Saturday, January 25, 2020

“with a touch lighter than a lark’s breath” Alison Fell


There's still time to get to Joseph Keppler’s show at the Zeitgeist in Seattle. Here is what the artist writes about it:

“There will never be another show like the first shows, never be another chance to be one who experiences what it is to live in the time with the artists who are showing what that time is like for all who will follow in time.
Do not look for reviews or red dots to justify this 2020 exhibit, which is in part about justifying oneself in North America and globally; critics have not thought reflexively about this art yet and collectors have not loved it yet.
Look upon this art as if looking into daily phenomena, mirrors clouded with oil, language, images, desires, and minds, your own and those around you.
This is a final shout-out to those who have neither seen nor understood the exhibition, Archeology Anthropology Aesthetics Investigated & Delivered Daily. It runs through 5 February 2020, and then it will never be seen again in whole and as first arranged.
Be knowing. Crowds come later but it is different then. Be someone who sees now and not only lives now.”


Cultural anthropology was my major in college, so unless they could be used to meet anthro requirements, literature classes were an indulgence, more partaken as electives in my junior and senior years. I had some great teachers, beginning with freshman English 101 and Comparative Literature 101 classes, then moving on into the upper division classes: African American literature, Chicano literature, Russian literature in English translation, Japanese literature in translation, German literature same, a special class on Borges. I missed Seamus Heaney until now. I’d seen his name, maybe haphazardly skimmed something, but not until the past few weeks had I actual read his work. Here’s a transcription of my audible reaction while reading many of his poems: Wow. Wow. Fuuuuuck. I was in a period of angry doubt, the usual what the hell have I been wasting my life on literature for howling; not only did he astonish me with the writing, he inspired me writer, there is a comforting confidence in his craftsmanship, and that’s really what all this is about: the art. 

I had a minute so I reread Katherine Anne Porter’s story, “A Day’s Work,” from a 1944 collection titled The Leaning Tower. A violent, sleazy, nasty narrative, it stunned me even more the second time around. 

Friedrich Nietzsche could be a smart ass. Here are some cynical lines from Thus Spake Zarathustra that I enjoyed: 

“A little poison now and then: that maketh pleasant dreams. And much poison at last for a pleasant death.”

“Where solitude endeth, there beginneth the market-place; and where the market-place beginneth, there beginneth also the noise of the great actors, and the buzzing of the poison-flies.”

“Full of clattering buffoons is the market-place,—and the people glory in their great men! These are for them the masters of the hour…Such ancient babbling still passeth for “wisdom”; because it is old, however, and smelleth mustily, therefore is it the more honoured. Even mould ennobleth.”

Philip Schaefer:

“I watch a kid kick a telephone pole
with his brother’s face glued to his boot.”


Three of the iconographic buildings in the USA that I have seen are: the Woolworth Building in New York City, the Flamingo Tower in Las Vegas, and the Capitol Records Building in Hollywood. The Flamingo Tower was razed many years ago, but the other two remain in use.


I’m hearing and half-listening to a recording of “A Mind of Winter” by George Benjamin. How often I’m hearing and half listening to things, birds for example, and still becoming infused with sensation.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

2020, the next go-round

Remember when there was an "anti-war movement?" 


I have new work in The Bangalore Review and Good Works Review. Thank you to the editorial team at Bangalore Review and to Robert S. King, editor at Good Works Review.

I dropped my subscription to the local daily newspaper, and then became a subscriber to Love notes from Siel, a weekly email on matters literary and otherwise by the Los Angeles-based writer Siel Ju. I look forward to reading her take on the world.

And a couple of things I’ve read recently:

A Doll's House, by Henrik Ibsen. This has lost its shock value as a woke piece for feminism, but I think it has acquired an unintended legitimacy as a critique of the effect of contemporary consumerism. (Perhaps a project that needs Greta Gerwig’s attention?)

From A Beginner's Guide to Free Fall, by Andy Abramowitz, here is a quick bit of the fresh mouth repartee that I like in the book, a back and forth between a dad (Davis) and his daughter (Rachel) who has just finished kindergarten and will be starting first grade in September:

“You think Old Lady Janacek is going to miss you?” Davis asked. This was how he referred to Rachel’s twenty-five-year-old kindergarten teacher, because the name somehow worked. “School’s over, and you’re officially a first grader. She’s lost you. You’re moving on, never looking back.”

“I’ll see her in the hall,” Rachel said, refusing to see sentimentality where it did not lie. “I’ll give her a hug if she needs one.” She tugged a small continent of cheese off her slice of pizza and dropped it into her upturned mouth. The open-jawed box in front of them on the table was now empty of everything except crumbs, grease stains, and smudges of sauce. Summer was on, school already a distant memory.


Bass players: 
the young and the iconic.

Saturday, December 21, 2019


“Anybody who’s breathing should have everything that they need and 93% of what they want – not by virtue of the fact that you work today, but by virtue of the fact that you are here.” -- Fred Moten

"Love the animals: God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled. Do not trouble it, don’t harass them, don’t deprive them of their happiness, don’t work against God’s intent. Man, do not pride yourself on superiority to the animals; they are without sin, and you, with your greatness, defile the earth by your appearance on it, and leave the traces of your foulness after you—alas, it is true of almost every one of us!"-- Fyodor Dostoevsky

LOL Contest

Winner: Zora Neale Hurston
Girls with mouths on them! And “challenging him to another appraisal of her person.” Plus jewels like: “midnight stood looking both ways for day.”

