblance to a fading 1970s Brazilian office complex. A Nam June Paik that was commissioned by the state ergo the images of Larry Bird flickering on the TV sets. A wonderful Acconci.
13. Mexic-Arte Museum, Austin, TX. Well curated temporary shows, including the fandango show I excerpted earlier.
14. Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, TX. This is being renovated into a big thang and only half of the place was open when I visited. Specializes in the Western Hemisphere and as such its strengths are a few choice Argentinian works like Luis Felipe Noé’s 1963 Nueva Figuración canvas (below) Cerrado por brujeria (Closed for Witchcraft), the best painting about TV I can recall ever seeing, and Mexican muralist-era prints. The rest of the collection is minor and uninspired.
15. Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, TX. Yet another museum in Fort Worth, yet another museum of Western art and the Taos school. Free and is right next to the other two museums if you are in Fort Worth. I was the only person on a tour with a very knowledgeable and gregarious tour guide and had to break the news that I had to leave to meet someone at the Kimbell coffee shop, a heartbreaking moment.
16. The Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art, Dallas, TX. Asian gems right next to the Nasher and the DMA. If ‘the world’s largest landlord’ has a museum named after himself in his building, it had better be free, and it is.
17. Swope Art Museum, Terre Haute, IN. This small, free collection across from a charming old movie theater had as its first curator John Rogers Cox, an American ‘regionalist’ influenced by the Surrealists (pictured, a painting of his in Cleveland).
18. Five Civilized Tribes Museum, Muskogee, OK. Display of local contemporary Native American artists starring Johnny Tiger.
19. Contemporary Gallery, Harmony, IN. Trotsky said Utopia wouldn’t need art, and it’s a good thing, because this isn’t for those in need.
16 November 2006
15 November 2006
14 November 2006
I was watching TV on Sunday (the Iggles game) and I noticed a great deal of military recruiting ads. Election-related? In case you missed them, you can catch Otto Dix's The Card Players at the Metropolitan Museum starting today. It was here two and a half years ago, but so was the war.
13 November 2006
11 November 2006
A propos mondegreens, I was on the train listening to the song "Psoriatic" on Scott Walker's new album The Drift and thinking instead of 'Ja-da ja-da jing jing jing' it said 'Giotto Giotto jing jing jing.' On this album you never know, it could be.
10 November 2006
08 November 2006
07 November 2006
The Republican Party has issued an ominous press release that exit polls are not to be trusted.
02 November 2006
30 October 2006
29 October 2006
Aragon and Mayakovsky also wrote the most prominent propagandist poetry in their respective languages while in love with the two Kagan sisters, both of which are known by their first husbands’ surname. Not only did Aragon’s poetry and prose of the 40s define the Liberation but in 1932 he was originally given a five-year sentence in France for the propagandist poem Red Front. Mayakovsky is known for both Party poems imploring the masses to drink boiled water and some of the most affecting political poetry of the century. Thus these two sisters serve as an empirical thread sewn through these issues of a poets’ love, literary style, and the politics of art in an era when all this came to a head.
Elsa was Elsa Triolet who while a slightly plump, indiscrete woman in her mid-20s had been following Aragon around Paris literary circles and threw herself at him in an attic during a party she was invited to because the Surrealists wanted to meet her brother-in-law Vladimir. Aragon was not for want of young female socialites that wanted to sleep and be seen with him, none of whom figured out or wanted to know that this iconoclast really wanted a mother figure. His was the young mistress of an deadbeat officer, charged with the duties of persecuting the Paris Commune, a woman who told Louis all his life that she was his older sister and his parents were dead.
Aragon’s submissiveness to Elsa began when she had arranged to appear in a club that she heard Aragon, who was actively avoiding her, would visit. Aragon arrived with his girlfriend, and when he saw Elsa he was so rattled that he left alone. Elsa then proceeded to talk his girlfriend into dropping him, which they arrived at his apartment to announce together, to Aragon’s silence.
Elsa preferred Monte Carlo fashion to peasant revolts and turned to Bolshevism only when the party became a world power. This became Aragon’s ideology, causing his split with Surrealism and giving him institutional contacts to become so helpful to the resistence. He renounced his old poetry in favor of the novel and wrote his major realist novels during the early 40s, which were skillful works of Naturalism with a touch of Surrealist techniques that could have been masterpieces if only they could escape the clutches of propagandist illustration.
