Monday, January 31, 2005
After a short break which allowed me the opportunity to edge into the bar and get a Guinness, Theodore Harris gave a slide presentation of his amazing collage work, while reading from his manifesto. Harris’ collages, in my opinion, most noticeably show the influence of Romare Bearden in their bold color and critique of racial and class repression. The most shocking image in all of the collages is the inverted Capitol Building, which unnervingly resembles a missile touching ground, if a Loony Tunes version. In the manifesto, Harris points out that tv reporters are always framed with the Capitol in the background, and that the Capitol was actually built with African-American slave and American Indian labor. Heady stuff.
When Harris finished, Kristin went back up to the mike, and asked if anyone would like to speak. This led to a wonderful series of extemporaneous cathartic expressions of support for progressive causes (memorably, “BARBARA BOXER FOR PRESIDENT!”) and for the important work of the poets in particular and artists in general, and denouncement of the present (lack of) administration. Empowerment was in the air, and people were saying so all night.
The evening concluded with Alicia dancing up a storm (how many times was “Let’s Go Crazy” played?), Matt recounting funny stories of his/Nicole’s/Conrad’s/Chris’ trip to Amsterdam, and Nicole and I arguing with Frank Sherlock about the EU. When I stepped outside, there was an inch of fresh snow on the ground. Chestnut St. was mobbed with shivering scenesters in long lines, and I quickly hailed a cab.
Friday, January 28, 2005
Bill not only has done a number of well known collaborations with Philip Guston, but has just completed a beautiful new collection Just the Thing: The Selected Letters of James Schuyler edited by Corbett has just appeared from Turtle Point Press.
Here is his bio:
William Corbett is a Writer-in-Residence in the Program of Writing and Humanistic Studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Just the Thing: The Selected Letters of James Schuyler edited by Corbett has just appeared from Turtle Point
Press. His books of poetry include Boston Vermont, New and Selected Poems, and Don’t Think: Look. Corbett has collaborated with Philip Guston among many other painters and poets. He writes frequently on art for Art in America and has published
John Raimondi, Sculptor. He lives in Boston's South End and is also an editor of the magazine Pressed Wafer.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
click here to see her.
Monday, January 24, 2005
First off a few words about the hat. (Anyone who knows me knows I have a thing for hats).
It's a shimmery red white and blue Uncle Sam hat -- about 16 inches tall with a wire skeleton so you can shape it. I bought it from a cute couple at a Washington Square sidewalk sale. One of the guys bought it to wear at a Rainbow Pride parade and hated to part with it. Lucky for me, Father Son and Holy ghost style Philly rowhouses don't permit too much sentimental packratting.
I first wore it Halloween night with a Kerry-Edwards pin attached. I live near UPenn in a fairly crunchy granola area where progressives, Democrats and anarchists coexist peacefully and Trick-or-Treating is still popular. Many neighbors had election-themed displays and signs like BUSH REELECTION: SCARY. As my son and I circulated the hat got a lot of laughs and knowing glances -- it was as though people were itching to vote and we all knew the clock was ticking on Georgie.
Almost on a dare, I wore it all day 11/2. That hat, together with the BUSH -- LIKE A ROCK, ONLY DUMBER sticker on my leather jacket drew a lot of appreciative stares, smiles, thumbs-ups and high-fives that day. I voted in it, went grocery shopping in it, even picked Sam up from school with it perched high on my head.
That afternoon there was a palpable sense of hope and unity in the air. It was hardly spring but it reminded of the first sunny, mild day in late March when everyone throws open their windows and lets out the winter funk. The time had come to take BushCo to the curb and everyone I know had already done what they thought was the heavy lifting -- whether that meant working the polls, postering, protesting, volunteering for MoveOn or answering the phone for Election Protection.
I suppose there's a joke in here somewhere about how many liberals it takes to move an elephant -- but frankly, my heart is just not in it at the moment. (YES - L-I-B-E-R-A-L-S. Let's take back the L-word, Dammit.)
Small surprise. Philly and PA went Kerry. While we slept, Dick Cheney, experienced magician that he is, had pulled Ohio out of Karl Rove's ass. In the wee, small hours of 11/3 he presented it to King W.
The next day was like a funeral. You hear all your life about the day JFK was shot. It must have felt like this was all I could think as I moved around the city.
Please pardon me. I know I'm likely preaching to the choir.
This election was rigged, stolen, hijacked, hacked, fucked, bogus, counterfeit, bought, sold, scammed. And believe me it wasn't just Ohio. And it wasn't just the electoral college -- it was the popular vote as well.
If we can learn anything useful from Right Wing pundits it's simplicity of message. If friends, family, coworkers and associates don't believe the election was rigged, ask them this simple question: If 51% of this country voted for Bush -- then how do you explain a 44% approval rating on Inauguration Day? Historically, Inaugural Day approval ratings mirror voting percentages. So who actually voted for this fascist warmonger?
