Friday, February 26, 2010

You're Not A Total Idiot

For the past month or so, I've been working on a longish essay about someone's poetry. I've never really done anything like that before, other than what I've done here, but I never quite dipped and dived into writing a long essay. (I'll tell you about the poster-board essays another time). It was quite the process, trying to first describe what someone was doing in their poetry, then trying to say why it was good.

Anyway, I ended up turning in a rather long piece, which had to be trimmed. Something that was cut was this sort of line that I was a bit proud of. When you do what you do, do you try to get away with things? All my poems have something that I try to get away with, something I sneak in there, something that only half-way fits but still adds a little hip, a little flavor. In the essay I just wrote, I was discussing something the poet was doing and I described it as: the limitless blank of what poetic language can do.

I rather like the thought, the limitless blank. I can't exactly think of what I would fill in the blank without making an annoying list. What would you fill in the blank?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

List: Songs With Women's Names

Song for Whoever--The Beautiful South
Celia Inside--The Cardigans
Eleanor Rigby--The Beatles
Jackie's Strength--Tori Amos
Lucille--Gram Parsons
Sweet Jane--Cowboy Junkies
Jane Says--Jane's Addiction
Sweet Caroline--Neil Diamond
Julia--Taken by Trees
Delia's Gone--Johnny Cash
Sandy L--Kathryn Williams
Katie Cruel--Bert Jansch
Judy Is a Punk--The Ramones
Judy Staring at the Sun--Catherine Wheel
Polly--Keren Ann
O Yoko--John Lennon
Stephanie Says--The Velvet Underground
Prescilla--Bat for Lashes
Amelia--Joni Mitchell
Sister Margaret--The Acorn
Jezebel--10,000 Maniacs
I Married Sonja--The Wrens
Look at Miss Ohio--Gillian Welch
For Emma--Bon Iver
Seems So Long Ago, Nancy--Leonard Cohen
Jolene--Dolly Parton
Jolene--The Weepies
Hannah's Song--Jim & Jennie & The Pinetops
Good Night Irene--Leadbelly
Diana Ross--The Concretes
Sally--Johnny Flynn
Charlotte Mittnacht--DeVotchKa
O Evangaline--Emmylou Harris
Julie--Jens Lekman
For Elisabeth, Wherever You Are--Tobias Froberg
Sukie in the Graveyard--Belle & Sebastian
Pretty Polly--The Byrds
Bessie Smith--Emily Jane White
Sara--Bob Dylan
Violet--Thao & The Get Down, Stay Down

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Brooklyn Bridge, Feb. 20, 12-1 p.m.

There's a healthcare rally this Saturday and I can't go because I'm going out of town. Will you go for me? Please? It would mean so much to me if you went. If you've never been to one, don't worry; you're not going to shut down the government or be listened to in a European sense, but you will be doing the right thing. I'm always impressed by doctors who come out and speak. A walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, during any type of weather, always comforts. That bridge somehow absorbs sorrows. The walk is scheduled to end at the New York Stock Exchange where you can get depressed all over again. Please go? You won't "change the world" or "make a difference," but you will make me want to hug you.

You can go here to find out more about the rally and find out about rallies closer to you if you're not in NYC.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Rockin' Out the Opera House

Last weekend the old man and I went to see Ra Ra Riot, the cutest band ever, play at the BAM Gilman Opera House. For a while now, BAM has opened its Opera House to musicians and I've missed performances by Joanna Newsom and Sufjan Stevens there, but I couldn't miss the adorable kids in Ra Ra Riot. (From Syracuse, New York!) Their sound would not be complete without their string section, a cello and violin, both interestingly played by women. They are a high energy rock group with a nice mix of fun '80's, fun now.

The Opera House, I must say, was the weirdest place I've ever seen a show. It was very strange to see young people dancing in the aisles. Several people in the rows ahead of me tried to get up to dance, but made it difficult for the rest of us to see what was going on, so they had to return to their seats. I even had trouble seeing when the two men in front of me started talking for a bit. When I sat up straighter to be able to see over them, the people behind me asked me to scoot back down. It's interesting how a venue can be limitless or limiting. What a difference it is that you are supposed to go to an opera and not react at all, just sit there and take in the performance. The old man likes opera and opera has done nothing but teach me the art of ninja sleeping. When I go to shows at, say, Mercury Lounge, the space has a stage with a sort of open pit for everyone to stand in. How fascinating it is that the performances there are supposed to be an interaction; the audience should be dancing and having contact with each other and the music. At the Opera House, the young crowd seemed to have a hard time finding their seats let alone staying in them.

