Saturday, October 31, 2009


It was her voice that made
The sky acutest at its vanishing.
She measured to the hour its solitude.
She was the single artificer of the world
In which she sang. And when she sang, the sea,
Whatever self it had, became the self
That was her song, for she was the maker. Then we,
As we beheld her striding there alone,
Knew that there never was a world for her
Except the one she sang and, singing, made.

Ramon Fernandez, tell me, if you know,
Why, when the singing ended and we turned
Toward the town, tell why the glassy lights,
The lights in the fishing boats at anchor there,
As the night descended, tilting in the air,
Mastered the night and portioned out the sea,
Fixing emblazoned zones and fiery poles,
Arranging, deepening, enchanting night.

Oh! Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon,
The maker's rage to order words of the sea,
Words of the fragrant portals, dimly-starred,
And of ourselves and of our origins,
In ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds.



Friday, October 30, 2009


there came new subtlety of eyes into my tent,/
whether of spirit or hypostasis,/
but what the blindfold hides/
or at carneval/
nor any pair showed anger/
Saw but the eyes and stance between the eyes,/
colour, diastasis,/
careless or unaware it had not the /
whole tent's room/
nor was place for the full interpass'/
penetrate casting but shade/ beyond the other lights sky's clear night's sea green of the mountain pool/
shone from the unmasked eyes/
in half-mask's space.
What thou lovest well remains, the rest is dross/
What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee/
What thou lov'st well is thy true heritage/
Whose world, or mine or theirs/
or is it of none?/
First came the seen, then thus the palpable/
Elysium, though it were in the halls of hell,/
What thou lovest well is thy true heritage/
What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee

The ant's a centaur in his dragon world.
Pull down thy vanity, it is not man Made/
courage, or made order, or made grace,/
Pull down thy vanity, I say pull down./
Learn of the green world what can be thy place/
In scaled invention or true artistry,/
Pull down thy vanity, Paquin pull down!
The green casque has outdone your elegance.

"Master thyself, then others shall thee beare"
Pull down thy vanity/
Thou art a beaten dog beneath the hail, A swollen magpie in a fitful sun,/
Half black half white/
Nor knowst'ou wing from tail/
Pull down thy vanity/
How mean thy hates/
Fostered in falsity, Pull down thy vanity,/
Rathe to destroy, niggard in charity,/
Pull down thy vanity, I say pull down.

But to have done/
instead of not doing/
This is not vanity/
To have, with decency, knocked/
That a Blunt should open/ To have gathered from the air a live tradition/
or from a fine old eye the unconquered flame/
this is not vanity./
Here error is all in the not done, all in the diffidence that faltered . . .

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"you got a heart that's made of ice..."

pickett released "fire & water" in 1971. i'd just met philip & was trying to wean him off grand funk railroad. he showed great promise by being a die-hard bee-gees & led zeppelin fan. when we heard the pickett single, we both went ape-shit. cathecting to it & then presley's "burning love" the next year cemented our music friendship. i forgave him grand funk railroad.

rock music has such an odd history. defining moments, like otis at monterrey or cohen at isle of wight, happened totally out of context or expectation. weird moments of collaboration(the white guys at muscle shoals, sun records, the brill building )happened simply by happenstance & serendipity. what adds to the strangeness is that in retrospect it all seems to make sense.

this pic makes perfect sense to me. white folks sure tried to carry hendrix over into THEIR history of rock music but hendrix was firmly based in r&b & blues WAY before he got to the psychedelic stuff. there's a good chance his psychedelia was simply the result of his fast learning curve & his ability to form it all into a new but vaguely recognizable expression. in the pic, he seems to just be grooving on pickett's inimitable soul shouting. beyond that, i have to say i cathected to the pic when i first saw it in much the same way i did when i heard "fire & water" way back when. luckily, some things never change & we have pics to prove it.


