Friday, January 29, 2010


(Audio at )

I don't know if it was Marshall Field, or Totie Fields, or Sally Fields, or "Field of Dreams", but in the field of words sometimes Luther sounds like Lucifer, and you're sure someone must be king, but not of what. And as a child I can remember the King family singing, with Alvino Ray playing Hawaiian guitar, and while you might say that guitar was gently weeping, it certainly wasn't Pablo Picasso. Pablo who himself had never been called an asshole, must have been very close to Castro if they let him call it cubism, although I'm not sure that Larry, Curly, or Moe, or any of the lesser stooges would have approved. But only a prude needs approval in a world where every value has been valorized, or colorized, it's hard tell sometimes, to separate the twonesses from the Dubois. I don't think Dubois ever went to Idaho, maybe never even met Ho Ho Chi Minh, never set eyes on Ed Wynn or Ray Bolger or his scarecrow, but Jim Crow I am sure he met. Jacqueline Bisset or Jacqueline Onassis? I can't even get their Jack Kennedys straight; not that they were queer in theory or in fact or in Biafra or eating Jello with Martha Stewart at her Vineyard and talking behind the backs of Michel Foucault, and Judith Butler, and the Counts of Marquis de Sade and Monte Cristo. It's just a thought, but if Dee Dee Myers married Denis Diderot she would have been Dee Dee Diderot. Can you see them all at lunch --- Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Marcel Marceau, Dario Fo, and Denis and Dee Dee Diderot all eating truffles with Francois Truffaut at some chichi eatery in lower Manhattan just north of Soho. I'm not blaming him but the fact is my life's been all Foucault'd up since Alan Sokal. I was sitting drinking at my local, wearing a spare pair of the new designer genes when I caught Andrea Mitchell wearing Allen Greenspan's jeans and just like mine the designer label said Richard Dawkins Selfish. I might as well have been a kangaroo because I was hopping mad. Her hip hype hypocrisy fed my reserve with resentment. It all resembled some postmodern postmortem which there at my local just meant Alan Sokal which made me post-Sokal, postmodern, postmortem, gone postal. Or perhaps post-postal, because when I went to grab my Kalashnikov, I felt like a person in Goncharov, a man who lost his will; it all was so Oblomovistically mystical. But the world was oblivious to my Oblomovism, lascivious with my solipsism, and mischievous with my solecism. The sole of my solecism was the Costa del Sol where I tanned by moonlight and dined on fillet, where to at least sometimes not split my infinitives I ex-Humed my Berkeley. George, not the University, and not the Barkley butted mound of well rounded rebound, nor even Busby. Guarding against barbarous Berbers in bearskin busbies --- I am on to their hat-tricks --- no more hoofing it from Panmunjom, or Sun Myung Moon, or Warren Harding with a hard-on on the White House lawn. You could be cavorting with assorted watchmakers, all of them blind, or abortive Kevorkians with you losing your mind. The faster you travel the behinder you get until the Tet offensive destroys your Corvette, or your Fiat, the money's the same, the five sided caissons are rolling along, from the JFK funeral, horse drawn, to the vast field of carnage not far from Saigon.
If a helicopter can land on stage it must be possible to Miss my point. Call it a conscience clause for a conscientious resister, but Descartes was a French battleship colonizing Indochina and carrying Jean Paul Sartre's father. Put another way, Descartes was a Sartre-carrying chartership, a Sartre-house of charter, a premeditated Meditation on the continuation of state policy by other means, or if that means a police state with a Maddox in the Tonkin Gulf, so be it, Soviet, so, Vietnam. So why not let bygones be bygones and Saigons by Saigons, forget about annoying Hanoi's, unrepentant Phnoms, piss-pot Pol Pot's and Christmas day bombs? Judas Kiss Kissinger's, My Lai malaise, napalmed Kim Phuc's, assassinated Premiers, erase them from memory like the blood-rouged Khmers. King Kong or Viet Cong … they were both guerillas weren't they?
Vanilla guerillas. Sigourney Weaver living dangerously with Mel Gibson, but Joe Frazier and Muhammed Ali were already gone; just a movie this thrillah in Manila, though supposedly not the Philipines but Indonesia; but it was too dangerous in Indonesia where Suharto had no amnesia about Sukarno ; things were just too hot in Java, it would have meant skating on thin Vanilla Ice. Gorillas, gorillas, everywhere nor any mist to drink; Sumatra to Manila, Java to Rwanda, Bolivia to Guantanamo, Bolivar to Geronimo, Kabila, Aguinaldo, Che Guevara, Uncle Ho.
My sixth sense told me that if the Seven Samurai met the Chicago Eight singing Revolution #9 for the Hollywood Ten at the eleventh hour. that LA and Tokyo would be just like love and happiness: the eternal seven-ten split.

