Saturday, May 23, 2015

absolute music

dig this live performance by rockabilly great gene vincent.  the time, 1963.  the place, belgium.  vincent and his band rip it up.  this is a pure shot of rock&roll.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

on the art of doing nothing

I need so much time to do nothing that I have none left for work.
--pierre reverdy

There are some who complain of a man doing nothing; there are some, still more mysterious and amazing, who complain of having nothing to do.  When actually presented with some beautiful blank hours or days, they will grumble at their blankness.  When given the gift of loneliness, which is the gift of liberty, they will cast it away; they will destroy it deliberately with some dreadful game with cards, or a little ball. . .I cannot repress a shudder when I see them throwing away their hard-won holidays by doing something.  For my own part, I can never get enough Nothing to do.
--g.k. chesterton

[quotes from 'in praise of laziness' by simon leys (the hall of uselessness: collected essays, new york review books, 2013]

Saturday, May 16, 2015

the happiest place on earth

i got home two sizes too small.  a real wreck.  feral.  mean.  cranky.  long, hard day and my energy went south.  pressed for time i stopped at the grocery store for some junk food: chips, doritos [two flavors] and ruffles with ranch dressing dip.  plus a diet pepsi for me and a bottled water for nick.  for i had promised to take nick to the drive-ins.  tonight.

my plan was to stop at jimboys tacos for some bean&cheese burritos.  these are the best in the world but super bad for you, loaded with fat and cholesterol.  then i wanted to stop at target for a new portable radio and some batteries.  drive-in theaters long ago abandoned those tinny speakers you would place on your car window for fm radio frequencies. 

but anna saw all the junk food i brought home and sensibly reminded me that that was more than enough crap to eat.  we should have something a bit more nutritious for dinner.  i made myself a sandwich and got some leftover pizza for nick.  i threw everything in a bag.  i grabbed a sweater and jacket and told nick to do the same because it will get cold once the sun went down.

i felt the squeeze of time.  the drive-ins would be, i know, packed.  get there near dark and you will find yourself stuck in a very long line and jockeying for a good place to park.  and i do not like to drive.  car culture, the kind i grew up knowing in the 1970s, is long gone.  traffic winds me up like a rubber band.

i didn't go to jimboys and i decided against the radio figuring the car radio will do an adequate job.  this gave us more time.  we got to the sac 6 drive-in theater a little after 7:00 pm.  nearly an hour of daylight to spare.  i began to unclench once we found our place in line.  and the line was short.

i became tamed.  i felt bad for my earlier cranky behavior.  i owed all of creation an apology.  the screen for the movie, avengers: age of ultron [2015], was crowded.  i found a position up front.  not great but a good seat for the action.  then nick and i locked up and headed for the snack bar.

if the drive-in is a body the snack bar is its brain and heart.  sac 6 drive-in theater has a snack bar like a panoptican.  a circle in the center of the grounds with the projection booth on top of the snack bar building.  the projection booth has always fascinated me.  i remember walking past the projection booth at a long defunct drive-in, mather auto movies, when i was about seven years old.  the movie was a bruce lee kung fu flick.  the projection booth at mather auto movies was smack in the middle of the parking lot.  the snack bar was in another building at the rear of the parking lot.  i walked past the projection booth.  it was a hot summer night.  summer in sac can get hot, triple digits, and in high summer it does not cool down even at night.  i walked past the projection booth.  the door was open.  i peered inside.  an old man, the projectionist, was sitting in a faded green recliner reading a paperback as the intermission shorts played on the screen.  i thought somehow a mystery of life revealed itself to me.  a mystery that i would spend my life trying to solve.

we walked the circumference of the snack bar.  nick pointed out an employee on the roof of the snack bar fixing the swamp cooler.  we watched him for a minute.  then nick and i looked at the playground equipment at the snack bar.  mothers and fathers and their children running everywhere.  a bbq stand was doing brisk business.  the line to get in the drive-ins growing longer.  we began to head back to the car.  nick wanted to get the money he left in the car to play a couple of video games. 

the employee fixing the swamp cooler was now on the ground right in front of us.  he turned to us in greeting.  i asked him about his work.  he was friendly.  i asked him about the projection booth.  i asked him if they have old film reels in the projection booth.  reels of old intermission shorts.  there is one intermission short that has become like the holy grail.  if you've been to the sac 6 drive-in theater in the 1970s and 1980s you know this intermission short.  i know it.  anna knows it.  a song with a line, 'mushy roomy room sauce', for pizza.  i wondered if they still have that old reel.

the man said, oh, you wanna speak to the manager, earl.  i'll go get him.

earl was a very kind man who started in the movie theater business as a projectionist.  he asked if we wanted to see the projection booth.  are you fucking kidding me?!

nick and i followed earl.  we walked up the steps on the roof of the snack bar and walked thru the door to the projection booth.  earl explained that the sac 6 drive-in now uses digital projection.  the movies come in hard drives.  every moment is particularly queued and specially timed for best performance.  earl explained that some theaters don't get hard drives.  they get their movies thru the internet, or satellite.

