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Good Book Lovin’…

As is the case with many folks who have acquired the reading habit, I end up reading a lot of books that don’t move me, but aren’t awful enough to put down. Very few are awful enough to put down, come to think of it. I almost put down the vampire book Guillermo Del Toro wrote with Chuck Hogan, as the writing was cliched and stale enough to depress whatever might have been scary about the story. Here, I’ll flip open the book at random and transcribe a bit: Half-covered now by the new (and otherwise invisible) moon, the still bright sky began to take on a dusky cast: like a sunset, only without any warming of the light. At ground level, the sunlight appeared pale, as though filtered or diffused. Shadows lost their certainty. The world, it seemed, had been put on a dimmer. But I finished it, because the vampires were actually scarily conceived, and my guess, being a Del Toro fan, is that he storyboarded and conceived the whole thing and then Hogan attempted to destroy the project by actually writing the book. I also finished it because that is the nature of my habit, and as I said, only a…
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Book Launches

I’m having book launch parties in Feb, one in Rochester at Lux Lounge on Feb 12, one in Buffalo at Sugar City on Feb 19th. I will do my best to make them fun…. here’s a poem from the new book, originally published in the Wisconsin Review: Animal Logic and the Hub The flight to Pittsburgh was oversold and a voice on the loudspeaker begged for volunteers, for the flexibly scheduled, for heroes: this is how we live. We walk the gangplank to a winged metal tube and are flung to distant cities, we disembark and wonder at the mess we’ve made of our children, our parents, our homes, our gods, our health; we make do and cringe at the presence of other people, we preen and draw them toward us, we puff up our chests and laugh too loudly, we recoil when another claims us as part of some not-so-royal “we.” As it is and always has been, but further bent into our selves, as it is and will someday cease to be, bundles of nerve and blood embroidered with the sound of pictures, the color of word, each of us ready, at an instant, to don the cape…
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Pragmatic particles

Spam is odd, there are patterns lurking in the bizarre stuff that gets posted for approval to this site… but I haven’t the time or the stomach to pick through it just now, maybe later. But, stuff like this: “I am truthful and attached to my friends” in a spam post that leads, presumably, to a porn site (livegirlwebcams). Are these qualities that consumers of porn now find significant? Weird. I must admit to a similar feeling of disconnectedness when reading much contemporary poetry; I suppose the act of reading contemporary poetry at all implies a kind of disconnectedness–shouldn’t I be watching Dancing With The Stars instead?–but I write poetry, and while learning about what that meant was told, time and again, to stay abreast of what other poets were doing, presumably so I could adjust my style to fit or to oppose whatever mode was dominant. I’m not sure that’s such god advice, in retrospect, if only because it can cause a poet to ignore so much of what has already been written in favor of a crowd-sourcing of poetics. Arguments against plumbing the (very deep and very wide) archive of poetry, both Western and otherwise, might include protestation that poetic value was determined by a set of elites…
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Energy…

As we near the end of the (Western/Gregorian/Post-Julian) year, and indeed of the first decade of a new (Western/Gregorian/Post-Julian) century, various and sundry chatterers have begun flavoring their “year in review” ruminations with additional of “decade in review” spice. It’s a lazy trope, a foolish and shallow and distracting bit of “holiday” crud meant, as is so much of what the chatterers produce, to distract people from real, thoughtful reminiscence buy offering them a quick, high-calorie, no-protein substitute: remember when Miley did that to Snookie and Bristol hit them both with an ipod plushie! Hahahaha…. and remember when Janine Pommy Vega/Steve Landesberg/ Mitch Miller/Pat Fanning died? I cried, oh time… Among politically-oriented chatterers, the idea that “austere” times lie ahead, that we all must become more frugal and hitch up our pants and put our noses to the grindstone and right the ship, has become gospelly, if not exactly gospel, but as per usual, no one explains adequately WHY this is so. There are charts a plenty, statistical indices and analyses by the bushelful, but no real discussion of any alternative plan that involves, say, the redistribution of wealth from them that fomented our economic “hard times” to the rest of us, or even that the wealthy should also be willing to put their nose…
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Next Prompt

