Friday, December 21, 2007

Bumper Sticker

Erinnerung is my majuscule.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Dept. of Poetics

Incinerate the prolix.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Evil Double

Watching a lot of Gumby lately, I'm learning that Pokey—part gormandizer, part con man, all id—is kind of a dick.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Wandering Hausfraus Joined in Arms

I, too, have noticed the tendency of persons who live in countries that speak the language the Holocaust happened in to make way too much fuss over dogs.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Or maybe meter as production value, that which you hear most clearly once the decade's passed and you start to catch the wet drums in all its hits.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What If ...

in their movements, speech patterns, and repetitive behaviors in aggregates, humans are essentially metrical accomplishments?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Around the World

Gary Sullivan plays Passepartout to YouTube's omnivorous Fogg over at Elsewhere (Day 10 of 80).

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Delphi Intelligencer

The body ignores its own Mardi Gras.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Briante & Rumble in Portland this Sunday

Susan Briante and Ken Rumble are reading for Spare Room this Sunday. Lucky Portland.
Sunday, December 9th, 7:30 pm
New American Art Union
922 SE Ankeny

first collection of poetry, Pioneers in the Study of Motion, was recently published by Ahsahta Press. Poet CD Wright describes the book as “a work of shuddering velocity . . . an ode, a screed, a lament, a love song of ‘pristine and inarticulate mornings.’” Briante’s poetry, essays and translations have recently appeared in Damn the Caesars, Fascicle, Bombay Gin and The Believer. From 1992-1997, she lived in Mexico City where she worked for the magazines Artes de México and Mandorla. Briante is an assistant professor of aesthetic studies at the University of Texas at Dallas.

KEN RUMBLE is the author of Key Bridge (Carolina Wren Press, 2007), and the marketing director for the Green Hill Center for North Carolina Art. His poems have appeared in Cutbank, Parakeet, The Hat, the tiny, XConnect, Carolina Quarterly, and other journals. He is currently at work with his father on a book about ozone, the early earth’s atmosphere, and Antarctica.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Mohammad/Tyc/Wright in Portland, 12/1/07

Vincent Craig Wright kicked off his Tangent reading Saturday in cowboy boots with guitar to suit (more of cowboys later), singing a yodel of his own and a startling cover of ELO’s “Telephone Line,” cheese swapped out for twang. He followed with a new short story, “Buster Brightboy’s Big-Ass Bejesus,” that revisited the off-kilter, Southern-inflected, brokenhomed world of last year’s Redemption Center through the eyes of a teenager trying at once to discover, live up to, and erase (literally, via cigarette holes in photographs) his absent father. Some ardent listener later bought the manuscript he read from for US $2, which I’ve never seen happen at a reading before.

It's hard not see Cat Tyc’s writing through the lens of her work as a filmmaker. She read from a new long poem, much of it cast in second-person address to objects visible through the frame of her window: boats passing on the Willamette, the mountains that ring Portland. Relationships in the poem often arrived in visual terms (“We were dating but now we are muted sunsets”), but the ‘filmic’ aspect of her work that most struck me was her attention to the conditions under which fragments make meaning, like the invisible alternation between darkness and light in the 24-frames-per-second film. I saw some Hollis Frampton shorts last week, and Tyc’s particular use of poetic disjunction to describe the world around her reminded me of Frampton’s take on the relationship between film and human consciousness:
Film, even in its physical attributes, has become a kind of metaphor for consciousness for me. And I think of the incremental frame as a dim but still appealing metaphor for the quantum nature, the chunk nature, of light itself. If you're watching a film, you believe you're watching a complete illusion of something real, but you're actually watching an illusion of only half of what took place. The camera's shutter was closed the other half of the time. So that there's another cinema of equal length that could have been made precisely at the same time. And when you play that back, the shutter in the projector is also closed half the time, so that half the time you're in total darkness. You are! OK, you don't have anything particular to do, you're quite comfortable, presumably, there's very little exterior stimulus and you're there for a fiftieth of a second, which is, in terms of energy, an appreciable length of time with nothing to do but think about the frame you've just seen. - HF
Tyc’s writing seemed especially alive to the “chunk nature” of perception, with a heightened awareness of the boundaries, edges, spaces, and frames that consciousness occurs in. At one point she contrasted breath—that seemingly circular and perpetual ground of being—with the sharp, defined limits of language (“only words have edges”). This seemed to parallel the way film works, circular and discrete, ‘framed’ and continuous, and suggested cinema as a way of being, a means for accomodating both the phenomenal and our contemporary feeling for the ‘constructed’ nature of all phenomena in a single gesture.

I’ve lived with Kasey Mohammad’s work for a long time, and find something new in it each time he reads. He mixed brand new poems—“Happiness Is …,” “Dusty the Oncologist,” a bravura sonnagram based on an obsessive letter-by-letter tweak of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 20—with golden oldies from Deer Head Nation (“Keep Honking, I’m Reloading,” “All I Ever Wanted Was to Play Guitar”). What stood out to me this time around was the way the multiple voices in the work behave like stifled impulses, thoughts questioned or undercut as soon as they’re expressed, like that scene in Austin Powers where he asks: “Did I just say that out loud?” And he has, & does.

I was struck by how often the speaker discovers a private part sticking out, visible for all to see—boobs, balls, inner thoughts, everything that craves the cover of a codpiece but too late, in this dream you came to school without your clothes. Costumes and outfits loom large, especially ones that create social expectations the speaker can’t fulfill. Kasey closed with a poem, “As I Walked Out,” based on variations of the Old Western-y phrase “I see by your …,” that expanded into increasingly ridiculous adjectival conjunctions until the cowboy that kicked it all off was nowhere to be found in the descriptions piled on top of him, only in the "Streets of Laredo" melody Craig played in the background on guitar.

Breathalyzer, sadly, didn't arrive on time for the reading, which just means, not so sadly, that Kasey has to come back. Kasey, come back.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

King Nine Will Not Return

How good and uncannily right it was to have Susana "Dusie" Gardner and her winning Dusette in Portland last month. It already seems like a dream, but like in that Twilight Zone where the pilot pours sand from his shoe at the end, proving the desert was real, I've got Susana's beautiful new palm-sized foldout chapbook, EBB (PORT)—a series of poems made from erasures of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese—as evidence.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Frampton Comes Alive

Mini-reviews of four Hollis Frampton films screened at Cinema Project last week (thanks to David Abel for the recommendation):

NOCTILUCA (MAGELLAN'S TOYS) (1974) Meditations on the aperture (Galileo's Magellan's, the Lumieres'), with uncanny resolve into MasterCard logo.

