Friday, June 30, 2006
Thursday, June 29, 2006
How many years since Stonewall?
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
The flag is a secular symbol
On Sunday night at WFMU I was unable to play many of the strongest songs off the CD rerelease of poet Allen Ginsberg's "First Blues" - unless I trusted a fast & accurate edit finger on the control board. Two decades ago I could air just about anything by Allen if I prefaced it with a language disclaimer.
Chuck Currie posted Barack Obama's major speech on religion & diversity at the Call to Action Conference in Washington DC.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Monday, June 26, 2006
sunday / monday
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Hotel Martin, Highlands NJ
This hotel looks slightly familiar. Perhaps it survived into my time.
Filling in on WFMU for Stochastic Hit Parade at 9 pm tonight. Noisy.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
I may be crazy but I'm not a novelist
For my novel I'd have created a Celtic-pagan supernatural scheme about a conflict that's been going on between good & bad clans since who knows when, bring it to contemporary America, where some families tried to forget about it & others passed on the knowledge & traditions. Two college students, descendents of good clans, put themselves in great danger when they set these ancient forces in motion by falling in love, because of their positions in their own families - she's an oldest sibling & he's a youngest. These matches used to be arranged. The young woman is wise to this history, the young man is completely unaware, then incredulous. She has to quickly convince him & teach him what he needs to know to protect himself.
The magical powers are limited, & like a new language are more difficult to learn when you're older. They involve some sixth sense & the creation of subtle illusion, such as the use of "blarney" - Irish sweet talk - as hypnotic sound, which is how she attracted him in the first place, in a casual conversation at a coffeehouse. With this magic you couldn't make things move or levitate but you could make people think they have, like rustling leaves in a tree on a breezeless day. It might have been a nice coming-of-age story for middle schoolers, centering on an adolescent romance between two college freshmen, but the Harry Potter books upped the level of action & detail far beyond what I had in mind. I imagined a kind of poetic magic that had to be applied in creative, timely & virtually invisible ways. That is, battles could happen in public places with no one but the participants aware of what was going on.
The "good" characters, who at first aren't sure who's trying to hurt them or even why, know they might be tricked into walking in front of moving bus - one's life becomes a series of accidents waiting to happen. In the end, all is settled but nothing fully won or lost. Balance is temporarily restored. The young lovers of course part. But there's an possibility for a sequel. I loosely outlined this novel in a steno notebook almost 20 years ago, realizing that my knowledge of Celtic culture, myth & language was inadequate for the task. Still is. I wouldn't be at all surprised if my novel already exists. Stories are like melodies.
Labels: about writing
Friday, June 23, 2006
detoured into the land of make-believe
We must be grateful to the Feds for listening in on our phone calls, monitoring our internet usage, spying on our bank accounts, cutting forty-million from New York City's security funding, then with great fanfare demonstrating that the F.B.I. can nab an alleged terrorist group operating so suspiciously in plain sight that everyone in the Liberty City section of Miami knew they were screwball militarists. & note that even in the fantasies of which the leader of the group is accused of expressing, he wasn't going to blow up anything in Wyoming. CSI: Miami writers are already at work adding some meat to the plot so Horatio Caine & Eric Delko can waste these guys as soon as they've finished killing someone in Brazil. As Lt. Caine said, "We are being detoured into the land of make-believe."
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Here's a scam that was doomed to fail. To raise some money, a Missouri couple spread it around that they had critically ill sextuplets in the hospital whose existence was being kept secret by court order because a family member was out to kill them. It tests the credulity of even gullible neighborhood saints. Still, that kind of news would tend to get around regardless of court orders. I don't understand why they thought they'd make much money out of the con. They got some. But that's the sort of situation people love to respond to with practical charity. Cash? Keep what you have. We collected for you a truckload of Pampers, two dozen cases of strained green peas, a pile of dangly noisy Fisher Price doodads, six cribs, & the hardware store wants to know how many gallons of blue & pink paint you need. You understand we can't give you the Chevy Tahoe until we can take photos of the babies crawling around in it. Oh, & here's a $50 gift certificate from Domino's pizza. Yeah, try unloading all that at a local flea market without arousing suspicion.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
It seems fitting that fireflies emerge around summer solstice. Today Persephone reaches the upward limit of her annual roundtrip between Hades in the underworld & her mother Demeter in the world illuminated by Helios. A good day to eat a pomegranate in honor of the goddess - well, maybe only drink the juice; for some reason, Hades was able to make Persephone his queen by tricking her into eating six pomegranate seeds.
