March 26, 2006

New York Round Up
I went to New York last week; hence, the week-long furlough.
1. The Whitney Biennial is as bad as everyone is saying. The show ill-advisedly starts off with Aaron Young's "Locals Only!" It's a cast of a rock from New Jersey that coopts the locals-only attitude of several northern California towns (Bolinas, for instance) and seems to ignore the new curatorial practice of greater (ie. non-American) inclusion in this show to the detriment of American artistic communities under or unrepresented. Overheard: "If it's locals only, then why are there so many fucking Europeans in it?" It is the Whitney Museum of American Art afterall.

Equally awful: Jutta Koether's "Very Lost Highway" upon which is scrawled among other things "fuck the fake life" in the most privileged, pompous manner.

2. The B&H Dairy on Second Avenue. Mushroom barley soup, bread, and coffee.

3. Phil Collins' "dunya dinlemiyor" at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery. A multi-ethnic cast karaoke to the Smiths' The World Won't Listen. "Because if it's not love, then it's the bomb that will bring us together..."
4. Edvard Munch at MoMA. Overheard at "The Scream": "This is such a Van Gogh rip-off!!!" People weren't even recognizing Nietzsche by his mustache.
5. Patty Chang and David Kelley at Kustera Tilton Gallery (website not up to date). What happens when you take a laowai (white foreigner) in a Chinese setting, dress him and his Asian companion up in traditional Chinese garb to take common Chinese wedding photos, but instead of putting them in an album you put them on a white wall? Is it commentary? If so, is it relevant or necessary commentary?
6. The official Boy Scouts of America tent host Matthew Lusk pitched for me and Sha in his living room.
6A. Rereading The Great Gatsby while recovering from the Polish beers sold in Greenpoint.
7. David Smith at the Guggenheim. It was nice to see the progression from his early more literal abstractions (that is, more representational) to his middle period of the early 50s where he seemed more concerned with elongation and ballance (like in the piece "Australia") to his much more minimalist work later on.
8. Rodney Dickson's Saigon 1975 Bar at Jack the Pelican Presents in Brooklyn. This installation/bar is meant to recreate the Vietnamese GI bars just before the US pullout.
9. The Thirteen: Chinese Video Now at PS 1. Unfortunate title. Actually, unfortunate use of the definite article "the." The show seems a fair look at what's going on at the moment in China. With such limited space, finding fault with who or what didn't make the cut would be silly. Imagine taking any 13 American video artists and saying this is what America is up to with video. At best you may get a good sampling of some schools. Standouts: Cao Fei's "Cosplayers" where superheros (think Ultraman and the Power Rangers) interact in the big city (Shanghai? It looked like Shanghai); Hui Jieming's "From Architectural Immanence." This was a video score that superimposed a staff and tracked how the musician(s?) were reading the video. I've seen several video-scores performed live (Fred Frith for instance), but Hui's aproach made what is often very subjective to the musician much more accessible to the viewer, whether or not the viewer happened to read music. That is, the process was made transparent.
William Kentridge on the stairwell.



March 25, 2006

Jorge Boehringer in New York

I wrote about Jorge Boehringer on March 14th. He's going to be in New York in support of O Sirhan, O Sirhan's inaugural release.

April 6th: The Cakeshop on the lower eastside, with Ches Smith and Mary Halverson, and True Primes.

April 7th: The Union Pool in Brooklyn. Others TBA.


March 15, 2006

from Carl Sandburg, "Tentative (First Model) Defitinitions of Poetry" in Good Morning America (Harcourt Brace, 1928).

4. Poetry is the tracing of the trajectories of a finite sound to the infinite points of its echoes.

6. Poetry is a puppet-show, where riders of skyrockets and divers of sea fathoms gossip about the the sixth sense and the fourth dimension.

19. Poetry is a theorem of a yellow-silk handkerchief knotted with riddles, sealed in a balloon tied to the tail of a kite flying in a white wind against a blue sky in spring.

21. Poetry is a sliver of the moon lost in the belly of a golden frog.

27. Poetry is a statement of a series of equations, with numbers and symbols changing like the change of mirrors, pools, skies, the only never-changing sign being the sign of infinity.

30. Poetry is a kinetic arrangement of static syllables.



March 14, 2006

O Sirhan, O Sirhan, issue 1 (2006). 70 pages + CD. $8.