OTHERWISE UNEXPLAINED FIRES (1976) If you're going to San Francisco, wear those sad trees that lean into the wind above the Sutro Baths, chrome clockwork horse in Musee Mechanique (still there), & birds from Brakhage's Colorado chicken ranch in your hair. (Come from the east, so movement is against the eye's home syntax.)

Primordial fire porn.

Spanish handhelds taxonomize plant life outside the mission walls.

Monday, December 03, 2007

K. Silem Mohammad Intro, 12/1/07

For Kasey's Tangent reading in Portland on Saturday:
In darker moments, I fear my one claim to fame will be as the torso with the pea coat in Kasey’s author photo on the back flap of Deer Head Nation. Then I riffle through the pages and think there are worse ways to go. It means I’d be a small, fragmented part of the thrilling sonic fragments that shimmer into poems like “Cosmic Deer Head Freakout,” “Hey Boo Boo,” “Experience in Bakeries” and “e:LK S@LIVa.” It means my pixels would enjoy proxy contact with an oeuvre that includes the brainy dexterities of Hovercraft and the goofed-up dressage of A Thousand Devils. Mostly though, it means that for as long as people read and keep caring about moving the whole poem thing forward, I can say I was there, in a pea coat, when one of the kindest writers of this notably unkind age was finding the groove of our pathos in ass pants and Xanax and terrorized diabetic robot elk saliva. Portland, put your tentacles together for K. Silem Mohammad.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mohammad, Tyc, Wright Read in Portland This Saturday, 12/1

If you're anywhere in the Western states and haven't heard about this yet, please be advised that Kasey and his SOU colleague Craig Wright are coming to town to read with local multitalent Cat Tyc this Saturday. Portland may, just may, be the first to see Breathalyzer. Breathe deep, cross fingers, come.
The Tangent Reading Series presents:

Saturday, December 1st @ 7 p.m.
Clinton Corner Café
2633 SE 21st Ave. (@ Clinton)

K. SILEM MOHAMMAD is the author of Breathalyzer (Edge Books, 2008), A Thousand Devils (Combo Books, 2004), and Deer Head Nation (Tougher Disguises, 2003). He has also co-edited and contributed to two books in Open Court's Popular Culture and Philosophy series: The Undead and Philosophy (2006) and Quentin Tarantino and Philosophy (2007). He co-edits the magazine Abraham Lincoln with Anne Boyer, and he maintains the popular poetics blog Lime Tree.

CAT TYC is a writer/video maker living in Portland. She is representing Oregon in The Anthology of Younger Poets that will be published by Outside Voices press in January.

is the Fiction Writer at Southern Oregon University. He studied with James Dickey at the University of South Carolina, where he was the recipient of The South Carolina Academy of Authors Fiction Prize. Redemption Center, his debut collection of stories, was published by Bear Star Press in 2006. He lives in Ashland, OR.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Segue Intro Bonanza

Nada's just put a passel of intros from this year's Segue series (Downing, Friedlander, Fitterman, Gins, Graham, Watten, O'Sullivan) up on her blog. Precision cotillions of function and form. Collect 'em all.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Welcome Back

Blew the break learning to play the “Welcome Back, Kotter” theme and reading H.J.C. von Grimmelshausen’s Adventures of a Simpleton. Not your grandma’s Thirty Years' War.

Kotter got a much better song than the show deserved, a not so uncommon phenomenon in T.V.'s silver age. “All in the Family,” “Good Times,” “The Monkees,” “Nanny and the Professor,” “The Jeffersons,” “The Partridge Family,” “Sanford and Son” all glimmered with more luster in the intros than 20 minutes of situation could sustain.

It was that gap between the songs, all compact with bounce and promise, and the leaden plots that followed that sort of hammered me into a poet; I’m still attracted, helplessly and without theory, to situations where form fails to fit function, means all in excess of the ends: a poetry of wastefulness, color, and prodigality, the frame melted down for the sprue.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Dept. of Monday

"Let's not function."
—Auden Koeneke

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Raphael & Koeneke Read in Portland Sunday

Portland legend Dan Raphael and I will be reading new work for Portland's Spare Room series this Sunday at 7:30 p.m. The location's been changed from the usual gallery space to the roomier Concordia Coffee House, 2909 NE Alberta (@ 29th).

The evening will include the inaugural performance of the mighty Portland Qawwali Scratch Chorus.
Spare Room presents

Sunday, November 18th, 7:30 pm
Concordia Coffee House
2909 NE Alberta

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dept. of Blogging About Blogging

As if people were a kind of html.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Dept. of Monday

Discipline is vapid.

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Darjeeling Limited (Fin)

Faces and noses and color and music imploring relief from plot.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Darjeeling Limited (2)

Whites moving between decorated vehicles.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Thank You, Nada

Three years ago today, Nada Gordon delivered the introduction below at the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC. Introductions are one of the most neglected currencies in po biz, an instant of glory in an art that offers few. Thanks Nada, for mine.
To frame my comments about Rodney Koeneke's work, I'd like to begin with a somewhat extended epigraph from E.W. Lane's An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians, published in the early 1830s:

The dancing girls appeared in a cloud of dust and tobacco smoke. The first thing about them that struck me was the brightness of the golden caps upon their tresses. As their heels beat upon the ground, with a tinkle of little bells and anklets, their raised arms quivered in harmony; their hips shook with a voluptuous movement; their form seemed bare under the muslin between the little jacket and the low, loose girdle, like the belt of Venus. They twirled about so quickly that it was hard to distinguish the features of these seductive creatures, whose fingers shook little cymbals, as large as castanets, as they gestured boldly to the primitive strains of the flute and tambourine. Two of them seemed particularly beautiful; they held themselves proudly: their Arab eyes brightened by kohl, their full yet delicate cheeks were lightly painted. But the third, I must admit, betrayed the less gentle sex by a week-old beard; and when I looked into the matter carefully, and the dance being ended, it did not take me long to discover that the dancing girls were, in point of fact, all males.
Omaha native and San Francisco resident Rodney Koeneke is the author of Rouge State, which is the best title ever given to a book of poetry. Rodney, from the perpective of what he calls "the bruised Sargasso of white male sexuality," clearly empathizes with "pussyboys," girliemen, and femi-whatevers everywhere. In Rouge State, he madly liberates the once-vitiated template of the lyric, slotting in his own gorgeous, irreverent prosody, making poems that are not only zippier than pinheads but really the zippiest thing since zippers.

