Sunday, January 31, 2010



his film, caravaggio(1986), is one of the most haunting & beautiful meditations of mourning & loss ever created. i remember reading in his journals his assertion that "you're not a man until you've been penetrated" & i've always thought that was exactly correct. & who would have ever thought of making a film about wittgenstein? that it mostly succeeded just proves what a genius in one form of art can accomplish when engaging a genius of another.

where ever you are, peace be with you.



"Decoding the looks of opposites. Writing down their silences. Words replaced by moods. Actions punctuated by the hard fall of imperatives. More and more smoke. Since language has become a medium in which we are totally immersed, there is no longer any need to say anything. The saying says itself all around us. No one need attend. Listening is obsolete. So is silence. Each one travels alone in a small blue capsule of indignation. (Some of the better informed have declared war on language.)" from CABLES TO THE ACE

"I am aware of the need for constant self-revision and growth, leaving behind the renunciations of yesterday and yet in continuity with all my yesterdays. For to cling to the past is to lose one's continuity with the past, since this means clinging to what is no longer there. My ideas are always changing, always moving around one center, and I am always seeing that center, and I am always seeing that center from somewhere else. Hence, I will always be accused of inconsistency. But I will no longer be there to hear the accusation."
- Thomas Merton

Saturday, January 30, 2010


one of ann's simple eating pleasures is a grilled cheese sandwich. most of the time, i bow to the simple goodness of the dish & don't meddle too much in making them for her. sometimes i experiment w/the cheeses. i'm convinced that texas toast bread is the superior vehicle for the cheese.
this sandwich takes things in another direction: beef short ribs, long-braised(four hours) in lagunitas' cappucino stout, red onions caramelized & pickled into an onion marmalade, a soft, organic jack cheese & the delicious bite of baby arugula.
the end result looked pretty good to me. ann says it tasted pretty good too.


i'm shamelessly stealing this from mike's blog. it's too funny not to disseminate it as widely as possible & it proves even hard-core apple freaks can sometimes laugh at themselves. sometimes. every now & then. on occasion. once in a blue moon. if THEY do the jokes & the laughing. sometimes. once in a while.


well, nothing lasts forever & new blood could be good for the place. i suspect the new tenants will be more up-scale than lulu's but they could just as easily be a place like carne rosso, which is a great late addition to the building.

i have to say the evictions & rent disputes won't keep me from ferrying over there several times a year, especially on saturdays when the back space is filled w/all the various farm/artisan vendors. it's a beautiful space no matter who's in it & the saturday offerings are w/o peer.

here's an article covering some of the issues.


"Newman’s compositions are built around a strict format: a field of color is bisected vertically by one or a few bands (narrow or wide) that he referred to as "zips." Such extreme minimalism, though, derives from an approach described by the artist as intuitive: "It each starpainting as if I had never painted before. … I have no formal solutions … I paint out of high passion, and although my way of working may seem simple, for me it is difficult and complex." Concord is not a geometric picture. The colored field is not meant as a void on which a simple boundary is delineated. Pictures like this one ask the viewer to consider whether space alone, without narrative detail, can convey meaning. In Newman’s words, "Instead of using outlines, instead of making shapes or setting off spaces my drawing declares the space." The zip is "a field that brings life to the other fields, just as the other fields bring life to this so-called line."" SOURCE.

newman is one of the ones who dispensed altogether w/the figural. what the visual field became was open space, the ground opened for singular consideration. the monochrome, the grid, the object all followed from newman's zips.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


i've already posted here my belief in the importance of pollock in the second half of the 20th century, especially how he intersets w/warhol. i've never posted any of his "cut" paintings, the return of the repressed figure in abstract expressionism. it will never be certain where pollock would have gone in his later work but picasso certainly had a return of the repressed figure after cubism. it took the minimalists to get that damn thing out of the visual field, at least momentarily.






