Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Nazz - Forget All About It (1969)

Opener of the band's second LP Nazz Nazz, which had been projected as a double.

Led by Todd Rundgren, Nazz were actually a sort of Philadelphia super-group. Their first LP was too good, too tight, too British for the time. But it was fantastic. The sentiments of this song, of political disengagement, went against trends. They had a great live rep, but they never played around New York. Because of Rundgren's subsequent career, people tend to forget the other three guys also had egos, &  came to resent Rundgren's domination in the studio.

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Clemente's game

The Mets & Marlins are playing three in San Juan, Puerto Rico at a minor league size park  with artificial turf. The idea is good, the stadium is not. You'd hope, with the Puerto Rico economy so depressed, that the two clubs would buy up all the seats & give away tickets to fill up the place. But as Mets radio announcer Howie Rose sadly  explained, Puerto Rico is now a major league backwater, not even adequately scouted, only 25 native born Puerto Ricans playing in the majors, five with the Mets. By contrast, the Mets, Yanks & other wealthier teams not only heavily scout the Dominican Republic, but are actively involved in developing ballplayers there with baseball "academies."Rose has been getting his  well-researched two cents in throughout these broadcasts that MLB is not supportive of the Puerto Rican game, which gave us Roberto Clemente.

Although Mets are the visitors in this series, they're clearly the home team for the crowd. Too bad Carlos Beltran couldn't be in the lineup. They lost the first two. Last night they fought back from 6-2 to tie in the top of the 9th, only to have reliever Pedro Feliciano give up a game-winning single to Dan Uggla, who had already hit a homer. feasts on Mets pitching,  & should have been walked with first base open.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It's a dilemma,

 80% of people don't care about your problems, & the other 20% are glad you have them.
Tommy Lasorda

It's a dilemma, & I see no solution or alternative.  He wasn't my first or second choice as a specialist. I had to choose him myself based on who was approved & where the doctor was located. I had no primary physician; still, it's the HMO's call & he was on the list.

I had no way to compare. From the start, I didn't like how he managed his office; we all can make comparisons on that. I believe it is the function of the office not only to bill you, but to instruct you & guide you. They should always tell what to do next, & when, if the doctor himself leaves that to them.

But since I knew I was headed for surgery, which is this doctor's rep, I figured just do it, & if I get through it & survive, I can move on to my other health problems.

The problem arose when I fell off his surgical conveyor belt. It was a problem he would've missed, even though he was in possession of a test that revealed the problem, I called it to his assistant's attention on a hunch! A symptom I'd not been instructed to watch for. The test, from  ten days previous, was found & read for the first time. Had I not had the hunch, this doctor would have done a routine in-office procedure, a standard biopsy, that the condition, a bladder infection, would not allow.

An alarm went off in my head.  From that day on, I should have become a special case to this specialist, nothing left to chance. Every antibiotic regimen  monitored, every urinalysis pre-scheduled  to coincide with the completion of a regimen at the time an antibiotic was prescribed.  The office staff never mentioned I could get the test at a local lab, even when I griped about traveling to Newark for a ten minute office visit.

The bladder infections have not been  been cured.  This doctor no longer has my confidence or trust.  How can I when  I blame him, when I think he screwed up?  I now believe another specialist, maybe any other,  would have been more attentive, more concerned, more persevering, seriously staying on top of my condition.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Never Mind

Never Mind That Sex Allegation: Al Gore Writes Op-Ed, Raises Money for Dems

The strange Al Gore story struggling along on wobbling legs. For a few reasons. There doesn't seem to be much to it anyone would care about. One doesn't want to imagine Al receiving a massage in a hotel room. He'd been out of office for six years, & the guy who became President made us realize that unresolved daddy issues could be a lot worse for America than cheating on one's wife.  It has no bearing on his expertise or credibility when he speaks out on global warming. Of more interest is how Al & Tipper apparently began protecting their assets in anticipation of the end of their marriage & possible scandal that might result in lawsuits.

Sportscaster Marv Albert was involved in a bizarre incident back in 1997. NBC fired him. But Marv was divorced at the time. He remarried in 1998, took a plea deal, & his broadcasting career quickly recovered. I recall Marv joking about it on Letterman.


In memory of Robert Byrd, American musician

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Seaside Heights NJ

M J Casper Bath House

Ice Cream, Soft Drinks, Candy and Cigars
Dancing Every Evening

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Friday, June 25, 2010

My massive CD library

My entire modest CD collection, except a small box of rejects stored away, a few stacked near the PC & a few more by the boombox next to the futon.  About 90%  of the plastic cases are classical.  The wallets are mostly rock, jazz, & international, I have other sources for those. There's my Sears AM radio, & a shelf of mainly art reference books.  I  began buying CDs only about ten years ago. They were too expensive . But my sources  for plentiful free music didn't include much classical , & having stepped away from a weekly radio show I had time to listen to  classical music again.  The first  classical  CDs I got were an inexpensive box of Beethoven's symphonies, & boxes  of his middle & late string quartets. I still go for bargains.

