July 28, 2005

August 31, 2005

Eight Takes By Chapman

Back to Poetry:  Danielle Chapman is the reviewer this month with Eight Takes.  The first is a review of A Poet's Prose:  Selected Writings of Louis Bogan, edited by Mary Kinzie, which Ms. Chapman regards highly.  The book contains "short fiction, autobiographical writings, letters, and criticism" of the poet who was a New Yorker poetry critic for almost 40 years, and regularly reviewed and/or corresponded with Pound, Moore, Roethke, and Tate.  Chapman does a dandy job of bringing Bogan back into the discussion in the succeeding reviews.  Coincidentally (or perhaps not), the second and third books reviewed are by Dana Levin, whose first book was chosen by Louise Glück for the Honicken First Book Prize in Poetry, and Richard Siken, whose Crush was chosen by Ms. Glück for Yale Younger Poets Award.  Chapman believes that, though Levin's work reminds her of Plath, it succeeds in representing "the world's suffering alongside her own".  While Chapman believes that Levin's attention to her own technique "can become tedious", she ends the review lauding Levin's efforts, which "can be quite astonishing".  Chapman is less taken with Crush, though she admires the "controlled, noir sort of tone" that he achieves in "episodes of hustling, drugs, rough sex, and fantasies of suicide and murder".  She finds herself reading Siken "as we might watch a salacious Hollywood movie", and opines that, "at this point, at least, Siken lacks the technique to transform ... [his raw material] into art.  Campbell McGrath's Pax Atomica, a book of poems "chocked full of graffiti-scrawled water towers, tanning booths, rest stops, and chain restaurants", has some good pieces, notably Train Journal, but most of the book is "a nostalgic, pop-culture-fueled orgy, indiscriminantly celebrating every TV show, movie, rock anthem, or icon that the poet has ever encountered".  Chapman is unambiguously delighted with Dean Young's elegy on toy piano, a book of poems that is "actually hilarious", by a poet who uses "conversation ... [as] his way of avoiding heartbreak."  Young is "more Melville than Whitman, more Jerry Springer than Oprah", but for "a surrealist, Young has an uncanny sense of proportion."  Chapman's review of Simon Armitage's The Shout starts out "Simon Armitage seems like an awfully nice bloke" (which is not a good sign), and then goes on to note that in this book of poetry, he's "murdering a hitchhiker just for the hell of it, ... and drowns a houseguest in the bathtub for outstaying his welcome."  The publicity material for this English poet declares him to be "the successor to Phillip Larkin, England's most offensive modern genius", but Chapman finds that in Armitage "seems hardly [able] to distinguish misery from joy", and deems him Larkin Lite.  In her review of A.R.Ammons Bosh and Flapdoodle, Chapman is clearly torn between her admiration for much of Ammons' early work and her disappointment with these "poems of great confidence, [which have] at their heart ... an abiding belief in their own genius".  Adam Kirsch's The Wounded Surgeon is a survey of the Confessionals, "those grown-up child geniuses", including Sexton, Plath, Lowell, Berryman, and Bishop.  Chapman notes that Kirsch reminds us that "Modernism spawned the Confessionals", that Lowell had to indulge his "piratical sensibility", that Plath's suicide was "the ultimate success of a savage, solipsistic aesthetic."  In the end, Chapman believes that "Kirsch does nothing to persuade us that these poems were good enough to die for". 

Posted by jbahr at 08:20 PM | Comments (0)

August 29, 2005

Capital Idea

I am enjoying the microcosm that is Fascicle, though microcosm is too approximate to denote the larger world that the online journal strives to represent.  In reading the dialogue between Dale Smith and Alan Gilbert, I was struck for the Nth time at the degree with which some writers slip easily from poetry to moral imperatives to statements of assumed truth — a bidirectional segue in which their versifying, politics and world-view are mutually supportive.  Take, for example, this passage, extracted from an early part of the interview:

The collapse of the Soviet Union (and the many satellite states it supported directly or by proxy), along with its illusions of shared abundance, spurred individual and collective desire to pursue the commodity form on a global scale. One backlash to this now occurs in Islamic fundamentalism, which is hardly an attractive (counter-)proposal; more positive alternatives can be found in the worldwide protests against multinational capitalism and its supporting institutions. I don't subscribe to the idea that capitalist media and ideology brainwash or indoctrinate; but I do think they hijack desire in extremely complicated ways. And because the workings of desire can sometimes be more difficult to decipher than those of consciousness, understanding the ramifications of this hijacking is tricky. We do know that it involves fundamental constructions of the self in terms of identity and lifestyle. For instance, it proposes buying new clothes.

There is a grand leap from a dubious premise to an unintended consequence, followed by a General Principle, which infers (rather mysteriously) a disruption in the mechanic of longing, and the understanding of self.  Wow.  Gilbert goes on to mention that:

The Republican party is the party of against: against taxation; against gun control; against social welfare; and, I think we can fairly say, more and more against democracy itself: from Bush's presidential appointment by the Supreme Court, to redistricting in Texas (which you've been witnessing first-hand), to the Gray Davis recall, to Ashcroft's demolition of civil rights with Patriot Act versions I and II. I wouldn't exactly call it fascism, but the US is slipping in that direction, and one of the 20th-century's many lessons is that it's imperative to point this out as early as possible. ... That said, I think there's plenty of cool stuff currently going on in writing and artistic communities with which we're affiliated — ... Yet what makes the current situation different — in terms of being less public, less coalescent — is that it feels impossible to imagine the birth in any aesthetic discipline of another self-contained and self-perpetuating avant-garde movement, with its de rigueur declaration of proposals. The fields of poetry, visual art, music, theater, etc., are now far too pluralistic to lend themselves to that vanguardist model, and the boundaries between “art” and “non-art” have broken down way too much for art to have that kind of sacrosanct power.

I am concerned about this kind of writing not because I'm not liberal in all the usual senses, but because I think that writing poetry  comes with it the obligation of truth-telling — emotional truth, objective truth, ....  I personally find the examples of our Unfortunate State of Affairs naive —  actually worse than that, as focusing on, say, Texas's redistricting distracts us from more important symptoms of malaise (after all, many middle-of-the-spectrum observers admit that Texas Republicans were only correcting the decades of Democratic gerrymandering, and LOTS of Californians of all stripes detested Gray Davis's affect and behavior).  I appreciate that this attitude puts me at odds with what Seth mentions as Lyn Hejinian BAP introduction that "if your poetry hasn't gotten more "political" since the arrival of the neo-cons on the American political scene, you're somehow failing your duty as a scribe for the race." Nevertheless, I object to having our poetry hijacked by half-baked, ill-researched theories such as Communism's fall -> capitalism's hegemony -> commodization and submission -> pleasantly acquiescent brainwashed populace -> the End of Art.  I would suggest actually speaking with some of the majority who elected this Administration, or barring that, reading something other than The Nation.

I have a lot of reading through Fascicle to do and will report back on the poetry, which having read a couple of entries, is pretty damned good.

~~~

I love Seth.  His lawyerly mind has parsed the world of poetics again in a post to his blog about the New Sincerity, with links to poets with other ideas about the matter (Tony Robinson, Joseph Massey, Steve Mueske, Harry Rutherford, and Charles Jensen).   Seth begins his analysis by positing that there is no shortage of sincerity in modern poetry, but that "it's been done to death by the wrong poets".  He's thinking Sharon Olds & Mary Oliver, but we all have someone in mind when the word sincere comes up (I immediately imagine the hand-wringing sincerity of Jorie Graham).  Seth further proposes that NS is a variant of PLUS (Personal Lyric of Universal Significance), which has dominated poetry in the last 20 years (at least), and an amalgam of the following characteristics:  personal mode; lyrical; real/non-surreal; thematic; quasi-narrative; aesthetic layering of Irony, Myth, Comedy, LitTheory, and/or WordPlay; a vehicle for some kind of perceived Truth. 

One of the problems with Sincerity is that it does not seek to "anticipate criticism, and then try to write their way out from under it", as Rebecca Lindenberg so wisely observed.  Not so the many forms of poetry that deploy disjunctiveness, diversion, and rapid notional transition to stay one step ahead of the reader (the critic, the culture, even the poet penning the piece). These non-NS forms don the kind of anti-emotional armor that, in real life, succeeds in preventing us from getting hurt, but also hinders the ability to love.  It is also true that any NS piece is going to live in an N-dimensional space that is closer in some sense to Hallmark than would a non-NS piece.  Distance, of course,  is no measure of similarity —  as New York is much more like Paris than it is Richmond. 

Seth takes the stand that any School that stands in opposition to other modes of writing ultimately adds nothing to Poetry (insofar as the opposition itself is the main raison d'être), going as far as to rename the School of Quietude What I Don't Like About You and Your Fucking Poetry and Never Have, Asshole.  I admit to a certain sympathy with this view.  Having critiqued thousands of poems on poetry boards over the years, I find that the principle deficiencies in poems generally involve stale ideas, bad word choice, mixed metaphors, general inelegance, and dozens of other basic flaws that require correction before even beginning to consider higher concepts (is the poem advancing a theory, is the poem nicely disrupting our usual view of things, ...). 

