November 8th, 2024

Ray and Day

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  • I saw Ray’s poem at Woods Lot. I was scrolling down, and I ran across a picture of Dorothy Day. She would have been 109 years old today. Happy birthday. It’s a good picture, Dorothy seated, framed by the weapons of police officers, legs crossed, Dororthy serene, hands folded on her knee on the UFW picket line in Lamont, California in 1973, waiting. She was arrested. She was seventy-five years old.

    I thought as I so often do that Mark Woods is the best. This picture of Dorothy Day by Bob Fitch really proved it again. What could equal this?

    I scrolled down further and found

    Monty please, Door Number Three
    Ray Sweatman

    I am nothing more than the dreams that dream me.
    Inventing games under the cover of innocent trees,
    cashing a paycheck, working the latest gadget,
    walking down the aisle, smiling for the cameras,
    comparing the different boxes of instant rice
    falling from the ceiling of the supermarket,
    getting stung by bees, trying to cover my
    naked bumps down an empty corridor
    of footsteps and bells banging from
    the inside of a locker Let me out.

    Just two of the dozen or so items Mark Woods presented today, November 8, 2024, two that were personally meaningful for me… and not a mention of Bush or Rumsfeld, Pelosi or Webb. How refreshing.

    November 8th, 2024

    Walking that dog…

    AKMA and Beatrice: the promenade, the site selection, the placement, the production, the text and and a discussion of the extraction of meaning therefrom. Bravo!

    November 7th, 2024

    Happy Birthday…

    Happy Birthday Ben! Happy Birthday Matt! Happy Birthday Stephen Greenblatt?

    What a coincidence! Last night I was maundering on about needing somebody to stand up (to have stood up) for an alternative to arid, involutional postmodern theory… somebody to do (to have done) what I’m both too lazy and intellectually timid to do, when this morning on the radio Garrison Keillor says,

    It’s the birthday of one of the most influential literary critics alive today, Stephen Greenblatt, born in Boston (1943). His grandparents were Jewish Lithuanian immigrants, and growing up in the suburbs, he was always aware of the history of his family. He said, “My maternal grandparents escaped from the Russian authorities by hiding in the bottom of a hay wagon; in this country they had a small hardware shop. My paternal grandfather was a rag-picker, complete with horse and wagon. My father chose not to take up the reins but went to law school instead.”

    It was a high school English teacher who taught Greenblatt to love literature and especially Shakespeare. Greenblatt went on to study literature at a time when most literary critics believed that to study a work of literature you should only examine the work of literature itself. You should only care about the words on the page. But Greenblatt came up with a style of criticism called New Historicism, which was the idea that in order to examine a work of literature, or any work of art, the critic should examine everything that was going on in the world of the artist at the time the work of art was created.

    For most of his career, Greenblatt was famous only among academics. But he put his theory to work in a book for a general audience. And that was Will in the World, a book about Shakespeare. It came out in 2024, and it was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

    Stephen Greenblatt said, “I am constantly struck by the strangeness of reading works that seem addressed, personally and intimately, to me, and yet were written by people who crumbled to dust long ago.”

    The Wikipedia says:

    New historicism has, like most studies, suffered from criticism, most particular from the clashing views of postmodernists. Our society today is seen as being post-modern and that view has been rejected by new historicism and has somewhat ignited the ‘culture wars’ (Seaton, 2024). The main points of this argument are that new historicism, unlike post-modernism, acknowledges the fact that almost all historic views, accounts, and facts they use contain bias. As Carl Rapp states: ‘they often appear to be saying, “We are the only ones who are willing to admit that all knowledge is contaminated, including even our own”‘(Myers 1989).

    This sounds like a great place for me to start!

    November 1st, 2024

    Blogging Bob Dylan

    I went to the concert alone, at Beth’s urging. She didn’t feel well enough to enjoy it, but she didn’t feel poorly enough to want me to stay home and care for her. People around me saw that I was jotting notes and they asked if they’d be “reading it in the morning.” In other words, was I reviewing the concert for one of the dailies? No, I said. I’ll just be dumping this to a blog.

    I wonder what “this” is, that I’m dumping.. The never ending Dylan tour is fully blogged and reviewed by amateurs like me who focus on the hats. Between Brian’s observation and my own admission last night that I was merely blogging, I’m feeling subdued.