"I love to write and I assure you I write regularly," Salinger said in a brief interview with the Baton Rouge (La.) Advocate in 1980. "But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it."

of course, there are the rumors of over 15 finished novels locked away. i remember years ago, john updike putting a novel titled hard heart on his 10 best novels of whatever year that happened to be. he claimed it was a salinger novel. there was an initial burst of curiosity but no novel surfaced & updike said he'd sent his copy back to salinger. w/his death today, we may finally get a chance to see if the myths are in fact true.

personally, i never had any problem w/his reclusiveness. i didn't mourn the loss of those alledged lost manuscripts. certainly, i'd love to read what he's worked on over the years but he gave us a lot to handle before he went into retreat. the extant works are deeply moving & slyly referential. they justify themselves.

last year, john updike died on january 27th.

"ānanda came to be known as Dhammabhandāgārika, owing to his skill in remembering the word of the Buddha; it is said that he could remember everything spoken by the Buddha, from one to sixty thousand words in the right order; and without missing one single syllable (ThagA.iii.134)."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010



i remember sitting at room 40 at the tiki motel, the porter station. mike johnson was there & bill thornton(who had gotten a job as front desk clerk there based on some inside info i'd provided)stopped by before his shift began. i was playing guitar as usual & johnson was wired on jameson. primarily, what i remember was johnson's babbling monologue was astonishingly excremental. i mean, every other word was "shit." i suppose it was a verbal tick of johnson's that i hadn't noticed until i became aware of thornton's bodily response to each & every "shit" that spewed from johnson's mouth. it was like he was landing manny pacquiao body shots. i was almost amused but equally embarrassed. i'd known bill a lot longer than i'd known johnson & i didn't really want bill thinking that this was the kind of person i usually hung around with. bill excused himself & headed to the front office to clock in. johnson kept it up for another hour or two before he headed on down to baron samadi's(a beach bar).
later, alone w/bill, i mentioned mike's "brown tone," jokingly. thornton was clearly disgusted & changed the subject.

the fact is, there are times when the word "shit" just can't be substituted. it HAS to be in the conversation. zevon does a pretty good job laying out when that is.

i bought the first album & was a little disappointed but i can tell that zevon wouldn't have cared. i did play several of his songs in bars when i was playing for what little living i could make then. he kept on doing the corrosively cynical, insightful oddball songs he introduced on that first album(he saw through the vanity of pop music early on: listen to "desparados under the eaves" if you doubt me). when you go back though his entire body of work, he left us w/some great songs, some hilariously jaded songs, & some songs that were just simply good. as an artist, you can't do much better than he did.
he died a very public death & did it w/as much grace as human's can muster under the circumstances. when asked by david letterman if there was any advice or wisdom he wanted to give to us, the ones blissfully unaware of our own inevitable, unavoidable date w/death, he said, "enjoy every sandwich."


Saturday, January 23, 2010


i saw havens on the ed sullivan show a year or more before woodstock. i was astonished. i went out & got whatever albums(mixed bag & something else again) were available at town & country records. his voice was the first thing that struck me but also the guitar style, which i had no idea about at the time but thought was pretty cool. i cooled off on him later due, i'm sure, to his lack of songwriting skills. we all went through a period of dismissing performers if they didn't do their own material(w/exceptions like ronstadt).
years later, di & frank & i were in a gay bar in key west. a song came on that i couldn't place at first but i swore it was havens. richie havens being played in a gay bar? i went up to the dj &, sure enough, it was havens doing stevie nicks' "dreams" & doing a pretty good version. he is one of the great interpreters of dylan & the beatles & nowadays, his voice is still rich & deep & full of a very long history, both his & music's.
enjoy this dylan/morrison mashup.

"my north is leafless & lies in a wintery slime..."

America Mix-Tape, Track 9
When sanity grew tiresome, I went walking through the ghetto.
I bought kidneys, watched buildings crumble,
offered no hand, no kind word.

The sky didn’t seem right and I said nothing,
my stomach rumbled yet I said nothing, not wanting my hungers known.

The river blackened, there were children jumping from tire swings,
their songs weren’t scored,
no trumpet touched them.