ok, well, we know the cardinals choked. to top that off, they announced they're bringing back big mac to be their batting coach next year. he has a lifetime .263 batting average. in 16 major league seasons, big mac struck out 1596 times. the cardinals lost to the dodgers because they couldn't muster any offense & their superior pitching faltered. big mac is the solution? i don't think so. tony larussa, god bless him, has a great animal rescue program here in the bay area. i admire his effort here to save this dog but mac won't help save the cardinals next season. keeping holiday around & getting one more bat will do that. cardinals. i did pick the yankees. i was never convinced that last year's phillies were the real thing(even as they won the series)& couldn't bring myself to pick them at the start of the season or as the playoffs began. i can't do it now either. there's a good chance the yankees will win this thing in 5 games. i just don't see it going to 7 games. however...that being said:

if the phillies get to cc in game one & win it, that changes everything. if a-rod disappears again, as he's done the last few years in the playoffs, that changes everything. if burnett blows up in game two, that changes everything. if the yankee bullpen leading up to rivera(the great weakness exposed during the playoffs)continues to be erratic, that changes everything. if the phillies come out swinging & connecting, that changes everything. if cole hammels pitches like he did last year in the series, that changes everything.

but...i don't see any of this happening except, maybe, cc not being sharp in game one & cliff lee being dominant. it could just as easily be the opposite scenario. that's why we watch. despite the nyt's whore-homer article yesterday, the yankees don't make this series anymore exciting JUST BY BEING IN IT(except for whore nyt's sports writers). the yankees could sweep this just as easily as boston did a few years ago. vegas odds makers are saying a yankee 4-1 or 4-2 series victory is the likeliest scenario. unless...

yankees in 5 w/them winning the first two games in dominant fashion. i don't think it'll be a thrilling series. it WILL have some great stories, especially for nyt whore sports writers.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


my mother wouldn't drive under the 17th ave train overpass. she wouldn't be driven under the 17th ave train overpass either. for 30 years, bobo was compelled to drive "the long way" into downtown p'cola from east hill. mother had decided that at any moment a train could come tumbling down off that overpass & crush any & all cars passing underneath. in matters such as these, my mother was possessed by an apocalyptic viewpoint that was unwavering & totally resolute in its demands. in matters such as these, i believed & still do that my mother was utterly socio-pathic.
after 35 years, a train did in fact tumble down off the overpass & crush a car that was passing underneath. as far as my mother was concerned, this event elevated her visions to the level of a jean dixon or nostradamus. this event swept away all the other myriad crazy or unlikely assertions & predictions she'd made over the years. if you're right once, her thinking went, then regardless of being wrong any other time, you are right THIS time. it can not be denied. in that simple equation is the source of a kind of mulish self-satisfaction.

if i were looking at this as a "glass half full" scenario, i'd say that my mother's looniness prepared me for similiar, tho less adamant, ideas. my gypsy gf in college, diane, took what i called the "scattershot" approach to cheating accusations. basically, she thought i was fucking everyone so that was how she approached those wonderful moments of unhinged accusation i've known throughout my life. the idea seemed to be that if you suspected everyone, someone was probably guilty. for the most part, it worked but caused endless denials & explanations & wasted energy. hell, under those conditions, everyone IS guilty soon or later, eventually, even diane herself.

so when ann got off the plane from back east complaining about the woman w/the cold sitting next to her the entire flight, i just shrugged. i'm not saying ann is a hypochondriac but i will say she's had most every disease known to man in her mind. she's just cute that way. it's true, she had a horrifyingly painful bladder infection early on in our relationship but for the most part, she's been sickness-free as i've stumbled along w/crippling bone problems & gall bladder issues & cold after cold after cold. i didn't expect anything to come of it.

naturally, ann got the cold &, just as naturally, gave it to me. this was nothing like her brush w/the swine flu but it was just debilitating enough to be a real drag for her & now for me. i was able to make the cure-all chicken soup for her before i went under. she ate it morning, noon, & night & got over the main symptoms of the cold in 3 days. me? i get take-out & i'm still fighting the damn thing after 5 days. we have discussed karma here, haven't we?

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso

the master painting in space the same year pollock threw his first splatters onto the ground. i've said it before & i'll say it again: picasso & duchamp divide the first 50 years of the 20th century in the same way that pollock & warhol divide the last 50 years.