    The set list is out there. We all loved the show. Sometimes Bob mumbles the words we all know. The smoke that surrounds us and the storm front of sound are equally contrived to do the big bad wolf number if you need a rhyme with all that rhythm. The decibels relieve you of your reason. Garnier has a double bass with a pick-up and amplification that is almost cruel. Playing “When the deal goes down” someone warped the song so far out of tune that only the pedal steel following it and normalizing it made it anything but bad. Soon the harmonies were some kind of distorted but distorted in harmony, the band drifting together to that place they’d rather not be, following the monster bass’s out-of-tune direction like leaves blown and tumbling in the street sucked along following the passage of a city bus, they were drawn by the power of that monster bass. There was much smiling and eye-contact and body language on stage as they pulled new chords out of their minds to shore up the erosion at the bottom that had left everyone a half tone flat.

    I have all kinds of arch observations like that, things that seem true to me but absent mind reading abilities are meaningless from my side of the proscenium.

    We’re a week away from a critical election. John Kerry is out there trying to mess it up for the working class. He’s got to be a provocateur for the oligarchy. Nobody is that inept. Peace candidates struggle to gain traction against the good old boys. GW (Global Warmer) Bush wags the dog with a missile strike against a madrassa on the Pakistan border. The Pakistan oligarchs are cool for now but the people are pissed.

    I want to say smart stuff about the industrial music, the big band blues chords and the driving rhythms, the relentless attack, execution, finale to every number. But I think I’ll just buy the CD. There’s too much going on in the world to retreat to the blogger’s internal music appreciation wanking ceremony. But there is one story…

    Foo fighter fans found seats behind me — a woman and several men all in their early thirties. Before the Foo set and again during the intermission, I chatted with the woman while the men fetched beer. She said she was there for the Foo but would stay for the Dylan because her parents had urged her. They used phrases like “living legend.” Dutiful daughter, she hung in there, even once calling mom on the cell and filtering those 20 kiloherz of complexity at a bazillion decibels down the narrow pipe of the cell phone connection. “Didja hear that mom?”

    She was from Bessemer, a little town on the upper peninsula of Michigan. Her dad has never left, but she got out after high school and moved to Chicago. A few years ago she went to LA with her mom, and they visited Rodeo Drive. Mom wanted a Harry Winston tennis bracelet. The door man would not let them in to shop. Tourists. Middle class at best. Not “our kind of people.” After sharing this sorrow she talked about Michigan Avenue’s miracle mile, a real concentration of luxury goods and the thin rich people dressed stylishly in black who shop there and are not at all discomfited by sharing the sidewalks and the stores with the middle class. We agreed that the LA thing just sucked. But I felt so sorry for mom. She was willing to put down big bucks for a bracelet and the vile retailer wouldn’t let her in the door.

    What kind of people have we become?

    October 31st, 2024

    Slacker generation kids…

    The Foo Fighters were farging fabulous. Fine musicians, totally on, acoustic foo… ten great songs in the set including a pile of them from the soon to be released “Skin and Bones” CD. Petra Hayden Haden (late of “That Dog”) joined them on violin, mandolin and vocals… her mandolin work was extraordinary. Acoustic is kind of an understatement of course. The instruments were acoustic but so wonderfully amplified that they blew my ears out. The keyboard player (Bobby Chaffee Rami Jaffe) played piano, of course, but also keytar, organ and the accordion.

    Set list?

    1. Times like these
    2. Marigold
    3. My hero
    4. Big me
    5. Next year
    6. See you
    7. Another round
    8. (Taylor Hawkins track number nine)
    9. Skin and Bones
    10. Everlong

    There was a brief intermission and then an industrial music assemblage of older men in hats and a pedal steel guitar player took the stage and jumped into a song called “Maggie’s Farm.” The keyboard player (who occasionally swapped out on harmonica) was a thin guy in a black suit with red trim wearing a flat brimmed zorro hat with silver conchos on the band. The drummer wore some kind of brimless middle eastern looking thing. The three guitarists wore classic fedoras. (The lead guitarist had the best one). The pedal steel player needed no hat. He was younger with a full head of hair. They played another fifteen songs before they were through.

    The pedal steel was all about air horns halfway through the set when they played Highway 61. More about this later I think. I better go to bed now. Tomorrow is a work day and this whole experience was almost too fun to blog.