With classical music, I prefer having only one or two new albums at a time.   I can't audition & blow through them like pop & rock. I investigate & choose.

The black case in the middle is Russian & Eastern European.  Below in a crate is  British, on the bottom some miscellaneous.  On the right are Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Haydn, Handel, baroque, early music, & the bottom row is vocal music, some opera, art song, choral, & the books.   On the left there's some jazz, American - much Charles Ives,  compilations, a few soundtracks, German & Viennese from Brahms on, French, a couple of Japanese composers, & a small selection of pop & rock.

Older avant garde & experimental records  are  easy to find for free ripped to  mp3 (or FLAC)  if you're not looking for anything in particular. Most of it  was released on now-defunct labels, & there's music blogs devoted to it. More difficult if you want something specific in classical, & to obtain it legally, although I don't see much difference between buying an in-print CD used & cheap,   or downloading an file for free. A friend noted you're not helping the American auto worker by buying a used Ford; you might be doing your local repair shop a big favor. So when I wanted a top quality recording of Janacek's two  masterpiece string quartets, I put several on my Amazon wish list & waited, & within a week one showed up for $1.99. I also fancied exploring some unfamiliar woodwind quintet music & found a highly praised CD of Scandinavian works for one cent, the bookstore made about  buck profit on $2.98 shipping.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Yes, we have no bananas

ShopRite veggie section is o.k., but the bananas are always very green, & they still look like the person who unpacks them bounces each bag off the wall before putting it in the display bin, every bag has bruised bananas. & speaking of bananas, I pay small attention to the rantings of Fox news personalities, but this is priceless:

A few days ago, sports radio station WFAN ran a promo for Fox TV business channel that ultra-right nutcase rocker Ted Nugent would be a guest that evening - I think he  lives in a luxury cave in Michigan & eats raw meat  - & among other topics Ted would be offering his opinions on the Gulf oil catastrophe. I doubt Ted took a beating on BP stock; he probably has his fortune invested in gold bullion & diamonds  he keeps in a secret vault somewhere, the same place he ages his moose steaks.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Trash Talk

Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s trashing of his civilian colleagues was unprofessional and may cost him his job. If so, it will be a sad end to a fine career. But no general is indispensable.

Thomas Friedman
I can think of one, maybe two indispensable American generals: George Washington & "Stonewall" Jackson.  Not McChrystal.

Of course, McChrystal is a darling of the right. Insubordinate-sounding generals who trash talk civilian authority always are. & maybe we should thank The General for exposing the confusion & in-fighting within the Obama administration. But heroes can be assholes. & he's apparently surrounded by sycophants, just like McClellan, Hooker, & MacArthur, to name three other commanders who disdained the Commander-in-Chief. With the first two,  which this situation most resembles, since McChrystal's contempt is for people more  than policy, Lincoln was willing to risk the trash talk if they'd just engage & defeat the Army of Northern Virginia. Does anyone including McChrystal believe we can secure Afghanistan? Afghanistan isn't even a f*ckin' nation.

Obama  had no choice but to fire McChrystal, & most military experts seem to agree. The President is the boss. A President can't tolerate a top commander & staff blabbing like that in front of an invited journalist. & the griping was so personal & so scattershot; President, Vice President, Ambassador, Joint Chiefs, on & on. Imagine how   harshly any lower soldier would be disciplined by a superior for talking that disrespectfully in public?

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A negative dream versus a recollection of the power of love

No point to hitting the snooze button if the extra sleep is a dream  where I'm back working at Pearl Arts store, I punch out at closing time, go outside, & my car is gone, & I learn the sourpuss assistant store manager had my car towed out of what she says is an illegal space without giving me the chance to move it. To make the matter worse, I don't know the tow service that took the car, or recognize any of my co-workers.

In reality, & to our amazement,  the assistant manager fell in love, &  almost overnight she became one of the most liked employees at the store. But even before love softened her, she wouldn't have done something that mean spirited.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Solstice

The second summer that will be a vicarious experience for me due to poor health. But I have to admit it's been years since I've handled Jersey's tropical heat & humidity well. I'm an air-conditioner person now.

Even if I had a Rita's Italian Ice stand around the corner, wouldn't be enough to stand outside it on a sweltering evening licking through a rapidly melting exotic flavor-of-the-week.

Odell Brown & the Organ-izers

All of Odell Brown's LPs for Cadet & Paula labels are out of print.  They're all good. The three Odell Brown & the Organ-izers albums are treasures. Featuring two saxes, frequent addition of congas, & with a broad range of covers & originals, the group occupied a funky ground between Booker & the MG's & B3 Hammond jazz. The saxes even wandered into John Coltraneish territory on some numbers.  They were an outstanding band, but they were not so easily categorized, &  were disagreements within the group regarding direction & commitment broke it up.   Odell went on to become Marvin Gaye's music director, then dropped out sight for a long time after Marvin's murder.  It came out that he had long suffered from periods of depression.  Ducky is from 1967.