Friday, October 16, 2009




For she too was without pity, if not without mercy, in the end, for both Nietzsche and Freud, whom she knew and whose bodies of work she had read inside and out. Like no one else in this century, I dare say. She loved them pitilessly, and was implacable towards them (not to mention a few others) at the very moment when, giving them without mercy all that she could, and all that she had, she was inheriting from them and was keeping watch over what they had—what they still have—to tell us, especially regarding art and laughter.
- Jacques Derrida, The Work of Mourning

In the section of this volume titled “With Respect to Women,” she explores how Freud and Kant dealt with the “radical otherness of woman.” She mocks both thinkers, but she does so with an attentiveness that is anything but dismissive. She shows that Freud’s obsession with “penis envy” was a wobbly rock on which to construct a theory, but she also underscores the importance of his puzzled concern over the “difference” in woman, over her sexuality. In the end, she knows that the remedy offered women by psychoanalysis is also a poison: “The psychoanalytic solution restores speech to woman only the better to rob her of it, the better to subordinate it to that of the master.” michael roth from artforum jan/feb '08


Dying words: "I knew it. I knew it. Born in a hotel room, and God damn it, died in a hotel room."

another one of the american greats whose works really compelled me to read every bit of it, even the one-acts. powerfully imaginative early on but somewhat confused, he really hit his stride w/the last plays about his family. there, working in various american vernaculars, he wrestled w/his demons & showed just where the american nuclear family was truly tragic & doomed. his work READ beautifully but i've never seen it actually work on stage. there, all those beautiful tormented words just seem to swamp the actors, leaving them buried in the verbal excess. in high school, i hadn't thought tennessee williams held a candle to o'neill but when i saw his works on stage, they came alive in ways that o'neill never did. that discernable difference taught me my first real lesson about theater.


"we ain't got no cornbread, so don't be asking 'bout no cornbread," our waitress announced as she threw down a grease smeared handwritten menu. she sashayed off. marie & i were desperately hungover & this woman had towered intimidatingly over our table briefly. "let's not order cornbread," marie reasonably whispered across the table. i needed to focus. no one in the past had articulated menu options quite as forcefully as our current waitress. deep down, i felt like i needed to take her suggestion seriously.

i'd come to busters for the first time in 1978 w/the shit-ass willard. the restaurant was in a faded grayish-looking pink building on a corner on burgundy street in the french quarter. there was a single entrance, a screen door so caked w/grease you couldn't see through it. once you summoned the nerve to walk through that door, you walked into a relatively clean single room w/ a black & white linoleum tile floor. to the middle left, upon entering, was a bar-like structure but buster's didn't serve alcohol. i don't remember there being any stools there. to the hard left seemed to be another room but one not so accomodating as the main dining area. i'd say there were maybe 20 tables set up in it. at the far end was a juke box. i recall mirrors & also that the place was better lit than i'd imagined it could be judging from the outside. that first time w/ed, a different woman threw a different ink & grease stained menu on our table. she hadn't been quite so menacing.

that first meal at buster's had been incredible & incredibly cheap. tho we didn't apparently qualify as starving french quarter artists(it was rumored that the waitresses had the power to decide the amount you were charged depending on their knowledge of you & how destitute you appeared), the meal was still astonishingly cheap. a platter full of red beans & rice w/a garlicky fried pork chop was under four bucks. a plate of fried chicken, all garlicky & crispy delicious, was somewhere around the same. i remember willard triumphantly mopping up red bean gravy w/cornbread, grinning that huge cheshire cat grin of his.

over the years, buster's was always solid. the food was always good & the prices were always amazing when you considered what you were getting on your plate. after a few times, i'd gotten my courage up & gone over to that juke box. there i found singles by the meters, professor longhair, fats, huey smith, earl king, & mac rebannack jr. all on 45s. eventually, i got the nerve up to put money in the machine & play those songs. listening to fess sing tipitina on the jukebox while eating a plate of red beans in buster holmes' restaurant was absolute heaven for me.