Another excellent zine enters the fray. Editor Che Chen culled together some really good, diverse material for O Sirhan, O Sirhan's inaugural issue. There's the lead off article by musicologist Benjamin Piekut about musician/philosopher Henry Flynt. Poetry by Melissa Weinstein. An interview with 7 Year Rabbit Cycle and a photo essay of Deerhoof. The interview with artist David Waldorf is a good introduction to his thoughts and process. But what stands out most in this issue is the longish interview with composer/noise musician Jorge Boehringer (a.k.a. Core of the Coal Man), his score for the piece "T Zero" (visually interesting to look at and more fun to decipher) and the accompanying CD of seven representative Boehringer tracks.
From the Boehringer interview:
OSOS: So why did you come out with two versions of this piece, 't zero'?
JB: The reason I did the California and New York versions of that piece is just that I can't stop recycling material. I tend to use the same material for a lot of different things until I'm done with it because I don't like to make choices as to one possibility being the best or ultimate way, or even saying, "this is where this note belongs." I think they belong a lot of places and I'm often happiest when something surprises me so I tend to keep using ideas that I like until I forget about them (5).
O Sirhan, O Sirhan
7 Garden Avenue
Stonybrook NY 11790



March 11, 2006

"Smart Ass" at Southern Exposure (March 10-April 15).

I spent the day walking around San Francisco with artist Eric King checking out galleries. The San Francisco Performance Museum (on the fourth floor of the same buildng as the SF Arts Commission Gallery) has a collection of 40-50s jazz era photos. It's nice to see a youngish Coltrane, but I somehow thought this museum was going to be an archive of performance art in the city. There really should be one.
Full afternoon short: I'm confused at the Lab's current show: "National Psyche: Feminine Vision, Thought, and Action During Wartime." Mainly with the wartime tag. Only one piece in the show evoked a response to war: the video with the stuffed animal heads attached by the tongue and boxing gloves. For everything else, if there was a connection to the war, it was very tenuous. This is not to say that there weren't some strong pieces [the megaphone piece for example (I'm being this vague with artist names and titles because the handouts were this vague and the website isn't helpful)]; it's to say that the show appeared much more random than the title seems to lend itself to.
The highlight of the afternoon was definitely at Southern Exposure. Shannon Plumb's silent videos were completetly enthralling. Whereas other silent filmic ventures fall utterly falt, Plumb's understanding of the physicality required to pull off a silent film (let alone a series of two to five minute clips) made each episode something to look forward to. Check out "Roller Coaster" (2002).
Virginia Kleker's "Luggage." If you believe the narrative, she stole a piece of luggage from an airport "without eye contact," rummaged through it, assessed the person via his luggage, then returned the luggage again "without eye contact" to the same luggage carousel. She put a statement the suitcase (like the kind you get when your luggage gets torn apart by machinery or when the feds want to look through your underwear) saying that this was an exercise in non-contact contact.



March 9, 2006

Laura Moriarty, Self Destruction (Post-Apollo, 2004). 116 pages. $14.

There's a lot to recommend in here: the different uses of forms, the subtle and not so subtle shifts in tone, overt accounts of Blakean/Spicerian reception:

Stupid moon
Unfortunate creature in it

Voice like a whistle
Source of rumors

Used me like a radio ("Stupid Moon," p. 24, ll. 1-5)

to the pleasant repetition of the infinitive verb in "Sing Song" (40):

To mess up one's hair or life
To squander to spend to throw off course

To tear apart farewell dismissal
In spite of to pour to empty out (ll. 1-4)
Check out the interview with Laura Moriarty in The New Review 3.1 (October 2005): 95-107.


March 8, 2006

Eithopian poet laureate Tsegaye Gabre-Medhin has died. Obit here. Poem here.

March 8, 2006

John Cage, Kirk Roland and David Tudor in Dick Fontaine's Sound (1966). 24:41 mins.

"Why don't they keep their mouths shut and their ears open? Are they stupid?"

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March 5, 2006

from Lu Xun, "Notes After Reading," in Selected Works, vol. 4, pp. 100-1.

"Most writers hate critics for their carping tongues.
I remember a poet once said: A poet must write poems just as a plant must blossom -- it has no alternative. If you pluck it, eat it and find it poisonous, you have only youself to blame.
This is a beatuiful simile and sounds fair enough on the face of it. But if you think a little, it is wrong. It is wrong because a poet is not a plant but a man living in society; and collections of poems are sold -- you cannot just pick them up. Once a thing is sold it is a commodity, and whoever buys it has the right to praise or condemn it" (100).



March 3, 2006

1. Rain
2. Strong Bad emails during office hours.
3. Dudley Randall's "A Poet is not a Jukebox"
4. Bill Luoma's link to British soldiers on acid.