Ain't No Mountain High

Tough Tip

Get Off My Back



Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Father's Day stroll

Father's Day is big in baseball culture.  Most people into baseball were introduced to it by their dads. I became a baseball fan as an adult, so I don't have the baseball memories &  the details, names & stats you  pick up as a kid.  My older brother Jim was the Yankees fan. My mom listened to baseball on the radio as she ironed.  Dad wasn't a fan of professional sports or an athlete.  He became a Little League coach, a very good one, when Jim played. He  took us to Yankee Stadium  a few times - his company had very fine season seats, & there was  some process through which regular employees could use them. But it wasn't baseball, dad, & me sharing that special moment at a game.

My other older brother, Joe, was into Boy Scouts seriously, & Dad got involved in that with him.  A  problem, I think,  was  Dad couldn't figure out what I was into, & it frustrated him. None of it was "organized" activity. For him, I was a kind of solitary, anxious, moody, stuttering child given to day dreaming.  Very unlike him, it would seem.  Nowadays I'd probably be diagnosed with Attention Deficit.*  In fact, I had a capacity for a  good deal of patience & focus. Dad -  unfortunately,  not until I had grown & he had grandchildren  - failed to notice there were times I wanted to be around him. & they were filled with the potential for intimacy. I loved walking with him. I recall tagging along on his meandering late afternoon beach strolls.  He & mom usually walked the Ocean City NJ boardwalk with no special agenda except to drop into this store or that one, or look in on The Music Pier concert. When we occasionally visited with his friends at their  small weekend home in Poconos above Dingman's Ferry PA, every  early evening  toward sunset Dad, Mom, their friends, & some little dogs, went for a long, leisurely walk down a rural road through the woods. Participation for kids was optional.  I was like one of the little dogs, going off & coming back, circling around back in their footsteps.   They were pretty quiet walks & they would stop & examine things - plants, tiny roadside springs with  small, contained worlds - now we call them ecosystems, & listen for songbirds & small animals like chipmunks  & toads. Dad was a generalist in those moments, curious about stuff.  Dad didn't teach me how to play baseball,  start  a campfire, or build a birdhouse. He showed me how to observe without looking for anything in particular.  Unknown to him, he taught a very important skill for a poet & writer. When, in my early twenties, I got more serious about poetry, &  comfortable with modern poets who wrote with economy, I knew exactly what I had to do: strip away all the extra stuff & just go for a little walk & describe what I saw. Might be one thing would grab my attention, like in a famous poem by William Carlos Williams,  The Red Wheelbarrow, or several, or the walk itself become the subject.

My sister still takes unhurried, looping walks around her neighborhood with her husband, sometimes through suburban streets, sometimes down the country road by Black River. I've accompanied them, & the only decision they make at the outset is how long they want to be out, & the direction.

Dad could be so competitive at times, project-oriented, into mastering skills, he can hardly be blamed for not seeing that I loved him most when he put those aside. Perhaps I would've been more receptive to the lessons he  considered most important.  But I can easily imagine what he would say now  about people blabbing on their cellphones as they use a late afternoon beach at low tide merely for some fast walking exercise, rather than for noticing what the ocean  deposited on the shoreline.

I cherish that we took a few walks together later, some  just around his  backyard.  He always wanted to know that what he saw, I  also saw. & I did.

*Does an ADD kid catch a bullfrog, finish a 400 page book, & stay hidden  during hide-n-seek?

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Budd Lake NJ

Merry-go-round at Budd Lake

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Friday, June 18, 2010

A day in the life of someone who can buy anything

John Lennon's A Day in the Life lyrics sell for $1.2m

John Lennon's handwritten lyrics to Beatles song A Day In The Life have sold for $1.2m (£810,000) at auction, well above the price expected.

The double-sided sheet of paper with notes written in felt marker and blue ink was sold at Sotheby's in New York.

The lyric sheet also contains some corrections and other notes penned in red ink.
An investment?  Buying it as a Beatles fan is insane even for Beatles fans.

I've known some record & music memorabilia collectors.  There were WFMU DJs I thought were nuts - until the FMU record fairs became so popular that rich collectors flew in from Europe for them.  They have lists & wads of cash & when they run low they go to an ATM for more money.  I  worked the dollar tables so I would meet fellow  hoi polloi hunters. The crazed collectors hit the dollar table on the way out, My people browsed them on the way in, & would check back as we restocked. My radio shows were driven by flea market, garage sale, & cut-out bin finds. I let records I had never heard or heard of find me.

I can understand why people drop a bundle on expensive items. An antique grandfather clock or dining room table. A rare tea service. Heirlooms. Or one classic car, not Jay Leno's addiction.