that particular day w/marie was one of those unforgettable new orleans moments. when our waitress returned she reiterated her position about the cornbread. "i done told you about the cornbread so don't be asking me for no cornbread." we hadn't asked about the cornbread. i will say that whoever came in, black or white, got the same treatment. i remember a black woman coming in & being harrangued by our waitress. she protested a bit & sulked over by the juke box. from that vantage point, she could actually see into the kitchen. marie & i had drifted off into our own little non-cornbread worlds. i was vaguely aware of the woman's agitation but wasn't prepared for it's outcome. suddenly & w/o warning, the woman jumped up as quickly as a cat, screaming "i see that cornbread, you lying bout that cornbread, i sees it in there" as she burst through the kitchen doors. there was more screaming from inside the kitchen, issuing from several voices at this point. it was somewhat muffled but there was the accusatory assailant's voice & other surprised voices from the kitchen help. suddenly, just as quickly the woman emerged from the kitchen clutching several hunks of the coveted cornbread in what appeared to be palsied hands. she sat back down at her table. no one approached her. she held onto the cornbread, staring down at it & then, briefly, looking wildly around the room w/a triumphant look on her face. finally, the waitress brought her the takeout she'd been waiting for & she paid & left. marie was visibly shaken. i probably was too. i'd been expecting the kind of sudden bloody violence we all expect to rain down upon us when we're way out of our comfort zone. instead, the waitress brought our lunches. there was also a small plate of cornbread.

buster's was only open a few more years at the burgundy street location. buster retired & sold the place & the "concept" of the place to someone else. they opened a "fast food" version in the newly renovated jax brewery building down on decatur st near cafe du monde. it lasted a couple of years.

i never made it to eddie's, the next legendary soul food mecca. the praline connection in the marigny & lil' dizzys(run by the baquet family of eddie's fame)are doing the kind of food buster was doing way back when. for me, they don't quite match buster's food & i know they'll never match buster's ambiance.

one of the great memorials to buster is here.




Wednesday, October 14, 2009


ann & i had dinner at the french laundry; & yes, before you ask, it was one of the best meals we've ever had at a restaurant. this was back in '03. i've got pics of me on my crutches from my second foot surgery outside the restaurant. if we ever figure out how to work the damn printer/fax/scanner, i'll post that pic. we don't know anyone else who's been lucky enough to score dinner reservations. mike & eka had lunch there after they'd introduced that service several years after our dinner there. i think lunch is a different animal there. at this point, i think dinner is too. we ate there before the michelin fuss & the canonization of keller, really. i actually saw keller back in the kitchen(he's a tall guy)as i hobbled around the small courtyard prior to seating. nowadays, it's pretty rare to get the headliner behind the stoves.

ann was still a vegetarian then & she's still a little irked that she didn't get to take full advantage of this guy's extraordinary offerings. as a meat eating vegetarian cook at the time, i was thrilled to see what he put on her plate for sheer inventiveness & doubly thrilled w/what he put on my plate for sheer possessive gluttony. it has to be said that all the portions are small, so gluttony isn't the impulse you're acting upon while eating there but if someone had tried to even sample my stuffed trotters served over humble lentils in a heavenly pork jus, there would have been trouble.

this guy knows what the fuck he's doing.

that's no longer a guarantee in restaurants these days. keller & colicchio & passot & various other chefs of a certain age went through all the tortures of real chef training. read jaques pepin's incredible memoir, my life in the kitchen, & you'll get an idea of what a chef HAD to do to succeed back in the day. colicchio wrote a story in his first cookbook about his staging in a small french restaurant WAY out of paris & the head chef insisting he bone out rabbits. the next day, he was made to deal w/geese. it went on & on. they never laid off. alfred portale, in his first cookbook, writes about being made to clean out the wood burning ovens in his first french stage at another out of the way french country restaurant. after the first week, it dawned on him this didn't have to be done(for whatever reasons he's concocted in his brain during his trial). he was granted a brief moment w/the head chef & blurted out his revelation. the chef didn't look up from his paperwork. "clean the stoves," was all he said. he did too.

can anyone imagine one of the ding dongs on top chef putting up w/this kind of training? these numbnuts have only worked in american kitchens. if they received a cherished "stage" in france or italy, it was done at the behest of someone like keller & they weren't treated badly or put through the kitchen wringer as in days gone by. they were shuffled off to some corner of the kitchen where they'd do the LEAST amount of damage until their time was up. after a proper amount of time w/whatever american celebrity chef, these folks head out, open their own restaurants, & we, the public, get to deal w/their messes both on & off our plates.

i don't think i'm being cynical here. it's just the way things are in the business these days. at this point, a dinner at the french laundry or per se costs over double of what ann paid for my b'day dinner back in '03. keller has opened places(eg, bouchon, ann's favorite place in all the world)that are suppose to be reasonably priced w/comparable quality ingredients. i never thought those prices were particularly reasonable; when the bottom fell out, i'd have to say these aren't bargain eat place anymore.