Mayakovsky was an at times cruel megalomaniac who melodramatically obsessed over the unattainable, a characteristic that Lilya adroitly manipulated. In The Backbone Flute he blamed God for his love for her which only “tortured my soul in delirium.” The poem was published by Osip Brik, her Russian Formalist husband.
Lilya was pictured here on the cover of his 1923 book “About This” which describes his torment over her infidelity. It would be interesting to know if Aragon had seen this cover when he wrote “Elsa’s Eyes.”
The romantic components of his suicidal depression could more convincingly consist of his inability to coax the young Tatiana Yakovlev to move to Russia with him from Paris. His “Letter From Paris to Comrade Kostrov on the Nature of Love,” written a year and a half before his death exalts his love for her as “human and simple” in contrast to the doctrinaire requirements the poetry commission he was supposed to be fulfilling. His suicide note, though, includes “to Lilya – love me.” She maintains that she twice saved him from killing himself before he finally did so in her absence.
Somewhere in the spell of the Kagan sisters is the longing for the poet to be loved, to be understood, to be useful to progress. In the case of Aragon, the spell is only tragic in purely artistic terms – his life with her (pictured together in old age) was happy. In Mayakovsky’s case the tragic obsession made his poetry both at times banal and at other times self-revelatory in a way a more seamless romance wouldn’t. The tragic longing to be understood brought out by the sisters in both men had an intrinsic relation to a devotion to progress which was both elusive and unavoidable in the part the two men played in history and how many there were that looked to them for clarity and guidance.
André Thirion, who was Aragon’s younger confidant and Elsa’s go-between to Aragon, said this of Elsa:
“A woman who would look men straight in the eye but didn’t seem to pay them any particular attention, that was how Elsa Triolet appeared to me in the fall of 1928”....
“I wish that my granddaughter Marianne had as much skill, self-awareness, and sensitivity to others. To get what she was after, Elsa never took anything from anyone or hurt another person... She helped Aragon fulfill his destiny, and if he failed in any way to become the major figure that we could discern on Rue du Château, that was his own fault, not Elsa’s.”
25 October 2006
24 October 2006
I commend and thank C.A.Conrad for raising awareness of the truth about the exclusion from the ballot of Green Party candidate Carl Romanelli by the corrupt, partisan antagonists to democracy in Pennsylvania’s court system. Strategic voting can be justified; strategic obfuscation cannot be.
Bob Casey has opened a 13-point lead in the Pennsylvania primary, which means casting a write-in vote for Carl Romanelli is a responsible vote of no confidence in the political elite that brought this decision against the only candidate of the top three that does not support a war overwhelmingly opposed by the public. My previous views on Casey’s brand of populism and my faith in computer balloting can be found here.
On the question of voting for the Democrats nationally this year, I think of how in 1965 Jean-Paul Sartre’s critiques of François Mitterand were at their most acerbic, but on the eve of the election, faced with the De Gaulle’s scaling back of union rights and social spending to pay for nuclear weapons, he issued the statement:
"To give Mitterand your vote is not to vote for him but against personal power and against the drift of socialists to the right."
We can disagree over whether the Democratic Party is devolving or evolving at a snail’s pace, as this legal episode is an apt illustration of the party’s true commitment to electoral representation. However, the Democrats have managed to evolve to the point where they allow their nominees to be decided by public ballot in which each party voter gets to cast one vote as a free and equal citizen. Gone are the days when nominees were decided in smoke filled rooms without the possibility of electoral challenge, and conventions when the delegates intervened on behalf of the people to decide the candidate during multiple ballots.
The Green Party or whatever liberal party is to come to the fore must have as their goal the placement of their primary on the ballot across the nation alongside the primaries of the Democrats and the Republicans. Creating a political debate which deals with the facts rather than the mythologies of the Washington elite and Madison Avenue depends on it. Allowing the people of each region of the nation to have a formative, participatory function in determining what populist ideology best represents them is essential to creating a liberal party with the structure suited to representing the populist majority that always has existed and always will exist in our land.