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Seldom the Sun

by Alec Wilder, conducted by Frank Sinatra.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

What they mainly do is remember

I've had disagreements with other poets - not serious ones - about the place of political opinion in poems, & the role of poets in advocating political change. But those were when I was a very young poet. My view was that poems pretty much chose their own subjects, & if one's poems were heavily weighted toward political opinion & large current events, one ought to consider switching to prose. Not many poets are good at incorporating headlines. If you're going that way, you have to push through the breaking news aspect, which is mostly fit to line bird cages within a few weeks if not days. Over time, even the more engaged poets I knew averaged out, as they discovered other strengths. Two of them became among the finest, most deeply observant & insightful "nature" poets I've read, & both have also written beautifully about their children.

In my experience, poets rarely discuss politics when they gather. What they mainly do is remember, & jog each others memories. Some have amazing, detailed memories of childhood. We all recall when we fell in love with poetry, usually in grammar school. 4th grade for me, Miss Olson. Miss Olson was an old-school unmarried teacher, the kind we believed lived & breathed teaching 24/7 only to find out later, when we went back to the school to visit (they loved hearing from former students) that they they were independent women of broad cultural interests; classical music, gardening clubs, local book societies, Friends of the Library. Some of them no doubt lived discreetly with "companions." None of our business.

Poets feel (or ought to feel) a responsibility from knowing that the only encounter most readers have with the people we put in our poems is through the poems, & the poems provide only an episodic glimpse. Anything more would require autobiographical prose. So the glimpse ought to be accurate, or if fanciful, wrapped in humor & presented obviously as another form of truth. It's usually easy to tell the difference.

Poets may also be strong "traditionalists," which is not the same as being conservative. We could care less about "appearances," purple hair, tattoos; or one's sexual preferences. We're not ageists. The kid poet may be more naturally talented & way ahead of where we were at that age, & we just have to accept it as a condition of creativity. Older poets have incomparable experience. Edie Eustice, the long-time host of Poetswednesday in Woodbridge NJ, had very popular, informal gatherings at her small home, poets & musicians of all ages. They were salons. Some of these gatherings were spontaneous; you'd call, she'd say so-& so was there, c'mon over, & by the time you arrived five or six others would be crammed in at the kitchen table. These went on over two decades until she moved to Pennsy, where she still has them but with less frequency.


Radio crackling late last night

Radio crackling late last night.  Looked at radar, narrow line of intense storms headed this way. That's cool, I thought. Shut down PC, got into bed, listened to radio & waited. They frittered out about ten miles west of here, only received some rain. Disappointing.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Mets

The Mets have been playing well. To discuss this  in detail prior to the Yankee series this weekend is kind of jinxy. But I notice on WFAN, the New York call-in sports radio station, that a certain type of Met fan is unable to enjoy the present.  Some Yankees fans are also like that. But many Yankees fans want guarantees the team will at least get the Wild Card, & they suggest outrageous, unnecessary, probably impossble mid-season trades. There's hardly anything wrong with the Yankees.  Injuries, &  Tampa Bay. The Yanks almost always deliver when they promise a post-season.  But some Mets fans want promises their hearts won't be broken.  This cannot be.. They have the absurd idea that The Mets could be like The Yanks, that there could be a No Heartbreak  lineup on paper.  The Mets need another a good pitcher, no doubt about it. They need some semblance of the old Carlos Beltran back. Maybe it'll happen,  maybe not.  The Mets are a House of Cards team  right now, propped up by some unlikely players.  But they sure are fun. Only a  few  weeks ago  the whole season looked like a depressing write-off. Something at the core of the team shifted when rookie Ike Davis arrived.  Ike is not a headcase. Ike is a young man psychologically prepared for the majors by his former major league dad. The Mets have two headcases, David Wright & Jose Reyes. When Reyes slumps at the plate his entire game falls apart, he can barely order his feet to run to first base on what's probably a routine out. His defense goes bad.  When Wright slumps he looks like me  whiffing at  fast balls in  a batting cage on the boardwalk.  But when they're on, they're great ballplayers & play with the enthusiasm & intensity  of all star  Little Leaguers.

If you can't risk a broken  heart, be a  Pittsburgh or Baltimore fan. They have nice ball parks & you can talk about all the winning Pirates & Orioles teams & players of the past.
As for soccer & the World Cup. I'm not much of an American football fan, but if all games ended in a score of 3-0, only a field goal, they would still be more interesting than soccer.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Touchdown Jesus

Gauche protestant "Touchdown Jesus" statue in Ohio struck by lightning & burns. Notre Dame fans are not surprised.