I wore the hat again in D.C. on January 6th when 500 protesters gathered in Lafayette Park just outside the White House, rallied, then marched to the Capital to publicize what really is the only Cause that matters at this moment in American history.
Mouse pad activism fueled by blogs like The Democratic Underground and websites like TruthOut, The Raw Story and The Free Press (Speaking Truth to Power) had made a dent in the Mainstream Media blackout of The Greatest Story Never Told.
The reality is that if this fraud is not exposed, the 2006 mid-term elections will be just as fixed and the Republicans will gain full majority. Hello, Dictatorship. Goodbye, Bill of Rights.
Tens of thousands of letters, e-mails and faxes to Democratic senators in tandem with a 110 page report assembled by senior Congressman John Conyers Jr. had convinced California Senator Barbara Boxer to contest the certification of the electoral college. In her speech that day Boxer thanked Michael Moore for publicizing the Senate's complacency in 2000 in the infamous opening moments of Fahrenheit 9-11.
Conyers' historic document "Preserving Democracy: What went wrong in Ohio" details voter suppression tactics, statistical anomalies, Mathematical impossibilities and contains eyewitness testimony and wholesale evidence of Fraud. Yes, the F-word.
On 1/6 we rallied in support of Conyers, Jesse Jackson, Cliff Arneback and his diligent team of lawyers and David Cobb and Michael Badnerik (The Glibs) who made strange bedfellows post-election by joining the Green and Libertarian parties in efforts to raise the necessary money for hand recounts in Ohio, New Mexico and Nevada.
I'll never forget standing ten feet from Jesse Jackson as he delivered a moving appeal to the crowd, the gist of which was that MLK's dream had only been fully realized on paper. Yes, blacks have the right to vote. Now give them equal access to functional voting equipment and make sure their votes are actually counted.
And although you'd never know it from reading the shallow recitations of the Grey Lady, The Post or any other major newspaper, The Glibs are entitled to a full refund.
Ultimately, the Ohio recount was more crooked and illegal than the actual vote: Precincts were hand-picked by Republican operatives. Computer hard drive 'adjustments' were made pre-recount by Triad computer technicians. The same tech guys provided handy cheat sheets to Board of Election employees. Ballots were presorted and physically-modified (a nice white oval sticker over a Kerry vote adds up to a vote for Bush!). Volunteer 'witnesses' were made to stand several feet away; rendering their participation futile.
All this transpired under Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell. Like Katherine Harris in Florida, Blackwell delivered a crucial swing state to Bush while co-chairing the Ohio Bush/Cheney reelection campaign. Poll books (the simple, low-tech and easy way to demonstrate that the numbers don't add up) are public record. Yet Blackwell locked them down for the duration of the recount. We all know why.
All these tactics fly in the face of Ohio state law. Criminal prosecution is in its planning stages but it won't succeed without public support and the agitation that media coverage has historically provided. Things change. If the corporate-owned media turns its back: So be it.
The new rule is simple: Be The Media.
Fast forward. The Inauguration. Again the silly hat.
CA already wrote about our strange Metro encounter which amounted to grown adults treating Matt, CA and myself as though dissent was contagious -- something to be avoided -- like cooties or chicken pox.
I soon discovered that in a politically mixed crowd the hat granted me a strange Double Agent status. Moving through the masses, my head gear boldly announced my Patriotism, while the 'Bush Cheated' pins declared my allegiance. But we all know the Bushies aren't good with nuance.
The sheeple don't get it. Protest IS Patriotic.
Making our way through the marble canyons of DC was a tad creepy even without the Riot Police and the helicopters thrumming overhead. The scale of the building and their fortress like facades seem designed to make you feel small and powerless. The omnipresent stars and stripes, Military presence and speakers blaring Bush's voice created such an Orwellian vibe that I don't think anyone would have been terribly surprised to see W.'s giant face superimposed Wicked Witch-style on the sky above us.
After passing through the security tent my first encounter was with a liquored up, fur-clad woman tottering across Pennsylvania Avenue. In full party mode, smug as a hooker at a pre-Viagra retirement party, this woman waved a sign featuring a sobbing diaper-clad baby. DEMOCRAT CRYBABIES GO WAHH! WAHH! it read.
I locked eyes with her, then leaned in and yelled WAHH! WAHH! right in her face -- ostensibly identifying myself as a Democratic "crybaby."
Momentarily confused, she yelled Wah! Wah! back and started waving her sign wildly. As I continued on my way she squealed on like a wind-up toy, never guessing that I had been mocking her.
A little later a young woman in a crowd of pro-lifers smiled at me, somehow missing the WORST PRESIDENT EVER sign at my side. In a conspiratorial voice she urged me to watch out: "It's really rough up there!" she warned, glancing at the ANSWER demonstration area about a hundred yards away.
Many times smiles simply turned sour when they read the pins.
