Friday, September 24, 2004
1881- Revolutionary, writer Lu Xun born, Shaohsing, Chekaing, China
1897- American novelist William Faulkner born, New Albany, Mississippi
1932- Anarchist Catalonia becomes "autonomous" region of Spain
Saturday September 25, 2004
Patrick Herron & Elizabeth Reddin
La Tazza 108 Chestnut St.
7pm cocktail hour
Readings @ 8 sharp
Patrick Herron was born and raised in Philly for eighteen years. He's been in North Carolina for the other five and ten. He just became a father. He studies text mining. He's about to launchclosequarterly.org this fall. Herron has two books coming out in the next year incl. the american godwar complex (blaze). Gateway songbooks just printed a chap of three poems called three poems. Patrick once had a ventriloquist doll named Lester but it skipped town on him.
Elizabeth Reddin is a writer who lives in Brooklyn. She has been performing her work in NY since 1998. She is the organizer of the reading series "Long Poems at the Parkside", and has been recording (and will be distributing) the works of Bernadette Mayer & Lewis Warsh this fall on her record label, Deerhead records. Reddin co-edits, along with Elizabeth Bethea, Destinies, a magazine.
Shin Yu Pai read image-instructive poems from her latest book Equivalence, loosely themed around the democraticization of art. She dedicated poems to Wolfgang Leib & Felix Gonzalez- Torres. She even had a valentine for Joseph Cornell.
Ish Klein read a series of monologues which included a cast of known nutters, senators & Jack Benny. A gang of Fringe Festival folk went wild with praise after each poem.
See you Saturday.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
Enough of the handwringing! Enough of the doomsaying! Do I have to come there and personally calm you down? Stop with all the defeatism, OK? Bush IS a goner -- IF we all just quit our whining and bellyaching and stop shaking like a bunch of nervous ninnies. Geez, this is embarrassing! The Republicans are laughing at us.
Do you ever see them cry, "Oh, it's all over! We are finished! Bush can't win! Waaaaaa!"
Hell no. It's never over for them until the last ballot is shredded. They are never finished -- they just keeping moving forward like sharks that never sleep, always pushing, pulling, kicking, blocking, lying.
They are relentless and that is why we secretly admire them -- they just simply never, ever give up. Only 30% of the country calls itself "Republican," yet the Republicans own it all -- the White House, both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court and the majority of the governorships. How do you think they've been able to pull that off considering they are a minority? It's because they eat you and me and every other liberal for breakfast and then spend the rest of the day wreaking havoc on the planet.
Look at us -- what a bunch of crybabies. Bush gets a bounce after his convention and you would have thought the Germans had run through Poland again. The Bushies are coming, the Bushies are coming! Yes, they caught Kerry asleep on the Swift Boat thing. Yes, they found the frequency in Dan Rather and ran with it. Suddenly it's like, "THE END IS NEAR! THE SKY IS FALLING!"
No, it is not. If I hear one more person tell me how lousy a candidate Kerry is and how he can't win... Dammit, of COURSE he's a lousy candidate -- he's a Democrat, for heavens sake! That party is so pathetic, they even lose the elections they win! What were you expecting, Bruce Springsteen heading up the ticket? Bruce would make a helluva president, but guys like him don't run -- and neither do you or I. People like Kerry run.
Yes, OF COURSE any of us would have run a better, smarter, kick-ass campaign. Of course we would have smacked each and every one of those phony swifty boaty bastards down. But WE are not running for president -- Kerry is. So quit complaining and work with what we have. Oprah just gave 300 women a... Pontiac! Did you see any of them frowning and moaning and screaming, "Oh God, NOT a friggin' Pontiac!" Of course not, they were happy. The Pontiacs all had four wheels, an engine and a gas pedal. You want more than that, well, I can't help you. I had a Pontiac once and it lasted a good year. And it was a VERY good year.
My friends, it is time for a reality check.
1. The polls are wrong. They are all over the map like diarrhea. On Friday, one poll had Bush 13 points ahead -- and another poll had them both tied. There are three reasons why the polls are b.s.: One, they are polling "likely voters." "Likely" means those who have consistently voted in the past few elections. So that cuts out young people who are voting for the first time and a ton of non-voters who are definitely going to vote in THIS election. Second, they are not polling people who use their cell phone as their primary phone. Again, that means they are not talking to young people. Finally, most of the polls are weighted with too many Republicans, as pollster John Zogby revealed last week. You are being snookered if you believe any of these polls.
2. Kerry has brought in the Clinton A-team. Instead of shunning Clinton (as Gore did), Kerry has decided to not make that mistake.