You can distinctly hear the echoes of the footsteps of the ghost of Théophile Gautier, in his trademark yellow waistcoat, walking his lobster through the grand opera of these poems. They are deeply dandified "hostile melodic situations," as "brazen as mariachis" and "fecunder than succotash." They are "delicate lorgnettes" that can see all of history happening at once, and "mentholated curlicues" full of "pterodactyl dactyls" and "hot pink verbs."

The figure of the dandy, of course, most lately born into the media as the overcommodified metrosexual, represents the perfect union of the masculine and feminine principles, and is most often clothed in fine fabrics of oriental origin. Indeed, the attars of the mysterious "east" soak into every crevice of Rodney's poetry but laced with pungent irony and historical awareness, so that the story of an odalisque is also the story of how our own tabula rasa get written all over with learned desires:

We spill in the world into genders,
fall out like dirty turpentine
from an upset coffee cup --
at first abductees of the harem
refusing silk pillows and gold-tipped cigarettes
then gradually learning to simper and sprawl...

By example, his writing answers the rhetorical question that one of the poems poses: "How to negotiate the mare incognita of preconscious verbal data without pissing off the vagina dentata its excretions will have to pass through?"

Although replete with bagatelles and monkeyshines like "Got Rilke?" and "the jewel is in the logo/ the jew/ is in the Logos," they also drip with a kind of comic lament at the extreme trivialities and decadence of our time, its "dry transnational orcs" and " glitzy manufacturies of consent." To paraphrase Donovan:

Histories of ages past
unenlightened shadows cast
down through Rodney Koeneke
the crying of a manatee

down through Rodney Koeneke
the crying of a man.....

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Morse/Cox/Lomax in Portland, 10/20/07

Jesse Morse kicked off his reading for Tangent a couple weekends back by magnanimously reading well-wishing emails from friends who couldn’t be there, funny ass-slapping encouragements that created a sense of occasion by wryly trying to deflate it. He followed with a cross-section of work from his vegan cookbook project which, probably like the recipes inside, tastes much better than you'd think. Morse mined the exotic, sometimes arcane vocabulary of vegan cookery for metaphors that folded relationships, consumption, and desire into one sensual interface with the world. He also read some pieces from his occasional magazine, Pop Seance, that I described in my notes as “full-throated eco-lyricism” and have no idea now what I meant, except something good. Aliveness I guess to natural beauty, openness to love.

Sarah Anne Cox
put chronology to work by reading in succession from Arrival (written before 9/11), Parcel (2003), and a new manuscript-in-progress called Truancy: a micro-history of the 21st century so far. The political concerns—and even the title—of Arrival read as anticipatory now, “dependence on the undecided” carrying over into Parcel’s “Why, I can’t even say ‘democra …’. Cox’s mix of imagery from the contemporary and Old Testamental Holy Lands (“the burning bush with bullet-hold signage”) exposed the struts and chassis of conflict, decrying no particular occupation but rather “a condition of occupied” that gives the lie to history as bringer of ‘closure’:

“there is forward and backward
there is forward and backward
there is forward and backward
there is forward and backward
there is forward and backward
movements of a peope.”

assembled astringent odes to resistance out of snatches of schoolyard experience, the primal site of power and control, archetype maybe of all the others: “What we do here in school is certainly.” The state at the point where it intrudes on the family is the state at its most naked, and where you most want a son "with a touch of fuck-you-itis."

Dana Teen Lomax
opened with work from Curren¢y, all of whose titles are taken from words on the dollar bill. The writing centers loosely on the experience of raising a young daughter, and takes on questions about labor (particularly the kinds that don't convert easily into currency), class, and value in a witty, emotionally direct way. ("Intifada, yadda yadda ... I've got art to make.") What struck me most about the poems was their insistent political dimension, as Lomax assays the social, economic, and imperial circumstances of the world she's bringing her daughter up in, along with her hopes for its future: "skywriting a new generation,/conditions such as they are."

She followed with "super-new work" from Shh, which she described as "all mothering poems," but not of the "these are my breasts, here is my baby" variety. Instead, the poems point to the home (oikos) as a locus of the orders that radiate out into the polis: "Dear one, this is for certain/We work out matters on each other."

Tangent holds its readings in bars and cafes with those partially off-the-street audiences that have no idea what they're in for. Some pass by the window quizzically, peering in while pretending not to. Others come in, listen for a little, then sit down or pour back into the street. At the Press Club, a sleek wine bar with an espresso machine flanked by racks of art mags, the portion of the audience ambushed by the poetry took it in stride, even clapped once spontaneously for Jesse, and scooped up the writing from the table with a respectable vigor, as the respectable band unpacked its accordians, saws, and upright bass to play into the night.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Delphi Intelligencer

The Decembrists suck.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Double Date

If the dissenters start on clock time, and the poets start on poet's time, a nimble Missionista could make both these events in San Francisco tonight.
with JULES BOYKOFF, KATYA KOMISARUK, & a representative of the SF8
Friday Oct. 26th
7 PM - 9 PM
New College Theater, 777 Valencia Street, SF
$5-10 donation to benefit the SF8 Defense (no one turned away)
Friday Oct. 26
7:30 PM
Modern Times Bookstore, 888 Valencia Street, SF

Thursday, October 25, 2007

School Bussing

A year ago yesterday, the Poetry Bus hit Portland. Remember the Poetry Bus?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Kenning in Portland, 10/19/07

The Kenning Editions poets poured clown car-style out of an improbable green compact to deliver an extraordinary reading in Portland on Friday, anchored by multivoiced renditions of Hannah Wiener's work on either end and filled out with memorable work in between.

