Friday, August 29, 2008

updates on EAKINS INSULT! 

Tara Murtha of Philadelphia Weekly has written,
as has Libby of Philadelphia's ART BLOG
THANKS TO ALL those sending e-mails with suggestions about what to do.

NOLA 100 

Three years ago today, Hurricane Katrina changed one of America's greatest cities forever. Check this list for the top hundred ways it's changed for the better. Check it out here.

- Frank Sherlock

Year Three A.K. 


Remember the promises to rebuild infrastructure, promises that three years later remain unfulfilled.

Let's hope for a fourth Katrina anniversary and not a first year post-Gustav.

Three years ago today- the way it happened:


7:30 AM CDT — BUSH ADMINISTRATION NOTIFIED OF THE LEVEE BREACH: The administration finds out that a levee in New Orleans was breached. On this day, 28 “government agencies, from local Louisiana parishes to the White House, [reported that] that New Orleans levees” were breached. [AP]

8AM CDT — MAYOR NAGIN REPORTS THAT WATER IS FLOWING OVER LEVEE: “I’ve gotten reports this morning that there is already water coming over some of the levee systems. In the lower ninth ward, we’ve had one of our pumping stations to stop operating, so we will have significant flooding, it is just a matter of how much.” [NBC’s “Today Show”]

11:13 AM CDT - WHITE HOUSE CIRCULATES INTERNAL MEMO ABOUT LEVEE BREACH: “Flooding is significant throughout the region and a levee in New Orleans has reportedly been breached sending 6-8 feet of water throughout the 9th ward area of the city.” [AP]

MORNING — BROWN WARNS BUSH ABOUT THE POTENTIAL DEVASTATION OF KATRINA: In a briefing, Brown warned Bush, “This is, to put it mildly, the big one, I think.” He also voiced concerns that the government may not have the capacity to “respond to a catastrophe within a catastrophe” and that the Superdome was ill-equipped to be a refuge of last resort. [AP]

MORNING — MAYFIELD WARNS BUSH ABOUT THE TOPPING OF THE LEVEES: In the same briefing, Max Mayfield, National Hurricane Center Director, warns, “This is a category 5 hurricane, very similar to Hurricane Andrew in the maximum intensity, but there’s a big big difference. This hurricane is much larger than Andrew ever was. I also want to make absolutely clear to everyone that the greatest potential for large loss of lives is still in the coastal areas from the storm surge. … I don’t think anyone can tell you with any confidence right now whether the levees will be topped or not, but there’s obviously a very very grave concern.” [AP]

MORNING — BUSH CALLS SECRETARY CHERTOFF TO DISCUSS IMMIGRATION: “I spoke to Mike Chertoff today — he’s the head of the Department of Homeland Security. I knew people would want me to discuss this issue [immigration], so we got us an airplane on — a telephone on Air Force One, so I called him. I said, are you working with the governor? He said, you bet we are.” [White House]


11AM CDT — MICHAEL BROWN FINALLY REQUESTS THAT DHS DISPATCH 1,000 EMPLOYEES TO REGION, GIVES THEM TWO DAYS TO ARRIVE: “Brown’s memo to Chertoff described Katrina as ‘this near catastrophic event’ but otherwise lacked any urgent language. The memo politely ended, ‘Thank you for your consideration in helping us to meet our responsibilities.’” [AP]

LATE MORNING — LEVEE BREACHED: “A large section of the vital 17th Street Canal levee, where it connects to the brand new ‘hurricane proof’ Old Hammond Highway bridge, gave way late Monday morning in Bucktown after Katrina’s fiercest winds were well north.” [Times-Picayune]

11AM CDT — BUSH VISITS ARIZONA RESORT TO PROMOTE MEDICARE DRUG BENEFIT: “This new bill I signed says, if you’re a senior and you like the way things are today, you’re in good shape, don’t change. But, by the way, there’s a lot of different options for you. And we’re here to talk about what that means to our seniors.” [White House]

4:30PM CDT — BUSH TRAVELS TO CALIFORNIA SENIOR CENTER TO DISCUSS MEDICARE DRUG BENEFIT: “We’ve got some folks up here who are concerned about their Social Security or Medicare. Joan Geist is with us. … I could tell — she was looking at me when I first walked in the room to meet her, she was wondering whether or not old George W. is going to take away her Social Security check.” [White House]

8PM CDT — RUMSFELD ATTENDS SAN DIEGO PADRES BASEBALL GAME: Rumsfeld “joined Padres President John Moores in the owner’s box…at Petco Park.” [Editor & Publisher]

8PM CDT — GOV. BLANCO AGAIN REQUESTS ASSISTANCE FROM BUSH: “Mr. President, we need your help. We need everything you’ve got.” [Newsweek]


To see the full Think Progress Katrina Timeline, click here.