~~~

And now a little about everyone's favorite whipping horse, Poetry.  I have taken to reading the journal back to front, so bear with me.  In the Letters to the Editor, Judith Kitchen expresses her concern that Poetry's reviews have tended recently to be largely negative.  (aside:  Wiman addresses exactly this topic in his Editorial, wherein he describes The Process and what he looks for in "omnibus reviewers" (by which he means writers who are able to competently review a wide range of poetic styles).  Poetry's requirements for such a reviewer include:  1) no personal relationship with the poets under review, 2) using a strictly controlled number of words across the total of all books reviewed, 3) reviewers have no say in what they review, 4) reviews must not be simply descriptive, and reviewers with "sharp opinions" and "broad knowledge of fields other than poetry" are desirable.  These, Wiman agrees, tends to produce more negative reviews than is common in the "obvious logrolling" of other review sources.)  Enid Shomer faults reviewer D.H. Tracy for factual inaccuracies and the use of "psychobabble" in the review of Maxine Kumin's Jack and Other Poems.  Lee Robinson cites similar concerns, defending Kumin as something other than an "upper-middle class feminime equivalent of a gentleman farmer."  Sharon Bryan defends Budget Travel Through Time and Space, and AG in particular, "the wise, funny, generous grown-up".  Tracy then defends his positions in an eloquent response stating that AG is hardly whom "you would call to sort out the emotional undercurrents in the drawing room", and, while admitting that not everybody buys into his "psychic resistance" characterization, he thinks that what Kumin is "missing is the danger."  Jonathan Blake takes Dan Chiasson to task for not sufficiently appreciating that Jack Gilbert's armor "against new experience" is a natural consequence of Gilbert's advanced age.  Todd Hearon faults Chiasson for denigrating Derek Walcott's desire that poetry be musical.  Chiasson puts up a spirited defense, admonishing Gilbert's admirers from expecting hagiography, and reiterates that Walcott's recent poetry is an example of intellectual murkiness, bombast, and pomposity.  Christine Pugh takes knocks from our own Henry Gould in her criticism of "middle-brow demand for lived experience", and Fred Moramarco defends experience as something other than the anathema he believes that Pugh characterizes it.  Mark Yakich congratulates Ms. Pugh for kenning the humor in his bio (in which he divides his time between the kitchen and the bedroom).  Zara Raab notes that while Pugh invokes Stevens as an example of a poet of "limited experience", she fails to appreciate the "combination of detachment and involvement" that remains a "remarkably potent cocktail for artists".  Pugh defends her essay by acceding partial agreement to Gould and Raab, but ultimately restates that poets should not be judged by their life experiences.  David Poston agrees with Peter Campion that getting "voice in to poems involves both losing and finding".  Alexander Budy, a Poetry reader of some 30 years, likes what he's seen recently.

More tomorrow on the book review and poetry section.

~~~

Josh Clover has written a funny and pointed review of  The World Is Flat, Thomas L. Friedman's rah-rah celebration of All Thing Global.  Josh compares TF's cartoonish arguments thusly:   "These are the last best retreats for the moribund official narrative of the Enlightenment: that ineluctable ascent guaranteed by rational and scientific advances, whose fruit is the increasing perfection of the human condition.".  Friedman starts every third column with a line like "A few years ago I was visiting Bahrain and sitting with friends in a fish restaurant", but somehow all that travel hasn't resulted in a worldview as complex as that of, say, P. J. O'Rourke, the Republican party animal.  Josh's review is as good (but different in focus) as Matt Taibbi's response, which included: "If its literary peculiarities could somehow be removed from the equation, The World Is Flat would appear as no more than an unusually long pamphlet replete with the kind of plug-filled, free-trader leg-humping that passes for thought in this country."  Also worth reading is Siddharth Varadarajan's blog entry, in which he debunks the notion that trading partners don't go to war with one another.  For a response to Friedman's earlier best-seller The Lexus and the Olive Tree, read this.

The basic flaw in Friedman's arguments (aside from bad premises, faulty chains of logic, and skewed experience) is that he confuses the stated advantages of capitalist economics with human well-being.  Comparative advantage, for example, only guarantees that both trading partners will end up with more (and ignores issues such as transportation cost, social and political effects, and strategic concerns).  Most modern-day capitalist principles, in fact, from interest-rate setting to market pricing, only assures us that the GDP of the participating country will rise as a result.  These principles say nothing about the effects of increased wealth, or to whom it will accrue.  Admittedly, it's possible that the tide can rise sufficiently quickly to raise all boats —  but that ignores the inequities of privilege and the degree to which information and access are crucial in personal success.  If it were not the case (as Josh points out), there would not be a growing chasm between the very rich and the rest of us, and there would not be evidence of decreasing upward mobility.

Posted by jbahr at 04:05 PM | Comments (3)

August 28, 2005

Home Again

It is Mexico's second largest city of 3 million souls, one that advertises itself as "the most Mexican of Mexico's cities".  Furthermore, "Guadalajara, México's pearl of the west, is an incredibly diverse and stately city with amazing qualities, both modern and historic, that embrace all who visit."  My experience was divided among the Hilton Hotel, the production plant, and the taxi rides between them — though The Team did eat out at a couple of beautiful restaurants in my six days there.  As for the Hilton:  the rooms were lovely and spacious with WiFi, a king-sized bed, a coffee pot, a minibar, and Neutrogena soap products (I mention that last item for CDY's benefit).  I divided my days between meetings at The Plant and working in my room, completing software test-loading content for a great product you will be seeing at bookstores soon.