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The Critters

I don't know if this fine single even cracked the charts. Many years later I met Critters organist Chris Darway (he's a very good artist), who was surprised not only that I fondly recalled the song, but that I also knew he'd recorded a solo album.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Oil Remoulade

I'm one of the people slapped back to reality by this growing environmental horror with no end in sight. When Obama opened up the East Coast south of Jersey to oil & gas exploration, I'd already become resigned that it was probably  unavoidable in the present political climate if America was seeking energy independence. We're not quitting our oil addiction anytime soon, & our dependence on the House of Saud & other awful regimes warps our foreign policy, & both China & India are competing now for the supply. Jerseyans tend to be rather naive about the sources of  the energy we use.  Taxes are high but our gasoline is always among the least expensive.   But this disaster is the result of one, only one, oil well owned by one oil company. It can happen anywhere there's an offshore well, & that it's a so far unique occurrence doesn't matter.  Neither BP nor our government was prepared for this. Surely, the worse case scenario of an out of control 5000 foot deep underwater well had been foreseen & either dismissed as unlikely, alarmist, or too expensive to prepare for, probably the latter. Yet, the possibility of failure, even inevitability, was present, just as it was & still is for the inadequate levees of New Orleans.

I'm not familiar with the natural wonders of the Gulf coast. I can, however, imagine 100 miles of Jersey's ocean coast blackened with oil, & floating barriers strung across all our inlets - indeed, across the mouths of the Hudson & Delaware Rivers. I've seen them put in place for small spills at marinas & barge docks. Our tidal wetlands reach deep into northern Jersey, the Hackensack meadowlands. In Rahway, a town no one now thinks of as a port city, I resided next to the upper reaches of a true tidal estuary, a river only about 20 feet wide at that point but which rose & fell on schedule twice a day, where thousands of eels were occasionally chased several miles upstream by schools of  striped bass migrating into Arthur Kill, the waterway between Jersey & Staten Island. A few hundred yards downriver were fat blue crabs you could see crawling around on the bottom when the water was flowing clear. Rahway is, in a very real sense, "down the shore." If the river were dredged as it used to be, the new luxury condos downtown could include slips for small boats. & all that could be coated with crude. Only a handful of people I knew in town, mostly those who surf fished on Jersey beaches & crabbed the bays, were accurate observers of the tidal part of Rahway River.

Unlike after Katrina, I feel strangely cool toward Louisianians themselves. They sold out so long ago to the politicians who sold out to Big Oil, & have been so ruinous to their own coastal environment,  so distrustful of federal government, that one wonders why they're shocked. Gov. Bobby Jindal's calling in NFL champs New Orleans Saints to "save the coast" at the same time he's condemning Obama's prudent six-month moratorium on new drilling,  suggesting that oil companies will abandon the State in that brief period &  new regulations (which he might oppose anyway) could be written & instituted before there's a full understanding of  what went wrong & how it can be prevented in the future. Someone ought to show the guy a complete map of the Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana is a state that gets far more federal tax dollars back than it contributes. Like Alaska.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Margate NJ

The Beautiful Margate Casino
Famous Royal Continental Room
Essex Terrace
Vent-Mar Supper Club

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Napalm Health Spa Report 2010

Five poems in Napalm Health Spa Report 2010, Jim Cohn's excellent long-running annual. One of the poems is about 18 years old. I have lots of unpublished poems I like that I just never found a home for, or set aside unfinished because there was something in them I couldn't get right. My only loose rule is, "Is this a poem I could write now?" For the voice & craft, not necessarily the content. Last year I published a poem from the '80s about a former girlfriend's 12 year old niece now married with a child. I happened to come across it in a file folder, read it, & realized exactly what was wrong with it, required a very simple revision. That must be a common thing, artists getting ahead of themselves, & finding themselves in unfamiliar places, haven't learned how handle the creative situation yet, & later it's no problem at all. Also learn where not to go, where one doesn't have the aptitude. I have those kinds of poems, & have published some of them because they're fun to read even though they ultimately fall flat. More difficult for painters & sculptors, expensive to use up materials for a failed work.

My impulse to write poems as a matter of habit petered out in the '90s. A few reasons. I wasn't successful enough as a public poet, locally, wasn't "in demand" for readings, & didn't enjoy doing them much anyway, although they 're the foundation for becoming known, how you make connections. Radio was using a lot of my creative energy. I began feeling some strong limitations of talent. & short prose was more comfortable for daily writing, & I had outlets for it that didn't require waiting a year between creation & appearance in print. Not needing to generate many poems, to push them into existence, I became less concerned with consistency. Now I describe it as learning to toss a knuckleball. Of course, I'd always been throwing them. A handful of poets, including Jim Cohn, had liked that about them all along. Visual artists liked them. & professional prose writers liked them. I made "serious" poems but maybe I wasn't a "serious" enough poet for other poets in Jersey.

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David Markson

David Markson, whose wry, elliptical novels probing the scattered mind of the artist and the unruly craft of making art were frequently called postmodern and experimental and almost always surprisingly engaging and underappreciated, died Friday in his Greenwich Village apartment. He was 82.