Ash Wednesday, 2006

Melba Joyce Boyd and M. L. Liebler, Abandon Automobile: Detroit City Poetry 2001 (Wayne State UP, 2001). 422 pages. $19.95.
I think that the title should read Detroit City Poetry to 2001 or somesuch as the collection digs into the wealth of poetic history surrounding Detroit before the date of publication [and not in that fake Berkeley Addison Walk way in which Berkeley lays claim to China's Li Po (701-762)]. Everyone in this book is directly connected to Detroit. W. D. Snodgrass? Who knew he taught at Wayne State between 1959-67? I seriously can't imagine him walking around Cass Corridor in the late 60s. What did he do during the riots? Andrei Codrescu immigrated from Rumania only to settle in Detroit in 1967 at the height of samesaid riots?
As with any anthology based around a single location, many of the geographic references will not translate into visceral community. Non-Detroiters might be at a loss when Lawrence Pike snipes these "Lines from a Highland Parker:"
Highland Park north of Detroit? New Yorker, smug
proofread thy soul. Your great white way already pales (286).
But readers who have never stepped foot in Wayne County, Michigan won't feel left out of the overall experience these poems offer.
There's a lot of ways that Boyd and Liebler could have framed this, stealing Chinese feudal era poets for example. Instead, they've managed the near impossible task of representing the history of Detroit-based poets while at the same time representing and promoting the current various and active communities in Detroit circa 2001.
Poets include: Sarah Addae; Saladin Ahmed; Ron Allen; Alise Alousi; Mitzi Alvin; Olivia V. Ambrogio; Alvin Aubert; Irvine Barat; Faruq Z. Bey; Sadiq Bey; Terry Blackhawk; Melba Joyce Boyd; Jill Witherspoon Boyer; William Boyer; Donna Brook; James Burdine; Anthony Butts; Mary Ann Cameron; Norene Cashen; Leon Chamberlain; Hayan Charara; Esperanza M. Cintron; James Clay; Andrei Codrescu; Walter Cox; Stella Crews; Robert Dana; Jim Daniels; Toi Derricotte; Mark Donovan; Gloria Dyc; Henrietta Epstein; Linda Nemec Foster; Larry Gabriel; Joan Gartland; Jose Garza; Dan Georgakas; Charles A. Gervin; Michele Gibbs; Perri Giovannuci; Maurice Greenia, Jr; Jim Gustafson; Aurora Harris; Bill Harris; Kaleema Hasan; Robert Hayden; Errol A. Henderson; Barbara Henning; Lolita Hernandez; Jerry Herron; Ellen Hildreth; Edward Hirsch; Ann Holdreith; Dan Hughes; Kim Hunter; Clark Iverson; Murray Jackson; Geoffrey Jacques; Stephen Jones; Lawrence Joseph; Nubia Kai; Aneb Kgositsile; Faye Kicknosway; Margo Lagattuta; Oliver Lagrone; Christine Lahey; Michael Lauchlan; Janet Lawless; Philip Levine; M. L. Liebler; Naomi Long Madgett; Mike Madias; Peter Markus; Marc Maurus; Judith McCombs; Raymond P. McKinney; Ken Mikolowski; Derek P. Miller; Mary Minock; Christine Monhollen; Wardell Montgomery, Jr.; Jessica Care Moore; Jan Mordenski; Edward Morin; Ted Nagy; Schaarazetta Natelege; David J. Nelson; Kristin Palm; Ted Pearson; Sarah Jeanne Peters; Tom Peters, Jr.; T. R. Peters, Sr.; Lawrence Pike; Aaron Ibn Pori Pitts; Sonya Marie Pouncy; Dudley Randall; Jon Randall; Kevin Rashid; Marilynn Rashid; Eugene B. Redmond; John R. Reed; Leslie Reese; Rod Reinhart; Judith Roche; Michelle Valerie Ronnick; Irene Rosemond; Michael Ashton Rosemond; John Rybicki; Osvaldo R. Sabino; Jacqueline Rae Rawlson Sanchez; Trinidad Sanchez, Jr.; Steven Schreiner; Denise Sedman; Semal; Dennis Shea; John Sinclair; Ella Singer; W. D. Snodgrass; Elizabeth Anne Socolow; Keith Carter Sterling; Renee Tambeau; Teresa Tan; Keith Taylor; Dennis Teichman; Stephen Tudor; Chris Tysh; George Tysh; Melanie Van Der Tuin; Hilda Vest; Anca Vlasopolos; Rayfield Waller; David Watson; Barrett Watten; Kim Webb; Mary Ann Wehler; Karen Williams; Tyrone Williams; and Willie Williams.
Consider all of these folks added to my Feb. 5 post of Detroit poets. If you can provide links to any of these, please by all means post the link in the comments box. I'll be inching forward on this for quite some time.


February 28, 2006

New York Public Library Buys a Trove of Burroughs Papers

According to the New York Times:

"The Burroughs archive contains 11,000 pages of manuscript and typescript material, including draft versions and notes for virtually all of Burroughs's works through 1972, said Isaac Gewirtz, curator of the Berg Collection. Most of the material in the archive from the 1960's and 70's has never been seen, except by Burroughs and his contemporaries.

In addition, the archive includes typescripts and manuscripts for numerous unpublished works, which Burroughs organized by date or subject matter or whim into numbered folios, or folders; some 3,000 pages of highly personal literary and artistic correspondence, collages, dream calendars, diaries, notebooks, more than 50 hours of unreleased tape recordings and hundreds of photographs by and of Burroughs, who died in 1997."