Thursday, March 05, 2015

q & a

q: the poems of samuel beckett?

a: yes; the poems of samuel beckett

spring achoo!

morning walk
                   big buttery sun
10000 flowers = a stuffy nose

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

the poet as the letter P

last night i rewatched a little bit of two movies: the 1985 documentary about l.a. punk band x, x: the unheard music, and the documentary about punk rock and fatherhood, the other f word [2011]i also reread the epilogue of richard hell's memoir i dreamed i was a very clean tramp [ecco; 2013], where hell recounts a recent street encounter with his long-time friend, and frenemy, tom verlaine as verlaine was sifting thru bins of books at a used bookstore in manhattan.  and i realize, oh boy, punk has had a profound effect on my life, my writing, and my thinking.  the discovery of punk rock on this working class california kid was a total revelation.  punk has its drawbacks -- what, who, doesn't? -- but punk gave me a kind of strength to be unashamed of my own limitations.  if punk encourages kids who can't play an instrument to simply, in the words of frank o'hara, go on your nerve and play it loud punk also said you can pick up a book, you can pick up a pen, you can read and you can write.  just go on your nerve.

punk has had a deep influence on music and fashion but i think too on politics, art, writing, design and even buddhism.  so i have a question for you: what has punk meant to you?

you can answer in the comments section here; or you can publish your responses on your own blogs and/or twitter accounts and/or facebook; or you can be totally punk and not answer at all.

what has punk meant to you?  

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

pleased to meet me [2013]

veteran punk rocker pete jones' personal and professional career is in the shitter.  jones gets an idea so save his ass.  call on his ex-love, a music and a radio producer for public radio program called 'world cafe', to help jones assemble a band from musicians called from classified ads.  the catch: the musicians must not know each other.  jones and producer laura klein gather the band to a studio.  they have one day to record one song.

this little comedy stars real life veteran punk rocker john doe.  producer klein is played by singer/songwriter aimee mann.  the set up is based on a story titled 'everybody speaks elton john' that aired on the radio show 'this american life.'  it's a sweet movie.  chemistry between doe and mann is good.  the jokes not so good.  the direction okay.

but then i'm a middle aged punk and alt-rock kinda guy.  i love mann and doe.  doe's character, jones, is beset with the usual habits of a rock&roll lifestyle but there is a lightness given to jones by doe.  jones has a massive ego -- most of the musicians in this movie do -- but he's a genuine teacher and an enthusiastic listener of other people's music.  when a stranger musician hands him a demo jones takes the time to listen to it.  when another musician's song is a little flat jones takes out his guitar and strums and sings along and helps the musician guide the song to beauty.

besides doe and mann simply look cool as two middle aged rockers.  doe's reading glasses are fantastic.  and mann has this cool vibe, and tattoos [and i do like me some ink] that make her presence so pleasurable to view.

can they act?  yes.  doe and mann have been acting for years.  they can give themselves to their characters.  as i said, this is a sweet little movie.  i have a soft spot for sweet-natured films.  does doe and mann reconnect?  c'mon.  did the cow jump over the moon?  but it's the way doe and mann connect that lifts this comedy from a state of merely okay to something worth a couple hours of your life.  this film has just enough of that little something to keep you rockin'.  

Thursday, February 26, 2015

quote unquote

Esse non est percipi. We live on a planet that is a small ball turning round a reasonably ordinary star, itself located in the outer reaches of a galaxy that is, in turn, just one of billions or possibly hundreds of billions. We share this world with about 1,000,000 named species, of which about 800,000 are animals. Of the animals, around 600,000 species are insects, and among these there are approximately 350,000 species of beetle. In the face of these numbers, a little humility is in order. While it may be consoling to believe that humans are the crown of creation and generate reality by means of consciousness and perception, the evidence tends not to support this position.

--billy mills [sustainable poetry]

a quick word from me.  i hope billy mills doesn't mind my quoting a chunk of his essay.  i reread that essay this afternoon and mills hits the notes of my own concern.  we are finite creatures on a small planet that orbits an ordinary star.  we must learn our humility.  to think we are the center of the universe is quite arrogant.  we -- me -- can barely comprehend large time.  a billion years is an abstraction.  i have only 6 or 7 or 8 decades on this planet.  in the presence of large time i am but a blip.  if even that.  and yet while i am alive i can enter into language and participate in the weave of presence.  i am neither above or below that weave.  i am a fraction of its part.  for that fraction i am grateful.  for me poetry is a life's practice of happiness.  even in misery.  i suppose i can work out a theory of happiness.  instead i shall live and write and let that be its mark.

when ISS passed over our house sunday night there was a flash of blue light that surrounded the space station.  i saw it.  anna saw it.  nick saw it.  i'm sure it was light refracted thru the atmosphere but it was amazing to see it.