still, keller is keller, he's paid his dues & i believe, empirically at least, he's the best american chef in america going away.

btw, robuchon is the best chef in america when he's in america.

e.e. cummings b. OCTOBER 14 1894

ok, i admit it. cummings was the first poet i truly admired & imitated but it was because imitating him was pretty easy to pull off. that doesn't mean anything i ever wrote in the cummings mode was worth piss. it was just easy to imitate the peculiarities of cummings' style. i most certainly did not catch any of his dadaist connections in high school. i barely got dada at new college & that was pretty much on my own. interestingly, as odd as his syntax was(for the times), he wrote in pretty traditional forms(ie, the sonnet). w/o cummings, we wouldn't have john berryman's homage to mistress bradstreet or his dream songs. w/o cummings, a lot of the language poets wouldn't have found solace in one peculiar strand of american literary history(even tho they usually cite others as the patresfamilias of their genealogies). arguments over the various strands of american modernism have been going on in the academic world for over 60 years. that's not what i'm getting at here. cummings got lost in the debate years back, probably because of his popularity, but he wrote excellent stuff. spend some time w/him & i think you'll see it too.
the second poem here was used by woody allen in hannah and her sisters to great affect.

Sonnets--Unrealities. III.

it is at moments after i have dreamed
of the rare entertainment of your eyes,
when (being fool to fancy) i have deemed

with your peculiar mouth my heart made wise;
at moments when the glassy darkness holds

the genuine apparition of your smile
(it was through tears always) and silence moulds
such strangeness as was mine a little while;

moments when my once more illustrious arms
are filled with fascination, when my breast
wears the intolerant brightness of your charms:

one pierced moment whiter than the rest

--turning from the tremendous lie of sleep
i watch the roses of the day grow deep.

e.e. cummings

[somewhere i have never travelled]

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

e.e. cummings

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


naturally, bruce appealed to me during my adolescence. he talked dirty. he was funny when he talked dirty. he had left-leaning(kind of)politics. i read "how to talk dirty & influence people" in high school. i memorized his monologues. i STILL live by his sage advice that if caught in flagrante delicto you deny it, even if they have pictures. deny it. his routine about aides trying to teach lyndon johnson how to say the word "negro" was classic & reminded me of bobo. i don't think bobo ever said that word correctly. he was much happier when we all moved on to "black" to reference african-americans.

who the hell could say where lenny would be today if he'd survived the cops & the government & himself, primarily, himself. i see the surviving greats from back then, dick gregory, mort sahl, etc, & they're not hitting it anymore. it could be that great comedy is a young man's game like rock & roll. he was as good as it gets when he was young though. he didn't deserve his shitty death but who the hell does?


of course, philip was the die-hard simon fan. i was listening to simon & garfunkel before i met philip but philip made simon worship at tangible thing. i remember once when he & mike johnson had picked up some college girls out on p'beach & things were going well until johnson heard one of the girls say, "well...seals & croft are MY generation's simon & garfunkel." mike told me he knew immediately he'd be going home w/no pussy THAT night. forget the fact that five years doesn't constitute a generation, the girl was lucky to have survived the night after this absurd assertion.

unlike many of his contemporaries, simon had a mid-career renaissance. unfortunately, this fed into his gargantuan ego &, after his broadway show tanked, he became a bitter little troll, impossibly out of synch w/his initial musical gift(& it was NEVER genius)& predictably out of step w/the current musical scene. seeing him seethe & complain & disparage everyone on the sundance channel's iconoclast series while lorne michaels tries to suck up to him was simply disgusting & embarrassing.

still, he was damned good in his day. he wrote way more than a few great pop songs & he could sing too. i remember philip doing this song from simon's second solo album sitting in various motel stair-wells. philip felt this was the best place to hear himself sing. it must of worked because that boy could surely sing simon songs.



