January 31, 2009

Bill Luoma, "The Concept of Ass," Poets Theater Fest 09: Intermedia, CCA: San Francisco, 2009.

Bill's name is in the program but David Buuck delivered the physics-laden auditory to what amounts to a series of baseball bloopers. Kinda dumb. But kinda brilliant. As Buuck said during intermission, shows like This Week in Baseball are a non-academic canon. And baseball, from its roots being working class, is much more democratic than the usual practice of poetry.

Was that Mark Fidrych in the nature section? Yep. Luoma, Buuck & I know who "the Bird" is, and we didn't get that knowledge in college.

Did I mention that Dillon Westbrook was wearing a Ricky Henderson jersey?

Did Dr. Feelings really say "commie" & "striker"? really? really really? why?

January 30, 2009

1. Thanks to Lara Durback, Rebecca van de Voort & Heather Jovanelli for my farewell "happy hour" the other night. Sorry, if some of y'all were a little buckethead at work the next day. It was a really sweet thing to do, and I was very genuinely happy to see everyone who turned up.
2. I'm at the point where I've given away, sold, donated or tossed out 95% of everything I have accumulated over the past 3.5 years here in Oakland. Of the remaining 5% on my floor right now, I will most likely have to whittle that down by half.
3. I bought $25 in task specific cleaners this morning in an attempt to get my deposit back. Anything that cleans your grotty shower without you needing to do anything but point and spray is toxic & cancerous. The smell reminded me of my days at the paint plant in Michigan, mixing chemicals so folks' cars could be super shiny; but then I had to wear a full on hazmat bunny suit and respirator.
4. Dillon says he's going to mock me if I don't show up at SPT tonight. I hope that's not the case, since if I don't show up it means I'm scrubbing grease and crap off of the stove, the wall by the stove etc. . . My walk through is at 9 am tomorrow.
5. Alright, enough of my lolligagging. Back to scrubbing, scrapping & scraping.


January 24, 2009

If you walk around the BART administrative building, you'd never know that the Oakland community has been boiling over since the shooting of Oscar Grant. The "riots" reported in the national news are completely overblown, and feed into the angry-Black-Oakland myth perpetuated since the days when the Black Panthers were handing out 100,000 bags of groceries a week to Oakland's poor. The Oakland community, Black and otherwise, is mad at the heel-dragging slowness of this process. If you walk any of the blocks from 11th Street & Franklin down to Grand in downtown Oakland, it becomes evident that a lot of folks are carefully following the developments of this case: store owners have posted flyers demanding justice, graffiti proclaims "I am Oscar Grant", and there is a visceral sense that however events proceed, they will need to be above board and transparent. It remains to be seen whether or not that will happen.


January 20, 2009

Aspirated H

"an historic" is wrong wrong wrong

in America the word "historic" has a hard aspirated H

just like hockey

it's not "an hockey match"

Inauguration Day, 2009

Getting ready for the move to Beijing, I've come to the realization that my frequent change-of-location lifestyle doesn't afford me the luxury of an extensive personal library.
I am throwing out clothes to make way for these books to fit in my bags:
Lu Xun, Selected Works. 4 vols.
Mao Zedong, Selected Works of Mao Tse-Tung. 5 vols.
Everything I own by Jackson MacLow.
My family dictionary.
Everything I own by Georges Bataille.
Let's just call this a poetics.


January 15, 2009

Poet John Giorno gives ArtForum 500 words:

"If you look back over the past thousand years, there were often never more than a hundred people who heard your poem. With Baudelaire, they’d only print his poems in one hundred books, and maybe three hundred people read them, and yet he was the most famous poet in France. Our generation changed things. Years ago, a young woman came up to Patti Smith and said, 'Patti, I’m a poet. What should I do?' And Patti said, 'If you want to have more than twenty people in the audience, get yourself a rock band.' The young woman turned out to be Chan Marshall of Cat Power. I think that’s happened to countless people: Jim Carroll, Lou Reed, Tom Waits; it’s that Pop thing of connecting to a large audience."


January 13, 2009

James Arthur, Sean Hill, Samantha Giles, & Scott Hoshida
The Word is Out: Oakland’s Emerging Writers Mix it Up!

“The Word is Out: Oakland’s Emerging Writers Mix it Up!” – a literary reading series featuring some of Oakland’s most talented emerging writers. A mixture of poetry and prose, this series includes a range of writers from Oakland’s diverse artist communities and Bay Area Creative Writing programs. Come mix it up at The Mixing Bowl Cafe and experience great food and contemporary works from Mills College, California College of Art (CCA), Stanford University’s Stegner Program, Deep Oakland, Voices of Our Nations (VONA) and more.

WHEN:2nd Wednesdays of the Month
WHERE: The Mixing Bowl Cafe, 4920 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA

James Arthur's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Southern Review, and Shenandoah. He has received the Amy Lowell Traveling Poetry Scholarship, a Discovery/The Nation Prize, fellowships to Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony, and is currently a Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University. He lives in Oakland with his wife, fiction writer Shannon Robinson.

A native of Milledgeville, Georgia, Sean Hill has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bush Foundation, The MacDowell Colony, and the University of Wisconsin, and work-study scholarships to Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. His poems have appeared in Callaloo, Indiana Review, Ploughshares, Pleiades, Crab Orchard Review, DIAGRAM, Ninth Letter, Gulf Coast, and other literary journals, and in the anthologies Blues Poems, Gathering Ground, and The Ringing Ear. In March 2008 the University of Georgia Press published his first book, Blood Ties & Brown Liquor. Hill is currently a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.