Patrick Durgin opened with "The Litmus Redact" from his recent Imitation Poems, another luxe chapbook from Michael Cross's Atticus/Finch. ("All/the accessories speak/of hospitality and bounty/in devotional airs.") Jen Hofer and Jesse Seldess then joined him with walkie talkies to read one of Wiener's "Code Poems" from Open House. Based on the International Code of Signals, a simplified sea language of gestures and pennants, Wiener's poem injected the bare bones denotative function of the language—one signal, one word—with double entendre and multiple meanings, which turned the workaday vocabulary of navigation into a suggestive sexual narrative. The poems seemed to turn one purpose of "code" on its head, building ambiguity from a system designed to resist it.

Hofer and Durgin swapped lines from a collaborative project, The Route, coming out from Atelos next year. The section they read was "an open letter to Carla Harryman" that fired off provocative 'generational statements' at manifesto velocity: "We want to mention a collectivity of perception itself." "We want to construct a library of limits so we can open and close them." "But more than protest, we want it not to be like this anymore."

Dolores Dorantes
read poems from her new Kenning book, SexoPUROSexoVELOZ, along with portions of Laura Solórzano's Lip Wolf, in Spanish, followed every few lines by Jen Hofer giving the translation. The work was intense and intensely embodied by Dorantes. I was too busy half-remembering my Spanish, trying to match what I thought I understood to Jen's translation, to write down more than a handful of lines. But that experience itself, of on-the-fly mental half-translation, paralleled the Wiener piece in a way that focused attention on the mysteries of transmission, that uncertain carrying-over of sign to meaning and what happens in the burrs where they don't quite match.

Jesse Seldess
, who joined the tour from Karlsruhe, FRG, read one long poem from 2006's Who Opens, and one new piece of about the same length. His performance was astounding. Not that he did anything especially performative; if anything, his delivery seemed to extract his person from the work, the poet as system for producing sound. His first piece built up from short, relatively simple, and relentlessly repeated phrases that reminded me both of the "loops" musicians use in performance and of those childhood games where you say a familiar word over and over until it sloughs off its meaning and turns to nonsense, then to a spell. "And so," "the scene rips through," "and overheard blended," "lifting you up," "to you here" mixed and varied, bumped off rhymes ("ear/here," "rendered/mended"), and worked the seam between music and meaning in a way that had me thinking of those lo-tech but still kind of phenomenal Viewmaster toys, where two lines of perspective overlap for a 3-D pop. The poem was addressed to the second person, and, like with Wiener's code for ships, it was hard not to fill in the outlines of a relationship from the artful static.

His last piece was an excerpt from a manuscript inspired by Gunter Deming's "Stumbling Stones" installation project in Germany, in which raised stones are set in front of buildings where people have been killed. "You can't choose to visit it, you stumble upon it, and most of the time you miss it." Like the first poem, it gained in effect from the pace Seldess was able to give it in delivery, with repetition ("to have been," "to be gone") taking the place of conventional syntax in moving the meaning through time. The poem's intense questioning of memory and being (or the transition from being to not being, meaning to not meaning) echoed with the last poem of the reading, which is also the last poem Hannah Wiener is known to have written, "Silent History." It's the final piece in Open House, and is about as great a précis of Wiener's particular genius as you'll find:

"silences understanding alone power employs understanding english culture history make
culture sorry history hurts obvious sometimes obvious hurts when culture knowledges"

One of the most thoughtful, exciting readings I've been to since I moved to Portland. They're in the Bay Area through Friday, L.A. on Sunday.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dept. of Blogging About Blogging

I've blogged before about ...

Wait, no I haven't.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Nobel Prizefighter

I saw Orhan Pamuk read for Portland Arts & Lectures last Tuesday. I’ve liked Pamuk’s work (Istanbul, The Black Book), but always with the uneasy sense that he wants very badly for me to like it. His 2006 Nobel Prize speech was a beautifully engineered machine for producing tears, oiled by the easy pathos of a son thanking his father for a giant award.

Pamuk’s self-presentation on Tuesday amplified this approval-seeking side of his literary personality. Not that he was especially genial or ingratiating; on the contrary, he came across as robotic, a hard-bitten lit geek who’s spent hours pondering his c.v. Pamuk’s tic of referring to his life in numerical chunks of ambition (“from ages 9 to 17 I wanted to be a painter; from age 18 to 19 I wished to be a poet; this novel that appeared in Turkish in 1999, in English in 2003; my books have been translated into 55 languages”) struck me not so much as boasting as the reflexive box-ticking of the lifelong grade grubber.

In a way it shouldn’t be surprising that a writer as meticulous as Pamuk would treat his own life as a sentence to be edited into perfection, with books as nouns, acclaim the verbs. But it seems to have led to his unmistakable anger, a pervading sense of self-betrayal that came through on Tuesday in ways large and small. He read, for example, a few excerpts from his new book, Other Colors, a ragbag of articles, interviews, and columns that he mentioned more than once reflect a rueful time when he was eager to make a literary reputation, so answered any questions from journalists, even featherweight ones about his wristwatch. He ridiculed interviewers who ask about the titles of his novels because they can’t be troubled to read the books. His columns about his love for his daughter—a subject, like that of his father, designed for maximum pathos—were written on the fly he said, often in a two-hour window, and proved to be more popular in Turkey than his well-wrought prose, which he produces in athletic 8-10 hour writing sessions practiced daily for 36 years. The overall picture was of a public too dense, undiscriminating, and shallow to appreciate him at his true worth, which he preferred to measure in numbers rather than readers (hours worked, languages translated into, years endured before prizes won.)