More often people -- other protesters -- were turned on and tuned in. CA already mentioned the air of bonhomie that never waned despite the cold and the all-encompassing security measures. At one point two teenage boys asked us if we had any extra signs and I handed them orange cardboard and a marker. When I passed them later they were waving hand-lettered BUSH loves DICK and NO BLOOD FOR OIL placards. At one point I distributed pins and bumperstickers to other protesters.
It just felt GOOD. And you know what? The chanting was really cathartic.
Of course the ReThugs weren't going to make it easy. If you want to make it hard for protesters one of the easiest things to do is fail to provide port-a-potties. You can also force the organizers to sleep on the ground.
At one point an ANSWER organizer spoke about the relief of finally securing a spot on the parade route -- having been being forced to pursue that Right in court. After scrambling last minute to print signs, rent bleachers, a sound system and soundstage gear ANSWER was informed that the materials needed to be on site on the 19th because the area was to be locked down overnight.
"Fine, we'll get a warming tent so our people can guard the gear," ANSWER replied. "No you can't. We won't be able to observe you," said the Secret Service. "Fine. We'll get a tent made of clear vinyl," said ANSWER. "We'll think about it, said the SS." Back to court again. Ultimately, the group's petition was denied. The SS determined that the clear "reflective" plastic might create a glare, disabling security and camouflaging the nefarious activities inside.
So Kudos to the activists who camped without tents or heat on the mall from the 19th to 21st so others could protest more effectively.
As CA already explained I got suckered when I walked through an exit area I had used earlier only to find that the re-entry point had been subsequently shut down without warning.
I wasn't alone and even found myself in a group of similarly irked Bushies.
After being interviewed by NBC about the uneven distribution of facilities and the intentionally deceptive security strategies I was ready to undergo another near strip search to get back in. It was not to be.
CA mentioned the surfeit of fur. True. For the men the uniform was long navy blue or black cashmere coats, occasionally topped with a cowboy hat. The women wore non-sensible shoes as though their wealth could even protect them from slipping on the occasional sheet of ice that dotted the streets.
Many Bushies seemed genuinely shocked at the number and passion of the protesters. From the looks in their eyes we might as well have been zoo creatures on the lam. We were crashing their party and they weren't too thrilled. It was also clear they weren't used to rubbing elbows with such "Riff Raff." At one point a tall man charged toward me. "Out of my way!" he bellowed, almost knocking me over. Apparently I had come between him and his hotel entrance.
After being misdirected a few times I wound up at a jammed security checkpoint on 7th and C. A mixed crowd of two hundred or so was bottlenecked together with little more than their mutual frustration in common.
Two young "radicals," one in long tight hair braids, the other in an old man style fedora were holding court from atop a barricade -- speaking what most people who read this blog (and many other sensible Americans) would term "the truth."
They rattled on about Halliburton, non-existent WMDs, Prescott Bush's Nazi profiteering, the sham US election, the soon to be shammed Iraq election, the murder of tens of thousands Iraqi civilians, our imminent invasion of Iran, the plundering of Social Security and the rest of the Bush agenda.
The anti-Bush people shouted out facts and statistics to elaborate on the impromptu speakers' points.
The Republicans in the line, torn between their desire to see the parade and their unwillingness to confront the sins of their leaders, started yelling back in a typical juvenile manner.
Next to me an older heavyset woman in stiff curls and three shades of blue eye shadow whined about missing the inauguration because of delays caused by THESE PEOPLE. Groomed to taxidermic levels herself, she yelled "Take a Bath!" as though we'd all been timewarped to Haight and Asbury. Then "Get a Job!" Other Bushies joined in: "Why Don't You Go To School and Get An Education!" "If You Hate America, Leave!"
It was fantastic street theater.
Unfortunately these young rascals were already a)clean, b)handsome, c)educated --one at MIT, d)employed -- in disaster relief and e)terribly well-informed in current affairs.
So much for debate class.
Later in the day the three of us reunited and walked up G street toward the White House. As I videotaped the jarring sight of two snipers on just the one visible corner of the WH roof, Matt, ever vigilant, informed me that the Secret Service was filming me filming the snipers. Which way? I asked. To your right, he said. Okay. So I turned and filmed the SS filming me film the WH.
CA gave away the last of his broadsheets. Wearily, we made our way back to the Metro. A small hand-lettered cardboard sign rested alone on a ledge outside a department store.
As of 1.20.05
Gil Scott Heron was right. The revolution will not be televised.
It will be blogged.
thanks so much for sending the above accounts, it's all fantastic coverage!
Sunday, January 23, 2005
This one in particular, because of how it doesn't distance our eyes from Hitler, but brings him right into the room.
p.s. Nicole said she's sending protest notes in sometime today. Hope I can get them up soon.
Saturday, January 22, 2005
don't mean to interrupt re DC INAUG posts - maybe it's relevant dunno.
i wonder, too, about current appeal of the frat/cowboy(s) in office, among an assortment.
Another e-mail from a man named Patrick, where he explained that not long after he and I met (I remember him because he had said he wished he had brought poems of his own, but will next time) he saw some people pepper sprayed, and wanted to know if I was among them. No, and I'm glad of that. He said he couldn't see why this had happened, but that after it did, there were people there to help folks, and that some of the cops were laughing and mocking them.