- Frank Sherlock

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

EAKINS INSULT WITH UGLY IRONY! an OPEN LETTER to Blick's managers of their newest Philadelphia store 

Thomas Eakins is without a doubt one of the finest artists in Philadelphia history. His studio was above what is now VALUE PLUS on Chestnut between 13th and Broad. Cross the street when you're there and LOOK UP, because there's a spectacle of beautiful stone carvings you might have been missing. In that studio he painted some of his most famous paintings.

An anonymous admirer of Eakins commissioned a brass plaque to let the world know about the studio, and had it installed on the door frame on the street below. My old friend Jim McCormick showed me that plaque, and pointed to the DAZZLING facade for me back in the 80's when I moved here. Jim killed himself soon after, and I've been showing the plaque and pointing to the studio for others ever since.

According to what folks at VALUE PLUS told me some years back there has not been a staircase leading up to Eakins's old studio for 40 or 50 years now. No staircase. Studio is still there, home to spiders and ghosts of nude models, quiet for half a century, the Northern Light giving and taking across where the easels were and paints and maybe a sandwich and beer. Did Eakins ever nap up there? OF COURSE HE DID! Well, I don't know for sure, but I assume he did. Nap and make love, I'm sure MUCH went on up there, there where the staircase to it has not existed for more than I've been alive.

My point to this post is that several months ago I was STUNNED when walking past the spot to find that the plaque was GONE! MISSING! The holes where the screws had held it in place still in the metal. It's gone. And I told Frank Sherlock, and it was a shock to us both (this plaque and studio appears in our Philadelphia walk poems).

BUT! THE! WORST! THING! Is that several months later we now discover that the business who REMOVED the plaque was none other than a brand new ART SUPPLY STORE! What KIND OF MADNESS!? WHAT DARK IRONY IS THIS?! This city has got to understand and understand FAST the need to hold onto its treasure! THESE ART SUPPLY bastards are selling PAINT and CANVAS a few floors beneath THOMAS EAKINS'S STUDIO and they REMOVED the one and ONLY marker for the world to know this fact!

If you look at this photograph from BLICK, proudly showing their new Philadelphia location, you can see, if you look at the white vehicle reflected on the glass of the door, JUST above that reflection, and to the left, NOTICE a small, faint rectangular discoloration on the metal door frame. THAT is the plaque's only remains now.

All that remains of our knowledge of the studio above is a faint discoloration from where a plaque had been. If you didn't see the plaque before it became a mere faint mark, then you are growing fainter into history.






Thursday, August 21, 2008

Play the Building 

If you haven’t ever played a building, and you’re in NYC this weekend, you should go play the Battery Maritime Building. David Byrne has hooked up an old organ to different parts of this old building so that you may play the building.

The sound is all that is left of what all happened there, of what all went into it. Bang on a radiator, blow air through a pipe at the strike of a key – you can listen to its hauntedness, right up against the water, a used up industrial box, an old battery. I played it a couple of weeks ago, and I still hear it.

Also, this is free. There is nothing for sale, except a one-dollar poster, which was soldout when I was there. More information and an interview with David Byrne about the installation can be read here.

-- Ryan Eckes

Saturday, August 16, 2008

URCHIN SERIES celebrating Mina Loy 

We might have coupled
In the bedridden monopoly of a moment
Or broken flesh with one another
At the profane communion table
Where wine is spilled on promiscuous lips

We might have given birth to a butterfly
With the daily news
Printed in blood on its wings

--from "Love Songs to Joannes"

The first URCHIN event was Thursday night! Ah, what an AMAZING time with MINA LOY! It was busy and noisy on the corner of 2nd and Market in Philadelphia, but her beautiful poems came through! It felt RIGHT being on THAT corner with its diverse population of VERY fortunate and unfortunate people coming and going. Someone from NYC had written saying she wanted to come to the event to read from Mina Loy's BOWERY Project. She didn't make it, but I'd like to see that performed one day, or at least given a good reading.

