Thursday, March 30, 2006

i don't want to be nothing but who i am


Monday, March 27, 2006

as for favorite love songs, there are many. each depends upon the time and circumstances of my life. for example, the psychedelic furs' 'love my way' takes me back to being a moody teenager in thrall to his own wounded self. or perceived wounded self, or 'selves' as tom beckett has written, for there is something scary, disturbing and sad in richard butler's vocals intoning, 'there's an army on the dance floor / a passion with a gun, my love' that really struck deep in the marrow of my longing.

so much for it at any rate. still, when it came to hardcore punk, there was not a lot of love to go around. social distortion, which remains one of my biggest loves, has recorded a few love songs. their first lp mommy's little monster contained 'another state of mind' which was an ode to hard living and long-distance affairs. then there was the old l.a. band the the germs lp gi, recorded before vocalist darby crash's fatal o.d. done allegedly in tribute to the death of sid vicious. produced, i think, by joan jett, it contains the song the other newest one with its frank imagery of coupling that had me fucking dizzy. no, it ain't by definition a love song but crash's woozy rasp and the strong backbeat was performed with nothing but love.

i date myself surely with my choices. and yet music is transgenerational. i grew up with my father playing otis redding, marvin gaye, ray charles and isaac hayes records. for me, two of the greatest vocalists of the past century are gaye and redding. i'd've swooned in their presence if they were singing just in the shower.

my favorite love song, of all time? no question it is in your eyes by peter gabriel. i've long debated with anyone who would give me the time whether the song is a devotional to the almighty or whether it is a simple love song. i think it works both ways. there is something in the music and lyrics that move beyond its structure. and it has the great youssou n'dour providing backing vocals. this song is one both anna and agreed was each in our personal top 5 love songs. this song does not take me back to a certain time in my life, for i think it is timeless, like love, or at least the ideas of love.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

difficulty with works of art that are based solely on love, or the beloved, is that sentimentality often seeps right on in and soaks the work in sugar-sweet emotions. when that happens we feel used, cheated, manipulated, spurned by the work because it contains nothing of the authentic in it.

but as d.a. levy reminds us to 'fuck hate,' and the beatles told us that all we need is love, then fuck it, for there are artists and works that revel in all of love's plenitude. thom gunn is for me such a writer, for his love poems contain a raw carnality that i find so appealing. no maudlin sentimentality to sucker-punch the reader into believing that the speaker of the text really, really loves the beloved.

so then, i know a gunn poem that is almost pornographic in its desire, but true to the sources of love. from his 1982 book the passages of joy here is one of my favorite love poems.

The Miracle

'Right to the end, that man, he was so hot
That driving to the airport we stopped off
At some McDonald's and do you know what,
We did it there. He couldn't get enough.'
-- 'There at the counter?' -- 'No, that's public stuff:

'There in the rest room. He pulled down my fly,
And through his shirt I felt him warm and trim.
I squeezed his nipples and began to cry
At losing this, my miracle, so slim
That I could grip my wrist in back of him.

'Then suddenly he dropped down on one knee
Right by the urinal in his only suit
And let it fly, saying Keep it there for me,
And smiling up. I can still see him shoot.
Look at that snail-track on the toe of my boot.'

-- 'Snail-track?' -- 'Yes, there.' -- 'That was six months ago.
How can it still be there?' -- 'My friend, at night
I make it shine again, I love him so,
Like they renew a saint's blood out of sight.
But we're not Catholic, see, so it's all right.'

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

call me an old softie, but last month, near valentine's day anna and i were doing a bit of shopping and compiling lists of the best love movies, love songs and love poems. totally subjective of course, and probably influenced heavily by what our generation watched, read and listened to. now, i'm not big on generational differences, which i consider mostly minor pop cultural matters. but because i listened to spandau ballet as a teen impacted what i might consider a love song.

perhaps it was a negative impact, or a fiery crash. nevertheless, the next few days, as time and inclination permit, i want to list a few, at the very least one, love songs, movies and poems that i consider important works of love. love, if we are lucky to find it, is of many meanings, which include desire, sex, lust, romance, companionship, friendship etc etc. each one of us are amateur experts in possession of absolute shitty knowledge about love. we know, and we don't. those works of love are most successful when they enact such lovely contradictions.

Monday, March 20, 2006

the following are two pics from doug blazek's reading last week. i tried to post more but the fucking software is not cooperating. blaz's poems have gone thru a metamorphic shift in the decades since he founded ole magazine. subjects include quantum physics, language and even a few poems dedicated to his new wife, rachel. it was fantastic. blaz was in great form. my only complaint was that the reading was rather short. it seemed to just begin when it was over. and doug reads only once every few years.

but doug is scheduled to read on april 10 at moe's books in berkeley with michael palmer. i think it is his first reading out of town in ages.

the photos are doug with richard hansen, and doug and his wife rachel.