Matt was the observant one of our group of three. He was busy studying how things were set up and how they were made. Once we were on the other side of the long black barricade he pointed out to me that all the riot fence we had been penned into was upside-down T's. And that way, if you tried to run and escape, you'd be standing on the very thing you were trying to topple over to escape, and that it wouldn't budge. And you'd be trapped.
Anyway, there's so much more I could go on about, but Nicole is sending an e-mail I hope to post very soon. One thing I hope she mentions is that crazy republican woman with the "DEMOCRAT CRY BABY" sign, where Nicole answered with a WHAAAA! Only to get the most bizarre WHAAAAA return! Also, when Nicole was on the other side of the protest area and not allowed back in, she encountered all kinds of confrontations between pro-Bush and Sensible People.
All day long at work yesterday the parade of mink coats in the store gave me flashbacks to the protest. The revenge of the minks is the only Book of Revelations I want to see occur!
Tune in again soon for a report from Nicole,
Thursday, January 20, 2005
to Magic Hour."
We left Philadelphia at the a.m. Magic Hour of returning light, and left D.C. at twilight. Since I usually don't see sunrise unless I've been up all night, it was beautiful to see the colors appear and take shape in the sky over West Philly while Matt and I waited for Nicole to get a pair of more comfortable shoes on her feet. It was only about a five-minute wait, but what a glorious, meditative start to the journey.
The three of us shot down the road in what seemed like record time. Nicole had flushed out a map from the computer with the best route, and she also checked out train stations, which would be open, so we could park and take the Metro into the city. Thanks again for that Nicole, it was a brilliant idea, and it all happened without a hitch.
While on the Metro, Nicole put her BUSH CHEATED button on her giant red white and blue Uncle Sam hat. It's a great button, mostly because it looks like a campaign button that says BUSH CHENEY, until the eyes focus. At one point before our train took off, several Navy officers walked down the aisle with a look of disgust at all the protesters on board. Then, while Nicole was standing, looking at the map on the wall, I watch a woman strain to read her button, then, gasp and say while standing, "THIS IS THE CHEATED TRAIN!" She and her male companion exited the car and got onto the car where the Navy guys went, safe and snug. Many amusing episodes like this occurred all day, and it's mostly because this was not a staged protest against the war, or for gay rights, etc., but because we were in a completely mixed crowd much of the time with some very serious and unapologetic fascists.
The endless parade of mink coats made me ill! Of course I FORGOT my PETA anti fur stickers JUST when I needed them the most. But I did get a couple of digs in with remarks about the brutal way minks are killed for their fur. One woman said she LOVES her mink, stroking it, as though sparks were going to fly from her fingertips. I said, "Yeah, well I'd rather wear human skin myself!" Later I realized how creepy that sounded, even though I really meant that I'd rather wear my own skin, but it didn't exactly translate that well, which probably accounts for the sharp look of horror she threw at me.
When we first were approaching the bustle and sounds of the inauguration, that Ashcroft song was being sung�what's it called? The Iron Eagle. Yeah, I think that's it.
We soon realized the bastards who organized the seating along the parade route were up to their old tricks of getting protesters well out of sight, and making it as difficult as possible to get to the section set-aside for us. We literally walked up to 17th Street to have to snake through the barricades back to 4th. But that's just fine, because what it provided was a firsthand view of ALL the empty bleachers set aside for Bush supporters. Endless blocks of emptiness! When we arrived at the protest location there were literally THOUSANDS of people all over the place! It was SO FUCKING BEAUTIFUL TO SEE EVERYONE! All kinds of people, in fact, that was something to notice, how different and varied the protesters were, every imaginable ethnicity and age and dress, etc. While the republicans were pretty much a bunch of fur wearing, ten-gallon hat wearing, same same same same looking same nasty glare looking sameness.
The creative juices were FLOWING with the protest location! Drummers, chants, lots and lots of signs, lots and lots of signs. Signs about class, war, No War But Class War, etc. Some of my favorite signs were:
PEACE IS LIKE
GET BUSH OUT
OF MY BUSH!
NEEDS MORE ICE CREAM!
One of my absolute favorites though was by three young women who had purchased T-shirts from a vendor on the street that were white, with FBI in black letters. They wrote with a black magic marker after the initials:
We ran into the Global Women's Strike crew from Philadelphia, which was great. Standing there talking with Phoebe from their group is when I started to get a little tired of the speeches being shouted from the microphone on the little stage nearby. That's when I decided to try to get up there and read my poem. I made 108 double-sided broadsides for the day. My goal was to give out all 108 copies, and to read PACE-style to as many people as I could get to listen.
This is the part of the story where I split away from Matt and Nicole for awhile. Nicole went to the bathroom at one point, only to discover yet another dirty trick, and that being that the portapotties were all on the Bush supporter side, and once you crossed over, they wouldn't let you back. I hope that Nicole will write me an e-mail about this and other experiences she had to post up here on the blog. Matt, I'm hoping you will also!