Joey Yearous-Algozin had the fantastic idea that we all read "Love Songs to Joannes" together when I made the comment that I deliberately DIDN'T read from that series because it's her most famous, and was sure someone would want to. NOT THAT I WAS COMPLAINING because everyone was picking fantastic poems as far as I was concerned. But Joey's suggestion was a terrific one, and I liked all the different, very different voices putting themselves into that serial poem.

I opened and closed with the following poem:


Show me a saint who suffered in humility;
I will show you one and again another
who suffered more and in deeper humility
than he.

I who have lived among many of the unfortunate
claim that of the martyr to have been
a satisfactory career, his agony
being well-advertised.

Is not the sacrifice of security to renown
conventional for the heroic?
The common tragedy is to have suffered
without having "appeared."

This poem has always felt important to me for its strong message thrusting toward us on an even stronger wave of music. The reason I said earlier that it felt RIGHT being on THAT corner for the event was because of its economic mix from wealthy restaurant patrons to bums with their spiked paper bags of juice. Loy lived along all borders, and understood them all, and would not look away from any of them when she saw what she saw. She is a poet who REALLY saw Love, with a spiritual penetration through to the physical, but also SAW injustice, poverty, ruin. This poet GOT IT all because she wasn't anything but honest with her senses. She did not betray herself for her poems, or her audience. SO BEWARE bourgeois readers looking for quaint verse for the tea party!

No other poet than Mina Loy could start URCHIN SERIES off with such fierce magic! AND IT POURED DOWN RAIN once we were safely inside SUGAR MOMS drinking PBR's, the torrent outside cleansing the ritual of poetry.

When we left, some of us walked back to where the MINA LOY IS HERE poster was hanging with its comet of silver and blue glitter, and Hailey Higdon had the GREAT IDEA of putting some of the little paper handouts with Loy's picture, poem excerpt and interview excerpt on the poster's corner so passersby could take them, and discover THIS GENIUS for themselves.



standing, left to right: Nazareth Pantaloni, Jack Krick, Hailey Higdon, Joey Yearous-Algozin
squatting or sitting, left to right: Jeb Haley, Ryan Eckes, CAConrad, Dorothea Lasky, Eric Baus

(posted by CAConrad)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Alan Gilbert on the interview with Rachel Blau... 

Click HERE.

(posted by CAConrad)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

you must find it in your heart to purchase SATELLITE TELEPHONE 

There are a lot of good magazines around, but it's not often I find one where I like EVERY SINGLE THING ABOUT IT. SATELLITE TELEPHONE is a rich (dare I say it?) magazine EXPERIENCE! It makes me so happy!

Some of my favorite living poets included!

I wish the cover was on THE SITE because it's such a great cover! And the title of cover takes up (no lie!) a whole page of text! And the page-long title is another terrific poem in the book!

If you don't purchase this magazine DON'T ASK TO BORROW MINE! If you do I'll lie to you, so I'm letting you know.

It reminds me of OLD, COOL issues of THE PARIS REVIEW, which is anything but cool now.

Robert Dewhurst has got it going on, this fine editor!



Monday, August 11, 2008

"I speak in the voice of the absentee" 

Since his death yesterday, Mahmoud Darwish has been referred to through the news wires as the "poet of resistance." While it's true that he was the poetic voice of the people the West tries to forget, he was so much more. While many writers of his fame and literary stature settle into the comfort of celebrity, his poetry continued to evolve until the end of his life.

The Darwish work that touched me most is Memory for Forgetfulness. The prose poem/memoir of a single day during the Beirut bombing of 1982 negotiates the tension of recurring dreams and the brutal reality of modern warfare. "And between here and there they stretched their bodies like a vibrating bow until death celebrated itself through them."

Today's Democracy Now features an extensive interview with two of Darwish's translators, including Fady Joudah, who works in the Houston hospital where the poet died. Check it out here.