~~~

I don't know why I received the Summer 2005 edition of Barrow Street, but I'm glad I did.  I had a poem accepted for this issue, but had to withdraw it, as it had been accepted elsewhere.  My poem would have been in pretty stellar company:  Rachel Hadas, Kathy Ossip, Carl Phillips, Ron Padgett, G.C. Waldrep, Arielle Greenberg.  Most of the work is lyrical narrative, with a few prose pieces, a couple of formal poems, and the occasional dollop of wry humor.  Here's a few selections that I liked on first read:  Patricia Brody's Oh Modern ("What graves:  Heloise with her mister at Père Lachaise, / Margaret, less undressed, well wedged beneath Westminster / (where even Byron was forbidden)"); Alfred Corn's Connectedness of All Things, which is composed of asterisk-delineated stanzas about Lewis Carroll's illustrator, what Sioux children did with Custer's paper money, a bas-relief Dutch cook on a square of baker's chocolate;  Daniel Hall's The Genealogist ("Poor baby.  Follow it back, or down / as far as you like, or dare.  But forget / the branchy tree:  your family, your home / is a coral reef.  And you're welcome there.");  some short works by Pablo Medina, such as this from The Pillars of Community ("Two leather money belts / hung around the bony hips. // They are like illness and joy / (how fat, how frantic),");  Carl Phillips, Beautiful Dreamer (... lifting their ghost majority suddenly up elsewhere, as if / with a shared indifference to chance and its convergences — / so ceremonial, all those wings departing, it can almost / look like privilege ..."); Noah Raizman, Whist ("A horse is put down in relief, / in cat grass and dog tails, / cold rain rubbed, glistening it falls. /  How close is safe?"); a staccato duo by Jane Rice, Madame Matisse and Henri Matisse ("I am that hat over there.  Bear, carry, perform / little methods of competition ...", "Bandage brush to weakened fingers.  Scant- / coal stiff.  That I may brave, lead from / the shoulder, dancing. ...");  Tom Stillinger, Half-Faltering Melody ("I was blanching a moccasin when / the word came.  I was / unscrewing an off-ramp when the / wind picked up. ...");  G. C. Waldrep, Ghost Bosons of the Saints ("The elf inside the box has a cabbage and a revolver.  Or, the elf inside the box has nothing, not even clothing.");  Charles Harper Webb takes Weekly World News' discovery that Davy Crockett was a girl and spins tale about Mathilda the Hun, Adele Hitler, Georgia Patton and Winnie Churchill;  a long surreal piece by Sam Witt, Bird of Paradise & Inferno ("... I was asleep when the telephones began to deliver silence / through their stalks").  Kathryn Cowles reviews Jacqueline Lyons' They Way They Say Yes Here, a book of poetry that "stems from experiences Lyon had as a Peace Corps volunteer for three years in Lesotho.  Rebecca Lindenberg reviews Mark Bibbins' Sky Lounge, which she generally admires (a good line from the review:  "[it is] often the case in contemporary poetry that poems seem to anticipate criticism, and then try to write their way out from under it.".  Richard Loranger reviews Christopher Arigo's Lit Interim, "which manifests a poetics of the body in both an immediate and more subliminal sense."

~~~

The Hilton's cafe left no culinary motif unaddressed at their breakfast buffet.  There were scrambled eggs & bacon & sausages & hash browns & grilled potatoes & waffles and fixings & a chef to hand-make your omelet.  There were Mexican breakfast sandwiches filled with roasted beef with grilled peppers and six kinds of salsas for condiments.  There were a dozen kinds of fresh juices that you could pour from their labeled earthenware jugs: plum, coconut, pineapple, mango, orange, strawberry, grapefruit, lemon, kiwi — and even some I couldn't translate:  maraculla, mamey, betabel, jugo verde.  The center aisle supported large silver chafing dishes with cabrito stew, tortilla chips in red sauce, small green tamales, refried beans, beef chops, polenta squares, squash blossom crepes.  Around these were arranged dozens of kinds of rolls, cookies and crackers.  Fresh melon & plums & papaya sat next to an assortment of yoghurts, fresh and aged cheeses.  The dessert table had tira misu, fruit tarts, flan.  The cereal bar had a dozen commercial brands, plus muesli and oatmeal.  A three-piece band played a little, sang a little, mostly Antonio Carlos Jobim.  I was the only one who clapped.

~~~

The instantly recognizable Bob Hicok adorns the cover of APR, as if advertising his more pensive (and less impish) verse.  I spoke to Bob once when he called tell me he liked the Submission Database Project.  I had only seen his photo a couple of times, but there he was the Chicago AWP, walking briskly out of the book fair.  "Bob!", I said before I could catch myself, and we chatted for a minute.  That's what he looks like.  He looks like Bob Hicok.  This, from Morning sounds, "The slight scrape and click as her coffee cup's / set on the counter suggests tumblers hide / in the blue atoms of the cup.  My wife's pajamas / are made as much of holes as of sleep. / It's the day after the word cancer was put away."  U of Texas at Austin runs an ad for their MFA program that features a manuscript atop a sprawling dog, which instantly reminds me of Stuff On My Cat.  Some nice work by Amy Gerstler, this from For My Niece Sidney, Age Six:  "Did you know that boiling to death / was once a common punishment / in England and parts of Europe? / It's true.  In 1542 Margaret Davy, / a servant, was boiled for poisoning / her employer.  So says the encyclopedia."  John Yau compares the similar but distinct lives and voices of Weldon Kees and Frank O'Hara.  Stanley Moss with five poems.  I particularly liked the long prose piece Satyr Song:  " ... I was the last to answer:  ' I am certain I am a poet.'  Then Miss Green said, 'I knew it.  You, Stanley, are a bronze satyr.' and she whacked my penis with a 12-inch Board of Education wooden ruler."  Dorianne Laux with four poems, this from Face Poem:  Your craggy mountain goat face. / Your mole-ridden, whiskered, stumpy fish of a face.  Face I turn to, face / I trust, face I trace with grateful fingertips, jaw like a hinge, washboard / forehead, the deep scar a gnarl along the scritch of your chin."  Dana Levin continues her The Heroics of Style:  A Study in Three Parts, discussing (among other things) the similes in Homer's Iliad.  Linda Hogan with Deer Dance: "This morning / when the chill that rises up from the ground is warmed, / the snow is melted / where the small deer slept."  Liam Rector with nine poems of narrative forced into short lines, and an interview, in which Liam says: "In the '90s I had a heart attack one October, followed quickly by a quadruple bypass, and then months later in January I found I had third-stage colon cancer. (Stage four is death).  As the fiction writer Alice Mattison said to me at the time, my life was suffering from an excess of plot."  Five more ads for MFA programs.  Bruce Smith with three poems, this from Goodbye Tuscaloosa:  "... Goodbye to the Ur ovens of Woodrow's.  I loved the slaughtered hog, / the gloried grease, the human nature standing around, / standing around the fire."  Four prose poems by William Kulik, this from Colloquy: "On the verandah, fat Scotch in hand, trying not to make sense of another day in Nadaville, I imagine I'm telling my dead friend, Jeff Marks, who knew me best, how as a child I'd lie in bed subtracting the world, piece by piece."  Reginald Gibbons with two long poems that seem more like (rather good) short stories, this from Mortal Soul: "At a twenty-four-hour gas station and garage and dingy Food Mart on a / city corner of unending traffic, next door to a chain restaurant that / serves up breakfast and inert heavy pie all day and night,".  Barbara Guest, author of twenty-three poetry books, with three poems.  This, from Constable's Method:  "Calm night. //  He had found an orientation of rain that carved notes / he made on the bridge.  Formerly, it was a green / alphabet of water."  Lee Upton with two poems, this from The Cloud Eater: "The bunting of the side stage curls up just as / Cassandra's throne is torn apart like the frays in egg drop soup."  Two poems by Mira Rosenthal, this from Mysticism in the Dark:  "... The bigger animals were nothing more than clothing tossed out. / A bear was a worn-through winter jacket. / a fox, a scarf rubbed down to beaded threads. / And that praying mantis stuck up against the wall,".  Robert Hass discusses Zukofsky at the Outset and Objectivism, "... work that responded to a different set of problems and reflected a different sensibility from the one with which the first generation of modernists had set out to transform poetry ...".  Norman Dubie looking like Father Christmas on the back cover with Sky Harbor:  " ... Her nearly silver blouse smells of anise / and the heat of an iron. / She suddenly brushes sleep from her hair. // I have been dead for hours.  The brunette / witness to nothing studies her new lipstick / smeared on a gray napkin."

~~~

I forgot to mention that the beautiful and brilliant poet, Claudia Grinnell, has begun blogging

~~~

The concierge said that taxis were safe, which was true in the sense that the drivers were careful, and also in the sense that you wouldn't chafe yourself on seatbelts and harnesses, as there uniformly was none in the back seat. It was a long drive to The Plant, allowing me to take a wide swath of the city:  stores with elaborate piñatas, including Barbie, Big Bird, and Skeletor;  Pemex gas stations with young female attendants filling tanks as they chatted among themselves; huge wooded parks that would appear out of nowhere in the middle of industrial zones; thousands of small restaurants & stores in the urban areas that reminded me of New York's ethnic precincts.  Everyone seemed to be carrying a cell phone, and surprisingly few people smoked.

~~~

There is much to like in jubilat ten, a journal with the dimensions of a foreign phrase book:  work by W.S. Merwin, Sabrina Orah Mark, Paul Fattaruso, Lauren Ireland, Justin Lacour, Juliana Leslie, Catherine Meng, Abraham Smith, and others.  The contributors' bios cites credits from a wide range of literary journals, from The Tiny, Fence and The Hat to Indiana Review and APR. Pages 14 to 17 provides a list of wrestling moves, including the Cross-Face Chicken Wing and the Japanese Arm Drag. There's an interview with Cole Swensen ("I think — without thinking it out consciously — that what I'm after is a tension of a certain kind, one that transforms into attention, that keeps the poem attentive to itself").   Some poems that I enjoyed:  November by Anthony McCann ("Sudden woodlands demand our attention. / Pain arrives next in a red handled thing."), Blues from Bed by Honor Moore ("... Your black eye is actually blue, / Loosened blood slid / Blue under pale skin, as a cup / Sky, eye, as blue as up."), from Trilce by James Wagner ("Surplus suns and too many faces, / you see they are making telling sewing two curiosities."), the long Astoria by Justin Lacour ("... Rude boys ate codeine right from your hand. / I wash the night's graffiti from your glasses. / We keep a good shoe between us, / and live off the rain in your sweater."), and Bill Lavender's Coda for Federico García Lorca, "a homophonic imitation of [Lorca's] Oda a Walt Whitman."