Not sure “prompt” is the right word, but “principle” doesn’t fit; what I mean is an overarching scheme that helps me both generate and organize an artistic project. For example, a narrative idea is one, a thread of a story that will help me write to see where it leads while also causing the writing to organize itself according to some narrative principle, but it also must suggest some aesthetic ideal, so that the narrative and aesthetic work on each other. What I need is a prompt (bad word!) for my next music writing project. I am still recording the last one, which is organized as 1/2 cover songs, 1/2 original songs, all played solo on the bass with vocals, a few bass overdubs or very rudimentary drum machines… so, what next? I always wanted to write a doo-wop inspired opera about Manute Bol, but I don’t have the vocal range. Maybe I should write a bunch of long, middle-eastern groove songs with minimal lyrics all about the childhood of someone in an alternate universe. Or maybe I should write a bunch of appalachian folk ballads about fringe or forgotten celebrities…Bull Montana or  Shields and Yarnell, or Eddie Deezen. If…
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Leaves Are Down

And so another winter is upon us, and all the attendant holidays…. I understand the history of our Thanksgiving, how it was another terrorist event perpetrated by colonizers upon the native population of North America, but I also know it is important to build places of worship in time, and to give thanks. Such times are exactly when we should remember and discuss how the holiday–how our country, our institutions and myths–began, and these origins should not preclude our celebrating life, they should make the celebration more profound, based in an awareness of all that our species is capable of, the wonderful, the sublime, and the terrible. 344) Primus: Tales From The Punchbowl (I really don’t get it. Claypool is not a very good songwriter, and he does some neat stuff with the bass, but is also really lazy, doing the same 3 or 4 tricks on every song); 345) Los Lobos: Ride This (boss covers!); 346) Motorhead: The Best of; 347) Hank Williams Sr: Low Down Blues (Country got soul…); 348) Csokolom: May I Kiss Your Hand; 349) Frog Eyes: The Bloody Hand (Why do I love this? It puzzles me, but I do); 350) Altered Images: Happy Birthday; 351) Cafe Tacuba: Reves/Yosoy (si).

Nothing is random, or everything is

“That’s random,” a phrase I hear with some regularity (more than, say, “Your pain is a glorious pink”), has made me feel suddenly lonely, and not even hearing it spoken, but simply remembering hearing it earlier today. Why it was spoken is not interesting, and it carried the usual slang meaning: “I cannot immediately understand that and am not likely to spend time doing so publicly.” At the time, I simply cringed, as I usually do when presented with a conspicuously banal catch phrase, but 6 hours later, sitting down to write, it struck me what a total rejection of the very idea of curiosity the phrase is, how much it is a tool for conscripting others to your idea of what is to be rejected and excluded from experience. It is similar in flavor to the term “inappropriate,” generally invoked for the same reason, or lack of a reason: you are not behaving according to my poorly though-out laws of propriety, but by invoking the mystical talisman “inappropriate,” I can castigate you and your behavior without the need for comprehension. Yay! I don’t know if people are less able to converse with their neighbors in any meaningful way than…
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Whitman?

I guess many people knew this already, but I just read that Gavrilo Princip, the assassin of Archduke Ferdinand in 1914, thought that he was following the orders of Walt Whitman to “bring down kings” when he killed the Archduke… and started WWI. And when one considers how many of the conflicts fought during the 20th century grew either directly or indirectly out of WWI, well, damn. I guess Auden was wrong about poetry changing nothing. The most recent chunk of CD collection I listened to was particularly fine: 331) Aimee Mann: Bachelor No. 2; 332) Melvins: Singles 1-12; 333) Butthole Surfers: Psychic…Powerless…Another Man’s Sac; 334) Mavis Staples: Have a Little Faith; 335) Tortoise: Standards; 336) Sigur Ros: Agaetis Byrjun; 337) Neil Diamond: 12 Songs; 338) Ronnie Lane with Slim Chance: You Can Never Tell. Please order my new book! It’s cheap if you pre-order, not as cheap if you wait! I’ve pre-sold 47 copies so far, and am trying to reach 100. Here are a few recent poems by me, if you like them, order a book! : @ Shady Side Review .

No CDs in this one…

I am, like many people, obsessed with death, particularly my own. That everyone is not quite so obsessed is very strange to me, but perhaps they are and simply don’t let on… in any case, the idea that at some point there will be no more ideas, no more glasses of ice water, no more thunderstorms, no more walking sticks or baseballs thwacking a catcher’s mitt or handfuls of dirt is something I have dwelt upon since I knew it was there, waiting. And I know nothing is waiting, I know I have personified death, I know it so well I find nothing to believe there, I cannot even believe in death because I have no experience of it, and nor does anyone else. For a great long while, I never made a leap to any sort of afterlife, since such a prospect seemed as ludicrous as the idea of death itself; then I fell in love, and continued falling deeper and deeper in love, and now I have been married to the person I love for 11 years, and I love her with a depth of feeling that eludes perception, though it’s fun to try. All the time we…
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