Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Gold Standard

What People Do for Money, by Kandi Kane.  

Warning:  although the book begins idyllically—“It was early Saturday morning I was awakened by the birds loud chirping.”—all hell breaks loose quickly, and it becomes a brutal, nasty morality tale—evil vs. really evil—set on the streets of Detroit in a culture of killers, perverts, addicts, dealers, thugs, thieves, pimps and hos, with graphic descriptions of degeneracy, rape, torture, murder, you name it. 

But that’s a different post.  Like the blurb says, “When money and power take over the hood ain't nobody safe.”  This post is about language. 

Authentic, expressive writing, can be stylized or it can be like “The word on the street travel fast, Smoke and Slick was already on the scene.”  Whatever way, good writing gets in your head.  Even with all the butchery and bloodshed and the lewd and lascivious behavior going on in What People Do For Money, you can’t help enjoy, on a different level, the accuracy of the author’s descriptions:  for example, when the scene is “the Fat nigga Babymama house” you can clearly hear the risible scorn, as well as vividly see it in your mind’s eye.

Kandi Kane provides many examples of vibrant writing to choose from; for instance, replacing “there” with “it”:

·         When they entered the house it was two guys in the living room playing video games.

·         The house was full of shit on the floor but it wasn't no dog around.

·         It was so many drug dealers present they took…”

·         It was a bunch of guns in the room he grabbed them too.

·         It was a 45 and some Kush in the car.


And I’m a sucker for the use of “had went”:  “A few days had went by so we…”

And, finally, the sampling and mixing: “Light bulbs and dollar signs start going off in their heads.” Or, “Money was the root to all this evil that we had been experiencing. We had crossed a road where we couldn't turn back…”

The plot also gets tangled up in itself and all the killing and mayhem—a few more paragraph breaks would help—but  man, this is what the 99c genre for literary entertainment should be—this is the gold standard by which all 99c entertainment literature should be measured—when it comes to the precious use of language.



Sunday, September 20, 2015

Market Deli


IN WHAT LOOKS LIKE MY MOBILE PRESENCE

Acupuncture
Market Deli
Foot reflexology
Income tax
Yoga
Water
Donuts
Dry cleaning
Poetry


MARKET DELI

They’re super friendly.
Billions of satisfied customers.


SUMMER CLEARANCE

Lowest prices of the year.


POUND AND A HALF

Just like this.


FOR HER

Playing cards and rum.


EXTRA STRENGTH

With sparkling stain fighters.


SHE THINK THIS A HANDCLAPPING STORE?

That girl gets kind of scattered.


COMMUNITY BOARD

Free tapirs.
My husband will kill me.


SPRING MAGIC POWER

Laundry detergent.
32 loads.


OUT WHERE I LIVE IT’S SAV-MART

Sav-Mart.
Sav-Mart.
Sav-Mart.


DANTE’S PRESCHOOL TEACHER

Said Dante is going to do
Something exceptional in his life.


I ASKED THE CASHIER

How to apply for a job. 
She said through the computer.
It’s the only way.


MALE WANTING TO RIDE

On back seat of motor bike.
Or be a male biker’s companion.


AND WHAT I’M DOING NOW IS

I’m yeah.
I just uh.


CUSTOMER SERVICE

Aisle 9.


AND DO YOU HAVE

Flavored cream cheese?


TITLEIST 4

Dad pushing a wide stroller.
Triplets.


175! HOLY SHIT!

I mean you talk about a numbers game.


YOU KNOW I WAS GOING TO

Look in my phone and see
If I had your contact information.


METATREAT

Everything your pet needs to stay wild.


I THINK JAVIER

Javier’s at that awkward stage.


LET ME GRAB THAT

Real quick.


THE BEST BORSCHT IN THE WORLD

I eat it all the time for lunch.


WE MAKE IT

Just for you.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

I Love This Cultured Hell

You pass three large feed lots coming in from, or leaving out of, the north end of town, and there’s another feed lot on the south end.

He’s dressed for success in camou slacks, black work boots, a green and brown houndstooth sports coat, a USA flag do rag on his head.  He’s walking her to the school bus stop.  He’s her dad, and he’s holding her hand, and she loves him and is proud of him.

I remember the raging of AIDS in the late 1980’s.  I remember the healing services at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Seattle, mid-week, at night.  Men gathered, praying.