Honorable Mention: Gertrude Stein
“The cute way that a certain place is open on a Sunday and not on Tuesday.” "This is the season of rejoicing and the moment to have a denial of advice. If it is a pity it is not the same pity as more toast."


Nancy Wilson, But Beautiful:

Bill Evans Sunday at the Village Vanguard

Not 24 hours after reading in Keith Richard’s autobio that the first Rolling Stones show in the USA was in 1964, in San Bernardino, California, at the (now not there anymore) Swing Auditorium, I’m talking to a security guy in front of a jewelry store and out of the blue he tells me he was at the first Rolling Stones show in the USA at the (now not there anymore) Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino, California.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Saturday the 14th

Here’s an astute opening by David Rieff, writing from Buenos Aires in the NYRB: “There is an old Argentine wisecrack that says: a person who leaves Argentina for six months, and then returns, finds the country completely transformed, but someone who returns after an absence of ten years finds that things are more or less as he or she left them.”

Pliny the Elder:"Fortune favors the bold."

Babette Babich:“And when it comes to the profession, simple non-mention, utter exclusion turns out to be far more efficient than refutation.”

Homi K. Bahba:"...the American border as cultural signifier of a pioneering, male 'American' spirit always under threat from races and cultures beyond the border...”

Lisa Roberston: “…Gardens leave so little evidence…In what season, through what representation or renovation, from what point in its development, with what persistently spreading perennial, may we retrospectively construct an image of what a garden was? And in its reimagining of nature, history and heritage, the garden itself is a constructed dream.”

Regions I’ve called home:
The Midwest.
The Southwest.
The Land of Enchantment.
The South Bay.
The Pacific Northwest.
The Central Coast.
The Inland Empire.

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Michael Jang

Silvina Ocampo

A Kit

The Practice of Everyday Life, by Michel de Certeau
The Poetics of Space, by Gaston Bachelard
A Handmade Museum, by Brenda Coultas

More poets read and enjoyed:
Sam Hamill
David Baker
Kimiko Hahn

And I fortuitously and serendipitiously was guided to Natalie Diaz, Mickalene Thomas, Chantal Akerman and Laura Nyro. I reviewed Kayla Rodney’s book Swimming Home on Amazon,

The brothers Karamozov are twenty somethings, as are many of their friends and lovers
A young crowd, boorish, thuggish, or else saints.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Saturday Evening Spree

from Porcile
“a spree of perceptions”
 Julia Kristeva

“…a dream of/exegetic sleep.”
Nathanial Mackey

“…dream of electric sheep…”
Philip K. Dick

Movie recommendations: Man with a Movie Camera by Dziga Vertov, La Jetee by Chris Marker; Porcile, written and directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. 

Movies: "Film is a disease. When it infects your bloodstream, it takes over as the Number One hormone; it bosses the enzymes; directs your pineal gland; plays Iago to your psyche. As with heroin, the antidote for film is more film"
---Frank Capra

Lit genre: urban fiction. I’ve read plenty of other books with a lot more action, but this one is pretty good with the dialogue and the customizing of the English language.

“Grown ass men don’t whisper. Two niggas whispering--that’s some sneak shit,” he explained.

Another locution I enjoyed:  “I’m getting my nails and toes did in a few.”

Misc lit: TSEliot was right about a whimper instead of a bang, but he was wrong about the month April, for the fact is November and February are coholders of the title cruelest. 

The wound of existence, the joy of existence: If you can get past the toxic parts, Friedrich Nietzsche is quite amusing at times. Beyond Good and Evil had me laughing out loud often.  I loved it when he referred to “Asia and its little pushed out peninsula Europe.” Europeans are so full of themselves when in fact they’re like a recreational vehicle popout!

New York Times crossword puzzle 1003 by Ricky Cruz: excellent!

My favorite thing I like about owning a car is going to drive-thrus.

Our president looks almost as though created by a cubist God.

In the periphery I saw the name Archie Shepp, so he’s who I’m listening to right now.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

The Greatest Weekend of the Year!

An extra hour of sleep!

This week I sent out another batch of poems to eagerly awaiting (LOL) magazines. Now a few days of R&R...

First, a big launch: the new Neil Novello website. Check it

Then, one eff, two ens: Stunned I was, when not laughing out loud, by Michael Hofmann’s poem about President Trump: The Resident. New York Review of Books has the poem locked on its website, restricted to subscribers. In the best interests of the country it should be available to all. C’mon NYRB, de-elite yourself for a minute, behave like the force you think you are.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Riding the train/sit there and sightsee

“it is hard to be anywhere once
and twice is a dream”

(From The Desk by Cid Corman)

This week my attention was rocked by new thinking and split between stuff that “interferes with your breathing” and stuff where you could say “this is the sound of God, in case anyone was wondering”

Keetje Kuipers

Nicole Callihan

Add Joanne Kyger to the list.

And Fela Kuti (1971)

Psychedelic Furs (1981) Talk Talk Talk

Robert Schumann: Fantasie in C, Op.17 (Andsnes)

And I learned a little about Nick Land and accelerationism. This link got me started

Plus continued work on a couple of tremendous projects I’m not at liberty to discuss.

Jonathan Williams, oh my goodness.

Then there was Tsitsi Dangarembga and an interesting interview:

I’ve read her first novel, Nervous Conditions, a couple of times. In it, along with everything else, there’s a sense of delight in how she compassionately and honestly dealt with the feelings of girls, young women.