Thursday, December 29, 2005

"The bad paintings have to be painted and to the artist these are more valuable than those paintings later brought before the public." -Agnes Martin

Happy Birthday, Jeff!

That art program I slept on last night traced some connections between some unlikely figures, resurrecting for my interest Georgia O’Keeffe, whose work for the last several years I’ve dismissed as looking a little too at home in my doctor’s office, and is one of those mainstays of the Art Institute that as a local I’m obliged to tut tut as much as Monet’s haystacks or American Gothic. But her mention last night in the context of reimagining the American relationship to landscape- which had previously been defined by a more parochial Atlantic mastery- reminded me why she was the first artist I ever loved. I was a tween, mind you, but back in the mid-80’s much of my extended family moved west, and before Phoenix’s sprawl had blotted out the mountains with smog and consumed every square foot of the valley clear to Apache Junction with strip malls, I annually visited relatives who lived on the eastern fringe, a five minute drive to the Tonto National Forest. Inevitably, a visit would also include forays to Jerome, Sedona, Prescott, etc. and, a flatlander since birth, I remember feeling a combination of fear and awe toward mountains. Where I grew up, open swaths of undeveloped land consisted of corn, and for a long time this shaped what I thought of as “nature.” (That and the man-made “Forest Preserves” of southern Cook County that were set aside portions of old prairie that went to the woody invaders.) So the desert and the West were shocking in their vastness, wildness, in their extremity. It topped 120 degrees on our first visit and we watched an apocalyptic dust storm sweep across the valley. (That and I saw MTV (just out) for the first time… I distinctly recall thinking Tom Petty in his Mad Hatter guise was somehow a part of all of this strangeness.) O’Keeffe’s cows skulls and softened buttes became a part of my understanding of the landscape, and eased the desire to flee into air conditioning. I imagine, since most Phoenicians are first generation, and many are transplants from the Midwest, that I’m not the only one to be so struck. I wonder if there are any writings from others to be found in this vein. This also casts my junior year dropout and near transfer to a college in New Mexico after spending some time there with friends in a new light when my restlessness could have just as easily led me to say, Cleveland. At the end of the day though, I love cities and fear most everything that uses more than 4 legs to ambulate too much to ever go native.
Fell asleep on this last night, but I highly recommend staying awake for it next time.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

My local NPR affiliate has been on my naughty list this year for axing vibrant and substantive local programming, some of which was being syndicated nationally, and replacing it with rewarmed news programming, some of it boasting the production quality of Wayne's World. Apparently it's happening all over? At least in Michigan too, where people are really pissed. I'm not sure suing your budget-strapped station is the best solution... will there be a pledge drive for the litigation costs? But I'm starting to think that Tavis Smiley, like Johnny Damon, can hardly be faulted for jumping from a sinking ship. And how much of the deckchair shuffling is a result of Congressional "fiscal responsibility"?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Happy Solstice, Carl Sandburg, Happy Hanukkah, Serge Gainsbourg

the first I have heard of gorgeous deserves

kept saying afford me-- I wasn’t absurd to my solace

to wonder any more was born that way

enter as much as you know

metropoli instructed

“if you feel like loving me”

and the like was over
To My Heavy Rotation

Voices louder in the empty office, “I’ve basically written off last year.” I am covert with leaf breath sitting under headsight and thinking of the password to her electric diary, “ reindeer with a fungus.” True, I’ve got eight-year-old humor, she’s got the croup, a barking seal on the Twister Moves. I’m getting the language down, hang a drip, watch the BP when they’re giving you three percent mouse. Side effect, side effect, how about euphoria? No, I Can’t Get You Tickets is the Baby It’s Cold Outside of 2005. Uncle of the stomachs, we fondon’t, forget the carvers, streusel, iceberg, iceberg, Vesuvius.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


wished i were naturally conversant in french, html, earrings/shoes/purses, japanese, ate at acoustically unkind “zapatista,” good green beans con mole verde but taquerias abound, awakened by bottle as janet leigh, found/like tate online magazine/christian boltanski, pleased for bolivia, asked to read for AN HOUR in april, minute 44: undergraduate pantoums (?), heard from r who’s back from the equator briefly, bought a book in the shape of a lion, thought vociferously, “bloomberg’s a nimrod.”