The school bus goes up the hill and the road curves left carrying it out of sight behind a rise. Inside the bus, the kids blaze in thrilling English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, French, Tagalog, German, Armenian, Russian, Japanese, Farsi, Khmer, Punjabi, Arabic, Hmong, Navajo.

I am awed, entertained and inspired, on a daily basis, by the quality of so much of the literary art I see on the Internet and in the journals (paper or electronic); new writers, international scope, artistic intrepidity. But…why do so many adepts of new media (mis)use it to perpetuate and valorize memes that went out in granddad's time? 

Action, guey, action!


(The title is borrowed from the poem America by Claude McKay.)


Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Sunday Post: Reading Matters

“…a desperado is better at comedy than an eccentric, you walk out the door, there’s a car waiting.”  Bernadette Mayer

“the car had an open top that he never looked out of as he drove straight ahead.  An iron mushroom.”  Clark Coolidge

Throughout this 2015 northern hemisphere summer I had the opportunity, and the time, to read freely. I hit it hard. The continuum was beautiful, “discovery” (like the two writers above) or “re-acquaintance” (Zora Neale Hurston or Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn) two after two, three after three, and the next leading to the next, and the next, a profusion, an explosion, exponential growth.  (I think I know what exponential growth is:  kind of like my Facebook “People You May Know” list after Friend requests get confirmed.) 

Here’s a mash-up of some of the authors’ names and/or titles of written works (and maybe a quick comment):

Anne Waldman; Peter Munro, Claude Levi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques; John Keats, Poems; Willa Cather:  One of Ours, Death Comes for the Archbishop; Guy Davenport; Anne Carson; Jenni Rivera;  Vilum Flusser; Alina Bronsky (a pseudonym and I called “her” out on it in my review); Violet Duke (modern romance writer); Joy Williams; Annie Proulx The Shipping News; Kurt Vonnegut Cat’s Cradle; Evan Rail Why We Fly; Thomas Ligotti; Claude McKay (1889 – 1948); Michel de Certeau; Maxine Hong Kingston; Rebecca Solnit; Kate Wilhelm; Yrsa Daley-Ward; Robert Frost; Charles Slater; Gertrude Stein; Sam Pink; Chelsea Hodson; David Gordon; Arthur W. Goodhart; Terri Jenkins-Brady; Jules Verne (under the sea and center of the earth, great fun); Herman Melville; Robert Louis Stevenson; Kafka, The Trial, The Castle, both long and dull compared to shorter works such as Metamorphosis and A Country Doctor, to name two.

(BTW A Country Doctor is a “must read” IMHO.  From Wikipedia:  "Psychologists at the University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of British Columbia published a report in 2009 using A Country Doctor as the variable in a study testing what impact reading absurdist tales has on their cognitive skills. The study showed that reading the story improved test subjects' ability to find patterns. Their findings summarized that when people have to work to find consistency and meaning in a fragmented story, it increases “the cognitive mechanisms responsible for implicitly learning statistical regularities.”)

And finally, a line from Drop Dead Perfect, a cop and crime thriller by Rick Murcer, which I read in one evening after getting home from a long drive in heavy traffic—it was the perfect escape, and I couldn’t stop until I reached the conclusion.

“He was on top of the heap when it came to being an asshole sometimes, but he did all the hard things right.”

Looking forward to autumn!






Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Saturday Evening Post

Thomas Merton, champion of, and cheerleader for, hermits and contemplatives said it was dangerous to enter into solitude “merely because you like to be alone.” This morning I passed by a person who looked like a victim and recent escapee of just such a trap, the scariest guy I’ve ever seen, actually, and he’s staring at me?  Apparently, my strict diet of heartless artichokes, reindeer sausage and vodka hasn’t had the desired results.  Then I realized I was looking in a mirror.

So, instead, let’s change the subject and talk about books. What is a book?  Just another device you have to carry, but one that doesn’t take pictures and you can’t call or text anybody, and except for its own subject matter, not very smart. And as for the flatulent raptures about typeface and ink and paper—not to mention the erotic longings for the “feel” of the physical book—bullshit.  Here.  Feel this.  In other words, compared to a screen device, a book is pretty much useless.