~~~

As I waited in the airport international departure section, I sipped complimentary tequila trials in the duty-free store.  I tried young tequila and anejo, local brands for which the state of Jalisco is famous, and brands from other parts of Mexico.  When the lady was finished handing me shot glasses, I was no longer interested in buying The Economist for the first leg's reading, so you will be spared a synopsis this week.  Poetry and naps accompanied me nicely on the two legs, first to Phoenix, then to Denver.  It's nice to be home.  I'll have more tomorrow.

Posted by jbahr at 04:06 PM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2005

Happy Birthday, Blog

I just noticed that it's been a year. And about 40K visitors. Thanks to everyone who's showed up and you have a good week.

Posted by jbahr at 08:31 PM | Comments (6)

Hasta La Vista, Baby

Sorry for the long absence.  I'm dug into a project with the Big Client and production on the systems begins in Guadalajara next Monday.   As usual, every part of the project is at 95% at this point, which means people are scrambling in Mexico, Taiwan, San Jose, Huntsville, Austin, and points between.  I'll be on a plane to Mexico tomorrow to be on hand for the launch.

Suzanne asked for a few more cloud pix.  We have fantastic clouds just about every night in Colorado this time of year, so that wasn't a particularly difficult task to complete.  Certainly preferable to, say, cleaning out the Augean stables (AKA my office), and the water pressure here isn't up to the task anyway.  I just shot whatever cloud I saw off the deck every night, not noticing that the second one was suspiciously phallic (not unlike Dr. Evil's extra-atmospheric mode of transport).

It's not like I'm not checking in with Tony T & Josh & Casey, or seeing if CDY won at baccarat, or seeing how Tony R is doing in his explanation of The New Sincerity (I have the t-shirt concession), or sighing over Reb's Parisian adventure, or reading Suzanne's and John's and Rebecca's poetry, or getting my daily Poetry Lesson from Ron, or laughing at Pinocchio's escapades at Jim's joint, or ... it's just that each read is a 90-second burst between doing a dozen other things.  I've even managed to read a magazines and journal or two, before going to sleep, I just haven't had the time to write anything up.  OK, enough excuses.

I did notice that David Lehman took the Whimsology Quiz.  I don't know if it's the Real David Lehman or a pseudonymic facsimile, but it certainly tickled me (and he got a 50).  As I've spent hundreds of hours reading the complete collection of BAP that I've acquired (and, surprisingly, that was not easy, particularly 1989, as I recall), and generating statistics on BAP poets and contributing journals, it's fun to see DL showing up.  Besides, I have always liked his poetic work, and thoughts on the New York School.  I have increasingly come to appreciate the genius of the BAP's cumulative aesthetic (Creeley!  Komunyakaa!  Hejinian!)  And, no, I'm not sucking up because I think that it was probably somebody else with an AOL email account.

I just ran across a truly amazing list of over 1,500 online and print literary magazines here.   I also followed a couple of links and ended up at Ira Sadof's essay on the danger of Neo-Formalism on the American Poetry Review site, which was interesting.  I've almost finished Oryx and Crake, which is not as satisfying as Atwoods's Blind Assassins, but still a good read.  I'm also half way through Dan Simmons' OlymposSimmons is a sentimental favorite because I pass his house every time I drop something off at the post office.  Not that he's ever in his humble Longmont abode nowadays, having won a Hugo, a Nebula, and major awards in fantasy and horror genres.  This is a guy who taught elementary school for 18 years before having a novel picked up by a major publisher.  OK, on to the mags:  The most recent Time's cover is dedicated to the 25 Most Influential Hispanics in America. They include Alberto Gonzales (yawn) and Jennifer Lopez, but also some fascinating characters like Mari Carmen Ramirez, the German-born Venezuelan sculptor and Antonio Gonzalez, the ultimate Latino Get-Out-The-Vote guy.  Not surprisingly, the list did not include Carlos Mencia.  Which reminds me.  I was one of the 6 million viewers (mostly male?) who watched the highest-rated cable show this year:  The Pamela Anderson Roast, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.    I was frankly mesmerized.  Pam was verbally sodomized by the likes of Andy Dick and Nick DiPaolo, while Courtney Love swooned, slumped in her seat, and gave the occasional finger.  It was like watching, to steal a line from my buddy Frank, a slow-motion train wreck.  But, I'm digressing.  Also in Time10 Questions for Andrea Mitchell, NBC's chief foreign correspondent who was dragged out of a photo-op of the President of Sudan (which Condi extracted an apology for) and who looks a lot like the wonderful Kristin Scott Thomas.  The Dems are lining up macho figures for their next round with the Ruling Party, including Iraq War veteran Paul Hackett, and former Redskins quarterback Heath Shuler.  As usual:  2.5 million of Niger's people are weeks away from deprivation and up to 50,000 children are starving, and everyone saw it coming, and Western aid should arrive Real Soon Now.  Major cigarette makers spent a record $15.2 billion on advertising and promotion in 2003.  Top of the Time Notebook:  First-class sleazeball Jack Abramoff, and good friend to Republicans in general and Tom Delay in particular, is indicted for defrauding bank lenders.  A long, predictable piece on Cindy Sheehan, including all the pros and cons of her activities outside Crawford Ranch.   A compelling description of Iran's "Secret War for Iraq", which documents the neighboring country's efforts in providing operatives, weapons and money to the insurgency.  The "Settlers' Lament" interviews three families in Gaza who don't expect to just leave quietly (after all, they've been there 30 whole years and God promised them this land).  Box office revenues may be down, but what's hot are luxury movie theaters, with VIP seats and cocktail bars.  Pastor Rick Warren of The Purpose-Driven Life fame, is in Rwanda and means to remake the country through faith and fund-raising.  Speaking of The English Patient, lead actor Ralph Fiennes gets rave reviews for his role in John Le Carré's The Constant GardenerTime predicts that HBO's Rome is the new Deadwood.  Two major chefs swear by the quality and taste of meat from animals with "certified humane" treatment labels. The usually yawn-inducing Inc. has  a fascinating article on American Apparel, a clothing firm that has grown to $250 million in sales by paying legal workers (in L.A, not Hangzhou) from $8 to $18 an hour to crank out styles that can be in AA stores 5 days after they have been initially designed.  Dov Charney, the company's founder and icon, regularly walks around the plant and stores without a shirt on, personally interviews all store staff (looking for "style"), and admits to fooling around with employees.  Another entertaining article about Sidney Frank who made his money importing Jägermeister, and then went on to invent Grey Goose and the premium vodka business. 