Markson hung out at the Lion's Head, a macho, now-defunct West Village bar frequented by Pete Hamill, Nick Tosches, Frank McCourt,  poet joel oppenheimer, & writers from nearby Village Voice & other newspapers, & which had a great jukebox. His novel “Wittgenstein’s Mistress” (1988) is highly regarded, but I haven't read it. I've read & have in my small, select collection of beat era paperbacks Markson's 1961 private eye novel, "Epitaph for a Dead Beat." If I want "post-modern" I read my own blog.

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Abby Sunderland's ship

Sea of criticism for adrift young sailor's parents

By JOHN ROGERS, Associated Press Writer John Rogers, Associated Press Writer –

LOS ANGELES – What were her parents thinking? Many people were asking that question as a 16-year-old girl sat adrift and alone in the frigid southern Indian Ocean, her ship's mast dashed along with her around-the-world sailing effort.

Abby Sunderland's ship was rolling in 20- Edit HTMLto 30-foot waves as she waited to be rescued by a boat that was expected to arrive early Saturday morning Pacific time.
Just because a kid wants to do something special, & may even be capable of doing it, & the parents can afford it, doesn't mean the kid ought to permitted to do it. For all the expense & effort, this was a reach for a loony, 15 minutes of fame overachievement. A forgettable guest spot with Leno or Letterman? A book deal? You rather read about her or the kid who climbed Mount Everest? We've heard all those stories. They're the same ones told by the grownups who do it. except the kids have less interesting stories to tell.

What kids are inspired by this? Rich teens whose parents own sailing yachts? A typical Jersey teen just hopes to be allowed to rent jet skis for an afternoon during a week's vacation at the shore. Weather permitting.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

69 cent CD

It's great that for 69 cents plus cheap shipping I can get a perfectly fine used classical CD, a first rate performance, that would cost $12 to download. I want the hard copy liner notes booklet.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

& the winner is

(Update: Won by 24)

My conscientious councilman in Elizabeth says he's winning the primary by about 25 votes. The Union County Board of Elections hasn't updated results since last night, & in that count he's behind by 30. Countywide, the regular Democrats had squeakers in the Clerk & Sheriff races - Sheriff Ralph Froelich is usually the most "safe" Democrat in the County , & surprisingly close contests for freeholder. But there are dissident Democratic groups in a number of Union County towns, allied mainly by opposition to the regular organization, & they generated a lot of votes in their local contests that went up the ballot. I can't support them because they're mostly challenging from the right, not the left, & there's nothing particularly "reform" about them at the local level. Congrats to Rick Proctor, Rahway's next mayor.
Weekly sshopping trip postponed til tomorrow, Rainy 60 degrees. We stop at three or four places, park in outskirts of Shoprite lot 'cause people are nuts, & Gina sometimes likes to browse the garden plants outside at supermarket & Home Depot.


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The V.F.W. Crawling Contest

The late great joel oppenheimer wrote what I call "walking poems." The poet out for a stroll, unconcerned if what results is or is not a poem. It's related to artist Paul Klee's definition of a line as a point going for a walk, & Klee had one of the most beautiful lines ever seen in art. Diane Wakoski said this poem Op made was the kind of poem everyone would write if everyone wrote poems. Which she would know because she wrote those poems, too. So did Frank O'Hara. There's all different types of "walking poems." But the greatest "walking poem" I ever read is "The V.F.W. Crawling Contest" by Ed Sanders, a biiterly funny critique of America written from a vantage point of voluntary degradation. Ed doesn't even say why one would enter the contest, or what one would win, or how one would win it. But it does say something about the perverse American masochism, peculiar to the United States among western nations, currently on display in New Jersey, where people condemn labor unions, fair contracts, good working conditions, wages sufficient to support a family, reasonable vacation time, & job security, even as - or maybe because - their own employers crap on them, outsource their jobs overseas, find ways to replace experienced, older workers with cheaper, younger workers, & anyone suggesting a more equitable workplace is accused of fomenting class warfare.

I'm not sure what I wanna do

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Monday, June 07, 2010

next time I take a taxi

The next time I need to take a taxi to a location one block past the city line, I'll take it to a location one block inside the city line & walk the two blocks, I think it'll save at least five bucks. Ridiculous. But it saved me a trip to Newark. Just glad I had all phone & fax numbers the walk-in test lab required or it would've been for nothing.

All in all, I was out & about longer than if I'd gone to Newark, & spent more money. I walked all the way home by increments. First to Home Depot to price snap-together plastic shelving & buy a basic extension cord. Then on to Dollar General store where I bought a cheap pair of jeans that looked well-made of a very soft denim, purchase inspired by the name brand but stiff denim cloth jeans I was wearing. Have to use softener in the rinse next time. Skipped the library. Dropped into 7-11 for a 79 cent bag of my fav onion rings. The another block to Pathmark, which reminded me why I never patronize that store anymore for weekly food shopping. Cashiers too few & too slow. Mine didn't even notice I'd requested cash back. Unusual number of cans on shelves dented or with yucky leaked stuff on them. The store hasn't improved much since A&P bought the chain. But the six pack nutrition drink I use as the basic smoothie ingredient was on sale. At that point I saw no reason not to walk the rest of the way, enjoying fine weather that could have been a day in early May or a morning at the Jersey shore before the heat cranks up.