I was Cajun, I pickled old business cards, I saw the cattle to slaughter.

I stretched in the mornings
and settled my bar tab nightly,

the moonlight wanted me, the very stars.

I walked these hills in a long black veil,
weary at heart but light of step.

this poem plus 2 others here.

i remember reading ashbery for the first time. it was "lithuanian dance band" & the voice i heard when reading the poem seemed like the voice in my head that spoke to me most of the time. ashbery kept writing w/that voice through a wave(1984), abandoning it in his later years for a more abstract, dissociating style. the aloof lyricist had gone down the rabbit hole of language as a next logical move in understanding himself & his place & process of being.
i'm hearing something of the early ashbery in mr. myer's poems. he's certainly more direct than, say, another ashbery protege, ann lauterbach. it's not clear if the words will begin to pile up & start to seem useless. he's young & going on his nerve right now. son, what is your alibi?

Friday, January 22, 2010


apparently, impatient w/the pace of right wing politicization of the court, those right wing elements presently on it(& one sad old man, who truly believes in the first amendment)moved to simply remove the public from the equation & let the folks who pretty much run the country anyway(vide, health care)have complete control. now THIS is something that should have every pundit frothing. corporation coffers are now unfettered in what they can give to political campaigns. as olberman points out, it shouldn't be just the progressives(christ, he had johnathan turley on his show & he SUPPORTED the damned decision). everyone will end up paying the piper. everyone.

since we're already paying the piper & those payments will be used to buy politicians who will guarantee that we'll pay MORE to the piper & those higher payments will go to buy even more politicians, the cycle set yesterday by the court will be endless & rapacious until there's nothing left.

don't let anyone get away w/claiming this as a first amendment victory. that's simply an attempt at an old sleight of hand trick that even a kid can see through: free speech goes under the peashell, gets shifted around, &, when you pick the shell it should be under, it's long gone. we've been suckered.
here's a link to a petition against the ruling.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


long before tip o'neill delivered his famous political apercu, "all politics is local," i had bobo. to bobo's lifelong shame, he lost his only public political battle when i was 5yo for escambia county commission. he'd been appointed to fill a vacancy in the commission by the governor, ferris bryant. he used to say that he assumed he'd have no problem since he had the backing of the governor & the state & local democratic party. the only thing i remember about this campaign is that we were on channel 3 as a family. bobo introduced us individually & i raised my name when he said my name. we'd rehearsed this. his opponent was there too w/his family. that's how they did things back then. the only other thing i remember was a local lawyer there in the tv studio. he was supposed to be meeting the incumbent state representative for debate. the incumbent hadn't bothered to show up. after we were on, bobo wanted us to stay around & watch what the lawyer would do. his name was ruben askew & in 15 years, he was governor of florida & soon after a candidate for president.

that night, askew used the incumbent's arrogant absence to define him & the race he was running. he never looked back.

bobo was an old-school politician who believed in the handshake & the fish-fry. he used to say find out where you're strong & have your fish-fry in that neighborhood. find out where you're weak & go door to door, handshaking & back-slapping in that neighborhood. none of the candidates that bobo advised ever lost an election in escambia county.

it's been said that martha coakley would rather have eaten ground glass than campaign. she's a career lawyer & no politician. she made very little effort to change that & she lost ignominiously. she let down her president, her party, & history. if bobo had been there, he'd have told her to have a fish fry or two.

was this a set back for obama? yes. was it a disaster? i don't think so. what this was NOT was a referendum on obama. the obama presidency may be shaky right now but a single loss like this isn't the end of the world. had massachusetts been as blue a state as the media misrepresented it to be(in fact, 50% of registered voters are independents), had this been teddy kennedy & not a pretender to the crown, had this been during a regular & not a special election, then the frothing mad-dog media pundits might have something to carry on about. i would like to think that it might re-invigorate the obama administration. presidents have done a whole lot more w/a whole lot less. it's time for the smartest guys in the room to prove it or leave & be replaced by someone less smart maybe but more effective. tip o'neill didn't seem to be that smart but he went head to head w/reagan & his gang & held his own. he was an effective politician, maybe as good as lyndon johnson.