The AWP Writer's Chronicle ran a good interview of Clayton Eshleman by Skanky Possum's Dale Smith, which includes Eshleman's recounting of his mid-60's stay in Peru (where he searched for Vallejo's worksheets until the State Department had him kicked out of the country), life in Kyoto with Cid Corman, and Eshleman's comparison of Pound and Artaud (he doesn't think Pound was, ultimately, much of a poet).  Fiction-oriented pieces on Lan Samantha Chang and Alice Munro.  Joyce Peseroff describes her admiration for Jane Kenyon, and the contrast between her interesting, engaged life and the "terrifying longing" in her poetry.  Big ad for AWP Austin (which I'm hoping to attend to meet up with Die Cloud, Junie, Wemster, Frank & Ally).  The AWP Reading Series includes over 200 poets and writers who will show up to read for $600 (which goes to the AWP) plus expenses, a stable that includes Denise Duhamel, Mark Doty, Brenda Hillman, Angela Ball, Eric Pankey, Jane Mead and Maxine Kumin.

Rolling Stone has Coldplay on the cover (who else?), "The Nicest Guys in Rock", and I'm still trying to figure out why Chris Martin wears electrical tape and rubber bands on his hands.  That CK Obsession ad where the cute girl's ass rises out of the water.  Big article on the legendary Bo Diddley, whose hits used to boom out of my big sister's transistor radio.  Eliot Spitzer gets Sony BMG to cede $10 million for payola.  Emo kings, Fall Out Boy, don't drink and live with their parents.  R. Kelly wears the biggest iced-up wristwatch I've ever seen.  Speaking of which, Minya Oh's book, Bling Bling, spends 200 pages documenting the relationship between hip-hop artists and their adornments.  Houston is leading the hip-hop nation with screw, and it's own vocabulary (chunk the deuce:  flash a peace sign; vogue vogues: desirable yellow-and-white tires; drink man:  someone who imbibes cough syrup).  Four Amendments & A Funeral is a detailed account of how CAFTA, the energy bill, the highway bill, and the Patriot Act extension ("a bonfire of public money") got done by a Republican-dominated Congress that is happy to pass legislation by one or two votes, if they can keep leaning to the right.  Three-and-a-half stars for CDs by Death Cab for Cutie, Black Mountain, Nortec Collective, Charlie Wilson, Eric Clapton, and Beck.

Just noticed on Eduardo's blog that Seamus Meets The Tomb Raider.

I just got a very readable jubilat yesterday, and I spy Sabrina Orah Mark and Walter B.  I'll throw that, Wired, Harper's, Smithsonian, and some poetry books in the bag and give you an update on Monday. 

Posted by jbahr at 07:53 AM | Comments (3)

August 11, 2005

Dark Clouds

It's only August and light should persist well after dusk.  But, this is Colorado, and the sky is seduced into fits by the mountains.  I sit looking west and point at the barking shadows, and identify Leviathans, and wonder when the magma will spill out from the rifts.  Speaking of dark clouds, Jimmy is hammering Kent Johnson (for reasons that I'm too out-of-the-loop to understand), while Tony T and Jonathan attempt to thrown ice on the fire.  I'm assuming that this is the same Kent Johnson of the Yasusada hoax (or whatever it was) about which I read something long ago in Jacket (oh, OK, I'll go look it up ....take a gander at this).

Yes, I get the AARP Magazine (laughter erupts and then subsides).  Dr. Rice is on the cover, having passed 50 earlier this year.  The article is all old stuff — the little black girl from Birmingham who divines Soviet intentions, plays piano with Yo-Yo Ma, hangs at the Bush ranch, bench presses 175, wears Armani).  Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Tracy Kidder (The Soul of a New Machine, House) has written about his stint in Vietnam as an intelligence officer in My Detachment (did you know he got an MFA at the Iowa Writers Workshop?).  First-class cuisine is available in the airports of San Francisco (Yankee Pier), New Orleans (Legends), Newark (Gallagher's Steak House), and Philly (Cibo Bistro).  Two analyst argue over whether the Baby Boomers will cash in their stocks and bonds and precipitate a market crash.  Some shots of beautiful over-50s:  Sharon Stone, Cheryl Tiegs, Joan Lunden. 

Worth is the usual hoot.  This issue's advertising includes:  Ulysse Nardin watches, starting at $30,000; The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island; The Scotch Malt Whisky Society; Goldmund Home Entertainment products (they have a DVD player that will set you back $75,000);  Apogee Miami condos from $4 to $13 million;  Valenti International:  Matchmaking in the European Tradition.  Investment items written about:  turned wood art objects, vintage pianos, Treasury Inflation Protected Securities.  If you're going to Singapore, the highest-rated accommodations is Raffles Hotel — book the Sir Stamford Raffles suite at $3,700 a night (wait, isn't that what the Holiday Inn costs in Manhattan?). 

Posted by jbahr at 08:25 AM | Comments (3)

August 10, 2005

Monkey Business

I have my own servers, but I decided to try Flickr, the photo management and display web service, mainly because the photo album feature of FrontPage keeps blowing up.  If memory serves me, Caterina and her husband are founding management of the service (BTW, Caterina's website is always interesting for a variety of reasons beyond her Flickr interests).  Flickr's upload utility is pretty good, though I wish it had more editing and organizing functions (such as eBay's TurboLister, for example).  The default slideshow is very well designed, with options for display speed and a thumbnail palette, though I don't know why it doesn't display the individual photo descriptions.  The zoom on thumbnails during mouse-over is well-done.  The search function on photo tags is also helpful.  It would also be nice to be able to import email addresses from Outlook/Outlook Express, as you can with Yahoo! mail, for example.  All in all, a useful site, though. 

Both Harper's and Time have monkeys on their cover.  In the case of Harper's, they're of the see/speak/hear no-evil variety, and refer to the article None Dare Call It Stolen, which details the aberrations in nationwide voting procedures, scurrilous machinations of Ohio's Republican secretary of state, and general amazement of statisticians trying to explain the difference between exit-poll and vote-count results in 20 states.  Petra Bartosiewicz reports on the laughable pursuit and conviction by the FBI of seventy-year-old Hemant Shantilal Lakhani, a bungling self-deluded Londoner of few means who bragged that he was on a first-name basis with Tony Blair and Muammar Qaddafi, and could deliver everything up to nuclear weapons to an FBI informant (his arrest is typical of the "incredible triumphs" in the war against Al Qaeda cited by the Administration).  Inglorious Restorations charges that the fervor of the Anglo-American art community has led to such excessive "cleaning" of sculpture and oil paintings that masterpieces have lost their subtlety and depth in favor of brightness (and, in the case of Michelangelo's David, whiteness).  The Disturbing Occurrences, by Naguib Mahfouz, a very good short story, translated from Arabic by Raymond Stock (including this:  "What is the source of his wealth?" "Land, stocks and bonds, and so on", Abd al-Rahman replied.  "Yet his greatest asset is that he is quite well-read."  At one point I proposed to him that he write history, and he smiled and asked me, "Do you think there's really such a thing as history?"  I thought he was just kidding, but he saw this and said, "To get rich on history comes through praise, and on poetry through libel".)  Gary Greenberg reviews Peter Kramer's Against Depression, which argues (among other things) that great artists and leaders have harnessed depression, and that melancholy is a legitimate form of human experience.  In The Christian Paradox, Bill McKibben a Christian ecology writer, argues that "Christian America" has hijacked the true meaning of Christianity and substituted a jingoistic, free market, greed-motivated, self-centered dogma, complete with latte-dispensing megachurches and moral leaders like Tom Delay (on obsession of the End Timers with Revelations:  "Imagine trying to build a theory of the Constitution by obsessively reading and rereading the Twenty-Fifth Amendment").  Harper's trademark excerpts include:  Of the 7,600 people sterilized under the authority of North Carolina Eugenics Board between 1929 and 1974 were included: a 20-year old girl who was overly religious; a 21-year old Negro girl of "low mentality", charged repeatedly with drunkenness and assault; a 14-year old boy with an I.Q. of 54 who wrote love letters to other boys in school.  Stop Snitching, a DVD produced by Rodney Bethea and Skinny Sage, complains that blacks ratting on blacks in drug busts is as bad an epidemic as AIDS.  From The Index:  The Catholic Church spent $1,100 in the U.K. advertising for new priests on beer coasters.  Number of times Al Qaeda's "number 3" man has been killed or captured: 4.  Delta Airlines shipped 42,175 corpses last year.  Percentage of the world's cell phone users who have interrupted sex to take a call:  14.