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Friday, March 17, 2006

suffering from my seventh cold this year. it ain't too bad, a runny nose, a few small aches, sneezing, the occasional cough, you know, business as usual. too much info? well, shit i didn't know placing nicholas in daycare would expose me to the most ruthless, yet nonlethal, of bugs on the planet. c'est la vie, as they say.

saddened to learn mark young is leaving the ether. a prolific poet and a good friend, i'll keep my eyes peeled for his work. writers, despite themselves, usually keep at writing. i've learned never to count any poet out.

lately, at moments of stress, i'd put in the disc of mark's and martin edmond's reading/discussion at the university of auckland in july 2004. both are brilliant talkers, and mark's reading of his poems is so intimate, so loving --yes loving-- that i wish i were down under having many few brews, shooting the shit, and watching some fucked-up films with them.

and speaking of films, must've watched desist film by brakhage now a half-dozen times. there is something very creepy about it, the feedback on the soundtrack, the harsh lighting, the fact that the characters are doing really nothing at all, yet are pumped with menace, that a sudden movie can turn violent. i've listened to brackhage talk about the film, and he says he means nothing of the kind. but for me, there is something sinister not quite under the surface.

now i've gotta blow my nose

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

while tom tries to get jiggy widdat, by his mistress plan, i am trying to get jello widdat and i have no monster plan. tho my favorite character from sesame street was cookie monster as host alistair cookie of monsterpiece theater. that now is getting yr monster on.

check out michael farrell's new blog, it promises to be brilliant. and feast yr eyes on eileen tabios's new poetry review zine, hopping with the good stuff.

and in a bit of self-promotion you'll find a bit of a review of the reading i did last week here, the march 9 entry.

and by all means avoid the thriller black sunday. i just watched it with some friends tonight and laughed my way thru its goofy dialogue and lopsided pacing. about a palestinian terrorist cell called black september, its members plot to bump off all 80,000 attendees at the superbowl by using the goodyear blimp to launch thousands of darts armed with plastic explosives. politically prescient sure but the bad acting and horrid photography makes this film a test of stamina to sit thru. i saw it, where else, at the drive-in when i was a kid, and it bored me to near-weeping. the movie has not aged well.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

printing up our, richard hansen and myself, interview with douglas blazek to give to him tonight at his reading. at 20 pages it's a rough draft, and i want blaz to help edit it. he has the final word in the text since it will be his words, ideas and thoughts on a life lived in writing that i hope to get at. been sitting on my ass too long with this project so i'm pleased to have something to give to the venerable old poet. pics forthcoming from his reading.

also received an email from oz poet michael farrell about a new book by robert adamson from flood editions. adamson will be reading in sf next week. unable to go to see him. he's long been a favorite of mine. i asked my friend, the poet a. p. sullivan, now living semi-permanently down under, a couple of years ago if he could find any books by adamson and and another favorite john forbes. sullivan got for me adamson's selected and the collected poems by forbes. a real treat.

and today fedex stopped at our door. anna asked if i had ordered anything. nope, couldn't think of nothing. so then i open the door to a package from dylan hock. copies of the films by stan brakhage. lovely gifts that i want to publicly thank dylan for. thank you, hermano!

you know the angels wanna wear my red shoes

Thursday, March 09, 2006

received a pdf of a series of poems by guillermo parra originally published in the journal 6x6 by ugly duckling presse. a meditative action based on his childhood neighborhood in caracas, venezuela. it is required re-reading.

also in today's snail mail from todd moore the journal st. vitus press and poetry reivew, moore's chap dead eye and on a page of yellow legal paper a hand-written poem. fuck yeah!

and check out the revamped takingthebrim_tookthebroom blog. thanks to organizer cliff duffy, who has gathered together poets and artists of all stripes, for example the textual and visual poet jessica smith and the post-beat poet stevenallenmay, the brim is alive.

and the following are pics from last sunday's pfa reading. in order of appearance: a few of the chapbook covers. pfa webmaster and all-around good guy building books, kevin porter. the crowd. master of ceremonies, richard hansen. joan kruger. rachel savage. and frank andrick. it was a good night.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

in an email geof huth asked me why i use len200 in my email address. i answered that when i opened my hotmail account my name is so common that it was impossible to find a form of richard lopez to use in the address. so i took the first three letters of my middle name and added the 200 out of exasperation.

and in a recent post emily lloyd asked why some poet-bloggers use names for their links, while others use the titles of those same blogs. i responded because i think there is magic in an individual name, no matter how common that name is. i like to put a name to a text, and given the oft-times diaristic nature of blogs, i like to know the name of its author.

my name is common as dirt, or rainwater, or what have you. someone else is also richard lopez. the 'i' is someone else, as rimbaud once declared.

but on the strength of individual names i'll leave the last word to that great sage, homer simpson, who said about his own psuedonym, max power. nobody snuggles with max power. you strap yourself in and feel the g's!