I am skeptical about whether the Green Party can wrest itself from the ambitions of its own bureaucracy to allow this to happen. The repugnant, self-destructive episode in 2004 when party functionaries who use the party to promote their non-profits and law firms that receive donations and clients from Democratic benefactors smeared Ralph Nader and manipulated a byzantine balloting system to elect a ticket that purposefully inflicted damage to the party is a symptom of that which obstructs it from representing the populist majority that exists in the grass roots.
In addition to public primaries, a liberal party should have a blueprint for making one of the two parties obsolete (the corruption and deficit spending of the Republicans suggest they no longer serve a representative function for the polity) in order to eliminate the problem of splitting the vote amongst the progressive majority. The Green Party grew initially in the parliamentary system in Bremen, Germany and a liberal party in America must, to serve a benign function, transform a two party system that was not intended by the constitutional framers. For this to happen, no compromise or acquiescence to cynical strategic motives is advisable once the blueprint for representing the majority is in place.
23 October 2006
What I liked most about Matthieu Laurette’s Money Back Life!, in which he purchased every item of food (whether he wanted it or not) from the supermarket that offered a money back guarantee and returned each container saying he was not 100% satisfied, is the line spoken in response to the question from a daytime talk show host as to whether the shopping cart full of food was really a sculpture: “I do not offer just a work of art, I offer a method!” A method.
2. After a month organize all manifesto items and publish them in limited edition pamphlet. When the pamphlet sells out or stops selling, publish online with the announcement that all manifesto items printed are heretofore obsolete. Repeat process from beginning.
3. Teach a workshop in which you explain to each student why they are unfit for literary endeavor for reasons cited in your manifesto, and then organize the list of manifesto items into a single sequence with all contradictions separated on the page. Publish it in a literary quarterly selected so as to secure more workshop opportunities.
20 October 2006
Tonight I sat thinking for a bit and realized I had been reading ‘This Solitude of Cataracts’ all wrong, and searched my shelf for a copy of the poem I hadn’t read in years. Sure enough, I had it all wrong. There is the tendency to view it as a ‘disease of the week’ poem, to perceive it as depicting someone who suffered from a disease of clouding of the eye and wanted to maintain a sensory relationship to the natural world, seeing. It struck my memory that I had been denying the metaphor its full force.
What I never saw was the disease of cataracts being a metaphor for the protagonist's longing for a clouded vision. That Stevens chose this metaphor indicates his perception of the desire for blindness to be a common disease that comes naturally and not through persuasion and socialization. The imagery used near the end of the poem elaborates on the capricious, frivolous, and vain nature of this natural folly, "To be a bronze man breathing under archaic lapis." How much we seek out blindness like our lives depended on it! And stepping back Stevens is making a commentary on poetry itself, that it must be a prologue rather than a tableau, that to fix it in the time-image is to submit to the machinery of blindness.
But after watching my beloved Phils pass over Jim Leyland for Charlie Manuel, an organization shill who still doesn’t understand the double switch, after well-publicized interviews with Leyland, clearly because of the irrational fear that Leyland may quit at some point taking public issue at longstanding organizational problems, and after watching my beloved Baseball Prospectus say that the hiatus would keep Leyland from being effective, I have enjoyed watching Leyland and Dombrowski make a winner out of the parts they had to start with. I’m one who believes that taking time out to think makes you better.
As much as two posts here were about St. Louis and another mentioned Pujols and Rolen (I was afraid there was a Piri Miri Muli jinx after Rolen’s error and Pujols’ injury-induced slump), I’m rooting for Detroit of course: ‘Detroit’ being the text of the poem below Ken Mikolowski’s title ‘Homage to Frank O’Hara: Why I Am Not A New York School Poet.’ Didn’t drive by the lakes but in the Midwestern cities I rotated back and forth between the brief ‘What’s Going On’ by Marvin Gaye and the more extended ‘Donuts’ by recently deceased J. Dilla, which is a great before and after the game selection as it is a capsule of the modern history of Detroit music and it has the Tigers logo on the disc.
Rolen said after the game that ‘a lot of people sold us short’ or something to that effect, like, the guy who types the regular season win loss records really doesn’t build up this ballclub. If the media would let baseball do away with the divisional and league championships and let the top teams of each league’s regular season play, they’d have their Subway Series, but as often happens they got greedy.