The monkey on Time is associated with Evolution Wars, an article detailing the success of Independent Design (and, to a lesser extent, Creationism) in gaining access to school curricula.  School boards and state legislators in Texax, Kansas, Montana, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Minnesota have considered anti-evolution proposals, responding perhaps to the 54% of Americans who do not believe that humans developed from an earlier species.  10 Questions for Jessica Lynch, who is still recovering from war injuries and attending college this year.  Porter Goss wants the CIA to start analyzing a lot more "open source" material (such as research articles, religious tracts and websites), and stop relying so much on clandestinely-obtained intelligence.  Gaza's agricultural infrastructure is being stripped by soon-to-be-gone settlers, and by Palestinian "bigwigs" who are fighting to control the lucrative hothouse/greenhouse businesses.  Voice-over-IP telephony is frustrating the FBI's attempts to wiretap.  Time reports on The Condi Doctrine, the somewhat more conciliatory approach of globetrotting Dr. Rice.  The U.S. military can't upgrade the armor on Bradleys, amphibious vehicles, and Humvees fast enough to keep up with larger and larger improvised explosive devices being used against them.  It is much easier to clone a cat ($32,000 from Genetic Savings and Clone) or a sheep than a dog, because dogs cannot have their estrus induced artificially.  Some rappers make it in acting (Will Smith, Mos Def, Queen Latifah, Ludicris) and some don't (DMX, Snoop Dogg, Ja Rule).  Jack-radio's automated, low-advertising, mix of '80's tracks is sweeping the country.

Posted by jbahr at 08:18 AM | Comments (0)