A crowd of 17,000 showed up at Stonehenge for an "unspectacular" sunrise. It's also Shakespeare's Midsummer Night, a perfect play to see performed in a park at dusk. & there's even a play within the play.
For never anything can be amiss,
When simpleness and duty tender it.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
NOLA Mayor Ray Nagin calls in the National Guard & Louisiana State Police following the brutal killings of five young men, admitting that neither he nor the city police can handle the spiraling crime rate. One wonders why he didn't do it four years ago. This guy has demonstrated that he's not a good enough leader, administrator or politician for the position he holds & the tremendous challenges his city faces. He did a lousy job prior to, during, & following Katrina. He's damned lucky he was re-elected, but there was no inspiring aspirant eager to have his job. Nagin doesn't even communicate the soul of the place, which ought to be the minimum qualification. New Orleans is a hard luck town these days.
Monday, June 19, 2006
The woman who drove me over to buy the a/c is also the friend who calmed me when I was certain the unit was too large - an assessment based on the instruction manual. I'm an excitable guy, & inclined to negativity when initially faced with even small unexpected challenges. Women are much better than men at getting me step back & steady out, maybe they're just more sensitive to my psychological being. It's not the same as being mothered, although like most men I enjoy that, too. I don't need or long for what a lot of guys consider "mothering," the domestic stuff, the source of endless situation comedy cliches about hapless men in the kitchen or doing the laundry. For me, mothering is physical affection with an Oedipal spin, & as a poet I not only can handle it, I'm amused by it.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Every guy becomes a father the first time some kid who never heard of Louis Armstrong calls you "Pops."
“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he'd learned in seven years.”
If I were representing my dad in a picture, it would Washington's Headquarters in Morristown where, in his 50s, he was finally able to combine vocation & avocation as Supervisor of Buildings & Grounds maintenance, unfortunate that it didn't happen earlier. To be sure, dad's enthusiasm & ambition were rarely directed into his career. Or maybe a photo from Ocean City NJ, although excepting a few years in the early Sixties we had always stayed with relatives across the bay in Somers Point, & always the first week of August. Atlantic City was his parents' town, & it became one of mine after my grandmother retired there. I liked his side of the family, Bradys & Rixons; Irish-Catholics out of Philadelphia, contentious, colorful, & superstitious, you didn't have to guess what they were feeling. Dad jettisoned the Catholicism before he was out of his teens, the rebellion was total, & he never looked back with the slightest regret or nostalgia. His only compromises were marrying his protestant wife at the St. Joseph's Rectory in Roselle, & allowing Catholic baptisms for his 4 infants so if, God forbid, one of us had died early on he wouldn't be held guilty by the family matriarchy of consigning the baby to Limbo. He became a Republican in the Roosevelt era, mostly I think because he considered Democrats corrupted beyond any hope of reform, & they were also the Roman Catholic party; he was correct about that in Jersey back then. I never asked him why he let the Nucky Johnson - Frank Farley GOP machine in Atlantic City off-the-hook. By the time I was able to pose that question, dad & I never discussed politics & hardly talked about anything else. As with Mark Twain, there were about 7 years, from age 18 to 25, corresponding with Vietnam & my frequent intake of illicit substances, when I considered dad pretty ignorant. Grandchildren & a good second marriage mellowed him slowly, & I also came under better influences. I wish we could have gotten another ten years from him, he was growing into a very likable old guy.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Topless in Texas
JACKSON, N.J. - At 128 mph and a little more than 45 stories tall, the Kingda Ka roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure gives riders quite a thrill. That is, when it's working. Kingda Ka launches riders forward horizontally from a standstill to 128 mph in 3.5 seconds, then upward 456 feet at a 90-degree angle. At the top, the train slows almost to a stop, then plummets back to earth. The ride is over in about 50 seconds.You could not get me on this thing. I had to be shamed by two preteen girls into riding the small single loop coaster in Wildwood.
Art teacher in hot water over topless photos.Nope. They wouldn't have hired O'Keeffe to teach in Texas, then or now. For that matter, I doubt if either Allen Ginsberg or Amiri Baraka would have been welcomed in Jersey's Poets In the Schools program.