17 October 2006
It is a worthwhile jaunt to the Bronx to see a contemporary rendering of the Hélio Oiticica installation that gave birth to the Tropicália movement in ‘60s Brazil. As it was one of those ‘had to be there’ movements, ‘there’ is reconstructed: you take your shoes off and traverse through wet walking areas, loud parrots, minimalism, and pulp novels -- you don’t think so much about where it came from and what it inspired people to do because you are so busy forgetting where you came from. The show, spread out over five rooms and a few hallways, presents a little of the political context of the movement but seems to err on the side of understatement here.
In town on Sunday this allowed me to avoid weekend crowds in the Manhattan places (and since galleries are closed) but the Bronx Museum could benefit from hanging additional shows or a permanent collection since there is nothing else to do within walking distance. Two blocks west of the 149th street stop there’s a good West African market in an abandoned warehouse if you are driving or can bear to walk around with a sack of fu fu paste in your bag.
12 October 2006
After extended interrogation, I established that the book is most probably Jean Cocteau’s Diary of an Unknown.
09 October 2006
03 October 2006
Owen: Which guinea pig in my book do you like?
Me: I ate a guinea pig once.
Owen: Ate one?! Eating guinea pigs is not in my book! Eating guinea pigs is not nice to guinea pigs!
This in mind here is my ranking of BBQ places I visited during my drive to Texas and back (ranking of art museums to follow when I get the chance):
1. Smitty’s Market, Lockhart, TX. Had a lot of great BBQ on this trip but it’s not difficult to decide on my favorite. Meat is the emphasis here, beef brisket and sausage, which you buy by the pound in a room set aside just for meat-sales. Beans good, potato salad average, but carnivores won’t notice.
2. RO’s Outpost, Spicewood, TX. Rustic, family-run favorite of the West of Austin ranch set not known to travel writers or many Austiners, I didn’t go to two successive lunches there by choice but by others’ wishes, but the merits came to dawn on me. Green beans here were great, turkey and pork perfect. Deep fried corn on the cob. Even ordered dessert, chocolate merenge pie.
3. BBQ Heaven, Indianapolis, IN. Situated on MLK Blvd between the Art Museum and the Western Art Museum, this take out place was started long ago but the bullet proof glass came a bit later. This was my first BBQ on the trip and was as good a place to start as any. Potato salad best on trip. Neon pig-related tableau on building facade.
4. BBQ Hut, St. Louis, MO. Got peckish in the Art Museum and a Reubenesque female guard sent me way into the ‘hood for this stuff, which I ate in the City Museum parking lot (like Heaven, a bullet-proof take-out). Nine napkins, straight to the City Museum rest room to clean up. Potato salad what I’d call ‘home style,’ like a large, glorified egg salad, but it’s all about the glory.
5. Rudy’s BBQ, Round Rock, TX. My first Texas brisket ever, and not a bad chain for this. Not to be confused with Ruby’s.
6. Riscky’s BBQ, Fort Worth, TX Cheap sandwich, and the staff was very friendly and gave me directions out of town despite the waitress having ‘just moved in from Denton.’
7. Ron’s BBQ, Austin, TX. South of river neighborhood place, beans were cold at 5:45 but it was cheap and friendly.
Other eating highlights:
Hoover’s, Austin, TX. Best turnip greens I’ve had.
Threadgill’s, Austin, TX. Best collard greens I’ve had. 'Texas caviar' black eyed peas on a par with RO's, which is a rare feat of seasoning, and lima beans were the perfect texture.
Skyline Chili, Cincinnati OH. Was trying to drive out of town but came upon the center city location, which since the closing of the original has become the de facto Mecca of Cinci-style chili spaghetti. Didn’t know what to expect, got it ‘four way’ sans fromage (chili, beans, onions, pasta), small size, $3.75. One bite and I was hooked: great stuff, but I don’t know what it has to do with Greek cuisine.
Cooking for people at the hostel after a long kayak trip: one guest said it make all the difference of her week and a Houston air conditioning saleswoman had the meal of her life even tho ‘dis here Taa-heany stuff makes my mouth stick tagether,’ approving of my fenugreek curry because ‘them Hindus are taeking ahr side on the wahr.’