Samantha Giles lives and drives around in Oakland. She is one of the Mills people. Her work is available at Vert, The Press Gang, Shampoo, and Deep Oakland and in Work.

Born on California's central coast and raised in its valley, Scott Hoshida often writes about the people who live outside the major cities of northern and southern California: Santa Maria, Port Hueneme, and Lincoln. A graduate of the creative writing program at Mills College, he works as an English instructor at Berkeley City and retreats to China Hill in Oakland for rest and writing.


January 13, 2009

The NY Times peports on an NEA study that "the proportion of adults 18 and older who said they had read at least one novel, short story, poem or play in the previous 12 months has risen" to 50.2%. This is being reported as good news.
I was really hoping that the other 49.8% are exclusively non-fiction readers, but Steven Fama's aliteracy (people who can but choose not to read) worries in the comments the other day are confirmed by the article: "At the same time the survey found that the proportion of adults who said they had read any kind of a book, fiction or nonfiction, that was not required for work or school actually declined slightly since 2002, to 54.3 percent from 56.6 percent."

January 13, 2009

Oakland Tech High grad, Ricky Henderson,
makes it to the the Hall of Fame

January 12, 2009

Erika Staiti, Suzanne Stein, and Dodie Bellamy
Canessa Gallery Reading Series
708 Montgomery Street, SF
January 17, 2009
8 PM

WHAT: Was it divine intervention or did the devil make you do it? Do you blame your elementary English teacher or that old Beat you met at City Lights? Why are you (gasp) a poet? Erika Staiti, Suzanne Stein, and Dodie Bellamy ponder the nature of “influence” in this seventh installment of the Canessa Gallery Reading Series.

Erika Staiti lives in North Oakland. She is currently running a Fassbinder marathon.

Suzanne Stein is a poet. Two of several projects forthcoming this year: a chapbook, Passenger Ship, from Ypolita press, and Signs of Life from O Books. Former co-director and film curator at four walls gallery, she works currently as community producer at SFMOMA. Stein is editor and publisher of the small press TAXT and lives in Oakland. Please visit or

Dodie Bellamy's chapbook Barf Manifesto is just out from Ugly Duckling Presse. Other books include Academonia, Pink Steam, and The Letters of Mina Harker. Her book Cunt-Ups won the 2002 Firecracker Alternative Book Award for poetry. In January 2006, she curated an installation of Kathy Acker’s clothing for White Columns, New York’s oldest alternative art space. She lives in San Francisco with writer Kevin Killian and three cats.


January 12, 2009

Motown is 50

January 11, 2009

According to the US Dept of Education, 14 % of Americans are illiterate; "however, adults who were not able to take the assessment because of a language barrier are included in the indirect estimates and are classified as lacking BPLS [Basic Prose Literacy Skills] on the grounds that they can be considered to be at the lowest level of English literacy."
So the Oakland Chinatown shopkeep who reads the 星岛 (Xing Dao) newspaper every morning might be listed as illiterate, even though he operates his business in Cantonese, Mandarin, Fujianhua, and very basic English. It's the basic-ness of his English that gets him scored as illiterate.
I find it hard to believe that 23% of Californians (the highest in the report) are functionally illiterate, but rather choose to believe that most of this statistic are literate and functional in other languages besides English (according to the city gov't, there are more than 150 languages spoken in Oakland). New York, Florida and Texas also had "illiteracy" rates above 20%. North Dakota, Minnestoa and New Hampshire, bastions of diversity, all came in with the lowest rates at 6%.
More troubling is that 63% of inmates are. No matter how this stat is arrived at, it points to all sorts of institutional and cultural problems.


January 9, 2009

If you've ever wondered how much in coins you can fit into one of those plastic cups with the A's schedule on it they give you at the Collesium concession stands during A's games, it's $67.74.

$9 in dollar coins (apparently only post office vending machines use these as currency)
$27.25 in quarters
$21 in dimes
$6.80 in nickels
& $3.69 in pennies


January 6, 2008

Nao Nakazawa's video "Portraits of Oakland: Trinidad Ave" is now up on Deep Oakland, featuring music by Rob Woodcock & some text by me.



January 3, 2008

Oakland is the 23rd most literate city in America. Some cities that Oakland beat out: New York, Chicago, Memphis, Pheonix, and LA.

January 3, 2008

"Under the Constitution, [Senator Harry] Reid said, 'We determine who sits in the Senate. And the House (of Representatives) determines who sits in the House. So there's clearly legal authority for us to do whatever we want to do'" (my emphasis).
If this is true, then why do we vote and why do states have constitutions to govern how senate and representative appointments are made?


January 2, 2008

Nao Nakazawa, Dillon Westbrook & Charlie Grunke's study of Wattling Street is now up on Deep Oakland.


January 2, 2008

fun at Nao's place last night with Carne Cruda


January 1, 2008

Whenever I get depressed about the impotence of labor in the US, a story like this comes along to raise my hopes once more.

January 1, 2009

via Brian Strang

Sorry Nature Current Poem/Paintings by Brian Strang

Opening Reception
Sunday January 4th 3-6pm
Canessa Park Gallery
708 Montgomery (@ Columbus) San Francisco


December 31, 2008

John M. Bennett, ed., Visual Poetry in the Avant Writing Collection (Ohio State Univ Libraries, 2008).

I spent part of the morning thumbing through this pretty interesting catalogue.