What’s troubling about this attitude is that the audience has never ceased to matter for Pamuk, at least in the mass. He courts the interview, the weekly column, the critic’s plaudits, the reader's tears without especially valuing the persons who bestow them. That’s also a classic grade grubber tic—to despise the judges whose approval you’re performing for—and I wondered, just a little, if Pamuk’s greatest fiction is finally himself, metaphor for Turkey’s ambitions and angers vis-à-vis Europe.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Poetica Gigantica

Big poetry weekend in Portland. The Kenning caravan stops in town tonight, fresh from Emergent Forms in Ashland; the next day, San Francisco arrives in the form of Sarah Anne Cox and Dana Teen Lomax to join forces with Portland (but also sort of Bay Area) poet Jesse Morse. Details & links below.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19 @ 7:30 p.m.
New American Art Union, 922 SE Ankeny
(a celebration of recent Kenning Editions books)

Spare Room
The Press Club, 2621 SE Clinton Street

The Tangent Reading Series

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dine, Katz, Michener Reading, 10/13/07

The Dine reading in Portland on Saturday brought a shiver of art world titillation to the usually dowdier realm of small press poetry. I say Dine reading because my hunch is that the 70-80 plus audience, shoehorned into a space for 40, crowding doorways, listening through windows from the outside, sitting on the floor and squeezing legs out of the way of the passing wait staff, included a large mass of visual folks taking a walk on the wordy side. From what I overheard in my corner at the back, a lot of people were eager to just see Dine, the Wizard come out from behind his canvas to address the Emerald citizenry. The crowd was a pleasure and a prick, a reminder of the audience poets always ought to have.

Diana Michener opened with a generous swatch from DOGS, FIRES, ME, which recalls the warmth, violence, and vivid religiosity of a mid-century childhood in Ross, CA. The narrative involves the growing self-awareness of a young girl poised between the revivalist fears of the beloved cook who helped raise her, for whom every seismic tremor is stage one of the Apocalypse, and the complex social pressures of the adult world, as the protagonist begins to suffer the schoolyard consequences of her father’s big city reputation for philandering. The piece stood out for the fine-grained detail that brought this particular social milieu to life through a young girl's eyes, but also for the sense of presentness that Michener gave to her delivery, which felt less like a “reading” than a remembering aloud in public, like she could have reached into the book at any point and touched one of the figures she was writing about. She prefaced the reading by saying that the work came out of the same field as her images, and I had the sense while she read that we were being invited to peek under the usual surface of art, literary or visual, to consider something more personal and primordial.

Vincent Katz read a span of work stretching from several years to “just a couple of days ago.” He began with a succession of short poems, half-koan half-zinger, playfully deep and seriously witty. The standout of his reading for me was the sections he read from "Barge," a poem that takes on politics, identity, and the turmoil in the Holy Land in an artfully wry way that seemed to color outside the familiar lines. Writing this, I looked up "Barge" on Google to help supplement my memory, and came across this thrifty description by Katz himself. After locating the poem among Roman images of the afterlife (the barge in part is Charon’s), Katz writes:
“I had been looking over the Hudson River towards New Jersey in the area of Manhattan in the 20s and become enamored of the vision of nature that one can find there. There is so little nature in Manhattan, that the artist who wants to paint or write about nature must find it in narrow vistas or expanded glimpses. At the river, I could gaze for hours at untrammeled water; even the actions of boats and helicopters seemed to be part of a less structured urban life. In particular, I became obsessed with those heavy, flat vessels used to transport large containers and huge piles of grain. Their slow-moving choreography seemed at once ancient and modern; I fixed on the title, “Barge”.... It would allow for all kinds of unruliness, rudeness, and impromptu spasms of thought and vocalization.

The poem was written during a period of two and half years, ending in August of 2006, in a variety of locales on different continents. The first sections set the stage for spatial and verbal experimentation, and the later sections, although they arrive in different formats, are not quite formal. Form is an expediency, to arrive at a different mode of expression, rather than a goal."
Katz goes on to describe his poetry in terms of temporal “frames,” fixed boxes of time (an afternoon, late nights after an evening’s event) into which he pours thought until something “occurs” in the writing—or in the process of thinking induced by the “frame” provided for the writing—that “sets the tone for that segment of time.”

This reminded me very much of the effect of hearing Katz’s poems as a whole: an attentiveness to time as a corral for observations and the choreography of consciousness; the sense of the poem as a frame for things to happen in—a chamber of "tones" rather than a formal straitjacket or procedural machine; and a governing sense of poetry as a kind of “expediency,” a means for shaping, recording, and ultimately seeing thought, not so unlike the picture plane. Vanitas, which is a type of still life and also an orientation towards existence, moved off the edge of the bar like free peanuts; I doubt Katz had a single issue to haul back home.

Jim Dine read what he called “recent” poems, from 7 years ago to as recently as this summer. His work encompassed the color blue, alcohol, political invective, and, especially, elegy—several for Creeley, for his own lost 30s and 40s, for a loved dead friend. The pleasure for me in hearing Dine read was in watching the lines unflex without apparent regard for the usual moves on the chessboard. Often at readings, where poets tend to read for other poets, I have a sense of the invisible L-shape the knight’s described to land on its particular sentiment or idea. With Dine, it was all pawns moving as many squares forward as he wanted, the sentiments arrived at with an appealing directness and disregard for the usual po-biz syllabus. Dine said later that he writes many of his poems in charcoal on walls, both to photograph them and to get the look right, tighten up the spelling etc., writing being for him, like drawing, largely a matter of “correcting.” I don’t know many (any?) poets who approach their work this way, with the lines as visual objects to be corrected and redrawn, like a charcoal sketch. It might account for the different kind of weight his lines seemed to carry, a poetry deeply in touch with the creative, but not overly worried about poetics.

Dine, a strong performer who was clearly delighted to be reading, seemed happy for the chance to pull down the scrim of art world celebrity, and used his last poem to settle old scores against thickheaded critics in a way you'd think JIM DINE might be beyond, but I found it endearing and human that he wasn't. The reading ended with Dine singing a few verses of an old blues or folktune, Muddy Waters maybe, deep and received with huge applause.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Cloud Watch

I've been writing some poems from Amazon word clouds, those nouny clusters that show you by size how often certain keywords appear in a text. It's a gimmick with the feel of a coming form. The one on Nada Gordon's blog achieves an astonishing verbal portrait. In part:

Language poetry
Louis Aragon
New York
urban spelunking
weird orientalia

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Vincent Katz Intro, 10/13/07

I'm behind on reading reports; plan to catch up soon. In the meantime, here's the intro for Vincent Katz from his Tangent reading with Diana Michener and Jim Dine on Saturday. Thanks to the Portland press--and the growing poetry community here--the joint was jammed.
The crystalline insouciance Vincent Katz achieves in his poems spills into his criticism, translations, art writing, and stunning work as editor of the literary magazine Vanitas. Katz makes The New York Times into poems, and makes Sextus Propertius sound as current and urgent as The New York Times. The first time I saw Vincent read, he was providing the voice for a jewel thief in one of Frank O’Hara’s favorite ‘30s films. That aura of New York and elegance, the shine and honk of the urban that Vincent carried for me then has never dimmed, and I’m glad that tonight he’s here to export it to Portland. Please welcome Vincent Katz.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Don't Look Back

A year ago today we left the spreadsheets, crammed the U-Haul, and rolled up the I-5 to Portland.