Mexican: Hit Mi Tierra again in San Antonio, which was a highlight of my trip as I love the decor and the crowd there. In Okmulgee, OK found a great place owned and staffed by Guanajuato émigrés called El Charro that gave me so many perfectly cooked carnitas (pork) that there were ten pieces left over to take home.
18 September 2006
Felix Machucho: I have an uncle named Altanasio Teoba Dominguez. He played the jarana, composed verses and decimas. He was a poet and sang the decima with music. An artist is good because of his echo.
Maria Asunción Baxin: When I was a girl, only the rich had shoes. The poor couldn't afford them and danced barefoot on the 'tarina.' Back then there was an appreciation of the music together with what the feet were saying.
Feliciano Escribano: I have verses for confronting the other singers; it's just that when I learned there was a lot of the old singers of verses. I learned how to sing verses from a poet. I would buy what were called a 'chain of verses' from him. I work selling oranges in Santiago. All I take are a thousand and I go from house to house with a cart.
Leoncia Teguna: I can't remember what year I was born. Last year I turned eighty. Eighty years old and I don't have a single enemy, not at all.
Salvador Tome: Singing the fandangos used to be dangerous and it still is in those places down by the Sehualca. It's dangerous when someone who doesn't like you hears you singing well. It's certain that there will be bullets, machetazos, or a knifing.
Bertha Llanos: In the present day, words have changed a lot because there is so much education. People used to speak materially, but now things are different.
From Alex Dempster's narrative of Son Jarocho players at the Mexic-Art Museum, Austin.
17 September 2006
I thought that by floating an itinerary here I would get good suggestions, and Andy's suggestion of St. Louis' City Museum did not disappoint.
I tried to do pretty much all the outdoor climbing it entailed, which involved going throught those two airplanes pictured, which I climbed right to left as the picture shows. I got to the end of that top tube, which leads downward into a staircase, and not being a kid I couldn't turn around in the tube to go down feet first, and going down head first didn't seem to be worth it from a risk management standpoint, so I flipped over and crawled on my back to the right. It doesn't feel great on the knees but you don't feel it later. Once you place your trust in the engineering, being held up by nothing but wire mesh is exhilarating. I must have looked pretty funny up there.
Also notable is that when I see families sightseeing together, invariably either the parents or the kids get bored. I like to go wherever I want (having none for now), hang with my nephews when I feel like it, and watch the people cut their museum visits short for the kids or act bored and fork out big bucks in giddy-kiddie places. But here families really have a lot of fun together and bond. The secret is that all the adults act like little kids, which the kids love.
07 September 2006
Was stressed out for of couple of reasons and I’ve been waiting for La Moustache to come to South Jersey, so tonight was movie night.
La Moustache: If you’ve read a review, then you know the basic premise: a guy shaves off his mustache, his wife doesn’t notice, hijinx ensues. I thought, what a great idea for a movie, and let’s face it, I would watch Emmanuelle Devos and Mathieu Amalric read the phone book together. When Arnaud Desplechin shoots those two, one of them is neurotic but functional and the other is a total mess, and they seem to switch off; here they both played off someone else who was a mess. The other Amalric-is-a-literary-type vehicle worth checking out is Assayas’ ‘Late August, Early September.’
When the opening credits rolled I thought, do I really need to see the actual movie? Well, it does utilize ambiguity to milk all the psychodrama out of that comic premise. I’ve been watching Antonioni’s ‘Eros Is Sick’ trilogy and it is a sort of cartoon version of La Notte, and it’s in color, and the third act is in Hong Kong, as I didn’t know if Devos was allowed to leave Paris.
The other funny thing is they used Philip Glass music, which is unusual in a comedy. Usually you hear his music in a movie and you wait for the world to go out of balance, or Mishima to kill himself, the Maoists to repress the Dalai Lama, or John Heard to tell off a pol in Mont St Michel, but here a Glass score is played for laughs.
So this is Ian’s Summer Pick, tho I can’t remember if I saw something else that was good this summer.
