Friday, July 29, 2011

Poem of the Day | Barbarian, by Arthur Rimbaud


Long after the days and the seasons, and the beings and the countries,
The pennant of bloody meat against the silk of arctic seas and flowers; (they don't exist.)
Recovered from old fanfares of heroism—which still attack our hearts and heads—far from the ancient assassins—
Oh! The pennant of bloody meat against the silk of arctic seas and flowers; (they don't exist)
Live coals raining down gusts of frost,—Sweetness!—those flashes in the rain of the wind of diamonds thrown down by the terrestrial heart eternally charred for us.—O world!—
(Far from the old refuges and the old fires that we can hear, can smell,)
The live coals and the foam. Music, wheeling of abysses and shock of ice floes against the stars.
O Sweetness, O world, O music! And there, shapes, sweat, tresses and eyes, floating. And the white, boiling tears,—O sweetness!—and the voice of woman reaching to the depths of the arctic volcanoes and caverns.
The pennant .....

Monday, July 25, 2011

Finding meaning in Everything?

Egocentrism can render a man prone to finding hidden meaning in anything and everything. There was a King of Spaces playing card on the ground right outside my door this morning. The appearance of a face card in a game of Blackjack always brings on that hair-raising mix of anticipation and dread... a 50-50 shot of winning, or losing miserably. It is the same in life if you are one given to reaching too far for meaning and metaphor in anything that comes your way.

I knew the card meant something but had to turn to the oracle Lord Google for the answer. So the meaning of the King of Spades:

KING OF SPADES VICTORY Triumph; physical or mental release.

Aces! (no pun intended) This could be a good day!

Unless of course the message was left for my neighbor... I won't know for sure until I walk outside and live it.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Oxymoron of the Day: High Class Prostitution Ring

This is why they call them "mug" shots. To quote the revered social commentator, Mr. Bugs Bunny, "Just lookit dem mugs!"

Anyway, I must take exception to the phrase, "high class prostitution." Paying to get hosed involves very little in the way of "class" whether at any price. No judgment here. Just saying, it's a simple business transaction, and as far as I'm concerned just like every other business transaction. Some people shop at Macy's, and some at the dollar store. BFD.

You can READ THE STORY HERE if you like. It should come as no surprise to anybody to find a prostitution ring anywhere in any cit in the world. I just balk at the phrasing, and honestly, that a crew of such exceptionally ugly clowns could be gathered in one place.

Internal Monument, by G.C. Waldrep... This floored me this morning.

Internal Monument

A man was sad—for himself, maybe for someone else, maybe he had lost something, or someone—so he hired some workmen to erect a monument. He was not surprised when they came calling early one morning, while he was still in bed, but he was surprised when, with a practiced slash, the foreman opened his chest. "We build the monument inside," the foreman said. "But who will see the monument?" the man protested. "It's a monument for feeling, not for seeing," the foreman replied.

The operation was unpleasant but was soon over. And sure enough, after a brief interval of recuperation, the man felt, he thought, a little less sad than before.

This lasted a while, but then he felt the sadness returning, in spite of the dark, heavy space in his chest where the monument rested, nestled in flesh. He called the workmen again. They obligingly came and repeated the procedure.

Over the ensuing months and years, the man had cause to call upon the foreman and his crew repeatedly, as new life brought new losses, new sadnesses. His chest became a jumbled cabinet of monuments, the fatty tissue of his upper arms and thighs, his bowels: even his fingers and toes felt weighed down by his commemorations. At length, it was all he could do to lift the telephone receiver at his bedside. He called the foreman. "I can't get up," he said. "I can't even move." "An unfortunate side effect," the foreman told him. "Really, there's nothing we can do."

Bedridden, the man felt deprived even of what had been the most mundane pleasures of daily life: strolls down the avenue, the smell of bread baking at a neighborhood patisserie, autumn leaves. It was not turning out at all as he had expected, this life.

Inside his body the monuments huddled. Mutely, he thought, though sometimes, late at night, when he tried to shift position, they brushed against one another and made what could only be called sounds, though no one else could hear them, and he heard them, if he heard them, with his body, rather than with his ears.

When the man died, his landlord, his executors, eventually the city authorities all attempted to wrest his body from what had become his deathbed. No one could move it. Finally, they called the foreman, who agreed to try one last procedure on the corpse.

The foreman unzipped the body like a flimsy valise and, with the assistance of his workmen, slowly, carefully turned it inside out. Now everyone could see the monuments, but no one could see the man.