3. Traveling around the country, as I've been doing, I gotta tell ya, there is a hell of a lot of unrest out there. Much of it is not being captured by the mainstream press. But it is simmering and it is real. Do not let those well-produced Bush rallies of angry white people scare you. Turn off the TV! (Except Jon Stewart and Bill Moyers -- everything else is just a sugar-coated lie).
4. Conventional wisdom says if the election is decided on "9/11" (the fear of terrorism), Bush wins. But if it is decided on the job we are doing in Iraq, then Bush loses. And folks, that "job," you might have noticed, has descended into the third level of a hell we used to call Vietnam. There is no way out. It is a full-blown mess of a quagmire and the body bags will sadly only mount higher. Regardless of what Kerry meant by his original war vote, he ain't the one who sent those kids to their deaths -- and Mr. and Mrs. Middle America knows it. Had Bush bothered to show up when he was in the "service" he might have somewhat of a clue as to how to recognize an immoral war that cannot be "won." All he has delivered to Iraq was that plasticized turkey last Thanksgiving. It is this failure of monumental proportions that is going to cook his goose come this November.
So, do not despair. All is not over. Far from it. The Bush people need you to believe that it is over. They need you to slump back into your easy chair and feel that sick pain in your gut as you contemplate another four years of George W. Bush. They need you to wish we had a candidate who didn't windsurf and who was just as smart as we were when WE knew Bush was lying about WMD and Saddam planning 9/11. It's like Karl Rove is hypnotizing you -- "Kerry voted for the war...Kerry voted for the war...Kerrrrrryyy vooootted fooooor theeee warrrrrrrrrr..."
Yes...Yes...Yesssss...He did! HE DID! No sense in fighting now...what I need is sleep...sleeep...sleeeeeeppppp...
WAKE UP! The majority are with us! More than half of all Americans are pro-choice, want stronger environmental laws, are appalled that assault weapons are back on the street -- and 54% now believe the war is wrong. YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE TO CONVINCE THEM OF ANY OF THIS -- YOU JUST HAVE TO GIVE THEM A RAY OF HOPE AND A RIDE TO THE POLLS. CAN YOU DO THAT? WILL YOU DO THAT?
Just for me, please? Buck up. The country is almost back in our hands. Not another negative word until Nov. 3rd! Then you can bitch all you want about how you wish Kerry was still that long-haired kid who once had the courage to stand up for something. Personally, I think that kid is still inside him. Instead of the wailing and gnashing of your teeth, why not hold out a hand to him and help the inner soldier/protester come out and defeat the forces of evil we now so desperately face. Do we have any other choice?
Thursday, September 16, 2004
- 20% cuts in service across the region
- a citywide rate hike, bringing the fare of a single ride to $2.50 (!)
- suspending ALL services on the weekends. That includes the subway, the El, buses & trolleys.
This is an outrageous insult to the people of Philadelphia. This impacts working families who can only shop on the weekends, and the working poor who don't necessarily have M-F 9 to 5 employment.
Public hearings on the proposal are scheduled in Center City on October 19. They'll take place at 11am & 5pm. You can let Septa know what you think of the proposal at the Loews Hotel (12th & Market) in the Regency Ballroom. If you'd like to comment before the 19th...
Persons wishing to file written comments may forward them to the Secretary of the Board, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, 1234 Market St., 10th floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107. Comments can also be sent via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
For the entire proposal, see SEPTA's site.
- Frank Sherlock
Thursday, September 09, 2004
CM: Let’s start with a really general question about your journal: what originally spurred you on to found Bird Dog? Have your motivations changed over the course of five issues? Has your readership grown or remained steady from day one?
SM: First off I’m a journal junkie so it was probably a natural progression for me to start a journal. Bird Dog began as Scout in 2000 after we moved from San Francisco where I was in grad school to Seattle where we could afford to live. I knew people in SF who had started small presses and magazines so I had witnessed the real possibility of starting a journal. I had also just finished putting together my first book, Household Mechanics, and was interested in how poems interact with each other. Also I suspected there were lots of women writers out there doing interesting work but not necessarily being published regularly and I hoped Scout could be a place for them.
I ran into a fellow San Francisco State transplant at a reading and eventually brought up the idea of a starting a journal to her. So it began, 8 ½ x 11, stapled. My own work was composed for the page and I hoped other people who worked in similar ways might also find a place here. After two issues of Scout, my co-editor and I went our separate ways and Scout became Bird Dog. By the fourth issue of Bird Dog I switched to the 7x9, perfect bound format, with tipped in artwork. A little less work for me plus it is actually cheaper than the photocopying I was doing.