Wicker Man: Saw about twenty minutes in the middle, as I only had one choice for my filler until Changing Times, piece of crap, but it does draw you in. I don’t have cable, but it’s the kind of movie people seem to watch when they have cable. I find horror movies to be the most ideological, and LaBute seems to be grandstanding about something here, but I don’t know or care what.
Changing Times: Catherine Deneuve’s first line is her complimenting her son for shaving off his goatee, so already they forfeited what has proved to be a winning dramatic concept.. Once I went to this theater and paid to see Charles Durning play the governor (O Brother Where Art Thou?) and snuck in to see Charles Durning play the mayor (State and Main).
SPOILER ALERT The times they are a-changing. END OF SPOILER ALERT Never thought much of Téchiné, here he creates a lot of characters and gives them two acts of development but with this amount of characters it gets up to 108 minutes. Worth seeing for the acting, though.
SPOILER ALERT France and Morocco are one happy dysfunctional family but the Yanks are gunning down the Iraqis END OF SPOILER ALERT
Factotum: The good news is that now that Mickey Roarke and Matt Dillon have both played Charles Bukowski in essentially the same movie, the chances of Tim Allen playing Bukowski are lessened.
04 September 2006
Here you don’t need to write poems, because Hallmark already has poems for every occasion and emotion! And what verbal contrivance of ironic detachment can rival the stated fact that you live and work in the Hallmark Cards HQ? What purer commentary on the myth of America? But keep the poems coming, folks, please.
02 September 2006
The most unintentionally funny line of 2005, cinematic or otherwise, would appear to be (spoiler alert) from the special features of the recently released DVD version of Žižek!, where Barry Nolan of CN8 Boston’s TV talker Nightbeat interrupts a Žižek rant with ‘You’re kind of Dennis Leary... from Slovenia!!’
So you see why it’s good to hold off on your year-end awards until the following autumn.
I don’t know what it means: I know that Leary is a comedian who may have a tough parent schtick that may be relatively lacking in implicit irony of totalitarianism metaphors, or a coffee monologue (looking on his Amazon page now), though there’s probably someone who really IS the Slovenian Denis Leary who’s not amused.
01 September 2006
I hypothesize that the Cowboy Hat Threshold is 100 miles West of the Mississippi irrespective of the curvature of the river.
The Route 44 Missouri Cowboy Hat Threshold relates to the 19th Century migration of abolitionist Irish and Germans (who moved West on a latitudinal straight line and elect the Carnahans and Gephardt) to St. Louis that led to the state voting in 1860 to join the Union and the farming communities further west that supported the Dixie militia that were sent there on the order of Governor Claiborne Fox Johnson after the Union started tapping the state arsenal. Somewhere between Suburban St. Louis and Majority Whip Roy Blount’s Ozark district, which Ashcroft lost the primary for in 1972, it is time to take off the Cardinals cap and don the Stetson.
I like to wear a cowboy hat when it’s sunny, but only in places where the old-timers wear them.
31 August 2006
I don’t dispute Andy’s contention that Cage’s vispo lacks the phenomenological attentiveness of things to come, but it’s still one of my favorite American road trip poems.
30 August 2006
I have to drive to Austin for a half week for work and back here. I have to pay my expenses and get reimbursed, but tho the innovation of flying and renting wheels there, which most of civilization favors, is economically comparable I enjoy seeing the country. Also, looking at a lot of pre WW2 Western art in places like Indianapolis, Tulsa, and Fort Worth vaguely relates to what I'm supposed to be doing.
My previous jaunt to Texas involved researching food stops along the way ahead of time but on the way I learned that it is best to hit a special place once a day and self-cater the other two meals, because of sitting in a car and the portions involved. I generally like to make painstaking plans and ignore them.
Mon 11 Sept
At supper hoping the Hare Krishnaists won’t smell the Chili Dog on my breath from lunch, or possibly stuffed cabbage instead. I used to be a vegetarian but the South and Mexico ruined this for a while. Museums in Pennsylvania all closed on Monday, hence scenic route.
Joseph Mallard William
Stare at the Beckmanns as long as I want, maybe seeing the rest of the collections, maybe not. Saw the New York retrospective a few years back but you can’t look at his work briefly in a crowd; I can’t.
Will see how South Grand compares to Washington Street Philly for Vietnamese.