i believe that politics IS local &, if you don't get the local, you have no clue about the global. in other words, get the fryer out & start shaking hands. otherwise, you can be the smartest person in the world but you ain't going nowhere.



uncannily, in the wee hours two nights ago, i pulled down his book to luxuriate in his vision of the great city & it's eating habits & locales. every now & then i get the itch to read through his book despite it not having much to do w/the current city of new orleans. it does have a lot to do w/the city i first visited when i was seventeen, fell in love w/immediately, & have returned to many many times.

the shit-ass willard & i used an edition of his book to navigate the city on my first real eating tour in '79. we dined at galatoires &, most significantly, leruths. i made my first visit to the inimitable buster holmes' based on collin's recommendation, along w/angelo brocato's, acme, the hummingbird & mothers. we went from the top to the bottom to the top again & experienced great food at every level. primarily, the book then opened up an aspect of the city i'd never considered important: it's food & it's eating habits. that he was so spot on w/his advice just re-enforced that importance to me. this was food as anthropological meditation, as archeological revelation:

"Ordering a grilled pork chop at any New Orleans resaurant is wasteful to the point of contemptibility. Most food---especially great food---is incomparable. Cooking is an art form. The art of dining consists in eating what a restaurant prepares best."

i still pretty much follow collin's edict here. when i'm back in new orleans, i'm usually eating all the seafood i can get my hands on. it's not that it's not done well out here in the bay area. in new orleans it can be ethereal & that's the experience i'm seeking when i eat. collin lead us to several ethereal moments way back then & lead me to a real appreciation of something i probably, snarkily, considered mundane at the time. i'd even stretch it to say that he lead me to my vocation.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010


And it's only love and it's only love
That can wreck a human being and turn him inside out

i imagine anyone who plays music has always been a little envious of the mcgarrigle clan: the two sisters, loudon wainwright, rufus & martha & almost every canadian songwriter/singer alive in the late 20th century & onwards into this new one. that's a lot of talent all hanging out together singing & writing, fucking & fighting.

i do have to say that i never cared for the mcgarrigle sisters as performers. a little too folky for me, their brittle voices never resonated. they wrote good songs though & grew into their matriarchal roles as time went on.

enjoy this group session.

Thursday, January 14, 2010



Tuesday, January 12, 2010


"Here's what I think, Mr. Wind-Up Bird," said May Kasahara. "Everybody's born with some different thing at the core of their existence. And that thing, whatever it is, becomes like a heat source that runs each person from the inside. I have one too, of course. Like everybody else. But sometimes it gets out of hand. It swells or shrinks inside me, and it shakes me up. What I'd really like to do is find a way to communicate that feeling to another person. But I can't seem to do it. They just don't get it. Of course, the problem could be that I'm not explaining it very well, but I think it's because they're not listening very well. They pretend to be listening, but they're not, really. So I get worked up sometimes, and I do some crazy things."
Haruki Murakami (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle)

Sunday, January 10, 2010



SOUTHERN BUTTERMILK BISCUITS: these are the simplest biscuits i know how to make. the trick is the self-rising flour, which is one of only 3 ingredients. they're simple to make but the results are anything but. like i've said before, complexity is the combination of 3 disparate elements. (btw, i do an incredible biscuit that has probably 12-15 ingredients but it takes some advanced planning to engage w/it).

this dish was taken from david chang's momofuku cookbook. i've cooked through quite a few of the recipes at this point & have to say it's a great cookbook. in their uncooked state,the rice sticks are more like some kind of synthetic plastic than food but once cooked were crispy outside & chewy inside wonders. the sauce is made from fermented bean curd marinated in hot chili sauce. the stink of the fermentation lived up to its hype but was tamed by the slightly sweet, very hot sauce.