But I went over to the stage to try to get up there and read a poem. I mean, the speeches are important I guess, but dammit if they weren't redundant as hell after awhile. Anyway, I spoke to a couple of people, one man being very nice, trying to get permission. But soon enough I was told that poetry wasn't needed. Two different people made that clear. One woman made a face when she told me so, and I said, "Fine, I'll just go read to people one-on-one." She shrugged and said, "Go knock yourself out!"
It was a great experience, and I met a lot of people and connected with them in ways I wouldn't have been able to otherwise. Poetry's an amazing connecting FORCE, and I'm really starting to understand this with PACE-style reading. Part of me wishes I had contacted Tom Orange or Buck Downs and asked if they wanted to do some PACE readings together with the crowds.
To be honest, I could only read my poem about a dozen times before I was sick of reading. But in that time I had some pretty interesting bartering going.
One man gave me a piece of homemade maple sugar candy in exchange for the reading and a broadside of the poem.
A hippie girl (a little stoned) gave me a hug after I read to her, and she smelled of lilac and hash (nice combination).
Ad Buster people (or maybe just people handing out Ad Buster material) traded me a copy of my broadside of the poem/letter to the president for an Ad Buster postcard pre-addressed to the president, with the message:
Dear Mr. President,
would you please find
a way to put the stars
back into the Stars + Stripes?
A loyal citizen,
�The other side of the postcard was Old Glory, only, where there would be white stars there were symbols from major American corporations: Coca Cola, ABC, Camels, Windows, Nike, General Electric, McDonalds, so on and so on, you get the picture.
A group of very generous women traded me a broadside for a HUGE poster from the folks at bartcop.com, which said in huge letters over Bush's face, "WAR BEGINS WITH W."
When Matt and I made the journey out to find Nicole, who had been hoodwinked into leaving the enclosed area, and having an impossible time trying to get back in until she gave up (which is exactly what they of course wanted to have happen), it was then, with that huge sign where I was constantly confronting the Bush people. One man came right at me with his huge ten-gallon hat and black tux, plowed into me, and said, while tipping his hat, "Oh, please excuse me!" I laughed, because it was such a high school kind of idiotic move. Laughter wasn't what he had counted on, but fuck him, seriously, fuck him and his stupid fucking fraternity of greed and violence! What a piece of shit, him and his ridiculous trophy wife with her FUCKING auburn floor-length mink coat! How do we get these fucking bastards to leave the fucking planet before they destroy it!?
Police were everywhere, long double lines of them, like fat black snakes tending to their blocks, marching in unison. Silhouettes of sharp shooters on the rooftops everywhere you looked. Despite the great day of connecting with so many fantastic, vibrant, creative folks there to protest, it was pretty clear of course that this day was a celebration of a different kind. An ominous kind. And when Matt said he wanted to walk over and look at the White House, the darker frame of the picture got even clearer. When we arrived near the White House, as close as we could get, we were far outside of our territory. These Bush fans walking to their gala balls were giving us the finger, with gunmen poised on the White House roof in the background. These people literally had the look that they wished we were dead. They were so disgusted by our presence up there, so far away from our little protest area.
The president's speech blared throughout the streets on huge speakers. He spoke of America protecting innocent people in foreign lands from bullies and I burst out laughing. What the fuck!? Is irony ever this alive!? D.C. was painted the color of madness when he gave his ridiculous speech today. When that fascist's voice was bouncing off the buildings and completely unavoidable, it made me think what it must have been like for Germans at the brink of WWII, hearing Hitler, surrounded by military and a sense of incredible vulnerability.
I know there's all kinds of talk that marches and protests don't do any good. Well I'm here to say that that's just not true! No way! Marches and protests really bring a needed, very much NEEDED connection to like-minded people. As Nicole said on the drive home, "Protests like this one show us we're not alone." She's so right! There's a very lively and POTENT counter-culture in America! And to me, these people are the Real America! And I mean, we encountered folks from just about every city and state you could think to mention. Don't listen to the fucking news reports about numbers of people there to protest, trust me when I say the numbers were much higher. On the radio while driving back we heard one report say 500. 500!? No! That's bullshit! When we first arrived at the protest area and stood on the bench to get a good look, there was a sea of bodies as far as you could see, carrying signs and screaming and chanting and look pretty damn fine!
We can take this country and make room for everyone, it's very VERY possible!
Glad I was there today with my friends for this incredible, historical event!
All my best to you,
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Tomorrow is no reason to celebrate.
Tomorrow is a National Day of Mourning.