Cowboys and Indians in Tulsa.
Stockyards closed Thursday in OK City so I may settle for a salad.
My Favorite Caravaggio
Sat 16-Wed 20
Chekhov’s dinner set, veggies.
Twombly gallery, plus Rothko Chapel and the Menil Surrealist collection.
Dinner/breakfast? ..in that Mecca of indigenous American cuisine, Beaumont, TX. San Francisco, what’s that? (never been)
Sat 23-Mon 25
Borrowing a condo on the St Augustine estuary..
Get out of the car, stare at this:
then arrive back here.
I may change this post as the trip changes.
21 August 2006
However, it is in the same spirit of convoluted motivational tactics that I write the ‘anti-post,’ the post that says I’m overwhelmed by a (creative) work project and I need to take a break from blogging longer essays, because perhaps if I don’t post this I won’t take that break. So I do plan to post stuff, just not literary essays that take hours to research.
I’m not sure how long this will be, but definitely the next week and for the most part the rest of the year, although I hope to take some breaks from my break here and there during that time and write more here.
I was reading Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird to my nephews (4 & 8) recently; they both picked at a guitar (not a blue one to my eyes) through sections 2-7, and in section 8, Owen (4yo) said “stop lying to me!” Owen insisted I keep reading, though, and the more arcane the diction got, the more they picked at the guitar.
It’s in a book about teaching different poems to children by Kenneth Koch. When I started a couple of weeks ago, Frank (8yo) didn’t know what a poem was. He asked me what they are and I said it’s when people can do whatever they want with the words. Owen doesn’t know what they are but he likes them.
17 August 2006
Concerning Jessica Smith’s assertion that In a Station at the Metro is "not ‘actually’ a haiku," the essential component of a haiku is not syllable constraints but the juxtaposition, and Pound in this poem brought parataxis to Western Literature from Japan where it had been used for many years.
The word haiku came from the phrase "playful linked verse" and the Japanese consider the 5-7-5 to be a traditional form of what can have unlimited syllabic variants.
Pound called it a "hokku-like sentence" which is "meaningless unless someone has drifted into a certain vein of thought. In a poem of this sort one is trying to record the precise moment when a thing outward and objective transforms itself, or darts into a thing inward and subjective.
"This particular sort of consciousness has not been identified with impressionist art. I think it is worthy of attention."
16 August 2006
13 August 2006
I managed to find some web recipes for my ingredients but I didn’t get enough chiles; I got one poblano in Camden. The last cab ride I had in DC was with an Ethiopian driver on the way to Meskerem; I have taken to Silver Spring for Ethiopian plus they have groceries that enable you to wrap everything you eat for four days in injera.
The ‘other’ significance of ChiPs to poetic rhythm is its occurrence in the list-verse tangent of the Black Flag song ‘TV Party’ and Emelio Estevez’s (can I work Cheech Marin and Jimmy Smits into this thread?) a capella version in the movie Repo Man: after polysyllabic shows are listed (Fantasy Island, Different Strokes, Fall Guy) there’s something both humourous and stylistically revelatory to the monosyllabic “ChiPs.” As the thing perceived, “CHiPs” functions within the rhythm and image-presentation sort of like a geometric point that both exists in space and doesn’t, because the phenomenon envisaged by the tableau is that of people who cannot bear collectivity without the presence of meaningless diversions, and Chips represents both such a meaningless diversion and a cultural product that transmits absolute meaning to the characters depicted. I have attempted to minimize blogging about the nostalgia for the passive.
I remember the debate at the recognition of the new digital potential of TV. Gore said give all the public airways away to the communications giants and McCain said, well give the people some things as long as there’s at least ten law enforcement channels. I don’t watch cop shows, which is unrelated to my perception of policemen, except that policemen often watch cop shows. I used to visit an ex-cop who would watch the one with Shatner and it was a way for him to connect with the glorious narrative that got him into that business which was in turn a conduit to his youth, which he would joke about, but cop shows have a logic all their own which is not empirical, especially the docu ones, since all cop show writers reference other shows rather than anything that happens in real life.