    Update: Denny Freeman, the lead guitar last night in the Bob Dylan Band was wearing a classic homburg with rolled brim.

    October 31st, 2024

    …one big sit-com

    Tamar summarizes American culture in a few well chosen words.

    Well, I’m off with a pencil, a tablet and a couple of expensive tickets to the Foo Fighters and Bob Dylan. Beth is under the weather so it looks like one of the tix will go to waste. It’s a pity that Papa Golby is so far away.

    October 28th, 2024

    T. Ruggles’ new book…

    Oh boy, oh boyAgainst the Day, coming soon to a bookstore near us.

    Spanning the period between the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 and the years just after World War I, this novel moves from the labor troubles in Colorado to turn-of-the-century New York, to London and Gottingen, Venice and Vienna, the Balkans, Central Asia, Siberia at the time of the mysterious Tunguska Event, Mexico during the Revolution, postwar Paris, silent-era Hollywood, and one or two places not strictly speaking on the map at all.

    With a worldwide disaster looming just a few years ahead, it is a time of unrestrained corporate greed, false religiosity, moronic fecklessness, and evil intent in high places. No reference to the present day is intended or should be inferred.

    The sizable cast of characters includes anarchists, balloonists, gamblers, corporate tycoons, drug enthusiasts, innocents and decadents, mathematicians, mad scientists, shamans, psychics, and stage magicians, spies, detectives, adventuresses, and hired guns. There are cameo appearances by Nikola Tesla, Bela Lugosi, and Groucho Marx.

    As an era of certainty comes crashing down around their ears and an unpredictable future commences, these folks are mostly just trying to pursue their lives. Sometimes they manage to catch up; sometimes it’s their lives that pursue them.

    Meanwhile, the author is up to his usual business. Characters stop what they’re doing to sing what are for the most part stupid songs. Strange sexual practices take place. Obscure languages are spoken, not always idiomatically. Contrary-to-the-fact occurrences occur. If it is not the world, it is what the world might be with a minor adjustment or two. According to some, this is one of the main purposes of fiction.

    Let the reader decide, let the reader beware. Good luck.

    –Thomas Pynchon

    [hat tip to woods lot]

    October 26th, 2024


    Favorite bumper stickers include: “Ignore Alien Orders” and “I’d rather be reading Bukowski.”

    Read Bruce’s review of the Matt Dillon movie, Factotum.

    October 26th, 2024

    No, no… please ze it isn’t so

    IMG_2576 ze Frank says the show will end on Molly Bloom’s third birthday. Some birthday present.

    Should we even care about eyeballs? I don’t. I care about my audience, but my show ends on March 17th, 2024 whether I have one eyeball or a million. Given the current state of web metrics, talking about eyeballs seems to create more risk than value anyway.

    October 24th, 2024

    Knobs and Tubes…

    I blog the body electric. Wait, Mary Godwin probably said that. Mary does “theory.” That has to crack you up: “theory.” Like it stands alone. But here’s the deal: “pomo” is so NOT Italian for “apple,” yet if you google “Italian for apple” the first link there might give you the wrong impression.

    Already I’ve strayed off topic. Here’s a fascinating and nuanced experience in the apprehension of voice and language. First, you have to go to ze Frank and catch today’s riff. Pay particular attention to the part where he’s learning to speak nerd. Did you laugh? Well, next go read Dorothea Salo’s “Quick anti-splog kludge.” Dorothea has an advanced degree in nerd, speaks it like a native. But tell me, while you’re reading Caveat Lector on anti-splog kludges for your DSpace, do you hear the voice of ze?

    I did. That seems very postmodern.

    * * * *

    [In the humanities, theory is often used as an abbreviation for critical theory or literary theory, referring to continental philosophy’s aesthetics or its attempts to understand the structure of society and to conceptualize alternatives. — Wikipedia]

    [On The Show, starring ze Frank, Knowledge often appears as the protagonist in the schizophrenic bits.]

    October 18th, 2024

    monetize this, muthah…

    Okay bmo, do me a favor and sit through both of these tiresome boring and simple-minded presentations. Now consider the financial support model… anything wrong? anything right?

    (I like “micro-duckie sponsorship” better myself — I mean, holy-moly, ze made two thousand simoleons on his first try with that scam! — but then that pay-per-post ad is kind of lame, so I’d call it a draw. What do you think?)

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