School where teacher worked was attended by Bush daughters.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Until they found the topless photos, Austin High School officials considered Tamara Hoover an excellent art teacher with a knack for helping students find their creativity.
Austen Clements, one of Hoover's students, noted that many artists have nude pictures, including Georgia O'Keeffe. "If Georgia O'Keeffe wanted to teach at Austin High, I don't think they'd say, 'No, you have nude pictures online,"' Clements said.
Friday, June 16, 2006
it's the heat, it's the humidity, it's Jersey
What a drag. A friend drove me over to buy an AC today & I impulsively up'd to a 7000 BTU unit because it was only a few dollars more & a far more efficient size for this room. But as soon as I opened the box here I knew I'd made a BIG mistake. There's no way I can safely install the thing. I can't mount metal brackets in the granite outside sill, & a few measurements warned me it just hangs out too far to trust resting it on wood blocks. It would be dangerous, & if I went ahead the landlord would likely & sensibly ask me to remove it. I left it in the box. The smaller 6000 would've been OK even though I'd have to keep it really cranked up & settle for taking the edge off the heat & humidity rather having a really cool room. I'm very upset.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Bush approves Hawaiian Island marine sanctuary
President Bush: Now, this Hawhyee thing. Any oil down there?
Unnamed Administration Official : No.
UAO: Maybe volcanic. Nothing we know how to tap.
Bush: Charlie the Tuna?
Bush: The tuna guy. Tunafish sammiches.
UAO: You mean, is there a tuna fishery? No.
Bush: What the heck is it good for then?
UAO: It's pristine. You saw the film presentation.
Bush: Yeah, like an aquarium. A big aquarium, in a zoo, with seals. & turtles. I like turtles.
UAO: Yessir. It's an ecological wonder.
Bush: Don't like that word, eco.
UAO: The environmentalists are for it.
Bush: Don't care about them. Southern Baptists?
Bush: Aren't those Baptists meeting now?
UAO: In Greensboro, Mister President.
Bush: They for it?
UAO: It's not on their agenda.
Bush: Thank you, Jayzuz.
UAO: All fishing will be phased out over five years.
Bush: Big lobby?
UAO: Only 5 boats, Mister President.
Bush: That gives me some time to bait a hook. Alright, pardner, let's do it.
UAO: Excellent, Your Excellency.
Bush: Say, whose idea was this? I mean before me?
UAO: I don't know, but President Clinton got it rolling.
Bush: My father didn't call, did he?
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
1996: it was a very bad year
I started seeing a therapist over the summer, he was helping me cope, then abruptly announced he was emigrating to Israel. Which didn't matter because the 90 day post-layoff grace period on my health insurance was ending anyway. I'd taken a sabbatical from WFMU & didn't have a weekly radio show to lean on. I couldn't afford to head down to Wildwood by myself for a 5 night August R&R, & had no one to go with. My only positive memories of that summer are of exploring the Jersey bayshore - driving down Route 36 & turning left into some neighborhood I'd never visited, & of the many late evenings spent over friend Edie's chatting about literature & movies. On warm Sunday nights I usually nursed a few beers at the uncrowded Waiting Room bar in Rahway, feeding dollar bills into a juke with an excellent selection of CDs including Sinatra, The Stones, Steely Dan, & The Clash. I was in a funk for nearly the entire year.
Oddly, an angel appeared as my unemployment ran out, a man from a nonprofit agency in Elizabeth who'd interviewed everyone laid off from County, had little to offer at the time, received some additional funding for a six week computer class, remembered me, called, got me an extension on benefits, & I learned basic PC applications including Windows '95, just in time for the internet bubble. I never fully adjusted to the changes brought by the 1996 watershed; I didn't lock up my heart but it's stayed loosely wrapped ever since; I was finally too old to play a young literary lion; my family had totally fragmented; & when I went back to WFMU, I realized the well of under-appreciated & obscure recorded music that had carried me through 15 years there had at last dried up. The studios were located at the edge of a desolate, bankrupted Upsala College campus where I'd met wonderful friends who had moved away &had had so many enjoyable experiences. Until 1996 I looked, felt & behaved at least ten years younger than my actual age. I couldn't do much about the looks, but I learned in the years following that there are other parts a poet must at least keep suspended in a kind of agelessness, if not youth. & some people never understand whatthehell poets are saying.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Asbury Park Hojo's no more
But Howard Johnson's food may yet return to N.J.