Poets of San Francisco, when are the rest of you coming? (Beards optional.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dine, Katz, & Michener Read this Saturday

Through some secret of magic and rain, painter JIM DINE, he of the There at the Birth of Pop Art, has been induced to give his second poetry reading in 40 years here in Portland this Saturday. He'll be joined by New York's own VINCENT KATZ and photographer/poet DIANA MICHENER.

Details below; come out if you're close. This one should be An Event.
Clinton Corner Café, 2633 SE 21st Ave., Portland, OR

The Tangent Reading Series

JIM DINE was born in 1935. He has been a painter, sculptor, and poet all his life. This is his second reading in 40 years.

is a poet, translator, art critic, editor, and curator. He is the author of nine books of poetry, including Cabal of Zealots (1988, Hanuman Books), Pearl (1998, powerhouse books), Understanding Objects (2000, Hard Press), and Rapid Departures (2005, with artist Mario Cafiero). His new book, Judge (2007, Charta/Libellum) is a collaboration with artist Wayne Gonzales that takes its words entirely from The New York Times. Katz writes frequently on contemporary art and has published essays or articles on the work of Jennifer Bartlett, Francesco Clemente, Jim Dine, Robert Rauschenberg, Kiki Smith, Philip Taaffe, and Cy Twombly. He won the 2005 National Translation Award, given by the American Literary Translators Association, for his book of translations from Latin, The Complete Elegies of Sextus Propertius (2004, Princeton University Press). He was awarded a Rome Prize Fellowship in Literature at the American Academy in Rome for 2001-2002 and was a Guest of the Director for a one-month residency at the American Academy in Berlin in Spring, 2006. He is the editor of the poetry and arts journal VANITAS and of Libellum books.

was born in Boston in 1940. She has had many exhibitions of her photographs in the U.S. and Europe. In 2001, she was given a retrospective at the Maison Européene de la Photographie in Paris. A book of her photographs and writing, DOGS, FIRES, ME, was published by Steidl Verlag in 2005.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Dept. of Monday

Detourn my episteme.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Note to the Aspiring Professional Avant

Your terminus is somebody else's syllabus.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Note to the Aspiring Avant

Your terminus is somebody else's Etruscan.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Dept. of Poetics

Not "poems shouldn't do that," but "poetry's already done that."

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

No More Song

I like this poem by Tom Fisher in the latest Cultural Society:
No More Songs

Sing goodbye to song in songs:

protest is dead
and song shakes
that weight of
being for

to take the shiny robe
of summer breeze and
ecstasy, the golden horn
of song
and imagine full
its elixir of abductions
and refusals.

song now serves the imaginary,
the secret catastrophe,

undone in its own
and open aftermath.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Dept. of Monday

Please monetize my innocence.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Big in Japan

Thanks to Gary for miraculously finding this post on a Japanese "cat culture" site.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Animating Concerns

Hope it's not too gauche to take a stab at answering my own question re: contemporary poetry's animating concerns (division norteamericano):

1) Plumed troops and the Big War.

2) "Do you believe that poetry can create [political] change in the world?"

3) The Lyric after L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Sometimes Use the 'I'.

4) Crisis of Overproduction
"Too many ___________." (insert: poets/M.F.A. programs/blogs/grad students/small press publishers/books.)

"Too few ____________." (insert: readers/reviewers/buyers/hours to read/good books.)

(or: Amazon, Lulu, PayPal)
(or: email, Penn Sound, flarf)

6) Weird rumblings of god stuff.

7) Standard rumblings of marx stuff.

8) Plumed troops and the Big War.

9) Squid.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Objective Correlative

Barak Obama: luxury pen.
Hillary Clinton: Perfect Attendance medal.
John Edwards: tire swing.
Dennis Kucinich: tongue stud.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Mr. Burns's War

Your public opportunity to enter the commercial.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Dept. of Monday

blogs gone soft

Friday, September 21, 2007

Green Zone

Sleep punctuated by error,
error delivered into sleep.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Delphi Intelligencer

The kiddie pool, too, bears its portion of ocean.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Secret History of Portland

Forget Lewis and Clark, Mount St. Helens, Neil Goldschmidt, & the forest green Subaru Outback. The history of Portland is inscribed in the shag terry flesh of Bumpity (active 1971-1985), victim of the professionalization of local affiliate educational programming.

File under Poetry of place, Disappearance thereof. Or not.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Man O Manmohan

O.K., I liked Chhalia, Amar Akhbhar Anthony's one for the ages, but this weekend I saw Coolie and my world will never be the same. "Late Desai" is a period unto itself, like pre-crash Dylan or the English Auden. Cultish and divisive (they're love-or-hate kind of affairs), Manmohan Desai's last three or four movies before his suicide chart the way to a self-awareness that's too gargantuan to be reduced to irony; too gleefully shambolic to suffer plot, except as an unrelenting pullulation of subplots; and escapist to the point of breaking off from any physics known or heretofore imagined to become its own cosmology. The absurd hits a temperature where movie set melts back into ritual, cameras almost an afterthought, cinema colors that move with people sometimes inside.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Dept. of Monday

Turn again, Whittington.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Talkin' Virtual Cyber Community Blues

I am I because my sixty-six GoodReads™ friends approved me.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Not Gonna Take It

Not much worthy of a "T.V." label on the blog lately, but I heard from the other room Twisted Sister's '80s arena-ready headbang manqué, "We're Not Gonna Take It," sung by a perky chorus of women, and had to come in. It's a jingle for the "ladies pill" with the swank '80s name, YAZ, that knocks out fatigue, moodiness, bloating, and moderate acne while preventing in 99 out of 100 cases pregnancy. See? So you're "not gonna take" the old Pill, and you're not gonna take fatigue, moodiness, bloating, and moderate acne when you don't have to. The jingle turns on this pregnant ambiguity, drawing down over the free-floating political discontent implicit in the original a scrim of day-glo sexual empowerment.