My readership is growing slowly as people find out about it. I have around 30 subscribers—two are libraries—plus a couple local book stores carry it on consignment.
CM: You said that the readership of Bird Dog has grown a bit – how are you trying to spread the word? how many copies do you think you sell vs. giving out? I’m always interested in these small-press housekeeping matters, because without SPD, say, handling distribution, I’m curious to know how editors circulate the “product” they’ve labored over…
SM: Bird Dog’s press run is 120. I send out about 50 freebies, contributor copies usually around 20, subscribers 30ish. And then a few local bookstores carry it, so that’s another 12 (which may or may not sell). And then the occasional one-off sell through the mail and I also take them to any readings I’m doing. I hope to one day break-even on the printing costs.
Spreading the word is a bit slow, I post on the Poetics List and asked for the website to be linked on a few poetry-related sites. For the first two issues I sent out flyers to all the MFA programs I thought might be interested. I also mention the magazine in my bio for any publications and at readings. So all and all a bit haphazard. I’m really looking into distribution now so it gets out there more and a little less housekeeping for me. The freebie copies are going into good hands so at least I know it’s being read by someone. Also I get the occasional letter from someone who “came across a copy” in some strange town I haven’t sent a copy to so the mags are traveling on their own a bit. A friend of mine who is living in Berlin, ran into a friend who had a copy of Bird Dog in Berlin. So that’s crazy. Actually it had a northwest connection. Her friend had written to Open Books in Seattle (a fantastic all poetry bookstore) and asked for some West Coast journals and they sent along a Bird Dog.
CM: Let’s shift to your new chapbook, Boxer Rebellion. Can you just give a bit of background on the project here? What got you started digging around the archives of the U.S. Naval Institute? To what extent is the poem the voice of Mrs. Smith vs. your own? I guess I’m mostly asking how you engaged the source text on a nitty-gritty level.
SM: Boxer Rebellion began right after finishing the manuscript that would become Household Mechanics. I was looking for another long poem project but wanted to get away from my normal writing process. The source text is a transcript of an interview my great-grandmother did with the Naval Institute. So, Mrs. Smith is my great-grandmother on my mother’s side—no one is picking up on that yet—I had hoped the picture in the front of the book and the dedication in the back might make the connection for people—but it’s not. But I don’t know if that makes much of a difference if you know it is a family story or not? On the nitty-gritty level, the chap is almost entirely the voice of my great grandmother (Rammy, aka. Mrs. Smith) with a few bits from me thrown in. I read naval etiquette books and other transcripts of Navy wives to come to some sort of conversation with my great-grandmother. It’s a personal project on one hand—since it’s family stories—but also a historical conversation. I reduced her comments presenting a mini-history of sorts. I looked to Reznikoff and Rukeyser to figure out how to approach the use of source material. In fact by favorite blurb for the chap came from a local poet/critic John Olson, “It’s like Reznikoff at a sewing machine”—which is just what I was after.
Oh, so no, I’ve never been to the US Naval Institute Archives. Possibly some day I will, there are other family papers housed there, but for now I’m happy to have the conversation in the little orange chapbook.
CM: I didn’t realize that the chapbook was in dialogue with a relative, either, but I love the idea. Was she someone that you actually had the opportunity to know when you were younger, or was her presence always known to you more as a part of family lore?
SM: I did know Rammy but in a kid sense. She lived in Newport, RI and every summer everyone from my mom’s side of the family would meet up there. My grandparents lived in the UK along with my aunts and uncles so that was the yearly get-together. We lived in the Midwest (Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma) and luckily my dad had a lot of frequent flier miles from work so I got to go one summer when I was six for a few weeks along with my brother but usually just my mom went. I grew up with a lot of confusion between “New England” and “England”. So Rammy was mostly family lore for me, especially after spending a few summers with my grandparents in England.
CM: You briefly mentioned Household Mechanics along the way, and it’s certainly something I want to discuss. One thing that’s great about the book is how coherent it is, especially its grounding in the long sequence “Blood Substitutes.” Did you originally conceive of the manuscript as a whole project, or did you realize that individual pieces were falling into place as a whole as you were plowing ahead on them?
SM: Household Mechanics is a reduced version of my MFA thesis (Operation Bird Dog) so there was a sense of building a book all along but also the sense of “it is what it is” because I have to turn in something. I did learn alot about putting a “book” together and how the poems interact etc. The long poem “Blood Substitutes” was the main project while in grad school and the other poems were written at the same time as something shorter that had an ending which was very satisfying while working on the long long “Blood Substitutes.” I’m a believer in the “you write the same poem your whole life” theory (Zukofsky) so I knew the pieces would fit together, just a matter of arrangement. I submitted the original thesis and then a reduced version to the book contests the year I won the New Issues prize. New Issues sent on the longer version to the judge (C.D. Wright), which she liked but thought was a bit long so they sent her the shorter version (HM) which she selected.. I feel very lucky to have the book out—it took three years to write and three years of constant submission.