Nor do I consider the loss of brick and mortar bookstores to be that great a loss, except to the livelihood of the proprietor (and employees, if any)—I don’t miss the precious bookmarks or the bookstore cat, not to mention all the titles they don’t have in stock but they can order it for me.  Hell, I could have ordered it myself from a screen, at a substantial discount, and had it delivered to my door without leaving my recliner or missing a single play in my NFL package.  I’ll take a screen anytime.

That being said, the introduction of the implant that obsoletes all devices---oh that glorious day is the only reason I can come up with for wanting to live any longer than I need to.  Otherwise, death is still my first choice, and pretty much all I think about. (But in a good way.) 



HEARTLESS ARTICHOKES


OPEN IMMEDIATELY

Important document inside.
Important plan information.
Important privacy choices.
Do not discard under penalty of death.


AGE DECAY ADDICTION FRAILITY LOSS 

And so much more.


LIKE THE DEATH OF FLAMENCO

Charm, romance, and color--kaputski.


DEAD BLOG
 
My heart sits vacant.
Kneejerk flowers.


CAUSE OF DEATH

That’s a good question.


DEATH VALLEY DONUTS

It’s Mocha Monday every day!


BIRD INTO WINDOW

Entering eternal life.


PILING ON

My support network
Is in worse shape than I am.


PAST TENSE OF DEAD

El career de Randy.


READY TO CHECK OUT

His life has been added to his cart.


SUBJUNCTIVE MOODINESS

He wishes he were
Soon to not be.


PERMANENT DEATH

You won’t find me
Buying additional lives.


QUALITY TIME

In the grave.




Monday, September 7, 2015

Labor Day Blogathon

Work Song --- Nina Simone 

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; show a man how to fish and he’ll hate you for the rest of his life.  --- Stephen Thomas

Work and capitalism.  To me educated in the UsA iit’s the same thing.  I’ts tats and multi-platform environments, USDA choice ribeye roasts, and the frisson of courtroom bombshells.

With the exception of a tiny minority of half-wits, no one believes in work anymore… --- Giorgio Agamben

The hard way is a worthless instrument these days, as obsolete as a roofing specialist in a world without sky.  There is no honor to Sisyphus; Camus is wrong.

The horse was created to pull and carry, the bull to plow, the dog to keep watch and hunt; man, however, was born to embrace the world with his gaze. --- Cicero

With his gaze.  Doesn’t sound like work to me.

They say hard work never hurt anybody, but I figure why take the chance.--- Ronald Reagan





Thursday, September 3, 2015

Oddzenendz

The quality and quantity of the artistry, all media, on the web and off-web, continues to be thrilling.  Pay no attention to the basura behind the curtain.

Artist Peggy Zask shaming the safe and genteel 100 % mild aesthete:  “I’m not putting up paintings on the wall where you can stand back and go, ‘Oh, that’s so masterful! She really knows how to catch the likeness of that mustang running in the wind.’”

Abishag, Ira, Kezia, the companion blog to the novel Three Wise Cats is back and being updated regularly. If you want to be able to brag you knew about the novel before it became a blockbuster movie, then you better buy it now!

In the Fall 2015 Rattle (#49) Peter Munro’s interview is interesting.  So is his work

Steve Cutts has an exuberant cynicism.

Speaking of regular updates, Melanie Swan has been busy this summer.  If titles like “Popup Dining as Distributed Autonomous Space” entice you to read more, or “Smartgrid Life:  Block Cryptosustainability,” then this blog is for you.







Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang

I was fact-checking my post.  The Shakespeare phrase I am using as a title is also the title of a popular, award-winning science fiction novel published in 1976 by Kate Wilhelm. (I ordered the book, a classic, and am adding it to my Labor Day reading list.) 

THE MARSH

Loons, egrets and grebes in speculative activity, insects riding light waves, and in the reedier section red wing blackbirds mounted like warning strobes. A great blue poker-faced wader parses the creek, the detritus vomited up on account of yesterday’s storm--rubber balls, Aristotelian logic, Styrofoam cups, diapers, beer cans, Euclidean geometry, candy wrappers, energy supplement ampoules, a broken violin, 50-quart coolers, dental picks—a supersweet stench ascending from mauve scum.

WHERE LATE THE SWEET BIRDS SANG
 (Shakespeare, from sonnet LXXIII)

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.