Whether or not you are attending protests in DC or Philly, wear black tomorrow as a sign of protest to this administration's continuing program of deception and war crimes, and also as a show of support for Iraqi civilians, who didn't ask for this war, "Democracy," "Freedom," or other sadly corrupted versions of deservedly vaunted concepts.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
…is a fresh Philadelphia transplant & a recent graduate from Towson University in Baltimore, where she co-edited with Furniture Press. She is presently in the Creative Writing MA program at Temple University, where she is also attempting to teach young writers how to describe their boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s bottoms with c-l-a-s-s. Recent work appears in Ambit: journal of poetry, canwehaveourballback, and generator issue 11.
…is a Philadelphia legend, who co-edits FREQUENCY Audio Journal with Magdalena Zurawski. DEVIANT PROPULSION is forthcoming from Soft Skull Press later this spring, and advancedELVIScourse has been forthcoming for a handful of years from Buck Downs Books. The FRANK Poems are also forthcoming, from The Jargon Society. Conrad was very proud to take part in the debut of PACE (Poet Activist Community Extension) with fellow poets Frank Sherlock, Linh Dinh, and Mytili Jagannathan.
8th & Wharton
Come early to secure a table & have a lovely lunch…
maybe if someone has any suggestions for this - what gizmo or program i need to get etc. - just post a note or shoot an email - i'd be so grateful...
glad you liked the new messages on your machine. You and Elizabeth Kirwin, and sometimes Norberto, for some reason are the only ones I do my sound work with. It's fun, BRRRRING! "this is not a human voice, please ignore...." But it's usually JUST before I have to do a reading. Wow, I didn't MEAN to say "before I have to" just now, but the truth is there, because I'm not very comfortable reading. But that's also why I sort of go missing at the microphone, come out in different voices, etc., almost a way of having someone else do it for me I guess. Elizabeth Kirwin just asked me recently to practice reading on her machine again because she doesn't have poetry readings in Asheville she likes much. Or maybe I'm making the last part up, maybe she does go to readings she likes, but they're not the same? Anyway...if there's anyone else that would be interested in me reading on their machines...ask. But probably not, especially because I like to do it in 4 to 5 second spurts, ten in a row, and so far only Hassen and Elizabeth dig it. I'm NERVOUS about this reading coming up for Jenn McCreary's series next Sunday, here's the info for it by the way:
Divya Victor & CAConrad
read their poems
Sunday, January 23rd
8th & Wharton
It's a great space, that new series. The first reading with Ethel & Kevin was perfect, getting to SEE and HEAR some poets without any microphone is nice. But that's my dilemma for reading--and the nervousness--it's so hard to NOT be there on a Sunday afternoon. Well, I'm THERE, it's just a deeply hidden personality. It's also 3 a.m. as I write this, and very cold in my apartment, police sirens everywhere, trying to chase someone, whatever, I should just SHUT the hell up about nervousness! The truth is I'm looking forward to the reading. Especially looking forward--or listening forward--to hearing Divya read, because I've never heard or read her poems.
The BRRRRRRRING! "This is not a human voice" by the way is part of a poem I'm working on with tape recorder, but not sure it will be ready.
The museum. YES, I DO recall that film. It's really great! She's dressed in a very 1980's looking suit, am I right? And she is such a wonderful JOKE, joking at art, and joking at the museum, and all the pretentious bullshit. Someone MUST have pulled that out of the archives for a reason! Especially for a Sunday audience, which is when we were there. Going there on a Sunday alone is a strange experience, because you're left with the awkwardness everywhere, so many awkward people half-smiling all day long. How did art get to this? It's okay, I just want to walk up and say it's okay, but it's also good to see this, and think about HOW we got there.
There's is a new film (but not in the video showcase room, this is in a gallery) called "The Greeting" by Bill Viola. I saw it last Sunday for the first time, when I went to the museum the day after the incredible party, with Matt, Nicole, Edmund and John. Does anyone else have this experience with calling Edmund Edmund? He's such a nice guy, and you feel totally comfortable talking with him (or his brother for that matter) about anything, but when talking about him, he goes from Eddie to Edmund. Mostly I think it's because he's a friend, and I don't want to get into this slot of seeming pretentious, because he's a famous poet. There's a poet in Philadelphia (won't mention his name) who used to refer to Charles Bukowski as Chuck, because he knew him, Chuck, hehehehehe that's sounds funny, I mean Charles, and it did used to make me cringe when he said Chuck. But maybe this poet just decided to go with it, I mean, he did know Bukowski, so, well, why not I guess? I don't know, I can NEVER refer to Edmund as any other name other than Edmund, and that's that, unless I'm talking to someone else who knows him.
It's difficult to stay FOCUSED so early in the morning. Bill Viola, "The Greeting." Yes, saw it last week, and made a point of seeing it this week as well. It's a study in paranoia if ever there was one! It's extraordinary slow motion, taking Mary's 45 second meeting with her sister and stretching it into ten minutes, complete with creepy guards in the distance who shine flashlights in the modern urban setting. I'm excited by the study of body language, and how the three women in the foreground go back and forth in the very desperate moment of asking for help. Help, whispered, is such an intense thing to hear. Help me. Help. Oh boy, this film really socks it to you, seeps into your bones with all the color of the paranoid world, setting the stage for thinking and THINKING about our president and this FUCKING war and everyone dying and dying to stop it, dying to keep it going, keep clear, keep open, god, suicide, bomb, trucks, how, soon, can, it, end? No America, it's not business as usual today, or tomorrow, maybe, just maybe, never again.