August 08, 2005

Back Home

For 18 years, I lived in LA, and for 18 years I've been away.  Little has changed, and much is unrecognizable.  It is as if one left a gigantic Lego project for someone else to complete, only to come back years later and find that, though there have been thousands of improvements and additions, the basic plan remains intact.  There is a sense of the frantic here, and the discordance is palpable.  Nowhere will you see as many beautiful automobiles in any given week:  Ferraris, Aston Martins, Lamborginis, 30-year old tricked-out Opels, even the occasional Rolls Royce.  You will also be passed by thousands of cars that look like they just departed winless from a demolition derby.  Driving down Sepulveda, in what passes for Pacific Coast Highway in the beach towns, a new Fry's sprawls next to a boutique hotel, next to a run-down liquor store, next to a Porsche dealer.  It is like watching municipal Darwinism.  I took the Artesia exit from 405 and wandered down to see if my old home on 1160 3d street was still there.  When I sold it in 1978 for $70,000, it was a cute, stucco shotgun house with small front and back yards and a terraced side yard that faced the street.  The house I encountered was a two-story Spanish structure, 2500 square feet, perhaps.  It occupied every square inch of the lot and was probably worth $1.25 million.  The house across the street was just as I remember it, down to the alpine shutters and rust-stained birdbath.  Driving south to Irvine, the view from the freeway was a mixture of urban blight and upscale malls:  El Pollo Loco.  Nordstroms.  Oil refinery.  Little Saigon.  Driving back from my mom's birthday, I got lost in the hills overlooking Mission Viejo and ended up making a U-turn in the 4-lane entryway to Saddleback Church, the megachurch pastored by Rick Warren of Purpose-Driven Life fame.  There were pylons and parking directors and thousands of SUVs.  The drive back to LAX was almost uneventful.  On the relatively busy Airport Drive, I eased over to enter the Hertz lot and angered the driver of a small Honda.  He stopped at a 45-degree angle in front of me and waved his cell phone and screamed.  Then, he pulled into the Hertz lot also, just ahead of me, and parked in the employee spaces as if nothing had happened.  After takeoff, I looked out the window as we headed out to sea, swung back inland, and flew northeast over LA.  It never stopped.  It was LA up to the small mountains, and then it was LA again until it shimmered in the heat, and it stayed LA until I closed my eyes and reclined.

~~~~

The cover of BusinessWeek shows the linked hood ornaments of Chrysler and Mercedes and the caption "Can This Marriage Be Saved?"  The Big Burger Companies are conducting a raunch-off, first BK with nubile groupies and a tag line "shake your lean white meat", then Paris Hilton "lasciviously biting" into a Carl's Jr. Spicy Burger , followed by Hardee's Monster Thickburgers surrounded by Sports Ilustrated swimsuit models.  Ads are out and product placement is in:  Pontiac paid $2 million for a cameo of their Solstice roadster on The Apprentice.  St. Joe Company has broken ground on a northwestern project composed of 100+ acre lots for the wealthy who want to live a life of new ruralism.  The mini-farms surround a cluster of fitness centers, watercraft rental places, and upscale picnic areas for periodic oyster roasts.  Firefly and TicTalk are simple cell-phones for the under-8 age category with a half-dozen big buttons to call mom, dad, or or 911.  A surging U.S. economy means the Fed may keep raising short-term interest rates.  The cozy relationship among banks, unions and German industry leaders may be coming to an end as international capital forces changes to cost structures and management practices.  Contract drillers, mostly operating oil platforms, have raised prices dramatically and are having a difficult time find qualified workers.  Drugmakers have dramatically trimmed their "Ask your doctor" ads and are turning to focused pitches on cable and the Internet.  The once unstoppable Nokia has been steadily losing ground to Asian cell-phone makers.  The big media outlets are trying out podCasting, but there are still less than a million regular downloaders.  London's initial budget of $400 million for Olympic Games security may be low by a factor of five.  For decades, Trinitron was the king of televisions, but Sony now struggles in the low-margin TV business.  Data storage giant EMC is acquiring companies to take on IBM and Hewlett-Packard.  Tempur-Pedic wanted to break out of its niche specialty-mattress business (the average mattress is $1500), and go mainstream, but has decided instead to head upmarket with new mattresses in the $5,000 range.  Cats don't have a sweet tooth because they lack a gene which obesity researchers are studying.  The Army will spend $125 billion for Future Combat Systems, a high-tech procurement program that is drawing fire as lighter, smarter, less armored military units get blown up in low-tech Iraq.  AMD is courting Tinseltown with big bad processors for animation and film editing.  Hasbro's sales are way up on made-over versions of Trivial Pursuits (DVD included), Twister (with music CDs), and the 70th Anniversary version of MegaMonopoly.  Two thumbs up for Bentley's new $165,000 Flying Spur.

 

Posted by jbahr at 08:12 AM | Comments (1)

August 05, 2005

Friday Minus Zero

Tomorrow, I fly out to LA to celebrate my mom's 80th birthday.  My sister's having a luau for her, and I'm expecting to see a whole suckling pig roasting in a pit that has been recently dug in the back yard of Janet's swank Irvine home.  Dad's a vegetarian, so mom just doesn't get to satisfy her lust for flesh (to steal a line from Phantom of the Opera).  Once, not long ago, I was driving mom's blinged-out Supra Special Edition sportsbeast, and I happened to stumble over a couple of Inn-and-Out DoubleCheeseburger wrappers under the seat.  I rest my case.  Besides, at a certain age, you should be able to do what you want.  Mom does.  She rollerskates 3 times a week (60 years ago she was the lead rollerskater in the floorshow of a scene of Hello, Frisco, Hello).  She also lifts weights with dad at the gym, skis like a dancer and likes to fly-fish.  She's also pretty and sweet.  I'm a lucky guy, if only for the genes.

Zach's off to Banff, before leaving to join the Cornhuskers.  Ron's in Keystone, about 2 hours from me, and where I've skied about a zillion times.  Marcus makes his opinion known about the Fishhouse Poets.  Professor Roy reviews the latest in the world's worst poetry (I particularly liked "At night people think I'm a powerless rat").  Bino's got some shots of Heminway's threatened finca vigiaAlison explains "this is their penis and this is their butt".  Gary, who's just down the road from me, lauds Procol Harem, a band I remember fondly from my trips to a bar in DC to drink beer which I had mistakenly characterized to my parents as a "library".  Tim digs David Shapiro, which puts him in Jonathan's camp.  Aimee bleeds scarlet and gray.  Daniel has a new blogsite (don't worry, there's still plenty of Queen news).  Rebecca has an owy (is that how you spell that?), and reminds us to check in at Stuff On My CatEmily on Eminem, Bette Davis Eyes and slant rhyme.  Charles and Jeannine are finalists for the Wick Poetry Center First Book Prize. Johannes explains Action Books, run by his wife Joyelle and himself, and publishing Lara's Hounds of NoJilly serves up interesting bulleted news.  Bill posts some moving poetry.  Poetry news and reviews, as always, at Third Factory.

You all have a nice weekend.

 

Posted by jbahr at 06:41 AM | Comments (0)

August 04, 2005

Friday Minus One

The Atlantic's lead article is How Arafat Destroyed Palestine, and it certainly made a believer out of me (and David Samuels, the article's author, doesn't seem to have any particular axe to grind:  see here and here, but not here).  In this well-documented and thoroughly researched article, the author interviews dozens of Palestinians and Israelis to present the details of what we always heard was "widespread corruption" in the Palestinian Authority and subsidiary political, security and paramilitary organizations.  At the center is The Old Man, Abu Amar, Yassir Arafat doing everything necessary to extend his power and influence (often benignly), including the maintenance of his own central role in favor of representative rule, the management of a vast system of patronage, and the support of Palestinian security forces that regularly engaged in extortion, harassment and brutality against their own people.  And for those of you who think I was predisposed to believe this, I refer you to my previous critical (or at least sarcastic) remarks regarding Israel's recent history of dealings with Palestinian statehood.  Other article of interest:  Stuart Taylor remarks on the greatest failing of the current Supreme Court:  the almost total absence of justices with any real-world experience (no ex-Senators, no ex-businessmen, no ex-Governors), a striking departure from Supreme Courts of the past.  Benjamin Wittes chimes in that the problem with the Supreme Court isn't ideology, its its "arrogance, dishonesty, grandiosity, and a lack of respect for principle, history or logic".  Nicholas Sarkozy, France's most popular politician, and widely believed to have the next French presidency in the bag, believes that "politics is a matter of libido".  Studies show that adopted children from other cultures are less likely to develop behavioral problems than domestic adoptees.  In the past 20 years, the most deadly natural disasters have been droughts (563, 701 deaths), storms (251,384 deaths) and floods (170,010 deaths).  A long, interesting article on the almost-too-good-to-be-true Mitt Romney, the photogenic Mormon Republican governor of — of all places — Massachusetts.  A long positive review by Christopher Hitchens of Salman Rushdie's Shalimar the Clown, set in Kashmir "where East battles East in a war that fuses the psychopathic with the apocalyptic".  In Word Count, a reader asks why we say "old told" instead of "all tolled", and another complains about how many people use loose for lose.

Someone very close to me has related her experiences inside the Christian Right, long-suffering decades that she's happy to have behind her.  Her recollections support the notion that Christian conservatives have slowly worked very hard in the past three decades to fill local government, state legislatures, and school boards with their own.  Now that the left (and some would say even mainstream) is conspicuously absent in the slots for governors, Congressmen, and state officials, maybe it would be a good time for us to put our noses to the grindstone.  I could certainly set a better example to my children than I do, for example, by doing more than bitching about the current administration on my blog.  As natural as it is for spontaneous, free-thinking, liberals to argue among themselves and split hairs, there's something to be said for the efficacy of authority-respecting, top-down oriented, take-your-orders-and-march-to-them folk — at least in terms of their ability to get the job done.  On the other hand, maybe I'm overreacting, the pendulum will swing back, and I can go back to throwing a few dollars at MoveOn.com and watching the Daily Show.