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Sunday, June 06, 2010

Middleville NJ

Robbin's Esso & Store

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Saturday, June 05, 2010

Unusual people

The first time it really occurred to me that I was meeting unusual people, I was 20 years old. A friend's girlfriend lived in a large, new garden apt complex in Roselle Park NJ. It was a substandard dump from the moment it was built. Roselle Park is a one square mile, very middle/working class town, at the time exclusively white, & apt residents there were sort of like outsiders residing amongst us. This girl invited us to have afternoon coffee with a woman living above her. We knocked, went in, & to our surprise a local politician was there & just leaving, he looked embarrassed, & mumbled something about being there on a political matter. I thought nothing of it. It was a nicely decorated apt, lots of scented candles, an imitation Tiffany lamp, very comfortable couch. The coffee was excellent, with Italian cookies from a local bakery, conversation interesting - she was an attractive, sophisticated woman in her late-twenties, well-read, broad taste in music. After awhile, I sensed something peculiar about her, but nothing in my experience could explain it. Later, I asked my friend's girlfriend about this feeling I had. She said we had been visiting a whore; she didn't use the vulgar word, actually a "kept" woman whose clients were a select group of politicians, businessmen, & a few professional football players. She really appreciated social visits from non-clients. She didn't get out much except to make house calls or go shopping. She did most of her "entertaining" at home. "You should see her bedroom," said the girl. "I can't afford that," I said. We visited her a few more times before my friend's girlfriend moved down to Long Branch with her divorced mom, to another garden apt. There, her mom dated a golf hustler & gambler with vague Mafia connections, who always showed up with a bag of terrific sub sandwiches & six packs of beer & Pepsi, & could care less that we had long hair & wore tie dye tee shirts. He also arranged access for us to a private beach behind a mansion that looked unoccupied but had well-kept landscaping. "Just walk down the driveway like you know where you're going." Other friends of his had the same deal. He had lots of great night club & race track stories, but we knew better than to ask about his "business."

Partly, I've always been a naive small town guy, frequently enough baffled by experiences & people. But by temperament I'm indifferent to many things. When I realized there were gays & lesbians all around & they didn't always announce themselves, I didn't much care who they were or if I knew it or not. But over time I began to care very much that society was preventing them from living the ordinary middle class existences most aspired toward. I could be nosy, the kind of person who looked in your bathroom cabinet, but I wouldn't tell anyone what I found in there. It was just to satisfy my own curiosity.


Friday, June 04, 2010

"There are chicks don't know what they're missin'"

Louis Armstrong was a great, great pop singer. Many think he was the greatest of all. This song is a big ten minute full cast dance number in the musical Bye Bye Birdie. In 1 1/2 minutes Louis pulls everything worth getting out of it, instantly makes us believe the simple message, thanks the audience for listening, & rides out the rest with his trumpet. TV studio must have had strong air-conditioning, Louis only wipes his face with his hankerchief at the start of the song,


Reelect Joe Keenan

Just a note that on Tuesday I'm voting for my 3rd ward councilman, Joe Keenan. Elizabeth is a Democratic city, so a contested primary is the election. Joe is a very accessible guy, on Facebook, gives out his phone number, has monthly ward resident meetings at branch library, there's almost always someone there from City Hall, including the Mayor on several occasions. The Mayor also resides in this ward. I took a long-standing & legit gripe I had about the library website to Joe, & he got on it immediately, & it turned out to be fixable problem, & now I can almost always sign on my library account, renew my books, & do searches. I don't expect a council rep to work miracles. They don't have control over the city budget. The best they can do is try to bring home their share of it in street paving, police protection, flood control projects, tree trimming, snow plowing, those sorts of tasks. & maybe guide the way through bureaucratic mazes. & listen to constituent neighbors.

It helps that Joe is well-read man, former library director, bookseller, degree in English Lit. from Catholic U In D.C., which I happen to know has an excellent English Dept. I've haven't met many local politicians anywhere who read well & widely. A conservative school, like most Catholic colleges, but my honey Susan Sarandon is an alumnus. So is Maureen Dowd, & radical feminist theologian Mary Daly. & Notre Dame U president emeritus Theodore Martin Hesburgh, who said, "Education is the only thing people are willing to pay for and not get." But if you wanted it, you could get a fine one at his Notre Dame after he'd been running it for a few years. Someday I'll introduce myself to Joe in person & we'll discuss our favorite Beat Generation writers, & I'll tell Joe that the Museum of American Poetics now categorizes me broadly as a "post-beat poet," which amuses me. I wanted to write like a male version of Diane Wakoski, definitely not beat, who had rock star status to me when I was 21.