Monday, September 06, 2004
Shin Yu Pai & Ish Klein
La Tazza 108
108 Chestnut St. Philly
7pm cocktail hour
Readings @ 8 sharp
Shin Yu Pai is the author of Equivalence (La Alameda, 2003) and Ten Thousand Miles of Mountains and Rivers (Third Ear Books, 1998). Works on Paper is forthcoming from Convivio Bookworks. Her poems have appeared in 580 Split, can we have our ball back?, Spinning Jenny, eye-rhyme and will be anthologized in two forthcoming anthologies of Buddhist writings, American Zen: A Gathering of Poets (Bottom Dog Press) and Picking Up Stones: Poets of Buddhist North America (Wisdom Publications). She will be an artist in residence this fall at the University of Texas at Dallas.
Ish Klein is from Far Rockaway and was educated at Columbia University and the Iowa Writer's workshop. She's been published in Bridge, Gare du Nord, Explosive Magazine and online with the PhillySound edition of Mini-M.A.G. She's presently residing in Philadelphia and making comic and experimental movies.
See you Saturday. It will be good to re-convene.
- Frank Sherlock
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
At 6pm the crowd moved to the front of the 42nd St. Library. By the time I got there, a banner-drop had been attempted. A line of shielded & helmeted officers had prevented the assembly of demonstrators from gathering on the steps. They also lined the first lane of 5th Ave. in an attempt to pen in the anti-Bush crowd. They brought out what looked like net cannons- long tubes with spools of heavy plastic netting. The police also patrolled the area with submachine guns. Those caught on the sidewalk headed around the corner as scuffles with the police began to escalate. The riot squad completely sealed the block. Some demonstrators headed down into the subway. The police pursued them & broke their line, allowing a handful of us to get to the other side of the barricade. As I crossed the street, police on scooters raced the perimeter of the crowd with the netting. It was reported they were beaten & arrested. It was also reported that demonstrators arriving on the subway were thrown to the ground & detained.
Those who weren't fenced in converged on Herald Square, where Chris Matthews of MSNBC's "Hardball" was conducting interviews with pundits. The crowd arrived & interrupted the interviews with chants of "Four More Months" & ""Tell the Truth". The riot police arrived in force, shutting down the streets for blocks. They seemed panicked that the action had gotten so close to Madison Square Garden. The entire crowd was hemmed in, including many New Yorkers on their way home from work. The police made many demands to disperse, without giving anyone the ability to leave.
As the demonstrators made headway into Broadway, many laid down before Republican delegate buses trying to drive to MSG. The police started randomly arresting people en masse on the periphery of the crowd in an effort to thin the protest. Many who escaped the pens individually & tried to walk way were tackled in the street & handcuffed. (On the edges of the "open" streets, groups of ten or so plainclothes police cruised the area on stylish un-police-like motorcycles, cornering & arresting stray protesters.) The violence escalated further when the busloads of Republicans were forced to get off the coaches & walk to MSG. The police cleared the path with batons & shields, as the delegates were scorned by the crowd. A few delegates seemed terrified & shaken by the anti-Bush outrage of the demonstrators. They were led down the block to the Garden by a literal army of NYPD. Shortly after, Trucks arrived with massive concrete barriers, which forged a kind of rectangular shape. Dump trucks arrived soon after, filling the sidewalk inside the barrier with sand. Arrests on Broadway & 5th Avenue continued.
Another die-in began on Broadway, & a policeman opened the pen for approximately 50 more riot police to enter the area. He never fastened the fence again, & as the attention turned to the new wave of arrests, I slipped out & walked on 33rd(?), away from the action. I soon realized that the end of the street was sealed, & that I would likely be arrested once I reached the end of the street. As I shuffled my feet toward the end of the block, LL Cool J left the back entrance of a hotel right in front of me! There were maybe five young girls who came out the doorway with him seeking his autograph, as he was flanked by an entourage. His bodyguards led the way to the corner- & with my button-down shirt, shoulder bag & best A&R face, I walked through the barricade as the police held the gate for us.
Philadelphia never seemed so peaceful as when I arrived early this morning. No helicopters. No pens. And if I don't see a policeman in riot gear for a while, I'll be alright. I'm taking comfort in the gentle familiarity of the everyday grind. I return refreshed with a new commitment- to buy the next Uncle L cd the day it comes out. Thank you!