How many fronts against the senses can be held at once? How many assaults? How many TIMES can we see troops deployed, see jobs evaporate, health care escalate in cost and demand, forests stripped in the rearview mirror, it's really seeming like a giant twelve-armed Kali come to reap the harvest with her many swords and knives and you just have no idea how you're going to be able to keep an eye on all twelve arms as she's swiping clean to the root everything in front of you.
Enough! Yes, let's go back to the museum! I'm going back to sleep until the sun comes up at least.
Monday, January 17, 2005
Conrad, i liked your post about the museum. after receiving TEN consecutive messages from you on my cell phone over the weekend, i heard one quite faint message on a buzzing phone line (yr home phone?) that said something like & feebly so, "wanna go to the museum?" after hearing all the other messages, many wherein you simply & loudly articulated BRRRING!, i thought it was one of my auditory hallucinations. anyway. i've been needing some Twombly lately. this weather calls for it. BRRRING! don't know what my first choice would be from the PMA. maybe that video we saw the last time we were there together. can't remember who or the title but remember the woman who gave a tongue-in-cheek tour of the place? was hysterical.
Heather recently dreamt that she went to the PMA with a couple of her friends from PAFA & as she lay on the floor staring at the paintings, her comrades rolled around, into her, over her. getting dusty. sounds fun. the other day we were watching Rick Steves talking about visiting Paris & he'd mentioned something about the common folk hanging outside the Orsay. the way he said it. i was perplexed, expecting him to say they were actually inside the museum, of course. as if common people are happy to hang outside an art museum, not inside. when speaking of her dream, Heather brought up the perspective of artists in museums vs that of those rarely visiting art. reverence or distance or maybe disdain.
does anyone know if/how to post pictures on this blog? i'd love to scan & post some of the poloroids from the bday party. would like to get a picture of that swanky computer, too, if it's set up yet. i think the hot russian lesbians nabbed the pic of them since it's not in my pile. good! i'm surprised they didn't take the one of Alicia pulling up her black stocking.
i don't know what happened at the St Mark's reading - i had every intention of catching the set w/Nada & Gary & Aaron Kiely etc. but guess lost track of time & missed them. stupid. David Hess recently sent me some mags & chaps. *Cypress* has a pretty little Kiely poem (titled Poem) that would go well w/the CA Conrad Deviant Propulsion poem read Jan 1 FYI. maybe he read it there as well, i don't know -- i dropped the ball as they say. among the stuff DH sent, is Betsy Andrews' *She Devil.* lathery! & sweetly bound.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
One time, while looking at the painting with my friend Michelle Strader, I expressed wondering what people had to say about how they felt about this catastrophic event they had witnessed, and she encouraged me to research it. She's right of course, I'm sure there is all kinds of documentation, though I doubt anyone bothered to ask the people who I would want to hear from. Then again, I don't know for sure because I never did the research, not for lack of motivation, but because of the incredible energy behind the mystery of it, the whole-human empathy of it.
I'm imagining the painting right now as I write this, and am overwhelmed with the excitement of seeing everyone out there, at night, lit by the glow of their government in flames. Tables, chairs, silly wigs, books, ledgers, documents of all kinds, raging in a magnificent pyro-gloria, creases on forgotten and miserable faces bright orange in the spectacle.
Where oh fucking where is parliament burning!? Who do I have to ask to find out where it is? Or if it will return? Ever? I feel uneasy, thinking that it's GONE forever! It's been here for so long, hanging in exactly the same spot! Okay, I need to calm down and not be such a spazz.
In honor of our upcoming trip to protest Bush's inauguration, I wanted to see government in a passion of destruction, and soak in the glow of the flames. Shit! Where is parliament burning now? Well, if it has to be visiting another city, PLEASE let it be DC!
Anyway, since Turner's crispy loveliness is nowhere to be found, I went to find my second choice, in case I'm ever told I can have one piece of art from the museum. And there it was! A statue of Narasimha, Avatar of Vishnu. It's only about 16 inches high, but it's extraordinary! Sandstone carving from the 4th century, Northern India. Narasimha has the body of a man and head of a lion, and you do NOT want to get on his bad side. In this particular sculpture, Narasimha has the demon king Hiranyakashipu laid across his lap, and is disemboweling him for trying to destroy Vishnu's cosmic order. Even the demon king himself will not be allowed too much power to create a world with complete disregard for the suffering of others.