In his previous election, Joe ran to unseat a long-time incumbent, who cared about the ward but was so alienated from the majority city hall regime that he'd become completely ineffective. The primary was so close & disputed that the court ruled it a tie & ordered another special election. I didn't vote in that first election. Joe won the re-vote. It was a lesson for me in the power of a single vote.

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Thursday, June 03, 2010

Almost perfect

Players whose only major league at bat was a grand slam home run.

I just thought that stat up, but if it's happened, Elias Sports Bureau could say who, when & where.

Baseball is such a statistically well-documented game that there are "records" for everything. The stats reveal baseball as a game of trends, of ebbs & flows. There are hitter's eras, pitcher's eras, home run eras, strike out eras. There are eras when the ball is "lively" & eras when it is not. There are confluences & coincidences - always coincidences, because most of what happens in baseball is unexplainable & unpredictable. Now, the computers find something unusual in almost every game.

The Tigers' Armando Galarraga was one out from a perfect game.

In the "modern era" since 1900 only 19 perfect games have been pitched; 27 batters up, 27 down, nobody reaches base. Until this season, two perfect games were never pitched in the same year, much less within a month. There were almost three over the past month, but for an obvious blown call by an umpire on what should have been the final out of the game. Later, the ump admitted the bad call & apologized, but the ruling stands. A ruined chance for an unremarkable pitcher to join a super elite group. A great thing about baseball, otherwise forgettable players can make unforgettable history. It was a one hitter. Two pitchers have 12 one hit games in their careers. They're memorable if you see one, uncommon but not rare. Some were almost no hitters, broken up by a hit late in the game. Hopefully a clean, indisputable hit. There have been 223 no hitters including perfect games in the modern era, & they are considered the high points in the careers of most of the pitchers who throw them. A few pitchers have tossed multiple no hitters, but every pitcher knows he's really lucky to throw just one. The odds are against it. Very.

So now the baseball stat freaks need to find an explanation for why there were two (actually three) perfect games in a month. As if there could be an explanation.
As a fan of radio baseball, I really enjoy when the Mets or Yankees play late games on the west coast. The games begin at 10 pm & it's a treat to get into bed after 11 with a book & the game playing softly on the radio.

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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Booker T and the M.G.s: Universal Language

I've liked Universal Language (Asylum, 1977) from the time I fished it out of a cut-out bin not very long after it was released. Booker T and the M.G.s recorded many good to great songs for their albums, but they were not an album band. Melting Pot, their final Stax release, often cited as their best, is really half-a-great album. McLemore Avenue, a brave, complete cover of Abbey Road (sequenced differently into medleys), is unusual, & terrific in places, but not entirely successful, & the band would've been served better by a broader all-Beatles record. I think the soundtrack from Uptight is their most satisfying LP, but this one is pretty good.

Versatile Stax session drummer Willie Hall takes over Al Jackson Jr's chair, with less personality, nearly as economical, & he fits the group better than any other drummer I could think of. There's only one really synthed up cut. Synths show up elsewhere more as flavoring. Generally organ centered with some electric piano. Steve Cropper stretches himself on guitar with some of his finest solos. There are a few nods to the disco dance floor, but otherwise this is a funky Seventies LP, the M.G.s sound updated a bit. All the songs but one are band originals, & there's not a bad or throwaway cut on the LP. "Moto Cross" is one of my favorite M.G.s numbers period. I don't understand why Universal Language is so neglected, never released on CD. Enjoy these six selections.

Sticky Stuff

Space Nuts

Love Wheels

Moto Cross

M.G.'s Salsa

Thai Stick


Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Tipper & Al

This makes me sad.
Al and Tipper Gore, married 40 years, to separate

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Former Vice President Al Gore and his wife, Tipper, are separating after 40 years of marriage that included a White House run when their sunny relationship offered a counterpoint to President Bill Clinton's philandering.

According to an e-mail circulated among the couple's associates on Tuesday, the Gores said it was "a mutual and mutually supportive decision that we have made together following a process of long and careful consideration."
If, as they say, there's no one else involved, there must be quite an emotional chasm between them. Many other older power couples, when their kids are grown, take it as a given that they won't be spending much time together as they go about their separate interests. It's the price of keeping the marriage intact. So I almost admire the Gores if they are acknowledging that it isn't enough to just maintain - that a condition of their marriage is being a couple, being a family, & they are no longer able to do it. They defined their marriage in a certain way, & it's not the marriage they have anymore. We've seen enough sham public marriages over the past year.

When I see the resumes & activities of some local political/professional couples when one of them runs for office, I wonder how they manage any kind of close, routine family life. The reality is probably that they do not, that they rarely have supper together or synchronize their schedules. They probably don't have time for extra-marital affairs, either. A busy, ambitious politician can easily be out at a meeting or social event six nights out of seven.

Al is trying to save the planet for human civilization. Tipper's projects are more modest, focused on health care, especially mental health.

Route 66 TV theme

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"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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