Monday, October 12, 2009



Friday, October 9, 2009



Thursday, October 8, 2009


i had to instruct ann about gnawing on the bones to get the most out of the small morsels of deliciousness clinging to them. i usually cut the meat from the bones for her but these beautifully frenched chops were too perfect & aesthetically pleasing to do that. she's only started eating meat again after 10 or more years of vegetarianism. i thought the primal satisfaction of bone chewing would come back to her naturally. she'll be out hunting for our dinner soon enough.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

the prognosticator's mea culpa

when i was seven or eight years old, i used to set the odds for the gulf coast mob's afl football gambling setup. a guy named eddie joseph called bobo every sunday night(right after all the games)to give him the odds for the next week. bobo printed the odd sheets that were distributed at various venues. he probably took the bets too but i can't say that for sure. amazingly, he was out of this by the time the feds finally busted the organization decades later. i suppose an organization that was relying on a kid for their odds wasn't seen as much of a threat back in the day.

there were two reasons i had this non-paying gig. first, it was the VERY early days of the american football league, years before the merger. hell, it was years before the first super-bowl between the leagues. no one watched the afl. nbc carried the games. cbs got the older, more respected league. at least, none of the bookies watched the afl. i did. i knew everything about jim nance & lance alworth & darryl lamonica & lenny dawson & don maynard. when bobo told eddie joseph this, they both asked my opinion about some upcoming games. folks were beginning to want to bet on the games & they didn't have a clue. hard core gamblers will bet if they're bowel movements will be soft or hard. betting on the afl was kind of like that.

my first week's tips were 100% on the money. eddie joseph was astonished. for that season, i ended up being right nearly 90% of the time. i made money for the mob. i'm surprised i didn't get a real job w/these guys. the real bookies took over calling the shots the next season. my day in the sun was over. ah, what could have been...

i mention all this because for the first time in years i made some sports picks earlier this year at the beginning of baseball season. baseball is pretty much the only sport i truly follow nowadays. that said, i'll also add that baseball is one of those games i've always thought impossible to call in terms of who'll win & who'll lose. too many games, too much human stuff(missed ref calls, crazy luck, injuries), too many variables to make a sensible call. nevertheless, i made the picks. it's time to pay the piper.

i can't say that eddie joseph would be impressed. of the six divisions, i got one right(the angels in the al west). i will say in my defense that i did have four of the other teams who did win their divisions listed as contenders(phillies, st louis, dodgers & boston)& several others who were in the running till the last week or so of the season(texas, giants, whitesox). i tanked on the mets & the cubbies & arizona but who could have seen how dismal those teams would be(injuries & chemistry did them in, for the most part)? i also didn't give the rockies, the braves, the twins, or the tigers a snowball's chance. i did make noises about what the yankees would do if their pitching came through(it did)etc etc. i said it at the time: cheap rationalizations & qualifications don't count in the end.

the season itself was fun. that it ended w/a one game do-or-die playoff between the twins & the tigers that went into extra innings & broke jim leyland's heart just one more time added to the excitement for the post-season. i'll say it now: i can't see how the yankees can fail to win another world series. the angel's small ball game may out fox them but i just don't see it. too much power & dominant pitching usually get you the wins. i think the cardinals will take the nl. they've got the pitching that i don't see in phillies. i think they're quicker too & have the better manager. if it's the cardinals & the yankees in the world series, i think it will be a great series but, as bobo spins in his grave, the yankees will take it.


the cats seem to be indifferent when just one of us is gone. w/one still around, the routines are still in place & they seem content. however, when the missing human returns they inevitably receive feline affection usually unseen during our everyday situation. merce is the one who leads in this respect. when i've been gone, the first few days after my return are filled w/her insisting on me holding her in my arms while i sit at the computer. it's something i couldn't FORCE her to do otherwise but for a few days, she's very affectionate.
here, merce is doing something she's NEVER done before. she's not really a lap-cat but ann's been gone for 10 days & that changes everything.







the fact is ruth reichl HAD taken the magazine places it didn't need to go & that may have been one of the many reasons why the magazine is being deep-sixed. a couple of issues ago, the main spread had pics of folks who looked like the outrigger crew of hervey & jay & sean, hipsters all. at the time i thought to myself, "what in hell is that woman(reichl)thinking putting these folks in the magazine?" if she was that off the mark w/aesthetic strategy, i can't imagine she had ANY idea of the economic strategies needed to keep the enterprise afloat.
bottom-line, of course, is economic & the advertising dropping by over 50% was the final nail in the coffin. i will say that i did cook out of the magazine. when i was at the nyingma institute, responsible for 2 vegetarian meals a day 6 days a week for seven years, ANY ideas were welcomed. sometimes the magazine was just too precious & sometimes it just went right over into foodie pretension but i usually found sometime in every issue that worked.
i'd say saveur magazine & the art of eating quarterly will benefit from gourmet's closure. some folks thrived even during the great depression.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


someone got clever. that's ok. i think this works just fine. it's good to actually hear kerouac reading from his book & allen's great cinematic homage to the city is as good as movies get. all w/o explosions & severed heads & naked torsos(tho i have nothing against naked torsos).