Saturday, January 9, 2010



late one night on sundance, they aired a documentary on clokey. i was never a gumby fan & didn't become one when eddie murphy scored on snl w/his impersonation. i was never interested enough to look into the guy behind the work & it turns out, he was an interesting guy. his work on stop-action animation was ground-breaking. his story lines were always based in a personal ethics. he was interested in eastern religions. he ran around w/the west coast hipsters of the 50s & 60s. he was a druggie. as the film makes clear, he was quite a guy. it also makes clear just how painstaking & intricate his art is.

here's his sfchron obit.

here's the link to info about the doc.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


i'm pretty sure lynn persuaded me to read the trilogy. i mean, she got me eating vegetables & that was no mean feat. i suspect that lynn might have gotten me to do most anything. in the grand scheme of things, i imagine that this was nothing compared to what i was trying to get her to do.

i remember assuring her about gandalf's death. i knew no one could kill off a great character like that. his battle w/the balrog & subsequent re-birth clued me into to how good this story was going to be.

this was way back when.

i was convinced that my marvel comics heroes couldn't be brought to the big screen & i was pretty sure you couldn't do this story either. technology marches onward & it won't be long before someone figures out how to do gibson's neuromancer.

primarily, tolkien created an extraordinary thing: a world, many worlds in fact, that remains absolutely believable & totally relevant to our own.

he also knew, deep down, the horrific costs of war. any war. any time.


there were lots of big expansive albums from this side of the street this year: raekwon, kanye, 50cent, timbaland, juvenile but none had the exhilaration that this song carried. it makes me want to be there in nyc & i don't like that city at all. i'm pretty sure it has to do w/alicia keys but who cares. it's easy to get tired of jay-z's braggadocio. how many times do we have to hear he's the new sinatra? still, ms keys elevates this anthem to incredible heights & jay-z throws down some great rhymes & the rhythm shoots for the stars & hits them as far as i'm concerned.

personally, i'm waiting for the payoff from the truckers for their various tutorials they've undertaken since their wunderkind, jason isbell, was cut loose. they've been the foundation now for TWO great muscle shoals flavored albums &, really?, can we ever get enough of booker t? this kind of american instrumental music does NOT get any better than this.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


"Words and rocks contain a language that follows a syntax of splits and ruptures. Look at any word long enough and you will see it open up into a series of faults, into a terrain of particles each containing its own void. This discomforting language of fragmentation offers no easy gestalt solution; the certainties of didactic discourse are hurled into the erosion of the poetic principle."

i argued for a long time that picasso & duchamp owned the early 20th century & that pollock & warhol owned that last half. however, i've always been open to arguments that smithson & matta-clark are the key to the last half of the 20th century or maybe the gateways to the 21st.

on one of my driving trips across america(i've made five), i drove out to his great work, the spiral jetty. it wasn't easy or particularly negotiable but when i got out there, i didn't SEE anything, even when i was where i was supposed to be. the various forces of nature had submerged the construct.

now, it may stem from me being from the gulf coast where nothing remains the same but i didn't feel cheated. i knew the damned thing was out there. i knew that it had become an element in the natural progression of things. oddly, i had a feeling it would return. it did too. sometime during the early 2000s, the jetty came to the surface again.

i don't think we're done w/what these artists had to give us. their refusal of the museum & "connoisseur" art, their commitment to construction, & their acknowledgement of natural process is significant beyond the fundamental appeal of their art.

directions to the jetty.

Friday, January 1, 2010


he was present at the creation of the great 20th century art form, photography. he had a great photographic eye & an especially prescient eye for modern art. the variety of techniques evident in his large body of work is encyclopedic.


silently, salinger turns 91 today.

before the silence, he gave us quite a bit.

"That's the whole trouble. You can't ever find a place that's nice and peaceful, because there isn't any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you're not looking, somebody'll sneak up and write "Fuck you" right under your nose."


HOPPIN' JOHN W/ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE(traditionally served in the south on new years day for good luck: supposedly you'd have as many good days in the coming year as peas you ate).

another traditional new years day dish from our friends south of the border.