They were beautiful, his monuments. People traveled into the city from miles around to view them. The city graded and graveled lanes in what had been the sad man's body. Clerks and engineers began to take their families there for picnics. A bandstand was built. Lovers gathered at dusk for concerts and, later, laid out blankets on the generous lawns, over which the monuments stood like sentinels. "Look at the stars," the lovers whispered to one another. "Look up at the beautiful stars."

G. C. Waldrep

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Where the sacred and the profane meet...

His Purgations

Argyle shat himself and, truth be told,
but for the mess of it, the purging was
no bad thing for the body corporal.
Would that the soul were so thoroughly cleansed,
by squatting and grunting supplications.
Would that purgatories and damnations
could be so quickly doused and recompensed,
null and voided in the name of mercy.
He made for Goleen and a proper laving
of his crotch and loins and paltry raiments.
Outstretched on the strand, his body's immersion
in the tide was not unlike a christening:
two goats for godparents, two herring gulls
perched in the current his blessed parents,
a fat black cormorant the parish priest
anointing him with chrisms and oils,
pronouncing him reborn, renamed, renewed
in the living waters of baptism.
In every dream he dreamt after bathing,
the guilt and guile of his sin-eating
and all accrued perditions were absolved
and he was named after an apostle
or martyr or evangelist or saint,
welcome everywhere, forgiven everything.

Thomas Lynch

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

News of the Very Bizarre World

There really isn't much need to bore anyone with further details of the latest troubles in the Rupert Murdoch Empire. Things have gone pear-shaped on The Death Star, and it's going to be strange when the media network most famous for covering things up (and inventing other things) is standing buck naked before the world.

A few points of interest, however:

1) The man that dealt the first blow to The Empire SEAN HOARE, WAS FOUND DEAD (click here). Police are still saying there is no reason to suspect foul play. I don't know how to insert a very long pause here. Really? No reason? Okay. Whatever.

2) On a lighter note, check out Wendi Deng Murdoch in the pink blazer pulling out the Kill Bill moves on the pie thrower! Wow! Who knew that the old man had hooked up with the OGB? ORIGINAL GANGSTA BITCH! The Lee Press-On Scowl she's exhibited through these proceedings is precious. This is a woman you do NOT want to mess with!

3) Yes, that is ex-NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein sitting ringside for this fight. They say you can judge a man by the company he keeps. Murdoch > Klein > Bloomberg > NYC Voters Who Will Vote For Yoda's Evil Twin Again (if given the chance).

I'm really struggling to find a light side to this mess. It's not like there is any love lost between me and any Murdoch media holdings. I don't watch Fox in any form and I wouldn't let my dog crap on The New York Post. Alexander Hamilton, founder of The Post and by many accounts a creep and proponent of galactic-scale fuckery, must be spinning in his grave. The Empire is mostly built on tabloid sleezery, and while I'm not beyond a bit of the old bodega-style bochinche (see above), I've no real interest in taking bullshit beyond the corner store or the front stoop. To build an entire print and broadcast dynasty on messing with people... The very best you can hope for after being near any of these people is a stain that won't wash out.

This is going to be an interesting ride.

Friday, July 15, 2011

From the IJustCan' Files

and other things I am incapable of understanding...

I often find, at this advanced age, that there are many phenomena at work in the world around me that I remain incapable of understanding. Now granted, this is an extreme example, this...


I don't even want to understand this. It's not really necessary that I do. There are, however, less extreme examples that create static interference in my day to day life. Some days are an exercise in sorting through and collating events and experiences that I learn from, filing away some to examine more closely at a later date... and sending some to the shredder. Take a look, say a prayer, and release it to the universe. I am mostly successful in getting things in order, or at least a manageable order. Then there are other days when the bits and bytes come like flurries of punches.

The story above though, is one that I hope to forget soon. It has, for the time being, no immediate relevance in my life. It is strange to think though that as we walk about, we pass by people with secrets we might never imagine them capable of harboring. Baby Bunnykins here might be an accountant, or a dentist, or whatever. My own secrets, by comparison, are very tame. Don't expect any kind of a confession or testimonial on this page. We all have secrets. Yet some...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

On Bravery and Fear...

From A.A. Milne, because his words are better than mine... And I think of the lessons in courage I find in this story. It's about attitude I suppose, and there are days when it seems the wind will certainly carry us away, or cause heavy things to fall upon us. Most days that doesn't happen, despite anything else that does. His words:

chapter eight

In which Piglet does a very grand thing

Pooh and Piglet are sitting together in their Thoughtful Spot, halfway between their two houses, trying to decide what to do with their day. Pooh suggests going to see Eeyore in case his house has blown down again and needs rebuilding. Piglet says that they should go and see Christopher Robin, if only he would be home, which he wouldn't be, and then Pooh says that they should go and see everyone, because then they could turn the day into a Friendly Day, which is obviously preferable to an Unfriendly Day, being friendlier.