All of which prompted the thoughts: Would this ad exec be witty at dinner, or is s/he pure evil? Is s/he a she or a he? And how long am I gonna keep confusing Twisted Sister with Quiet Riot, and hold onto the anger at the latter getting the credit for "Cum On Feel the Noize," which is really Slade's? And will I cry, weakly drunk, when "Merry Xmas Everybody" plays again this year, wishing I were British?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Pull Down Thy Vanity

... but keep blogging, please. (And hosting readings, and stocking small press poetry books, and bringing down Goliath-like 'Barnes Ignobles.')

Thank you.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Survey Says ...

What are the animating concerns of contemporary U.S. poetry? (I mean the staple-stitched, non-university press variety, the kind likely to get talked about on, say, {LIME TREE}, or rhubarb is susan, or Galatea Resurrects.)

Be crude & broad, it's a blog. Like '30s: are you or aren't you a Fellow Traveler? Sur-real? '20s: where do you stand on the manner and matter of The Waste Land (collage, the War, an allusive broken-sharded "all times are now" approach to history)? Big bold & roughshod like that. What are ours?

Of course this is a 9/11 post.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Dept. of Poetics

Quirks upgraded to grandeur.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Dept. of Boykoff

I might as well just make one of those Blogger post labels for items relating to Jules Boykoff, who's doing something unmissable in Portland like every 3.2 weeks.

This time it's the book launch for Beyond Bullets: The Suppression of Dissent in the United States at Powell's on Hawthorne this Monday, Sept. 10 (get it?) at 7:30 p.m. Part history lesson, part how-to manual, part ray of hope in one black bag of a book.

Rumor has it that he may be officially announcing the Boykoff '08—Our Only Hope presidential campaign on Monday as well. Don't miss history.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

News From the Oracle at Delphi

Thinking outside the box is the box.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Dept. of Poetics

Grammar as a form of fandom.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Not An End

I guess you're still a history geek if re-reading J.P. Keynon's account of Charles I's trial and beheading brings a mist to the eyes:
"The axe flashed, the crowd flinched; but it was not an end."

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Spare Room Sunday

The inimitable Lindsay Hill reads with Dutch master H.C. ten Berge here in Portland this Sunday. A good one to not miss.

H.C.'ll be in Berkeley a week later to read with Nathaniel Tarn at Clay's series, Sunday 9/9.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dream Reading

A friend in San Francisco gave me Waverley and I can't put it down, largely for set-pieces like this:

"Mac-Murrogh, the family bhairdh, an aged man, immediately took the hint, and began to chaunt, with low and rapid utterance, a profusion of Celtic verses, which were received by the audience with all the applause of enthusiasm. As he advanced in his declamation, his ardour seemed to increase. He had at first spoken with his eyes fixed on the ground; he now cast them around as if beseeching, and anon as if commanding attention, and his tones rose into wild and impassioned notes, accompanied with appropriate gesture. He seemed to Edward, who attended to him with much interest, to recite many proper names, to lament the dead, to apostrophize the absent, to exhort and entreat and animate those who were present. Waverley thought he even discerned his own name, and was convinced his conjecture was right, from the eyes of the company being at that moment turned towards him simultaneously. The ardour of the poet appeared to communicate itself to the audience. Their wild and sun-burned countenances assumed a fiercer and more animated expression; all bent forwards toward the reciter, many sprung up and waved their arms in ecstacy, and some laid their hands on their swords. When the song ceased, there was a deep pause, while the aroused feelings of the poet and of the hearers gradually subsided into their usual channel."

--Sir Walter Scott, Waverley, 1814

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Genre Envy

How the pleasure of the novel is essentially voyeuristic: "I'd like to see that."

How the pleasure of the lyric is essentially narcissistic: "I could do that."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Toward a Theory of Aesthetic Response

"The odes of shao are completely beautiful and wholly good, the odes of wu are completely beautiful but not wholly good."

Monday, August 27, 2007

Dept. of Monday

"Pluck the quince
to serve a prince"

Friday, August 17, 2007

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Up With People

Good friends make bad moats.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"Rain through the windowpanes that looked like melting silver"

"After all, life is not a Hindi movie," chides Khaled Hosseini, 357 pages into writing one.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Kasey's got Jacques Tourneur's "Canyon Passage" so exactly right that it only remains for me to say that Tourneur's take on the Old West is so disdainful of the provincial groupthink, frontier thuggery, and sexual capitalism gussied up as "family values" that none of his leads can finally live in the world the film pretends to celebrate: Manifest Destiny as covert boho suburban flight.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Dept. of Dead French Memoirists

"...and posterity will consider as a myth what we ourselves can only look back on as a dream."

Louis de Rouvroy, duc de Saint-Simon, Memoirs

Friday, August 10, 2007

Kevin Killian Intro, 8/9/07

Here's the intro I read for Kevin Killian last night at Tangent. (Matthew Stadler introduced Dodie.) Reading report to follow.
I can’t think of San Francisco anymore without thinking of Kevin Killian. He’s like the Sam Spade or Rice-A-Roni of poetry. Spend any time in the Bay Area, and before long you can’t see Kevin’s name without hearing the clang of the cable car. (*Ding ding dinga dinga ding!*).

Since I moved to Portland, I’m learning how to share Kevin with the rest of the world. For at least 7,506 unsuspecting Americans, he’s simply Amazon reviewer number 101, whose dazzling and occasionally acid reviews of everything from corporate gift baskets to glow-in-the-dark body jewelry, big budget movies to criminally under-read small press poetry, may be the most important conceptual writing project of our time.

Kevin’s also just returned from a V.I.P. reading engagement at Art Basel 38, the so-called “Olympic Games” of the art world. I guess like jazz or David Hasselhoff, Kevin’s had to go to Europe to find his true measure of glory. (Shame on us.) He’s just published a kind of Jamesian lamb-among-the-lions account of his trip to Switzerland, called “Diary of a Nobody.” In it, he stalks a pretentious art luminary paparrazi-style; recruits the passing talent to perform in his plays; and, as always, takes time to get the pulse of whatever the youth are up to. (There's not a being on the planet more generous to younger writers than Kevin is.)