Friday, January 22, 2010


(audio at )

There's nothing you can do about it.
It's not the light-switch. It isn't
the ignition. It started without you
and you can pretty much pretend
as you will.

Habit does make thought
easier, if
emptier. You think you
know and continue to rehearse
as if facility assured
veracity, steadfastness, meaning
or perhaps
beauty; familiarity or alacrity
warrant- if not guarantee-ing
purpose. It is enough for now,
and now is too much for the most part. The vast
acceleration of happening,
the exhilaration of becoming, the
concupiscence of each single act
of seeing --- it is enough
to moat the possibility of being, re-
enforce the palissades of endurance
with ricks of rigor-mortis: the
transmorphation of the forest into dressed
cordwood in close order drill. Remote
as the inference of life from the ticking
of a watch, or the constitution of a state from
the smithing of a manacle,
we speak these words to be
self-evident. A nation is just
a place of birth, a native
just a person born there, and laws
are just bayonets until you attach people
to them --- sharp but
harmless. There are constituencies
for almost everything:
call something sodomy,
no matter what,
and there are those who will
condemn it. In a world where life
is pain, death
is release. The frenzied yearning is
my kin and when
I can I absolve even
belief. But I stopped
knowing who to complain to
when I learned
they were what I had
to complain about.
If there is no such thing as a blind
racist, where is the advantage
in seeing? If it were
the lightswitch, if it were
the ignition, I
would know what
to do
--- but it's not.

Friday, January 15, 2010


(Generally speaking, cliches are to be avoided like the ... H1N1.
But especially when you mean something as a song, they're actually better than originality. I hear the following as a song, and to hear my own dubious attempts to capture this, you can check out Chomsky in Chains, the podcast.)

Been a war every day of my forty-four years.
Been a war every day of my life.
Been a war to show everyone killing is wrong.
Been a war to prove killing is right.
Been a war to keep dangerous secrets.
Been a war to make some secrets known.
Been a war of defensive invasions,
in the name of protecting our homes.
In the name of protecting our homes.

Been a war to make everyone sober.
Been a war to get everyone high.
But the truth is that war is a banker,
selling peace for a lucrative lie,
trading peace with a lucrative lie,
while the Tomahawks litter the sky

And I been wondering why-hy,
murder's wrong but murderers rule,
spend one day honoring Martin,
three-hundred-SIXty-four like he was a fool,
and I been wondering why, why, why,
peace is always being denied,
peace is a classified secret,
but we treat war like it’s our national pride.

Been a war while the guns have been firing.
Been a war while the guns have grown cold.
Been a war for the wealthy and greedy,
to take the whole world for their own.
Been a war for the lies that they're screaming.
Been a war to cut out the truth's tongue.
Been a war to profit the rich and the old,
fought by the poor and the young,
lose their lives for a lucrative lie,
while the Tomahawks litter the sky

And I been wondering why-hy,
murder's wrong but murderers rule,
spend one day honoring Martin,
three-hundred-SIXty-four like he was a fool,
and I been wondering why, why, why,
peace is always being denied,
peace is a classified secret,
but we treat war like it’s our national pride.
And I been wondering why.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Consolations for a Cleveland Winter

What would I do with all that
prodigal sunshine,
day after changeless day, and the way it
bleaches unliving colors
to pastel? Far better to
dwell here,
in wired concrete igloos,
parked in the arctic precincts of a
supposedly temperate
climate, where the dense gray
perpetuity of cloud
supersedes shade and curtain, where
no luminous nuisance trespasses in the sky,
opacifying the lenses of your eye with the
glare of film noir third degrees.
Where you can sleep for weeks without missing a single
shadow. How reassuring,
not to have to worry about the cat
exploding in the unvented four-door.