Piglet says that they should come up with a reason to see everyone, like an Expotition or an Organdized Search, and Pooh says that they can wish everybody a very happy Thursday, what with it being Thursday and everything.

So they stand up, and Piglet sits down again briefly because he didn't realise the wind was quite that strong, but he is helped up by Pooh, and they set off together. They go to Pooh's house first (luckily finding that Pooh is home at just the moment they arrive), and have a little something, and than carry on to Kanga's house, battling through the very strong wind.

They stay for lunch at Kanga's house and then move on to Rabbit's, and Pooh wishes Rabbit a very happy Thursday, after he has gone in and out through the front door a few times, just to check that he can. Rabbit isn't terribly impressed with their Thursday greeting, because he is such an Important Animal anyway, and so Pooh and Piglet press on.

"Rabbit's clever," said Pooh thoughtfully.
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit's clever."
"And he has Brain."
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit has Brain."
There was a long silence.
"I suppose," said Pooh, "that that's why he never understands anything."

Pooh and Piglet arrive at Christopher Robin's house, and Christopher Robin is home from school now as it's the afternoon. They have a Very Nearly Tea with Christopher Robin (one you forget about afterwards), and then head off to Pooh Corner to see Eeyore.

They greet Eeyore, who asks them if they have got lost and ended up there accidentally, which of course they haven't, as they have come especially to see Eeyore himself, and his house, which is still standing! Eeyore says yes, it is, which is quite strange, as surely someone should have come and pushed it over by now.

Pooh says he was a bit more worried about the wind blowing it down, and Eeyore says that that is probably why no-one has bothered to push it down, as they were just waiting for the wind to do it instead.

Pooh and Piglet say how happy they are to have seen Eeyore, and mention that they are now going to see Owl. Eeyore says that they will like Owl, and that in fact he flew past Pooh Corner only a day or so ago and noticed Eeyore, although he didn't stop to say anything, but still it was Encouraging.

Eeyore says goodbye to them, and advises Piglet not to get blown away by the wind, and off they go again. The wind is still very strong, and little Piglet's ears are streaming behind him like banners. Eventually they arrive at the Hundred Acre Wood and the shelter of the trees, although the trees present another problem...

"Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Supposing it didn't," said Pooh after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.

They reach Owl's door safely, and they knock and ring as per his written instructions. Pooh says hello to Owl, and then says that he hopes they are not too late for...and then stops himself, and says how are you, Owl, like a well-behaved bear is supposed to do before he asks for a little something.

Pooh and Piglet get settled in Owl's house, and Pooh explains that they have been hurrying to get there in time for..., uh, in time to see Owl before they went away again.

Owl understands, and asks them if it is very Blusterous outside. Piglet says that it is definitely very Blusterous, while quietly thawing his ears out and wishing he was at home. Owl says that he had thought that it must be very Blusterous outside, and is just about to launch into a long and complex story about his Uncle Robert when there is a loud cracking noise...

Pooh cries "Look out!", and warns Piglet that he is about to fall on him. Piglet cries "Help!", understandably. Owl's house is tilting, and everything in the room is sliding downwards onto what used to be the floor, but is now a wall.

There is another loud crack, and then silence. A tablecloth in one corner starts to wriggle around, rolls across the room, jumps up and down a bit, and then turns out to be Piglet.

"Pooh," said Piglet nervously.
"Yes?" said one of the chairs.
"Where are we?"
"I'm not quite sure," said the chair.
"Are we - are we in Owl's House?"
"I think so, because we were just going to have tea, and we hadn't had it."
"Oh!" said Piglet. "Well, did Owl always have a letter-box in his ceiling?"
"Has he?"
"Yes, look."
"I can't," said Pooh. "I'm face downwards under something, and that, Piglet, is a very bad position for looking at ceilings."

Owl emerges from behind a table, looking rather irritated. Owl asks Piglet where Pooh is, and Pooh replies that he isn't sure, and Owl turns to Pooh and frowns at the bits of him he can see.

Owl asks Pooh if he is responsible for their current situation, and Pooh says that he doesn't think that he is. Piglet says that he thinks it was the wind, and that Owl's house has been blown down. Owl says "Oh," and that he thought that it was Pooh, and Pooh says no.

Owl and Piglet struggle with the armchair that is on top of Pooh, and after a little while they manage to free Pooh successfully. Piglet says that they need to think of something to do now, and Pooh says that he has thought of a song, which he sings, and although it is a very nice song, it doesn't get them out of their State.

