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Signifying nothing

Home is So Sad Home is so sad. It stays as it was left, Shaped to the comfort of the last to go As if to win them back. Instead, bereft Of anyone to please, it withers so, Having no heart to put aside the theft And turn again to what it started as, A joyous shot at how things ought to be, Long fallen wide. You can see how it was: Look at the pictures and the cutlery. The music in the piano stool. That vase. —Philip Larkin 323) Al Green: I’m Still in Love With You (desert island album #1); 324) Marvin Gaye: What’s Going On (DI album #9); 325) Roxy Music: Avalon (Maybe I need a bigger island); 326) Kate Bush: Hounds of Love (wow, this was a great stretch of CDs); 327) Van Morrison: Beautiful Vision; 328) Ace of Base: The Sign (just bought for .50 @ a garage sale. Worth all .50, not more); 328) Los Lobos: The Ride; 329) Armand Van Helden: Cha Cha (yikes, who gave me the maxi-single!); 330) Shalabi Effect: The Trial of St Orange (interesting improv).

The Salon

The hair salon, that is. Took my wife to get her hair cut, as we were on our way to see Henry Grimes  and hadn’t time to go back home before heading down to Buffalo, and was reminded of every other time I’d been in a salon because of the smell, a composite of multiple kinds of product, sanitizer, and a slight undercurrent of scorch… so, I’m sitting and reading the book I brought with me, trying to make sense of this sentence: Now it may be asked how it is possible for any kind of quality, property, entity, level, domain, etc., to have even an approximately autonomous existence, in the face of the fact that an infinity of relatively independent kinds of motions with contradictory tendencies are taking place in its environment and in its substructure. (David Bohm, “The Qualitative Infinity of Nature”) when suddenly the canned background music intrudes, the song “God Is Watching Us” is playing, and my brain shifts uncomfortably in the throes of cognitive dissonance. The answer, by the way, is that “the existence of any particular quality, property, entity, level, domain, etc., is made possible by a balancing of the processes that are tending to change it…
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Pepper

Just finished Straight Life: The Story of Art Pepper, sobbing at the end, sitting at the kitchen table with a can of beer at 2 am. An amazingly compelling book, and one I found out about by reading The Professor, which was good, though a few of the essays collapsed under the weight of their stylistic conceits, and all of them bogged down at points because of Castle’s obsessive name dropping–imagine a more biting David Sedaris mixed with Dennis Miller at his most obscure. It seems a condition common to many academics, particularly in the humanities: the needs to constantly prove how smart you are, and what form your intelligence takes; it makes sense, I guess, given the jobs folks like Castle hold, in gladiatorial pits stained with the guts of the less erudite… except that they’re not really gladiatorial at all, just like CEOs who fancy themselves hard hearted warriors of the bottom line–they aren’t warriors, and nor are academics. Which is not to discount the idea of intellectual or spiritual or emotional battle-as-performance, of course. Art Pepper was a warrior whenever he played his horn. But the overwhelming majority of academics (and other public intellectuals) and CEOs who fancy themselves gladiatorial…
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And more-azzolla…

Finished listening to the Astor Piazzolla 10 CD box set, then went back, put the CDs out of order, and listened to the whole thing again. The lyricism he gets out of a bandoneon is simply incredible, of course, but the second time through, I listened more to the other players, some of whom are listed on the back of the CDs, some not. Lots of swooping, sharp violins, strangely reverbed guitars, very sparse percussion that veers, like all the pieces here, from primal to ultra-sophisticated in the space of a few bars. If I didn’t have to get on with the rest of these CDs, I might listen again! Please order my new book! It’s cheap! And if enough people pre-order, it might get released sooner than late December… Also, I have started a net label: fubar bundy presents. Please go have some free music, though we’ve only one release up yet.