- Frank Sherlock

Sunday, August 03, 2008


Yes, Masons in Minicoopers! I was walking the connecting road to Bartram's Garden today when more than a dozen Minicoopers zipped by, a couple with Masonic symbols on the backend. Then I saw, almost at the mouth of the garden's parking lot a sign for the Mason gathering. That was unexpected, of course! An old woman (maybe 75?) was doing an oil painting of one of Bartram's buildings when I arrived, and she was agitated and cranky for the horse fly that kept sitting on her nose and biting her. She said she LIVES to come out there to paint and draw, and when I showed her Jonathan Williams's book with Bartram's drawing of the Franklinia flower on the cover she said she could do a better drawing, "in fact I already HAVE done it better!"

She wasn't too interested in joining us for the reading of Jonathan's poems, she wanted to "get the light" while she had it she said, which I said rang right with what we wanted too. The last EVENT I went to at the garden (not including going there with friends to roam the gardens) was Mytili and Heather's wedding. THAT WAS AN AMAZING EVENT and at the exact same spot where we gathered today.

Hal Sirowitz, Minter Sirowitz, their friend Peggy, and Jack Krick and Michael Hennessey all made it. Sitting under the same tree Jonathan sat under to read from AN EAR IN BARTRAM'S TREE was something I had wanted to do with others for a long time. In fact there was a brief moment some years ago where it seemed that Jonathan would make the trip north again to do readings, but it never happened. When I talked to him about it he was thinking about WHERE to read in NY, and when I mentioned him reading at Bartram's Garden he said that sounded like a good idea so long as he could read new poems. The poems in the BARTRAM'S book are 40 years old and older now.

Another book I took along was HORNY AND ORNERY, a collection of Jonathan's epigram poems, which is a lot of fun to pass around for a group to read together.

While at the library last week I came across an anthology of war poems Jonathan was in. His poem was one I had never seen before, and QUITE HAUNTING. It's about dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and eating peaches someone had brought from Okayama the day before the megaton obliteration. It's called "The Empire Finals at Verona" and I can't locate it's source, I mean, it says "from" at the front of the title, which to me means it's from a much longer piece. I'll figure it out soon enough I'm sure, and look forward to reading more of it.

We had a great time with wine, chocolate, bread, cheese, honoring Jonathan. I brought a cheese which was said to be "cave aged" and it did kind of taste like bat shit. The wine helped the bat shit cheese.

There was no ACTUAL order to what we were going to do, so we would eat, drink, read, reverse the order, do some more another way. At one point we were passing around AN EAR IN BARTRAM'S TREE to read the 39 quotes Jonathan placed at the very front of the book, as he wrote, "IN LIEU OF A PREFACE." Here are three of my favorites:

"We may eventually come to realize that Chastity is no more a virtue than Malnutrition."
--Alex Comfort

"The food of the Soul is Light and Space."
--Herman Melville

"The song is heat!"
--Charles Olson

Here's one of the poems I'm pretty certain was written in Philadelphia, in the garden:

The Flower-Hunter in the Fields
(for Agnes Arber)

a flame azalea, mayapple, maple, thornapple

a white cloud in the eye
of a white horse

a field of bluets moving
below the black suit
of William Bartram

bluets, or "Quaker Ladies," or some say

bluets and the blue of gentians and
Philadelphia blue laws!

high hills,

stone cold

as October

Hoping I dream of the garden tonight. Maybe too of Jonathan talking to the woman painting, about how she can do a Franklinia better than the man who named it. Horse fly buzzing.

I guess it's nice that Bartram named the Franklinia after Benjamin Franklin. Before that the birds had it to themselves. And it's funny too to think that if Bartram hadn't rescued the specimens when he did that it wouldn't exist at all, as it was on the verge of extinction when he "discovered" it in the wilds of Georgia. What would Bartram think of the scientists today in the arctic with their perfectly preserved woolly mammoth inside a giant icecube, slowly thawing it out in the ice caves of Siberia, hoping to extract perfect DNA to reanimate the species? I'm happy for the tree though. It feels like a weird tree, blooming in August when all other trees in Philadelphia bloom in early spring. I like how weird it is with its fried egg looking flowers heavy on the branches.

Flower-Hunter, as Jonathan called Bartram, his crazy stone bathtub still by the porch, no horses for the horse fly anymore, but plenty of Masons in Minicoopers. "To live is to defend a form." This was said by Anton Webern, also at the front of Jonathan's BARTRAM book. Placing a finger in it to get a feel.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?