the DVD renaissance is over.  in the early part of the last decade DVD companies sprouted up.  they lovingly restored many obscure arthouse, horror and exploitation films.  i have hundreds of beautiful discs.  now i stream movies.  in fact i have netflix cued up as i type.  i found a half dozen jess franco pics on netflix.  cool.  there are a handful of jean rollin [french director who specializes in a kind of glazed eroticism] too.  but only one dario argento film.  i miss those companies [yes, there are companies who produce DVDs but the excitement of discovery for old crazy films, and the fact that most DVDs do not have a shitload of extras as they did 10 years ago, underscore the bald fact that the DVD market is shrinking].  i hope online streaming services find their own renaissance.

the world is always in transition.  and yet i think the world is being transformed into something we don't know.  tech is driving these changes.  so is the economy.  so is the changes to our ecology.

i have hope but i worry about our future.  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

about a half hour ago nick and i went outside to watch the international space station pass overhead.  we waited for 10 minutes.  i read on a NASA website that the ISS will fly over my neck of the woods around 6:51 pm.  waiting.  waiting.  waiting.  it is a very clear sky.  i described the ISS to nick.  it will look like a solid spot of light moving thru the sky.  very fast.  it will look like a satellite in the sky.  it will not blink like a star.  then i see thru the branches of a tree a solid spot of white light NW.  i say to nick, there; i think it is coming our way.  a few more seconds pass.  then yes; here comes the ISS.  we watch.  it flies directly over our house.  due south.  we watch until it disappears under the horizon.  we come inside to eat leftover pizza.  delicious leftover pizza.  cold pizza is one of the great pleasures of the world.  the oscar telecast is on the TV.  anna and i watch the in memoriam portion.  that portion just ended.  i have no interest in the rest of the oscars.  i am half watching a documentary on TV about the architecture, the past, present and future, of cities based on the work of a photographer's time-lapse photos.  i am thinking of getting a mobile phone. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

bella luna

i am trying to rid myself of my habits.  little ones.  like the routes i take to and from work.  i love urban settings, streets, buildings, people.  i work downtown.  i live in east sac.  my neighborhood is not downtown but still fairly urban.  at least for sacramento.  i've been an avid walker for nearly 16 years.  i have walked the same paths so often i have left furrows in the sidewalks.

just a small change in your paths is refreshing.  the city looks different on other corners other streets.  there is a boom in building downtown on account of the construction of a new arena for the basketball team the kings.  i'm no sports fan.  i think i've gone to two kings games.  one at their very first arena.  the second game at their second and now -- according to the team and the NBA -- way out of date arena.  oh, i've seen several concerts at both arenas.  that's important.  like depeche mode in the late '90s and ozzy osbourne in the late '80s.  i thought i'd see ozzy before he killed himself with his reckless lifestyle.  bassist geezer butler and drummer bill ward, of black sabbath, was part of ozzy's band.  it was great. 

well then tonight i left the office.  it was late.  the city was painting her face for the night.  i stepped past my usual route and stopped at a traffic light to cross the street on a street with many constructions vehicles use.  i see the buildings from a new angle.  i noticed a daycare facility.  i knew that facility was there but now i see it.  look into its windows.  it looks like the office of a mid-level manager.  very tight corners and surrounded by concrete and steel.  i love cities and the buildings, homes, shops and offices of our daily lives in the grids of urban construction.  cities are alive.  the coolest apartment building in the core of downtown is called the el cortez.  the apartment building is nestled in a tributary of k st.  directly across the street is the state capital.  el cortez looks like an old NYC tenement.  it is surrounded by urbanity.  i love it.

my journey home takes me thru streets that i know but rarely walk.  people, groups, couples and singles, throng the night as the night shows off her beauty with early spring weather.  i look to the sky.  the western sky and see the moon.  a thumbnail sliver of moon and right below the moon on its left is venus.  i am agog with their beauty.  my view is framed by two skyscrapers.  i trip over my feet.  i am walking east.  my head is tilted up toward the west.  i don't see where i am going.  such is the mystery of life.  i hardly ever see where i am going.  i think this would be a poem.  no.  it shall be a bit of prose.  no.  it shall be a few sentences of one man's life.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


tho the day is nearly done
for me
the cats are racing
chair to chair

bookshelf to bookshelf
back again to chair to chair
rock&roll lives for felines
noah stops his play

glances at my fingers
tacking this keyboard
and takes a big swipe
tho he misses his mark

he readjusts his aim
gives a squeal
wrestles with ollie
all thru our room

as i gambol thru
the 'net
and as
sleepy as i get

i chant my own
mantra loud enough
for ollie and noah to hear  

quote unquote

No limit
to kindness--
winter violets

--mitsu suzuki
[a white tea bowl: 100 haiku from 100 years of life; rodmell press, 2014]