Saturday, October 3, 2009


"So, to Ben dead was given more care, more time, more money than had ever been given to Ben living . . . And as the wind howled in the bleak street, and Eliza wove a thousand fables of that lost and bitter spirit, the bright and stricken thing in the boy twisted about in horror, looking for escape from the house of death. No More! No More! (it said). You are alone. You are lost. Go find yourself, lost boy, beyond the hills." —T. W., Look Homeward, Angel

as i read, james ellroy hasn't written a sentence of "lush, luxurious" prose in his life but especially in his newest book, blood's a rover. stacking paragraph after paragraph of declarative sentences w/an occasional slang tweak for the hipsters isn't lush. it isn't luxurious. it's deadly repetition. it doesn't crackle & shoot sparks because droning facts can't be made to do that. the book reads like a coked-up beatnik manque hooked on conspiracy theories dictated it into a tape recorder.

i think most all of us read wolfe back in high school, even the web and the rock & you can't go home again. i can't think of any writer(maybe james agee) who loved words & story telling more than wolfe. his type of digressive story telling certainly revealed his southern roots & his prose revealed his christian upbringing. THIS is lush prose. THIS is writing that luxuriates in the simple acts of composition & communication. THIS is writing that can still make me shake my head & wish i'd written it.

"And with the echoes of his mothers's voice, that had seemed to fill all the days of his childhood with its unending monotone, there returned to him an immediate sense of everything that he had ever known: the front porch of the old house in Altamont where he had lived, the coarse and cool sound of Black's cow munching grass in the alleyway, along the edge of the backyard fence, the mid-morning sound of sawn ice out in the hot street of summer, the turbaned slatterns of good housewives awaiting noon, the smell of turnip greens, and upon the corner up above, the screeching halt of the street car, and the sound of absence after it had gone, then the liquid smack of leather on the pavement as the men came home at noon for dinner, and the slam of screen doors and the quiet greetings; and, inside the house, the cool stale smell of the old parlor, and the coffined, rich piano smell, the tinkling glasspoints of the chandelier, the stereopticon of Gettysburg, the wax fruit on the mantel underneath its glass hood, and he himself reclining on his father's couch, buried in a book, his imagination soaring with Hans Grimm, and with thoughts of witches, a fair princess, fairies, elves, and gnomes, and of a magic castle on a rock."

From the short story The Return of the Prodigal

Friday, October 2, 2009


The difficulty to think at the end of day,
When the shapeless shadow covers the sun
And nothing is left except light on your fur—

There was the cat slopping its milk all day,
Fat cat, red tongue, green mind, white milk
And August the most peaceful month.

To be, in the grass, in the peacefullest time,
Without that monument of cat,
The cat forgotten in the moon;

And to feel that the light is a rabbit-light,
In which everything is meant for you
And nothing need be explained;

Then there is nothing to think of. It comes of itself;
And east rushes west and west rushes down,
No matter. The grass is full

And full of yourself. The trees around are for you,
The whole of the wideness of night is for you,
A self that touches all edges,

You become a self that fills the four corners of night.
The red cat hides away in the fur-light
And there you are humped high, humped up,

You are humped higher and higher, black as stone—
You sit with your head like a carving in space
And the little green cat is a bug in the grass.

perhaps the oddest of the great american poets of the 20th century, he worked a vein of american romantic transcendentalism that was truly his own claim. it took a while for me to fully inhabit stevens' world but when i did, i couldn't see anyone else(w/the exception, maybe, of hart crane) near to creating the interior space of a world that allowed full exploration of the questions that matter most to us as a dying species. oddly enough, i've been reading him again while ann is away & i am still in total awe of his creativity & generosity.