Kevin’s zippy dissection of Art Basel reminds me of all the things I love about his work. His writing makes art seem sexy—that Kylie Minogue, Pollock-in-denim kind of sexy, the kind of sexy we usually reserve for movie stars and pop idols, but why? Why can’t Donald Judd shine just a little like Wynona? Why can’t high be low?

Kevin probes the unsettling erotics of fandom like nobody else I know. His work explores the way celebrity has of exposing our most intimate fears and desires publicly, almost collaboratively, in the ritualized obsessions of the superfan, the collector, the Amazon reviewer. Kevin’s writing, itself so often collaborative, is also a brave experiment (really a mercy mission) to make poetry sexy again. He treats the frumpy act of placing words on the page as if it deserved all the razzing, glamour, adulation and scandal that the famous get, even the B-list ones, and even at its most satirical, I’ve never read Kevin’s work, or seen it performed, without feeling somehow larger, like being a poet is an important and totally hot kind of thing to be.

Kevin, you’re not a nobody. You’re an Alp, and we’re thrilled to have you read for us in Portland.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Dept. of Friendly Reminders

If you're anywhere within a hundred miles of Portland tomorrow, come hear San Francisco Wunderkammern Dodie Bellamy & Kevin Killian read for Tangent.
The Tangent Reading Series presents

Dodie Bellamy and Kevin Killian
This Thursday, August 9 @ 7:00 p.m.
Clinton Corner Cafe
2633 SE 21st Ave. in Portland
Admission is free

Come early, and have dinner, if you like. Please stay after and join us for conversation and festivities!

Dodie Bellamy will be introduced by Matthew Stadler
Kevin Killian will be introduced by Rodney Koeneke

Dodie Bellamy's essays and reviews have appeared in The Village Voice, The San Francisco Chronicle, Bookforum, Out/Look and The San Diego Reader as well as numerous literary journals and web sites. In January, 2006, she curated an installation of Kathy Acker's clothing for White Columns, New York's oldest alternative art space. With Kevin Killian, she has edited over 130 issues of the literary/art zine Mirage #4/Period(ical). Her latest collection, Academonia, was published by Krupskaya in 2006. Other books include Pink Steam and The Letters of Mina Harker. Her book Cunt-Ups won the 2002 Firecracker Alternative Book Award for poetry.

Kevin Killian has written a book of poetry, Argento Series (2001), two novels, Shy (1989) and Arctic Summer (1997), a book of memoirs, Bedrooms Have Windows (1989), and a book of stories, Little Men (1996), that won the PEN Oakland award for fiction. A second collection, I Cry Like a Baby, was published by Painted Leaf Books in 2001. He and Peter Gizzi are currently (2007) editing Jack Spicer's complete poems. For the San Francisco Poets Theater Killian has written thirty plays, including Stone Marmalade (1996, with Leslie Scalapino) and Often (2001, with Barbara Guest). He is most recently the author of Selected Amazon Reviews, edited by Brent Cunningham (Hooke Press, 2006).

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


The way the ‘70s seeped into the mainstream? Via crafts.

Macrame as anarcho-political act.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Goodbye, Gandhigiri

Bollywood bad boy Sanjay Dutt (in pink at left) was sentenced last week to six years in prison for his involvement in the 1993 Mumbai bombings. My interest in Bollywood peters out around 1980, but Sanjay's father, Sunil Dutt, was one of the great stars of postwar Indian cinema, and his mother, Nargis, virtually invented the modern Bollywood heroine in her landmark films of the 1950s with Raj Kapoor.

That Nargis, born a Muslim, and Dutt, a Hindu, met on the set of "Mother India" in 1957 made them emblematic of the nation's aspirations to unity and post-Partition peace. Sanjay's most famous role was that of Munna Bhai, a Mumbai mob boss who 'converts' to the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi ('Gandhigiri'). Which gives his arrest for receiving arms from his Muslim underworld buddies an especially ironic twist: aspiration turned to fantasy turned to farce.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Misunderstandings Between Friends

We just found out that one of Auden's teachers, "Mr. Brian," is really Brian Oaster, a very talented illustrator and 'webtoonist' who does an online strip called Misunderstandings Between Friends. We endured First Thursday in the Pearl yesterday to go to the launch of his new book, At Home On Earth; came home with a signed illustration of zeppelins. Congratulations, Mr. Brian.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Dept. of Monkeys on Backs

Who is GoodReads and how is it I got addicted?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The 'F' Bomb

Mark Wallace and I are Thinking Again about "flark," pre- & post-, & those annoying hard-to-reach spaces in between ...

Monday, July 30, 2007

Dept. of Monday

"I don't recognize myself in your management techniques."

Friday, July 27, 2007

Diary of a Nobody

Don't believe the rumors; this blog has not, repeat not, converted to a Kevin Killian fansite (yet). But this report on Art Basel 38, "the Olympic Games of the art world," can't be missed. It's like his legendary Orono reports but with Europeans and money.

(Portland's lucky to have Kevin and Dodie reading here on Thursday, Aug. 9.)

Thursday, July 26, 2007


The story of The Hugs is kind of hateful. Pasty teen garage rockers post songs to MySpace, randomly catch ear of English A&R wizard behind The Libertines and Strokes. Contrails from London to Portland and back, ink fresh on a deal with 1965, the boys too young to drink in the clubs they'll play.

Amazing that despite all that, the amazing “North” is the only single on the new PDX Pop Now! compilation transcending the decent. Carnac sez: "Probably Not Long for Portland."

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Music, Man

I miss Chris Stroffolino. I miss the turretgun piano, the Costello-y smoker's rasp, the unstanchable mania for all things musical-trivial, and of course, the poetry, which I see less often than I used to.

Especially great then to see "Chris Stroffolino" perform at The Waypost in Portland last Tuesday. After a power romp through the Continuous Peasant catalog, he went out to smoke, find youth to jam with over the rest of his stay, and identify an audience worthy to receive arcana like whatever happened to the piano player for The Left Banke? (Turns out he had a minor hit in the '70s with a Hot Chocolate number.)

When the music talk reached Brennpunkt, Chris spied the piano, free at last, and banged out a half-hour sing-along to the remnants of the semi-circle like it was the Royal Albert Hall, if royal halls had sing-alongs. I miss Chris Stroffolino.