Owl says that they can't go out of the front door because it is now blocked, so they are going to need another exit. Pooh puts his mind to the problem, and considers the fact that he is sitting on a floor which used to be a wall, and above them is the ceiling, which used to be another wall, and has the front door in it, which used to be a front door but is now a ceiling door, with a letterbox right in the middle of it.

Pooh suggests that Owl could fly up to the letterbox with Piglet on his back, an idea that Piglet quickly vetoes, and anyway, Owl explains the role of the Necessary Dorsal Muscles, something which he has explained before but is one of those things that often needs two explanations before anyone knows what you are talking about.

Pooh explains that the idea is to allow Piglet to squeeze through the letterbox and go and get Help, and Piglet says that he has put on some weight lately so that plan wouldn't really work, unfortunately. Owl says that he has actually had his letterbox made bigger lately in case he received any large letters, but then Piglet reminds Owl about the Dorsal Muscles situation, and they try to think of something else to do.

Pooh comes up with another plan - they should tie Piglet to a piece of string, and then Owl could fly up to the letterbox holding the piece of string in his beak, and then he could push the string through the wire, and then bring it down to the floor, and then both Owl and Pooh would pull hard on the string on one end and Piglet would rise up to the ceiling on the other end.

"And there Piglet is," said Owl. "If the string doesn't break."
"Supposing it does?" asked Piglet, really wanting to know.
"Then we try another piece of string."
This was not very comforting to Piglet, because however many pieces of string they tried pulling up with, it would always be the same him coming down; but still, it did seem the only thing to do.
So with one last look back in his mind to all the happy hours he had spent in the Forest not being pulled up to the ceiling by a piece of string, Piglet nodded bravely at Pooh and said that is was a Very Clever pup-pup-pup Clever pup-pup Plan.

Pooh reassures Piglet that the string won't break because Piglet is so small, and Pooh will stand underneath anyway, and if Piglet manages to escape and get Help then that will be a Very Grand Thing, maybe so grand that Pooh will make up a song about it and people will talk about it afterwards.

Piglet now feels much better about everything, so the animals prepare the string, and then Piglet is lifted slowly up to the ceiling. Piglet is rather proud of himself and wants to call out "Look at me!", but he doesn't in case the others look at him and let go of their end of the string.

Piglet successfully reaches the letterbox, opens it and gets in. He unties himself from the string and squeezes into the slit, and after a little bit more squeezing he is free! Calling to the others through the letterbox he lets them know that everything is OK, although Owl's tree has blown over and a branch is blocking the door, but with Christopher Robin's help he can rescue everyone, and it should only take about half an hour.

Owl decides to make use of the half an hour at his disposal, and settles down to tell a long and convoluted story about his Uncle Robert. Pooh closes his eyes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Why is this man smiling?

He is Rupert Murdoch. That is why he is smiling.

HE OWNS ALL OF THIS (click here)

You might be smiling too, if you were Rupert Murdoch. Or not, considering recent problems with the law. I have to ask, as the New Corp. scandal widens (click here), just how deep is this going to get? How many of these other Murdoch "assets" are going to be involved? It seems to be going well beyond News of the World already. Phone hacking. Payoffs to police and government officials. Which of his other companies are involved in their own... pecadillos?

I've been watching the other news media dance around the story. It is out there, to be sure, but one might have expected the biggest feeding frenzy in the history of the Western World. Nobody seems to be asking any big questions, but rather waiting quietly in the corner, biting their nails as details emerge.

I've watched reporters on other networks run down brief lists of News Corp./Murdoch holdings. There is ALWAYS one glaring omission. Why is nobody mentioning The Wall Street Journal and other Dow Jones publications? They are really the crown jewel of the opinion-forming media in the Murdoch treasure chest. Is it that nobody can bear the thought that...? Ha! I won't say it. I will say that it has always seemed strange to me that such a major power in financial news should rest in the hands of a powerful man who could ostensibly stand to profit handsomely from what, where and how financial news is reported... or isn't reported.

We know this: Truth and Murdoch-owned media are often mutually exclusive entities. We're now getting solid evidence that there are those within his empire that will go to ANY lengths to get what they need, including breaking the law. I think it only stands to reason that if they're willing to break the law to get information, they would have no moral quandary at all about disseminating misinformation. If you're not outraged, and at least a little frightened, perhaps you should be.

We are, in the end, proper... ahem... We're out of luck. We re-wrote laws even in New York City, to allow this man to control more major, opinion-forming media outlets than were allowable even 30 years ago. We let it happen, and now we're getting a little taste of the Fox News we let into the henhouse.