Goebbels would have used cop shows to display the inherent criminality of individuals in contrast to the just state, and I don’t pay attention to whether that’s what they have on the tube now. I have a fictional character who is a coroner, and apparently those CSI shows have a lot of coroners, and once in a hostel I tried to get the TV viewers to describe the coroners on those shows, but it didn’t help much.
I didn’t see Manderlay in the theater, but it should arrive tomorrow by one of those mail-services: von Trier’s Dogville is an experience of America culled from American TV and film (since I don’t think von Trier has ever been to the US). It’s amazing how Europeans love to talk about how the American South is, but the people who do the talking never actually visit it. Abroad, the American South represents the Red States that steer the world’s superpower away from policies more like theirs, which in the case of von Trier's Dogville brings forth a neurotic mythology that vacillates from infantile to Brechtian, but is still one of the best films or the best of the last few years.
Dogville is a departure from the New Social Realism style that his own Dogme helped spawn, in favor of a cinematic method that imitates a auteur, Tarantino, who learned about humanity from watching TV.
You can live ten lifetimes in NJ and be vague about it: there’s no public square, which I suppose is why everyone comes here because they left places where the public squares were used for executions.
12 August 2006
The Mallarmé came, and yes, it IS the Erik Estrada ‘Dice Throw’ I dreamt of, and yes, that’s a recommendation.
I found a Liberian grocery store – Willingboro, a 50s suburban mega-development nearby, is getting a growing African population. My experience is that African grocery stores that have a different native language have a friendly but untalkative staff, but an English-speaking country’s stores (like Nigerian or Liberian) require you to make conversation with the staff for the entire visit, which is part of the experience.
I now have copious amounts of dried codfish and Monrovian collard greens. I believe collard greens were taken from the US to Liberia when the country was founded.
I've never seen CHiPs.
10 August 2006
My copy of the new Oxford translation of Mallarmé was scanned in Cincinnati today. The Gashouse Gang is also in town, but Pujols, Ducky Medwick, and Rolen (one of the best-read ballplayers) better keep their hands off it - I know how they like to trade uniforms with postal workers and loiter around the warehouses, especially Pepper Martin. They can read my Dover Tolstoy that I got to get up to the free shipping threshold.
This translation was in production when I had my dream of ‘A Throw of the Dice Does Not Abolish Chance Starring Erik Estrada’ but I think I would classify that as either an unwarranted anxiety dream or a review of the Weinfield versions that I never got. In other words, I’m giving this thing a chance. My MacIntyre Selected is currently AWOL which is not an acceptable arrangement.
When that baby comes some commentary on rhythm and form is sure to ensue.
09 August 2006
That factors in Lamont (D) winning in CT and Republican incumbants DeWine (OH), Burns (MT), Santorum (PA), Talent (MO), and Chafee (RI) getting knocked off. Also, narrow leads in NJ, MD, and MN have to hold.
For the Democrats to become the Senate Majority in 2007, they need to win in either Tennessee (where Harold Ford trails three Republicans slinging it out in the primary) or Nevada, where a safe GOP seat has moved into single digits.
Polling data can be found here, here, and here.
03 August 2006
But I was framing yesterday in the heat and was treated to a similarly heated argument over architecture, which culminated with the exclamation ‘Do you want Windows or What?!!’ ..followed by ‘OK, well I’d rather have Windows than What!!’ which I thought could also be a last minute Creeley-or-Silliman argument in a book store or a syllabus controversy in a faculty lounge.
‘Nox’ would be the name I wouldn’t use for my car.
One shouldn’t use French blog titles to the exclusion of Creole, such as the expression above, which literally translates as “He speaks French” but in Haiti universally means “He is trying to deceive you.” Languages are best when they have undergone no bastardization by the political class.
However, the Miami Herald seems to have arrived at a new usage of the phrase “political class” this past Sunday. “This is the last chance for Haiti's political class to show that it is capable of governing.” In this usage the political class means a cabinet comprised of people with the overwhelming support of the public that escaped being bumped off by death squads authorized by UN-designate John Bolton, as opposed to the criminal class which is the rightful owner of political authority, and certainly has authority over the Miami Herald.
Or perhaps this is the Miami Herald’s way of translating the proverb “Kreyon pep la pa gen gonm” (The people’s pencil has no eraser.)