And then, there are the economic benefits;
the costly, sloppy stickiness of the
sunscreen you won't be needing,
the money unspent on the darklensed
fashionstatements you won't sit on
entering the car, the superfluity of
bikini waxes beneath layer upon layer of
goose down, wool, velcro, Gortex and Thinsulate.
None of the wastefulness of frozen-drink
parasols, instead the allegory of marshmallows
melting in hot cocoa, the music of
whistled steam gossiping about the impending
arrival of scalded pots of tea.

Who would knowingly trade the
palping rapture of cashmere
coiled in gentle neck-snug, for the
goo gunk of tropical crotchfunk, and
pitstench? And then there’s the boon
to marital fidelity, the erotic temptations
of fishnet nymphettes
preempted: the very thought of provocative textiles
foreclosed by the horripilant chill-threat of
bristle-hair gooseflesh. No apocalyptic water bugs
skittering eerily from
unknown places, just a preternatural
feeling of brotherhood
for the lonely burdens of prehistoric
glaciers, and sympathy for the fate of naked
graveyard statuary.

Far better to start each morning with the discourse of
shovel's-edge rasping flagstone or blacktop, even
the cranky percussion of twostroke engines chuting
geysers of crystal into driveway-lining
ridges of freeze-dried sky-squeeze.
Listening to the sizzle-hiss of woodfire, its
narrative about the liberation of stored
sunshine, how preferable this to the trademarked
thrash-ratchet of idling middle-aged stockbrokers.

Needless to say,
mountainside fiberglass waterslides
rank a very distant second to
the doorstep thrill-ride of each morning,
as, improvising your way along the
newly arrived canyons of spontaneous
car-devouring roadcrumble, you
fishtail through slushstreeted
rush-hours. And there can simply be
no moral comparison between the
generosity of the snowplow rock-salt
that leaves the entire northeast
corner of the state saltier
than a frozen-margarita rim,
and the isolating managedcare selfishness
of tinted-power-windows and factory-air.

There is nothing in the radiant scorch
of hot sun on tanned skin
to make you desire anything
but escape; nothing that
remotely begins to compare with the way that,
numbing your extremities, a Cleveland winter
lectures about how you have stopped
feeling, and long
to feel

Sunday, January 03, 2010


We defame the blind,
by invoking them as a trope
for ignorance. With the deaf
it is much the same;
I have tutored the deaf,
and lectured the blind
and I find them
far better students
than those whose ignorance
is self-inflicted.
People with ear-buds in don’t want
to listen; it is a choice
against openness, albeit
a choice to connect,
at one and the same time
to sever yourself from your
locality, and attach yourself
to the pod, the download,
the matrix of what you have
you want. It’s like
what Sontag said: blindness
shouldn’t be a metaphor
except that metaphor itself
is a kind of illness.

In the library,
a young male employee is
dusting the shelves, and
listening to his i-Pod.
The body language
is ecstasy: the job rents his physique,
but his mind
is exquisitely, Jeff-Goldblum
his. I need directions, but
who am I
to ask, to inter-
rupt the feast of his consciousness
with my foreign
if all-too-human

There are profits
in the arbitrage
of attention, and prodigious
slotting fees in the free market of ideas.

Friends, co-imperialists, countrymen,
rent me your earbuds.
We are free to hear
what we want to
or not, but I note
there are reasons
for the neural pathways
from you ears
to the fear centers
in your amygdala.

How do you know
the alarm
already sounded?