This one might be considered a rant...

This is, of course, Michelle Obama, The First Lady of The United States of America. She looks pretty good, right? Nah man, more than that. She looks damn good! I don't know about the rest of you (nor do I truly care all that much), but I feel it's kind of nice to have good looking people in the White House, considering we have to look at them so much.

I do have a question though. Every time I turn on the news or pick up a paper, I have to see some duff-ass journalist trying to "expose" the woman as some manner of hypocrite for throwing down every so often with one of those "guilty-pleasure" meals we all love so much. (Note: It's not a goddamn guilty pleasure if you chow down 6000 calories every day. That makes you the sort of pig that has to rent the Lil Rascal at the mall to drag your ass around the food court.)

CASE AND POINT click here)

Get a clue. Obesity kills more people yearly than crack. That makes Ronald McDonald a killer clown. Michelle Obama fronts a campaign to fight one of the nation's #1 killers. She cares about children.

Note that she is not fat. She obviously takes care of herself. Her children are not fat. Her husband is not fat.

You may note that this story is from The Daily Fail... okay, point taken, but it is one of dozens of these stories that have confounded me for the last 6 months. Why do I have to see this? You (the press) are going to have to try harder. Get this crap out of the news.

SHAKE SHACK rocks, by the way! I wish I was there right now.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Someone else's words for once...

Second Row at the Ballet

That night at the Orpheum, what had I been trying to tell you? I remember
going over it in my head, testing the words
against the silences they would replace. The old theater at Beale and South
Main had been spared the wrecking ball,

its façade and marquee, ornate friezes and delicate gold leaf deemed worth
conserving after decades of neglect. Our seats were so good
they were bad. I couldn't see the dancers' feet for the footlights, and the sweat
on the ballerinas' backs wasn't a romantic glow, it was sweat.

This cluttered world is constantly encroaching and tangible, but it's hard
not to reduce it to something imagined. From where we sat
I could see into the wings, the lead dancer listening for her cue. She violently
wiped at her nose with the heel of a palm. Moments before,

a piece of her shadow had spun huge as a movie projection on the backstage
wall abbreviating the motions she was about to perform,
the way a mechanic tearing down an engine finds a way to remember the
orientation of each piston and cam and rod. We have learned

to practice until it isn't practice anymore, until the history of repetition
falls away as it did for the carefully costumed dancer
when she flung herself across the stage on the exact right beat and began
to inhabit the ghosted images so perfectly arranged in her mind.

Bobby C. Rogers

Sunday, July 03, 2011

There is still more to it than making it in...

"Where the hand of opportunity, draws tickets in a lottery..."

Millions of us will be looking towards the harbor tomorrow night. There will be pomp and circumstance. There will be excitement. There will be rockets. There will be a sweeping view of The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island... the first sights seen by millions of hopeful and often desperate immigrants who have fled circumstance and loss in their homelands. Independence Day has become not only a celebration of freedom from foreign rule, for what it's worth, but a statement of the promise offered by a new life in a new world. That is the legacy, true or false or in-between, that we herald around the world, and our shores and borders are still crowded with newcomers looking for a foothold. Some make it in. Some don't.

This latter category is growing as we struggle with recession, joblessness, and an increasing fear of the "Ausländer." That fear has always been part of the game. The Lady of the Harbor says, "Give us your poor..." etc., but it's a bit of a misstatement, as THIS ARTICLE FROM THE NY TIMES (CLICK HERE) describes. We've always had lists of rather nebulous disqualifications, the early version of the "no-fly list," as it were. The immigrant question still weighs heavily in our political discourse, and on the hearts of many.

It's never been an easy ride for most that make it in, and perhaps that's just the way things go anyway. Should there be an easy passage? It just always struck me as ironic that 12 hours washing dishes in a steam bath, or day after mindbending day picking fruit... or standing on the corner of McDonald Avenue waiting for a chance to do three days work in one shift, and be paid for half a day... to go home to a subdivided apartment that you share with strangers... it's ironic that this represents opportunity. I shudder to think what this life may be better than, and I'm grateful that I've never known.

But curious...

All this and still trying to hold onto some shred of identity. The line from the song above says, "wherever we go we celebrate the land that made us refugees," chills me every time I hear it. There are many Americans that will begrudge and condemn the newcomers for this celebration, but still fete the lands that ousted their great-grandparents, and call it "heritage."

In the end though, so many people breaking their backs to look for the promise. It's inspiring, but frightening. Still looking for the promise where there is none. That's when and IF you make it in.

More than anything, this is humbling.