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

new media architecture
right wing media sport
medium spicy pad prik
if one believes in the poet as language originator, ala the final question of the CPMPC interviewery- "created language" (vs. found)- then isn't one in reading in a constant state of miff? thinking "stealers" doesn't make anyone's holiday.
now this is surely tempting the four horsemen: johnny damon signs with the yankees? and just yesterday i thought the universe was finally starting to correct itself with the decision on all of the intelligent design foolishness.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

To My Stalemate (Part 1)
“I don’t like creamy peanut butter, but I like minimalism.”

Judging a society on what happens to a man passed out on a park bench. Nearly always looking next to nothing, your army doesn’t seem to mind. I write to need you. If you count blowing on my hands as good news, productivity, alright. That Labrador you want to name Buckminster Fuller is a Labradoodle. Being chased by someone with your own wallet, like a hot spring, part of the tourism, like a folder for “holy shit.”Here hear my generation’s Pernod.
To My Confirmation Number

Math, I never said I do, redoing duplexes of Shoshannas
You are no good to me mattress in regular hearts I’ve dreamt of
being speechless once before each of the fifty-nine times
I have no way of telling stir that it’s
heated says San Diego, CA, USA (real name)

Monday, December 19, 2005

Today’s lunch strategy: soup and all possible shortest distances


footnote: ChickDuckyIt:
I’ve always had a certain attention/memory for the names of things, namely people. Proper names have always fascinated me with their instant and enduring significance, and how outside of any choice of my own I would come to possess a kerriness, thinking this at age 6, that all debbies have a debbieness, etc. ..that our names inherently make us adjectives and adverbs of that ken. So why then did my menagerie of stuffed animals possess generic monikers like Monkey-it, Chuckducky-it, etc.? Though I did have a quail named Rachel, I think I preferred the power of common nouns to achieve name-worthy significance. And, one of the most moronic questions from adults: “Is it a boy or a girl?” Should have been obvious. “Neither! It’s a monkey”(dumbass)… not wanting to cloud my preciouses, and my animation of them, with gender. Perhaps this then was an early symptom of pet names to come: Bottle, Bean and J.D., Just Dog.
thoughts on bohemia...
-the fantasy/scenario of my barbie days. barbie, skipper, midge, ken and chickduckyit in all-night conversation on improvised furniture.
-reliable outward signs obsolete... line of ange, "the fake rich and the fake poor."
-on maudlin notions of self-destruction as art cohones: worrying lately about someday outgrowing punk/rock.. warm up the mike and the mechanics t-shirt.
-poetry=negative economy; iraq/bush years/wal-mart/flaccid media/xtian fundamentalism=cultural poverty/despair=getting the antithetical heard is our pernod.
a nice monday morning hug from the S-master re: the chicago poetry scene. (This after a standing room only crowd for chuck and matt hart's reading at myopic last night. finally got my thumbs on circulation flowers a.k.a a tour de force, sure to get a lot of attention... and was glad to get to know matt hart's work through his dynamic presentation which gave me a sense of the beat tradition being evoked through my generation of post-everything. like i've never so far heard. to a refreshing degree.) i predict a spike in poetry tourism, that is following the thaw. as of today, -6 windchill, walking to work recalling all the mornings like this spent standing on a bus stop for school thinking of the ominous "it takes __ seconds in these temps to freeze skin," thinking i'd become a cryogenic hans solo any moment, and not much on the literary event horizon until late january. to hibernate!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

oy. another reason to pine for seattle. about to fill a virtual cart at spd and affirmed in my fume that there is an uncommon dearth of bookstores in my city. if i were able to devote myself to another money-losing venture on behalf of literature, starting a bookstore with a proper small press selection would be the thing.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

today: same clothes as yesterday, the films of charles and ray eames, fuck you-aloha-i love you, cranberry juice+bubbly, a dream had many times in childhood that starts on the ground and takes off into outer space leaving me a speck adrift in the universe, pumpkin cookies, similar to things in the power of 10, a nightmare really, amy's quesadillas with black beans, or perhaps some buddhist residue

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Things that are broken:
Car, heat source, nervous system of a loved one, inter-Australian relations, ability to trust contemporary art, food processor, one cat’s memory for proper use of the litter box, US's geopolit cred, Cmas momentum, one bad habit for 4 days and counting, my patience for neighbor overly concerned with our preparedness: “Are you ready for Halloween/snow/Cmas?” “Have you not pried up your patio boards to clean out the quarterly gunk?”
Reason for taking today off work: Every time I swallow I wake myself up

Misreading: Amused brioche

In the last day and ½, digging:
Good Night, and Good Luck
Harold Pinter
Kleenex with aloe
The Little Prince on capitalism: "you are of no use to the stars."
Starred Wire, also, by chance, with a baobab

Not digging, via J:
All video art documentation is merely description and one still. For all the socialist hooha that gets talked around new media, this inaccessibility is as backwards and bourgeois as "new music's" fetishization of the score. My suggestion of a title for his diss: "$19.95."

Monday, December 12, 2005

When I worked in social services for the elderly, one of my special residents was Martha, who would pop into my office several times a day to ask what time it was, what she should make for dinner, if the mailman had come, to tell me the story of the neighbor kid whom her mother paid 5 dollars to take her old dog to the police station to be shot, to tell me how she called the bank president the second her widower father walked out the door to empty his savings for a couple of scheming cousins in California. She was an iron-willed woman who suffered from dementia, and got her feathers up if anyone took issue with her version of events. I was the only person in the building who was agreeable to her version of events, even when I had myself witnessed things transpire otherwise. I was daily brokering peace with the other residents who resented the slightest inaccuracy of her perceptions, whether it was claiming to have seen the postman on a Sunday or that her hallway on the first floor had once had stairs. After a few too many memory lapses compromised her safety and ability to live independently in her own apartment, she had to move to another retirement community, one with roommates and supervision, things she despised. Before leaving, she brought me a bunch of her books, concerned that they have a good home. I gladly accepted them and gave her comfort that they would be my beloved charges: moldy hardcover editions of Jewish folktales, a scholarly (and glaringly Eurocentric) chapbook on a Chinese temple on display at a 1950’s World Fair, The Last Days of Socrates, and The Little Prince. My reading habits being what they’ve been, I haven’t yet had the occasion to investigate any of these volumes deeply, until last night, after finishing Inner China, I decided to see what I’ve been missing all these years with The Little Prince, a book I don’t remember from childhood, a story that my friend Q once wrote over as a play involving 5 Andy Warhols. The serendipity of when and where something is read, like what a book will fall between in the alphabetical order of my shelf, has always fascinated me. And happily, it is now- and via Martha- that I encounter this read. The little boy on his own planet the size of a room asking wholly different questions than the rest of the world, how can this not echo with her life as I knew it? How can it be that I would read this on the train to work and then read 12 consecutive emails in this form? “Effective __, __ is no longer an employee of ***. On behalf of the __ Dept., we wish __ the best in all of his/her endeavors.”

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Finished the Lahiri book and onto this. Both have a sense of the humane that is very reassuring right now. Sjodin's lumines with compassion as its continuity, satisfying what the other, more staid prose style of JL misses: jaggedness and surface tension. In this manner it is a story understood from behind the curtains, off moments of the observer, any mind, never mind, as seems natural- to me- to apprehend a story, even one's own. There is a welcome sense of feeling like a tourist of both, not merely because they are perspectives and stories non-Anglo or non-American, but in their candor and generosity. As bouts of snow arrive and depart all weekend I am reading, making soups and listening to Takemitsu and Bartok (the Mikrocosmos) for the first time since living in Providence. I am instantly reminded of writing my thesis in the first few chords and how foreign, long ago.

Friday, December 09, 2005

An hour into last night’s snowstorm I decided to go to the Art Institute. It was their late night and I was certain I would have the place to myself.. more or less true. I’ve never been alone in the Felix Gonzales-Torres room before: my version of church.

Walking to the museum the snow was blowing in so many directions at once that the skyline was almost entirely rubbed out. Since it was just before the evening rush, not a lot of people were out on foot yet, but the few that were indiscernible with their heads bowed from the elements. As I walked, there wasn’t a trace of a footprint before or after me. An interesting feeling in a city of 8 million. I didn’t look up until I was in the warm and quiet environs of the woodblock gallery and as if by accident there in front of me was Hiroshige’s “Coming and Going in the Snow” printed into a book that was open and on display. Tried to find a photo of it online, but it must be a less common piece. The whiteness of the page is only offset by half a dozen figures aiming themselves in different directions, no path or landscape to offer the eye perspective or any clue as to their trajectories. Other marks were perhaps footprints, or- I think- impressionistic enough to suggest the air still swirling with snow. Looked at this for quite a while, until I could no longer smell the wet thaw of my wool coat, only to then discover that the entire room was Hiroshige winter scenes.

I was also glad to see that the space defining untitled installation of yarn by Fred Sandback has returned. It’s such a tripping hazard that in spite of the security guards’ best efforts it is routinely broken. So I’m told.

I hope we get some folks braving the elements to come out to the SpareRoom tonight for Elizabeth Block and Jordan Stempleman.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

the only way to read yasusada is to misread him- which i think someone once said to me about the bible- so i mistook the title of a poem to be "telescope with um" and now must write a book to meet up with this title somewhere.

image is the stag by richter
For a friend and a friend of a friend, where she lived, where he is living

worry for him— love, no such thing, says
the rest of this country is not habitable— stay home
until you’re extraordinary or one-
upped at a party
by hunger strikers—
where are you kidding?
she left to ride a bicycle in a desert movie
and settle---who worries? this
is my fantasy except for a costume that says Lucille

John Cage, from the lecture "Indeterminacy" given in Brussels in 1959 (p265):

Artists talk a lot about freedom. So, recalling the expression "free as a bird," Morton Feldman went to a park one day and spent some time watching our feathered friends. When he came back, he said, "You know? They're not free: they're fighting over bits of food."

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

thinking a lot lately about artists who take hairpin aesthetic turns over the course of their body of work. i can't think of that many. gerhard richter is the only one coming to mind right now, and my impression is that he frustrates many a curator and collector with this "idiosyncratic" habit over never wedding himself to any one style, form or subject matter for very long. but what about others? rothko painted like rothko, sure the palette and take on form evolved, but he retained a signature style his whole career. what would people have done if he decided to paint like Grandma Moses for while? isn't the creative process supposed to take artists unexpected places, aren't we like, kinda keyed into a thing called intuition that may desire, on occasion, to overrule ideas like Consistency, Continuity and (I've always hated this one) Voice? i say this because just in the last year i finally deconditioned my grad school self, that is, running my own workshop in my head whenever any poor word saw the light of day on a piece of paper (or screen). every defenseless "and" and "she" had to answer to the giant manifesto of k that accumulated ever since i strutted the halls as an undergrad as an "a poetics" acolyte, saying things to a similarly dogmatic peer like, "autobiography is a crutch," and meaning it as an ethical dictum. so, exit my inner grad school and enter the revelatory, "why don't i just write A poem?" and another one. and look, they don't even go together. are part of precisely no series. have nothing whatsoever to do with one another. like many elements of my wardrobe. discrete pleasures. and then i'm thinking about something j read which i'm about to paraphrase and oversimplify terribly, that all pop music is one continuous song, as represented by the fade out. johnny cash, britney spears, ja rule: all part of the same stream and this technical innovation unique to the form belies this implicit unity. yep, that doesn't sound like much without the source. look that up. for whatever seachange in one's work- formal to non, personal to non -I run out of adjectives to represent entire poetics, and NY Schooly and L=A=NGUAGEy seem only partial descriptors too... shouldn't there BE seachanges, shouldn't we welcome them as explorations beyond what we already know we're capable of? maybe i'll keep thinking about this into some smarttalk instead of sounding like an annie lamont 12 step program.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Collecting this scattershoot of poetics statements of late (mine), like:

I just want to make my reader hungry, that is, elicit food cravings.