I remember the restaurant on summer evenings during the late Sixties when it was packed, with outdoor tables on upper level. By 2000, when the Asbury boardwalk ranked with the Walt Whitman house in Camden as one of the most depressed & depressing locales I'd ever visited, George was still opening the place for a few hours every weekend. The good news is the great building is staying.
Heather Mills McCartney, estranged wife of Beatles star Sir Paul, is to take legal action over newspaper claims that she worked as a prostitute in her 20s.
Monday, June 12, 2006
Ligeti’s international status received a backhanded compliment when, in 1968, Stanley Kubrick appropriated — without the composer’s knowledge or consent — large parts of three recently recorded works for the soundtrack of his film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Eventually Ligeti was paid a paltry sum by MGM, but he undoubtedly benefited from the publicity attendant on the success of the film, and Kubrick used more of his music in later films, paying appropriately.
Paris Hilton can't sing, can't act, isn't attractive, possessed only a narrow range of emotions, narcissistic, sexually jaded, she could be psychopathic. There's limited possibilities of where a talk show host can go with her as a guest, since she doesn't need to care what anyone thinks. Until a few years ago, Dave Letterman would've made her the joke. For a brief period Hilton was almost an "A" list midweek celebrity guest, back when her sex tape & "reality" show were new. Then it was discovered that she's boring, unfunny, utterly devoid of charm; a stiff. Now she's top-billed on the kind of Monday show that has the New York Times crossword puzzle editor as second guest, no musical act; a show Letterman throws away long before the lousy Top Ten.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Friday, June 09, 2006
The Horseshoe Crabs
"All those years have really passed, moment by moment, one by one. They encompass an actual, already lived reality, encompassing all the lives of all the organisms that have come and gone in that time. That expanse of time defines the realm of biological possibility in which life in its extraordinary diversity has evolved. It is time that has allowed the making of us."
"Religion approaches mystery with metaphor."
Gail Ramshaw, Under the Tree of Life
I used to go to Cliffwood Beach on Raritan Bay week after week during the late 90's, even on mild winter afternoons, often driving there directly from work, & just walking at water's edge or sitting in my small orange beach chair, in what I supposed was a semi-meditative state of mind. The location was convenient, about a mile off a main highway & not a well-known spot. The place was nearly deserted even on summer weekdays but for a few fishermen & local sunbathers. Then, one warm day in late May, the Horseshoe Crabs came ashore. They were not strangers, I'd seen many live & dead ones over the years, & their ubiquitous shells. I'd held them & turned them right side up when I found them on their backs. I knew they were an ancient species, & harmless, & buried their eggs on the beach in late spring. I associated them mostly with Delaware Bay & migrating birds. But I was not really prepared for this annual event: thousands of Horseshoe Crabs, large females & smaller males, so many that I could hardly step from dry sand to the water, & hundreds more swimming in the shallow water. Thousands of birds - mostly Laughing Gulls, but others also - hovering over the choppy water against a stiff breeze, diving for the little round crab eggs floating there. Hundreds of sandpipers ran on tiny legs around the clusters of beached crabs, gobbling eggs as fast as they could. Dozens of Red Wing black birds were also present, taking care not to get wet. I found several different small animal tracks that definitely included cats & raccoons. Millions of tiny, transluscent green eggs smaller than bb's blew along the beach. They were getting into my hair & sticking to my clothes. I went to Cliffwood six days in a row until the orgy ebbed. I flipped over dozens of crabs that became stranded on their backs on dry sand & which would have been pecked to death by gulls or baked in the sun. Even so, uncounted Horseshoe Crabs died that week. It was awesome, & beautiful, & troubling to my spirit in the same way deep dark starry skies have bothered me on the few occasions I've been outside the bubble of light pollution.