The sense of justice is staggering in this sculpture, Hiranyakashipu's guts coming out in the fists of Narasimha, a sense of relief falling over the world, tyranny thwarted. If I were to choose one symbol to invoke a gust of change, it would be Narasimha, spray painted on the White House and Capitol. The betrayal of Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama and others who said they would STAND with Boxer when she signed to contest the election results on 1/6/05 will be felt for good! I will NEVER vote Democrat again, not unless someone pretty fucking amazing steps forward, someone FINALLY courageous enough to look the demon in the eye and say THIS WILL NOT CONTINUE IF I CAN HELP IT!
Monday, January 10, 2005
Thank you very very much,
Sunday, January 09, 2005
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
Thank you Frank Sherlock and Linh Dinh for coming up with the idea, and giving us the motivation to get out there. Thanks also to Matt McGoldrick and Nicole McEwan for sharing the fun and sharing the feedback of the found audience.
Much like any historical Situationist undertaking, we planned to break through the veil of bullshit on the street, the planned movements to and fro business, home, work, business, shop, home, christmas, work, shop, business.
What I expected to be confronting for the world, turned out to be as confronting for myself, mainly because of the joy we were met with.
Frank read to a woman on a bicycle who loved his reading and took all of our broadsides home with her.
Mytili read to a man selling newspapers who is from India, and wanted to know about her family back on the faraway continent.
I read to some hippies who wanted a hug.
Linh read to a man unloading tools from his van who loved Linh's poem so much he gave Linh a copy of his band's CD.
We started out in front of the Old Navy neon in front of the Gallery Mall. At one point Linh read in front of McDonald's with a sign draped over his front, "APE LAUREATE" while reading his poem "Planet Of the Apes." Cops on bicycles watched from across the street, but never moved toward us, which was nice. And a bit surprising considering that cops on bicycles approached me last week when standing on the corner of 18th and Walnut waiting for Mary Kalayna to pick me up. I guess because I was standing there for 30 minutes (she was LATE!), but it freaked me out that they had been keeping an eye on me, and that I hadn't even noticed them until they approached and wanted to know what I was standing around for.
Am I missing something, or did those sidewalk laws get passed through City Hall just before the 2000 republican convention in town? The ones that state that you can't be standing in one spot for more than 30 minutes on a sidewalk?
Anyway, my point is that the PACE experience was nothing short of beautiful. And we all came prepared with broadsides to hand out. Frank had the most festive, for the holiday, red paper folded twice to resemble a Christmas card, "Peace On Earth" on the front, with sketch of a burning candle. Inside, the poem...
by Frank Sherlock
There is an asterisk at the last stanza, with a footnote for the source, "Christian Parenti, The Freedom: Shadows and Hallucinations in Occupied Iraq. p. 192
Mytili's broadside was a small, handsome gray card stock, with the poem...
by Mytili Jagannathan
the conditions are speaking to us
do we speak to the conditions or
to the winner do we speak the conditions
in our deliberate mouths is our speaking
conditional is our love
conditionally speaking is this love
against the stranger breaking down
conditioning us for sound
of cutting off talk and rebirth to real
kindness borne as bricks
under these conditions a roof
cover us over and do
my conditions speak to yours
innocently are they instructive can we
deconstruct them are they without home
and shared are they circular if no one
ends these conditions are we stuck
are we solid are we salty
are we scissors do we
survive clutching the end
of a condition with our fear as food
is our love dimensional are we new arc
are we meeting here the radical
avalanche of now
are we solid
are we seeming
do we say
Linh's broadside was "Planet Of the Apes" and he used the idea of the movie poster, with the statue of liberty in the bottom left corner, and in the upper right, instead of a close-up of one of the apes, it's George W. Bush.
PLANET OF THE APES
by Linh Dinh
Apes are encouraged
To wear blue jeans,
Lean English grammar.
Enraged, they blow up
The Capitol Building.
Street to street combat,
Countless civilian corpses,
Ape fighters trapped inside
The Jefferson Memorial
Are blown to smithereens
By our own ape soldiers.
I've seen these apes so many times
Wearing T-shirts that don't make sense
Crowding the check-out counters at K-Mart.
The president finally appears on TV
To announce that freedom and democracy
Have scorched the forces of evil.
For my own broadside I had purple paper with a reproduction of the ancient Norse god Herne, with his giant antlers, hovering above two entwined horses, the horses to represent my love for George W. Bush, as part of the love poem I wrote for him. This piece is so long, I'd rather you just "click here" to read an online version.
PACE has begun. And I suggested to Frank (as well as to John Coletti up at the New Years Day St. Mark's reading) that PACE can make itself available at any time in any city with any city's poets. In other words, suppose we contact Boston poets, and say, meet us at such-and-such corner at such-and-such a time on a particular date and from there walk the city reading to the people we meet.
Poetry readings have suddenly become far more exciting than I ever expected them to become, and how exciting is that? No funding, no designated space to fret over, and all the audience you could ever hope to acquire, and a bigger audience, and an audience who will surprise you long before you surprise them.
Sunday, January 02, 2005
Some photos from the mla off-site reading last week may be viewed here... there were more, but I think my memory card suffered a bit of a meltdown b/c Barrett read for so long...: