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Showing posts from September, 2009

michael moore, a love story

In "the unbearable sadness of michael moore" at Daniel Kalder raises the usual objections to Michael Moore--his movies are simplistic and one-sided and Moore profits handsomely from them (he profits from the very system he objects to, etc.)--but Kalder does use the apt phrase of "political erotica," and I can imagine Kalder debating at home whether or not to call the writing "erotica" or "pornography," perhaps with a shot of booze and a copy of Margaret Atwood's "On Pornography" nearby. I don't think anyone can dispute that Moore's films do steer the viewer in a definite direction, and like Fox News, they certainly do have an agenda.

Of course, Kalder is right that Moore is not so "complex," but I don't believe Michael Moore has ever told us he was a philosopher, nevermind one advancing us beyond an original thinker such as Kar…

Dan Fante and Iain Levison

Dan Fante and Iain Levison both have new books already here or coming soon. Fante's new novel, 86'd, was published on Monday, September 22, 2009, and Levison's novel, How to Rob an Armored Car is due out on October 1. Links to my brief interviews with both writers are found below:

These two URLs lead directly to the title on the virtual shelf of our commander-in-book:

As you know, you can buy books from sources other than, and it is probably a good idea to do so if you want those sources to continue to exist. Having added that bit of op-ed, I should also now admit that I am …

don riggs redux

I had an opportunity to ask Don Riggs, a contemporary poet and professor, for his take on Allen Ginsberg, and he wrote back, "Ginsberg was a major influence on me; his poem 'Howl' was described as the 'Waste Land' of that generation, and I wrote in a quasi-Beat style, in what I perceived to be the Ginsberg manner, in the mid-late-1970s." As part of his response, Don included a poem he wrote 30 years ago which he considers to be his "most successfully Ginsbergian poem." He wrote the poem at the end of the nineteen seventies, and I believe we can find in these lines that Ginsbergian awe in the face of America's fragmented beauty and banality, our shit and our soul intermingled, so to speak.

Please note that the line breaks of Don Rigg's "Those of us who" do have a function in the read-aloud rhythm of the poem but do not transfer into this online format.

Here then is Don Riggs's "Those of us who":

Those of us who
Those of us…

monday a.m.

You beat the odds. Your mood is a mix of ecstasy and coca--, no ecstasy and action! You feel alive and prepared to execute the game plan... a tedious affair that concerns a full week of work.

You cannot explain your fine spirits, but no one pays you to do so anyway.

Your coworkers are curious about you. They see your grin is wider than Stalin's reign of terror, and they wonder what kind of weekend you had.

Let them wonder a little while longer. For now, enjoy your Monday-morning bliss.


You made it to Friday. Congrats. You had a productive week and you didn't lose your shirt. A sock or two is stuck in the dryer, but you're thankful you can still afford the utility bill or the coin-slot machines. Times are tough, you know that, but things could be a lot worse. Yeah. At least, at work, you didn't sell your entire soul and you negotiated a fair price for the percentage you did part with.

So enjoy your weekend; you earned it. If you work on the weekends too, so be it. I hope it is because you love what you do but if not, know well that all you're missing out on is bad television and overcast skies and alone in the office lowers your risk.

Sleep late if possible and remember to write and walk.

Ginsberg take two

In the videotaped interview, Allen Ginsberg seems to imply that he must see the entire picture (or form) of the poem first, before he begins to write it. In fact, there can be no poem without this initial form or picture. This reminds me of an Ultimate-frisbee lesson I was taught a long time ago: if you can visualize yourself making the play, then it is a play you can make. In this way, more creative players gain advantage over others although we don't necessarily consider visualizing the play as a sign of imagination or creativity.

Ginsberg's thought raises questions in other areas--if you can picture the film in your head, is it a script that you could write? When he dismisses stray ideas as mere worries, is he dismissing all of us who think we have "a great idea for a film"? Also, can Ginsberg's picture be applied to a life? A career or a love affair? Do bakers have an exact mental image of the cake before they begin to bake?

Take a deep breath. Follow Ginsberg&…

form cadence vowel consonant

From the video shown in class, we learn that Allen Ginsberg sees a form or picture of a poem, then hears a cadence, moves on to vowels, and finally to consonants. He dismisses poets who are weak on vowel choice as "not so interesting."

Later, he gives an example of Jack Kerouac writing "tarpaulin" for its sound before he knew what the word meant. I hope you remember from K--12 that certain tyrannical teacher who told you to never use a word unless you know its meaning. Or I hope you were never taught that rule. In the interview, Ginsberg recognizes that experimenting with language can lead you on the path to learning more of it.

The dictionary life awaits.

out of work in america?

Time Magazine's Joshua Cooper Ramo is lying through his teeth if we can call the use of an adverb--in this case, "unthinkably"--a lie. Cooper Ramo writes, "Jobless figures released Sept. 4 showed a 9.7% unemployment rate, pushing the U.S.--unthinkably--ahead of Europe, with 9.5%." I'd bet my house (the bank's house that is) that Cooper Ramo knows darn well that high unemployment is very thinkable in the United States and that Europe has had some recent years of robust economic growth.

This could be seen as nitpicky, but it could also be seen as editing by corporate-media elites. Time wants to save whatever audience it has left, so Cooper Ramo's original sentence gets two dashes and an adverb, or it is just too depressing or too honest to sell magazines and advertising.

Could Cooper Ramo believe that unemployment above Europe's is so unthinkable? Is his pay check based only on how well he sculpts sentences and not at all about his knowledge of his …

only 46.3 million?

The new number of uninsured arrives, and of course, we learn it has gone up to 46.3 million and that the number would be larger were it not for the growth of government programs like medicaid. The key number here though is "2008"; according to we've lost 6.9 million jobs since the recession began in December of 2007, and I believe the majority of these have been over the past twelve months. Job losses for late fall and winter 2008--09 were some of the largest by month, and the vast, vast majority of these people have not yet been counted as uninsured.

Medicaid is seeing greater numbers qualify for their programs, so in a way, we will be moving toward a larger government-run option regardless of what Congress and the President are able to pass later this month. Medicaid is hardly a solution for middle-class people who lived within their means and were able to save money over the course of their now-interrupted working lives. Both R…

knut hamsun and hunger

n+1 offers this tasty morsel on Knut Hamsun to celebrate the Hamsun Festival (a celebration of Hunger?) in Norway.

Hamsun's biography--including the starvation and dramatics of his youth--always leads me to a degree of sympathy in spite of his fascist choices in his later years. (Hamsun "had Jewish friends" but sided with Hitler during Germany's occupation of Norway.) If you read the article, you'll see that most Norwegians still regard him as a traitor (which he was), but forgiveness for this "national treasure" could also be a path to profitable marketing of literary celebrity.

Starvation, isolation, alienation, or extreme hardship of any kind is "street cred" for many writers--even if the writer has chosen this path of hardship. In America, this often means identification with writers from affluent backgrounds--parents who brought plenty of bacon back to suburban homes--because the writer chose a path of greater resistance in his youth. So …


a few half-thoughts:

a) My destiny is to create a new brand of insomnia and then market it door to door during the graveyard shift.

b) I read that sleep apnea can be caused by fat deposits surrounding the neck area. The fat obstructs the breathing it seems. I resolve to adapt more aggressive shaving techniques. Problem solved.

c) At 3 a.m., I read that Philip Roth describes his nights as full of post-it notes attached all over his body and midnight runs to the writing studio. A mere mortal, I walk to the fridge.

to be continued; of course.