Monday, March 06, 2006

hansen's exhibit of the covers of all the tiny chaps he's published in his series looked great. last night it rained hard. the little gallery was unheated and the sound of the rain pounding the roof made it at times difficult to hear the more soft-spoken readers. but there was a good crowd. and hansen, as usual, did an outstanding job for the first night of a month-long series of readings and exhibits. pictures forthcoming as soon as i load them to my laptop.

there was some kind of technical problem so we had to forego the screening of a documentary about last fall's levyfest. a bummer, but richard owns the dvd so i'm gonna have to buy him some beer so i can watch it at his place.

i'm a bit rusty at reading. it's been a while since i last stepped up to a mike and belted me texts. so invite me to read, and i'll do it for free! what a fucking deal! seriously.

randy prunty sent me some sound files of him reading with john lowther and tracy gagne. good shit, one in particular, boomtime, amazed me with the play and mix of synth, distorted guitar and acoustic guitar. reminded me a bit of some of the stuff i've seen on the net by cris cheek. i've still got dial-up, and my desktop is over five years old, so it took near goddamned forever to dowload those files. it was worth it.

tonight the beer is fat tire amber ale by new belgium, and the soundtrack is superfly by the late, great curtis mayfield. and who gives a shit about the academy awards. watched 10 minutes of it last night. that was all. some good movies up, and by now we all know which picture won the best film award. but is it awards that determines what we watch. fuck no! i thought rob zombie's the devil rejects should've been nominated. but no! no civilized cineaste would dare admit to liking such a film. would they now.

peace out

Saturday, March 04, 2006

reading tomorrow night in celebration of the 5th anniversary of richard hansen's micro-press poems-for-all. hansen has organized a month-long series of readings and exhibits in honor of the anniversary. here is the schedule of events. hansen asked me to choose some poems published in the series. it is quite a list, and i'm taken by the breadth and depth of poets he's published, poets and poet-bloggers such as crag hill, geof huth, rob mclennan, jon leon, aaron belz, donna kuhn, steve dalachinsky, a.d. winans, to name just a few. drop by and say hi. i'll be the guy wearing glasses.

Friday, March 03, 2006

i can relate to joseph torra's post about parenting. but i've always been a bit of a homebody, so i didn't, and don't, go to a lot of shows. i spent my 20s and early 30s working at jobs where i had lots of time to read and learn to write. that time was magic, but is unrepeatable. unlike torra i don't feel i'm missing out on stuff because, at the age of 38 and being a new dad, i feel i'm just starting, and am now learning again to write. my reading has slowed down a bit, since i have to put the book or journal or computer down when nicholas is opening up cabinets or climbing on the furniture, but i've become like an old jazzman re: reading / writing at night, when everyone is in bed and sleeping.

there are night sounds, cars dopplering in the distance, the sound of wind, the chirr of the police helicopter on its patrols. they are lonely sounds, something about a car in the middle distance late night or early morning to underscore that distance. but i like the sound in the knowledge that life, even when it appears everything is dead, is abundant. and like torra about being a parent, i wouldn't change a damned thing.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

do poets watch tv? dumb question, sure, most tv today is pure shite. i grew up on tv, and i know i was watching the tube before i could read. which makes the talk of videocy outstripping literacy a bit specious. sort of, since i'd argue people who are not serious readers today probably would not have been serious readers a few generations ago before tv become the big blue eye in everyone's living room. and if i ain't nothing, i'm sure as shit a serious reader. so are a lot of poets i admire who, i am sure, watch tv.

don't watch that much of it now, tho when the history channel broadcasts an episode of ufo files or the national geographic channel airs is it real? i usually close the book and put down that remote. i'm a big fan of the independant film channel, especially when it is 'pulp fridays' and i've written earlier about being a big fan of the uk thriller wire in the blood which, alas, bbcamerica no longer broadcasts. but that's about it. no good sitcoms, thrillers suck, except for fx channel's nip/tuck, which is an excellent show, and dramas are all formula bullshit. the violence and gore quotient has been amped up, especially in shows such as nip/tuck, 24 or the shield. but gore and violence only makes a show kinda interesting.

what's a poet to do. well, this one is waiting, it seems forever, for the dvd release of the underrated and brilliant the john larroquette show which was on the air from the early to mid-90s. today, the themes and subjects of the show, a reformed alcoholic writer (john hemingway / larroquette) who worked the night shift at a bus depot would seem fairly tame. one of the main characters was a working girl (you know, prostitute). the subjects were often nihilistic, but funny. themes of sexual confusion, racism and early death were part of the mix. larroquette had a carnival sign in his office that read, this is a dark ride. he honed his chops in the 1980s in the execrable night court, and was made for the role of hemingway. larroquette's slow burn from all the antics of the characters around him, and the show's literacy were highlights. i can't quite recall where i read it, either in the magazines details or spin, that thomas pynchon was a fan of the show and even wrote to the writers ideas that were incorporated into the plotlines.

even the look of the show, filmed in scratchy video, with very husky lighting, mirrored the heart of it. again, it was too racy for tv at the time. it seemed no one wanted to watch a sitcom where one episode was about a doctor who gave larroquette a physical and told him that smoking wasn't too bad for you, too much was made of the risks of fatty foods and binge drinking, then who promptly drops dead of a heart attack, scaring the shit out of larroquette. yet at least for the first season, before the show was tamed, then cancelled, it was one of the boldest on tv. but it always seems like that, gutsy tv, like my other favorites my so-called life and freaks and geeks are perhaps too refreshing, too much like the arts of living, to stay on the air. the best i can hope now is a dvd release of one cool tv show.