Piazzolla…

I get spambots posting to this site fairly regularly, many in Cyrillic, so I’m not always sure how they are trying to sound conversational… until yesterday, when one was kind of enough to leave a message in english, too: “Deeply good post. Blame you.” Nice. I’m halfway through the 10 CD Astor Piazzolla box set, which is more lovely than I can describe. There’s some swinging 70’s synthy, rocking kind of stuff, which I didn’t expect, and several fine vocal guests. I can definitely understand why some surrealists thought tango was the perfect music, it manages to stir both intellectual and emotional passions, is prickly and dreamy all at once–what if tango occupied the place a 4/4 rock and roll beat does now? This is pretty cool: 200 Versions of “Adios Nonino”. Please order my new book! It’s cheap! And if enough people pre-order, it might get released sooner than late December… Also, I have started a net label: fubar bundy presents. Please go have some free music, though we’ve only one release up yet. (quick CD dump, I’m going on vacation in a few days. I have also listened to these CDs, as I try to listen to all…
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Commerce!

I have a new book of poetry set for publication in December, from the Main Street Rag Publishing Co. If the release date is in December, why am I writing this now, in August? Because if 100 people pre-order the book, at a discount, it will be released earlier. I will keep a running tally of how many are ordered, so please go to one of the above links and order one! With the discount, the book is only $9, which is less than a pack of cigarettes here in NY…. and now, more CDs, as I continue listening to all the ones I own: 297) The Pixies: Surfer Rosa There was a period of 9 months or so, in the late 1980’s, when you couldn’t step into a bar, party, or friend’s car without hearing this CD. Classic rock in a blender, noise rock with the rough edges sanded off… and poppy as hell. Still great fun. 298) The Breeders: Last Splash Odd that this one was right next to Surfer Rosa, bit of synchronicity there… it also seems odd that this came out in 1993, and Surfer Rosa in 1988, were the Pixies really only around for 5…
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Signifying Nothing

Years ago I had a job working for a fat little man who drove a huge, very shiny cadillac. One day I pulled into the lot in my dirty, beat up nissan sentra just as the boss was getting out of his car. He looked at the car, looked me up and down, and said, “you know, the kind of car you drive says a lot about the kind of person you are,” to which I replied, “yes, I know, and my car says I think that’s a stupid way to live.” I’m not sure why he didn’t fire me. Maybe my existence validated his view of the world? You’re welcome, wherever you are, little fat man with a big car. 291) Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band: Cornology Ha. Ha ha. Ha ha ha. This validates my world view, that’s for sure. They even make funny instrumentals, which is not as easy as it sounds… and often, the jokes here verge, as most of the best humor does, on something creepy: 292) Artful Dodger: It’s All About the Stragglers 2-step skitty pop, twitchy without being glitchy, modestly fun and danceable, a snapshot of a time and place. Also, largely responsible for…
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No, never did.

Somehow, I never read Grapes of Wrath before now: The Western land, nervous under the beginning change. The Western states, nervous as horses before a thunderstorm. The great owners, nervous, sensing a change, knowing nothing of the nature of the change. The great owners, striking at the immediate thing, the widening government, the growing labor unity; striking at new taxes, at plans; not knowing these things are results, not causes. Results, not causes; results, not causes. The causes lie deep and simply — the causes are hunger in the stomach, multiplied one million times; a hunger in a single soul, hunger for joy and some security, multiplied one million times; muscles and mind aching to grow, to work, to create, multiplied one million times. The last clear definite function of men — muscles aching to work, minds aching to create beyond the single need — this is man. To build the wall, to build a house, the dam, and in the wall and house and dam to put something of Manself, and to Manself take back something of the wall, the house, the dam; to take heart muscles from the lifting, to take the clear lines and form from conceiving….
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Is a map an argument?

I read something the other day that has occupied my head ever since: the author was talking about the lukasa, a sacred object that the Luba people use in various rituals and which has a wealth of information encoded in its designs, cognitive cues meant to help the skilled reader tell stories, give advice, render judgment, and so forth. Many ritual objects serve this purpose, of course, but then the author went on to say that it was “more of a map than an argument.” The author is quite fastidious about acknowledging western bias elsewhere, so it’s not just that he is denigrating the lukasa, he is in fact delighted and amazed by it. He just thinks that maps are not arguments. I certainly understand his distinction; maps do not make overt attempts at persuasion… but they do, really, they persuade the person reading the map that the map is an accurate representation of whatever it is mapping, that it will help the reader get from here to there, and the act of successfully reading and using a map argues that maps are good for this kind of thing. And yet, maps leave out so much, they reduce 4 dimensional…
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