but there is a single old projector left.  earl explained its workings.  he showed us the reels used for 35 mm prints.  and the one giant reel that would wind the movie as it finished its projection.

earl hit my sweet spot.  here i am in the projection booth.  finally, after all these years.  all i needed to do to see it was to ask.  i asked earl about those old reels.  he showed nick and i a box of old reels.  35 mm prints of commercials and trailers.  used before the drive-in switched to digital projection.  i asked about the reels from the 1970s and 1980s.  he said those are long, long gone.  he told us we can each take a reel if we wanted.  i took a commercial for an old nintendo game and i took for nick an ad for pacific rim [2013].

the world has changed.  the projection booth was automated.  there is no projectionist.  as we were leaving i noticed a sink and a toilet, without walls and door.  i asked why is there a toilet in the projection booth.  earl told me that in the old days the projectionist would have to stay for the duration of the running of the movies.  if something went wrong he, or she, would need to act within a couple of seconds.  he or she could not afford to be away from the projectors.  thus the need for a toilet.

i thanked earl.  nick and i walked down the stairs on the roof the snack bar back to our car.  nick got the couple of dollars he needed to play a couple of games.  after that we set up for the movie.  i opened a bag of dorritos [old-school taco flavored] gave nick his pizza.  reached for my sandwich and settled back for the evening as the first trailer started. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

galatea resurrects #24

eileen tabios' essential, utterly indispensable, review journal galatea resurrects is fresh and alive.  you will find an assortment of hypersmart poets writing about their love of writing and reading.  i am fortunate to be in their company with two pieces in this issue.

first is a review of two books by the brilliant canadian poet michael dennis.  he is a poet i very much love and admire both as a writer and as a human being.  i wish to spread the word about michael dennis.  so click here.

second is an interview with the german buddhist poet stefan hyner.  i believe all poets are brothers and sisters regardless of age or era.  among my brothers and sisters are a handful of poets i consider my teachers in the art of reading, writing and living.  stefan hyner is one of my teachers.  click here.

finally, i bow to the great eileen tabios for her work, and her love of poets and poetry.   

Friday, May 08, 2015

i heard a climate scientist on NPR today say that the co2 levels in our atmosphere has reached 400 parts per million.  a level the planet has not experienced in over six million years.  the news depressed me.  i don't mean, like wow, bummer, kind of depression.  i mean a flattening of emotion.  a dead expression.

whence to comfort thine mind?  i haven't a clue.  the news is grim.  on many fronts, not just on climate change.  somethings are changing in our world.  but to what? 

i am an optimist by temperament.  but i am pessimistic too.  a happy pessimist is how the philosopher bertrand russell described himself.  me too.

will we get our shit together?  i have great doubt.  but i have great faith in people. 

the world is a beautiful place.  life is such a gift.

we have, each of us, six, seven or eight decades on this planet. 

how do you want to live?

Thursday, May 07, 2015


standing at the corner of k st and alhambra blvd

afterwork list of grocery shopping in my head and on my tongue

traffic always traffic cars and trucks in the rush to get home

i was there on the corner waiting for the light to change

that i may cross the street to the parking lot of safeway

and the light did change i stepped into the street

see a honda pilot turning left and barreling toward me

i freeze to gauge the car's trajectory

close but the driver sees me at the last instant

slams on the breaks then the window rolls down

and a woman says, sir sir i am so sorry i am so sorry

she repeats and repeats then drives away

chance is ourselves, said artaud

my heart in my throat i cross the street

decide on dinner at the taqueria

mexican food sounds good right now

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

while jeepers creepers 2 [2003] plays on TV [i like this movie, i can't tell you why, there is no rational reason for my affection for this film, i just like it, period, it is like a really bad movie i would see at the drive-in when i was a wee lad] i am catching up on a few emails.  i have a couple of books by canadian poet michael dennis beside me.   and i have clicked over to the bill knott archive.

you will recall knott passed away last year.  he is a presence i greatly miss, his PDF books and his blogs.  i am grateful to the person who archived and collected knott's blogs and posted them at his archive.  i thought they were lost forever.  in addition you will find the poet's PDF books and his artwork.  a treasure indeed.

i remember discovering bill knott in, i think, 1995.  his book the quicken tree was in the poetry section of that great record and book store, tower [speaking of tower records and tower books there is a new documentary on its rise and fall directed by colin hanks, all things must pass [2015].  damn i miss tower!].  knott confused me and made me laugh.  it was until a couple of years later that i really read knott in depth when i found his books, including his st. geraud book, at the sac state library.

in the 2000s knott started keeping blogs.  they would disappear as fast as they would appear.  one blog that was deleted by the poet -- thankfully it is archived -- knott waxed like a 21st century shelly about the beauty and talent of actress yancy butler, who starred in the short-lived TV fantasy witchblade [2001 - 2002].  genius writing.

i am trying to multitask, watch the film and write.  can't do both.  the creeper is about to swoop on the surviving three teens.  yeah, i know how it ends.  but i got to see it anyway.  right?!  gotta go!