Was all this copulation, feasting, waste, & carnage "intelligent design" or the remarkable adaptation of species & their life rhythms to geological forces that occurred over the course of 350 million years? Any "intelligence" at work in those processes was utterly alien to me, because from a human viewpoint it was filled with a cruelty more terrible than the worst despot could imagine. Cruelty - & the perception of beauty - are so far as we know traits of human consciousness. The birds were not dining at Captain Joe's Raw Bar, or the Horseshoes shacking up in a Jersey shore motel. If this is entirely the work of God's careful deliberation, then the world, the whole universe, is truly a fallen place, dependent upon death to sustain life. No such "system" would be created in the wink of an eye 10,000 years ago as a few small gears in an infinitely large cosmic machine. I could not believe in such a deity. It would be like worshipping a tyrant king of the ancient near-east, one who executes the soldiers of a vanquished army & impales their severed heads on poles leading to the capital city. I could only step back from what I experienced at Cliffwood Beach, thinking that the details of how this week of the Horseshoe Crabs & their tiny eggs & the birds came about is for science to explain, not the myths of neolithic desert tribes emerging from the stone age. Just as science finally explained why the jigsaw puzzle pieces of eastern South America & Western Africa were not the fanciful suggestions of grammar school children examining a classroom globe but rather the result of great sections of crust floating on the molten rock of a changing planet. Plate Tectonics also showed how the worn mountains of New England & Scotland were one ancient range, & it made sense of the of presence of Horseshoe Crabs on opposite sides of the planet. Calling these processes part of a cosmic dance is a metaphor. But if there is an "intelligence" behind it all, it is the eternal mind (also a metaphor) that awed & frightened poet William Blake in The Tiger.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Cheeza Whiz, speaka da Englesh
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
It must be 666 day. I just screwed up Firefox, inadvertantly created an entirely new default browser that has none of my settings or bookmarks. I know that original browser is on the PC but I can't figure out how to switch back to it. If I could make the mozilla box appear again all I'd probably have to do is select the original default browser, because I didn't delete the old one. It's as if I created a browser for a second user. (Later: That's exactly what happened. Took a bit of search through Firefox site to find instructions, but a quick fix after that. Glad it wasn't Explorer. Lesson: Back up bookmarks!)
The Ocean City Maryland boardwalk cam got knocked into a less interesting position. I started cutting my hair with the setting on 1 instead of 2 & so had to keep going. This morning the water was turned off & the woman next door was loudly playing some new age version of Ave Maria with the bass cranked up. As I left the building, there was a sign on the outside of the front door saying the water would be turned off. That's fine if I slept outside all night & was coming inside to take a shower. But there was no point in explaining this to the semi-dimwits who do repairs here.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Occasionally I get an urge to totally flip & buy my wardrobe from Haband, the incomparable catalogue of cotton-polyester clothing, better generally for menswear than women("Bend Over Blazer"?). I know a guy who wears Haband, he doesn't enjoy shopping & so he's made the style part of his "old man" image, although he's hardly past 40. He's also a big man, his waistline probably changes weekly & the Haband "stretch" features accomodate the ups & downs. So if I made the Haband Makeover, here's what I'd get this week:
A couple of knit guayabera shirts (with a cheap shell necklace, great for boardwalking) & a few seersuckers, timeless alternative to this year's madras.
A watermelon blazer.
Microfiber field coat with "magic cling" pockets.
& the most must-have apparel, a wash & wear "Nano-Tex" suit; 2 actually, black & sand fancy, wish I'd had this outfit when I used to attend Christmas Eve service at my sister's church up in a section of Jersey where they prefer Land's End & Pendleton (Tipoff I'm not a true Habander is I want the Rainforest Washable Silk Shirt @ $74.00).
Add a pair of black dress loafers for 24.99
& reversible belts & the transformation is nearly complete, until I look over the closeout items. I haven't even chosen a full wardrobe, no undies, jammies, or golf shirts. I'm just a dabbler.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Friday, June 02, 2006
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Just prior to heading out to meeting in Jersey City tonight, I checked the online radar & watched a line of very big storm cells creeping into northern Jersey. Several topped out at over 40,000 feet & had large hailstones in them. I figured I might just beat them to Exchange Place. The sky darkened ominously as the PATH train crossed the Meadowlands - instant night. I did out-run the storms to Jersey City. But I lost the race in the two blocks from the station to the meeting place. I wasn't totally drenched only because I made it to the door as the really torrential downpour began. So most of the meeting was conducted to the accompaniment of loud thunderclaps & brilliant lightning. Heard an ex-girlfriend is a server at pricy popular restaurant-tavern, not the sort of place I'd ever wander into for a casual beer in Jersey City, although no doubt there's a great selection. But is there a jukebox? I used to stop by for a drink when she was in college & worked at Ground Round.