It’s processual poetics taken another step, like at what point Behind the Music become the Music. Here’s a bunch of poem ingredients and I know, reader, you are a good cook. Again with the food.

Whether fingering charts, proper musical notation or this alphabet, aren’t they all a meta-step 1: preheat oven?

Never trust an artist that doesn’t like his/her own cooking, said a composer professor of J’s in undergrad.
Someday I will post the photo that started all the lavamatic/matique business. It’s the old-fashioned non-digital sort. It hails from an afternoon of doing our laundry in Barcelona, a stray dog asleep on the linoleum in front of a mustard-colored front-loader as we sipped fantas and watched a telenovella that resembled 90210 with the locals. Somehow it became emblematic of that month-long trip through europe.. a sense of feeling totally at home in a foreign environment, or realizing that nothing is really all that foreign after all (admittedly this was Western Europe and not Jakarta, but still). Just like the African guy I peeled oranges with on the train, just like the woman whose baby burped in J’s ear on a park bench and made us all jump. Without language we were connected nonetheless by these human gestures. I think the lavamatic also connotes for J & I that sense of “throw a bunch of shit in there and take it for a spin,” dotdotdot the creative process,. All of this is to say that when we see any manifestation of “lavar” in the “semioshpere” it’s a tickle, and so another missed photo op because the camera’s on the fritz or I just didn’t have it on me, driving behind a filthy truck on which someone had scrawled “lavame.”



This Saturday: one of my favorite poets at the Poetry Proj.

Yesterday: In the time it took me to microwave some eggplant parm at work I found this book on the lending shelf and got adequately absorbed. A light, short story read is about where my head is this week and while it’s aptly crafted and hits all the emotive high notes, maybe I’m just in the dark- what exactly is Pulitzer criteria? One of the blurbs declares the prose so translucent “you almost forget that you’re reading.” Is this a compliment? Is this the goal? Has the very act of reading become a pill we have to crush and mask in applesauce?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Since my camera's on the fritz... A thick snowfall coming down in the woods around Rockford College on Saturday- and that needle quiet and smell that- watching wren-like birds in the courtyard rolling in the new snow and seed as families of post-grads muscle for hot cider and brownies. Read: the hippocampus is the gatekeeper of memories and shaped like a seahorse. Saturday's graduation and speeches and marching make me look forward to other endeavors that take a long time on which I will eventually put a bow. Read: most sociologists and psychologists agree that one's personality is fully formed by age 6. Things I have postponed: reading Pale Fire, getting winter boots, submitting to magazines, renewing my passport, updating Discrete website, getting a permanent CTA card, going to the dentist, fixing mistake on my credit report, learning another language.

Friday, December 02, 2005

just found my book for sale on filed under "religion and spirituality." nice. like the time i (well actually j) found jean daive's a lesson in music in the strand's music section.


just adjusted the template for central time but it altered ALL of the past entries' times which were right. so note- any entry pre-right-now was written two hours before.
Things I ate/did/that happened..
My horoscope tells me to watch a video. In a fry mood, I listened to the Nichiren chanting the Lotus Sutra on buddha net dot net and awaited our “aggressive snow-formation scenario.” Pumpkin soup. Read a bit of Air the Trees. Read a few million poems. Glanced at the Reading at Risk report issued by the NEA (2004). Black Bean Adobo soup. Oh Dana (joy), do something, I write to need you. Listened to Animal Collective’s Sung Tongs. Capital meowing to close out track one. Tar Heel Cookie. Why wouldn’t it tell me to make a video, of the buses going past our old house? “Victory Ministry//because your ship is going down.”


My new poetics is to make the reader hungry. Is that too expressivist? Fascist? SoQ?


Just filled in this blank: Irony is the New Sincerity


Misread: dreamholster


Found: a little C3 reunion: Paul, Armand and co.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Konerko re-signed so now conversations can begin "those Sox next year" even on this, the other side of town.. "snowing there?" How fresh-bought everyone looks even the dogs are burgeoning near a monument HBO is about to shoot. Here's an honest non-clap, how's by you? An even wear. Nothing is too clear by nature, least of all your name doesn't like quotes, Meat Department, oh one.