Thinkin' on poetry readings: it's funny which ones tend to be interactive. I gave a reading in New Jersey last weekend at a very local bookstore in Hoboken and the crowd, a small group who have been attending the series for years, talked and asked questions during the reading. By the time I left, I felt as though I was saying good-bye to old friends rather than people I'd just met.

Events vs. Space: I wonder what a poetry reading would be like in the Opera House.

Monday, February 8, 2010

I'm Sticking Up For Everything

Last night the old man and I watched The Cove, a suspenseful and thrilling documentary centered around a group of activists' fight to end dolphin capturing and killing in Taijii, Japan. The group's bravery and their devotion to these animals is quite extraordinary. They risk their lives to install hidden cameras (one underwater) and microphones into a cove used as a killing floor, if you will, for slaughtering dolphins. I am afraid to swim in water past my neck and the only time I was in the ocean at night, while night kayaking to see bioluminescent lichen, I almost had a heart attack. So I am deeply impressed by the freedivers who braved the night waters.

Throughout the film several points were made about how intelligent dolphins are, but the one that was most profound was the fact that dolphins understand sign language... but they don't even have hands. I never really thought about that one before, what an impractical yet sophisticated ability it is for a dolphin to be able to communicate with people in this way. It's devastating to watch something get speared to death, to see the cove turn red with blood (ew, which one of the fishermen has to dive in to make sure they got all the dolphins), to watch dolphins flapping ferociously in the water, screaming until they die.

The fact of the matter is that nothing or no one should be rounded up and killed. After the movie was over, I felt a little conflicted. What about cows? It's not okay for cows to be rounded up, shipped half across the country, standing in their own feces for weeks, and being forced to eat something their four stomachs have trouble digesting. If we all watched The Cove version of the cattle industry, watched a huge five hundred pound animal crawling to the kill floor on weak, unused legs bent in the opposite direction, would we allow this to continue to happen in our own country? It's weird to go to another country and point out their shames when we have so many of our own. In the early 1700's and until about 1850, whaling was one of the prominent industries in America. Let us not forget that New Bedford, Massachusetts was known as "The City That Lit The World." Do you think we stopped whaling because we felt bad for whales? No! The demand for their oil plummeted after the invention of oil wells.

The question of activism remains: why anything? Why dolphins? Why healthcare? I thought I'd be doing some good by not eating meat, but shit. I knit with wool. I wear leather. My pants and my warm winter coat were made by someone who didn't earn a livable wage. My list of sins goes on. I want to try; I go to health care rallies and stuff like that, but feel like while I'm standing up for one thing, something else is coming apart. Do you think The Cove is going to change the fishing industry? Some people say there was so much media in Taijii that the dolphin hunting has stopped. I wonder for how long. Paul Watson made an interesting point in the film: you can be active or inactive. But how do you know if you've done any good?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Fantasy Feature No. 83

Your new bangs are going to be folkish hipster bangs. Everyone will want bangs when they see you. You will not run into a wall, trying to get your bangs out of your eyes, like that young girl did at the show last night. She also couldn't walk a straight line because her bangs were in her way. You've seen the pictures and your forehead is, well, let's just say you got brains, okay? They'll be like Swedish bangs. Young Marianne Faithful. Think Bangles. You're going to be like that woman who hung out with Flea while hanging out with Chet Baker.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Why Wasn't I Invited to Take Off My Pants

Apparently on January 10, 2010, 3,000 New Yorkers participated in the 9th annual No Pants Subway Ride. How come I didn't know about this? I have a great pair of violet Steven Alan bloomers that would've worked well for this. Anyway, a group called Improv Everywhere led the de-pantsing. They do all kinds of funny activities around the city, such as a musical in a Queens grocery store. They also performed a gig at a Knicks game, where one friend pretended to get lost and eventually hundreds of people were helping him find his seat. The No Pants Subway Ride video is pretty cute; I really recommend checking it out. The various undies are pretty funny. Some people just know how to live, know what I mean? So, what say you? Would you take off your pants on the subway?