Jimi Hendrix's not-quite-smiling face is on the current issue of Rolling Stone (Jimi Takes Over, a caption that challenges every RS-subscribing Rover) announcing an article detailing his arrival in 1966 in London as an unknown, and 7 days later he was on his way after hanging with Chas Chandler, doing sessions with Cream, and impressing Roger Daltrey.  Beck's West Coast tour is being filmed for DVD, and Eminem keeps denying that his Anger Management tour is the last of his performances (at least as Slim Shady).  The top ten tours of 2005 include (in order) U2 (of course), Celine Dion, Kenny Chesney, Elton John, Mötley Crüe, and Cher, though mere mortal bands are charging less than 1996 prices to keep the stadia packed (e.g., Green Day at an average of $40 a ticket).  Grateful Dead Records released a 10-CD set recording every moment of their 1969 Fillmore West gig.   A full-page ad for Deuce Bigalow, European Gigolo (though, considering the geriatric set that subscribes to RS, I wonder whom they're appealing to).  Twenty-five bucks for the average Tom Petty concert, and "the girls are throwing underwear at them" (which they resell on eBay to make up the difference?).  The bank that Jacko owes for "petty change" is dunning him for $48 million in fees for managing his Beatle catalog.   Daryl Hall, of the loved and reviled Hall & Oates, cancelled 14 shows because of Lyme disease (um, how many ticks do you expect to find in 4-star hotels?).  RS rates the best cities for Schools of Rock (and the venues, local culture, and gigs to support them):  Seattle, Chapel Hill/Raleigh/Durham, Detroit, Austin, Nashville, St. Louis, SF, AthensGA, Minneapolis, and Portland.  Great article and interview with Pink Floyd bass-player and song writer Roger Waters (PF are 7th in the all-time list of best-selling albums at 73 million).  Yeah, yeah, we've all heard about GTA's Hot Coffee problem.  Bush's War on Pot documents the administration's depressing obsession of pursuing pot users, ignoring ... oh, let's see ... 20,000 more meth labs than local authorities can find and shut down, hundreds of thousands of new inmates sentenced to decades without possibility of parole, recent comments by noted drug opponents that "treating pot smokers as criminals does not appear to be justified".  Provocative article on Corporal Andy Raya, who served in Iraq without a shot fired and then "unleashed assault on police in his home town".  Reviews gives 4 stars for The New Pornographers and Aretha Franklin & King Curtis, 3-and-a-half for Keyshia Cole, Richard Thompson, Funeral for a Friend, and (?) the Wedding Crashers Soundtrack.  RS likes Bill Murray's Broken Flowers (3.5 stars) and Bad Billy's Bad News Bears (3 stars).  The only Four Stars among the Live Shows goes to Mellencamp (omigod) and Fogerty (mah man) rocking Jersey.

Posted by jbahr at 07:57 AM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2005

Nada Makes Funny

Kudos to Nada for her parody of the NY Times article on August Kleinzahler, which starts off "On a gray and rainy day recently, the poet August Kleinzahler was eating a hot dog and greasy fries at a hot dog shop in Fort Lee, N.J., called Hiram's, a gruff, no-frills place that Mr. Kleinzahler says is about as close to the literary establishment across the river in Manhattan as he cares to be."  Nada's goes:  "On a gray and rainy day recently, the poet Nada Gordon was eating a plate of muglai chicken and biryani at a Pakistani steam table in Brooklyn, NY.called Shandar Sweets, a funky, no-frills place that Ms. Gordon says is about as close to the literary establishment across she river in Manhattan as she cares to be."  I think this is a great idea and everyone should be writing their own articles, replacing the words in red (and others as the article moves along) with their own specifics.  Mine would start off ""On a sunny, but foreboding day recently, the poet Jeffery Bahr was eating a funnel cake at a cowboys-only concession stand in Longmont, CO., called Ernie's, a grim shack in the middle of the Boulder County Fair,  that Dr. Bahr says is about as close to the literary establishment down I-25 in Denver as he cares to be.

With a little more than their usual Jetsonesque enthusiasm and hyperbole, Wired trumpets 10 Years That Changed the World on their cover.  The years and associated phenomena include the Netscape IPO (1995), the founding of Yahoo! (1996), the kickoff of Amazon.com (1997), and then deteriorates to include the introduction of the Pets.com sock-puppet.  Other articles:  In a bizarre merging of RL and VL, Sony has opened up trading zones in Everquest that permits players to purchase game objects for real dollars (not game platinum).  A couple in the UK commissioned the first piece of biojewelry, a wedding band grown from the groom's jawbone biopsy chip. The next thing in pharmaceuticals may be bacterial delivery, where the little buggers are gene-spliced to provide on-the-spot doses of the right drug wherever inside your body you need it.  Capuchin monkeys have been trained to use specially designed monkey money to buy food and pay for sex.  Just out:  the Bugatti Veyron, the most expensive production car in the world at over $1 million (cup holders, extra).  Electronic Arts is hiring big name Hollywood actors as voice talents and images in their games (Carrie-Anne Moss, Clint Eastwood).  NASA, who has spent $60 million delivering potable water to the Space Station, is researching new ways to turn urine into drinking water. 

The lovely back cover of Cook's Illustrated this time is a collection of pepper illustrations:  Sweet Cherry, Yellow Bell, Bullhorn, Banana.  Quick Tips:  use a cinnamon stick to add honey to your tea; keep your baking gadgets in a plastic toolbox; sprinkle a few loose rubber bands under your cutting board to keep it from slipping on the counter.  For perfect chicken fajitas:  use fresh 6-inch tortillas; grill onion slices and quartered green and red pepper; marinate chicken breast strips with lime juice, vegetable oil, garlic, salt and pepper.  There's heavenly recipe for vegetable torta which includes roasted eggplant, microwaved zucchini, baked tomatoes, and a cheese soufflé sauce.  Very good article on Great Cheap Steaks, including boneless shell sirloin, top sirloin tips, flank and skirt steak, and flat iron steaks, running from $3 to $6 a pound.  Yum:  Butternut Squash Risotto in only about a dozen ingredients (the normal risotto ingredients, plus squash, wine, Parmesan, sage leaves and nutmeg).  Eggy-coating Chicken Francese looks good, too.  So does the deep-dish apple pie and the Best Raspberry Bars (I must not have had lunch).  The best canned whole tomatoes come from Progresso, Redpack and Hunt's.  The best food storage bags are Glad Freezer Zip, Ziploc Freezer Bags, and Hefty OneZip.  A heated plate covered with aluminum foil makes as good a tortilla warmer as the $30 ceramic type.
 


Posted by jbahr at 10:56 AM | Comments (2)

August 02, 2005

One-Legged Wendy

32 Poems is having a bang-up year. Seth reports that The New Hampshire Review also had poets from their first issue included in Best New Poets 2005.   Reb's in Paris looking like Richard Nixon in a push-up bra.  Jasper on the road, and a good shot of Gabe Gudding (who resides inexplicably in Normal, IL).  CDY gets good news from Four Way Books.  Happy birthday to Allen (and what's an orgasmatron, and where do I get one?).  Hannah's back with a very good poem (I love bees).  Dominic cites "Initialize :: a -> IORef [Item] -> IORef DataObject -> ProgId ->" on a blog called Poetix. Dara's due date was yesterday, but no word from Stuart yet.  Paula's pics from Vienna.  Drew's in Cape Cod (I seem to be the only one not on vacation).  Fabulous art at Jukka-Pekka's.  Steve's suggestions for contest entrants.

Great interview with GG on MIPOesias.  My favorite quote:  The older I get, the less interested I become in disliking things.

Jonathan mediates between the Tony's.  Or maybe that's Tonies.  I'll go look the rule up again.  I've been reading Tony T.'s posts about the upcoming Fascicle, which I'm sure will be an interesting, eclectic (but not blandly so), innovative journal.  I just can't get out of my head, however, this instant image of a sort of frozen confectionary amalgam of goose-stepping verse and reviews.  Anyway.  Tony T comments on the similarity of casts performing in journals of the same general ilk, and other musings that have probably been misunderstood by other bloggers who edit their own journals.  Some years ago, I started submitting poetry to journals, principally to make a point to locals on my poetry board (I now forget what the point was).  I did what all litmag editors tell you to do:  read the publications first, submitted nice clean laser-printed pages, kept the cover letter short, enclosed the SASE.  Rejections poured in (72 in a row, in fact), a few with comments like "nice work, try us again!" and "we liked <some poem>, but ultimately decided against it", and (from Chicago Review) "it all seemed to lack energy".  Then, I got an acceptance from Barrow Street.  Then, Rattle.  Then, Black Warrior.  Meanwhile, I was getting rejections from (what I would now call) lyrically conservative journals and (what you might call) avant garde litmags.  Now, if you actually read litmags in bookstores & libraries, and subscribe to a lot of journals, as I did, you have to be pretty unobservant not to notice similarities in the poets collected in any issue, and the fact that the same names keep popping up in some journals (say, Volt) and never in other journals (say, Smartish Pace).  I had this gigantic project planned to enter all the poets who had appeared in 100 major journals over the past three years.  Then, I would run multidimensional scaling (MDS) algorithm to create an N-dimensional map, with poets appearing in clusters.  MDS attempts to arrange the objects according to the calculated inter-object distances.  In the end, the interpretation of the axes of the map are left up to the investigator.  Running the same data another way would produce of map in which journals would appear, as stars against a sky as black as the second issue of Canary.  I was hoping to be able to identify the dimensions (lyrical narrative, Fence people, Midwest pastoral), and perhaps even pick out and name a few constellations (One-Legged Wendy, Ferret Scat).  My reach exceeded my grasp, of course, and I never got around to it. 

Posted by jbahr at 08:24 AM | Comments (5)

August 01, 2005

In And Out

I've added 10 more poems to my Exceptional Poems list including work by Jeff Clark, Dean Young, Bob Hicok, Hannah Craig, Suzanne Frischkorn, Molly Arden, Laura Cronk, Jill Alexander Essbaum, Patricia Lockwood, and Julie Carter.  I've got a lot more work to read through (I'm not even done with No Tell Motel), and I'm trying to read when I'm relaxed and have the proper frame of mind (lest this seem more like an litmag editing job).

In a cover article that's sure to make you nervous, Business Week presents The State of Surveillance.  Like Cruise's character in Minority Report, there's a personalized billboard in your future, tying the advertising to your iris, odor, ear shape, and gait.  Microsoft's GoogleMap-like Virtual Earth shows the Apple headquarters as a vacant lot (it's an old satellite pic).  Private security for that trip you're making to the Middle East will cost $3,000 a day for an armored Cadillac and chase car with driver and shooter (triple that if you're travelling to Iraq).  Another example of capitalism run rampant:  Jameson Inns have a frequent-guest program that issues shares in their company.  Household wealth has grown by $10 trillion (yes, the T word) since the end of the last recession, largely due to rising house prices.  Yet another article on how nice John Roberts seems, and how conservative he may or may not end up.  After all the Spidey success, Sony Pictures is back to lackluster performance with quasi-duds like Bewitched, xXx: State of the Union, and Lords of Dogtown.  Chinese blogs are closely monitored by the government, and self-censorship by the major blog providers (Blogcn and Bokee), regularly deleting references to Tibet, Taiwanese independence, explicit sex, and criticism of top leadership.  Much more than their elders, Russian youth support Putin, nationalism, and a return to superpower status.  Boxing great Oscar De La Hoya "aims to build an Hispanic business empire", including restaurants, health clubs, and banks.  The Motorola Q smart phone may give Blackberry a run for their money.  The editorial page bemoans the widening gap between rich and poor (the worst among all developed nations), and worsening class mobility (the share of national income going to the top 1% is now 17%, up from 7% in the 1970's, and the highest percentage in 80 years).

As usual, not much in Inc.:  One Second, a new breath freshener, has an ad campaign entirely composed of one-second commercials, in which they squeeze in 3 images and two spoken words.  Up to 35% of the $3 billion in fees for pay-per-click advertising is probably fraudulent — owners of affiliate sites who receive payment for taking advertising are using click-bots to increase their revenue, at the expense of the companies actually paying for the advertising.  Michelle Ebbin, founder of Basic Knead (a massage product firm), lists Things She Can't Live Without, which includes an $11,300 Agape Spoon bathtub.  Next up for the ad world?  Cell-phone advertising, shopping cart display advertising, and big-screen-on-the-top-of-a-taxi advertising.

More tomorrow, gotta go back to work.

Posted by jbahr at 07:28 AM | Comments (0)