Monday, December 19, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
(Above is Jim Adams, proprietor and kind Bookman of Books Again)
It's a weird scene when you find yourself inside a bookstore defending books against the guy working behind the counter at the bookstore. But then, the store was closing and nestled like a hypo in a box of cotton balls in yet another strip mall in the exurbs? of Atlanta.
I got all hyped up when Everly and I pulled into the generic parking lot, got a space right in front of the bookstore that was close to Everly's sister's house and saw the closing sale sign in the window. Of course I first bowed my head and said a prayer for another fallen book soldier, but then again I was far afield from my home turf and perhaps I'd be able to feast on a stranger's misfortune.
But the friendly gent behind the counter seemed only minutes away from perhaps setting a match to all the glorious paper and strapping on his jetpack to go get in on some Wii (no disrespect to jetpacks or Wii. My little nephew Jackson kicked my ass severely at Mario Cart while Everly and I were visiting and I enjoyed every moment of it, except when Jackson yelled out "Sad Old Man!"). He excitedly told me how he had long ago gotten rid of all his books, records and cds and felt a trememdous liberation from it. Then a customer - who was buying books! - came up and happily told how her husband was a teacher and soon there would not be a single book in the school system.
Well, different strokes, folks, different strokes. Neither of these two book hatin' creatures who would soon slide into only cursory slothful scanning of cyber ink on a screen, easily skipping through parts they didn't like or understand, looked particularly liberated or unfettered, but then again I was doing my very best at the time to keep from having my bookstore loving induced BM while holding a big batch of paperbacks on the Muslim faith.
Apparently this store, "Once Again" - I have to say that overall book and record stores that we hit down South didn't have the most imaginative names - was one of a small chain and this particular location had never done too well from the get go. It definitely seemed to target the more upscale, but not necessarily deep bibliophile. Even with the 20% off a lot of the books were barely at half price and they had no hardback literature other than a few Franklin Library type leather bound items and some mainly bestselling crime novels in their bargain bins.
I did find a mint hardback of The Selected Stories of Patricia Highsmith (Hail The Dark Master!) and an early Modern Library hardback of Joyce's Ulysses in their small bargain area, though. Plus a few obscure books on Islam and Freemasonry.
But even degenerates clinging to old forms of physical culture can't live on boards and wraps alone while vacationing. In between book and record stores we hung out with the family - Missy and Dan and the kids, Jackson and Laurel. There is yet to be a photo taken by even the most wall-eyed nabob with a disposable camera that doesn't capture the powerful sunrays emitting from these folks. I bet they're even happy early in the morning, but that is only something I can speculate on, it being the strictest rule of my religious beliefs that I not rise before 9:30 unless to begin a trip or walk down to the beach or Grand Canyon. Luckily, Waffle Houses are still open 24 hours despite Kid Rock brawls and hoods using them as driveby ATMs.
When I successfully followed Missy's vehicle through a long stretch of terrifying Atlanta superhighway and we made it into Decatur and I saw this beautiful mural featuring The Ramones, I knew the day was going to get even better.
The main shopping drag of the area had some really cool looking ethnic restaurants and we popped into a shop that sold new kids' books and some toys. Jackson honed right in on a police car toy and Laurel began playing with the toy train village in the back. I not only saw that there was a beautiful new annotated hardback 50th Anniversary edition of the wondrous Phantom Tollbooth, but I also got to see a book clerk break into loud Broadway show-type singing in the middle of the store.
Once the kids got their fix, Missy took us wandering slightly off the beaten track to a book store she said she always drove by thinking I'd like it - Books Again.
This is the view when you first walk in. The kindly owner had just taken in a deaf white long-haired cat who I bonded with around the new arrivals. I immediately saw a hardback of Pasolini's Collected Poems and some nice philosophy in the new arrival area, so my spider senses were tingling.
Hours later when Missy and the kids were long gone and back home and Everly was done with her day at the Librarians' conference I was still working my way through the literature. Tons of Simenon and Highsmith firsts, an Arthur Clarke on Gnome Press and signed Paul Bowles! Needless to say, I'd used the available back bathroom twice and had disrobed down to my tee-shirt (with pants).
Come checkout time I had a long talk with the friendly proprietor, Jim, and of course it turns out friend Kevin Johnson of Baltimore's Royal Books is a regular visitor (sadly, with far deeper pockets than myself, damn him). Talking about all his signed Bowles - including a hardback first of Mrabet's The Lemon, signed by both Bowles and Mrabet. If you haven't read Mrabet, you need to. Especially The Lemon and Love With a Few Hairs - he told me that Bowles had come to Atlanta when he was a fairly elderly man for health reasons.
I left this fine shop two boxes of books heavier and snapped the photo at the top of this post of the shop's owner. I will hopefully get back there around Christmas when they have their December specials.
I can thank or blame Everly for getting me to legendary Wuxtry Records. It was rush hour time when we finally left Books Again and Missy had advised her that we'd be better off spending more time in Decatur before venturing back onto the snakepit superhighway.
I'd been to Wuxtry's Athens location many times many years ago, when my wig was large and cottony like that of Athens native Herr Stipe. This location did not seem quite as hopping as I remembered their Athens location. In fact a great deal of their rock section had the air of not having moved since the '90s. BUT! they have a wide, nice selection and I found some fantastic stuff in their international areas, particularly Brazilian. The guy behind the counter was even nice enough to psychically know my favorite New Wave/Punk album, putting on X-Ray Specs when I asked him if they had a separate area for Punk Rock.
It would have taken many more hours to go through all their rock, soul and jazz and Everly had been patient enough (even being so cool as to score me one of Wuxtry's t-shirts when I wasn't looking. She got it as a Christmas present for me, but broke down and gave it to me a few nights ago when I was wading in the dumps), so I had to cut myself off with a great stack of '60s and early '70s Brazilian gems, a sealed blues record on the Victoria Spivey label and a strange ambient noise album of a group called Twilight Memories of the Three Suns recorded live in Baltimore!!! How could I possibly leave that behind?
you were giving me a ride someplace
that didn't pan out, the movies I think
but that closet's too dribbly to go to the movie
you hear that
Words mean nothing to such a game of wetness and
that's why cats faint as they learn that who made us
if not he who made the big purple heads
is like a wet dream of thought now willed
that can make a new being made of elements
which cannot be identified, only spent.
You hear that?
Words mean nothing to such a thing
These transitional expressions really can not be real
Now it seems to have disappeared
No, wait. It seems to be coming back again, a little
But it's becoming broken like a fruitcake
It's dreaming all the while like the blackness of sleep
But what is this? You say sleep is black as night
And yet it seems possessed by nothing but imagination
That is the way sleep goes and we are a lot like Dryden
We cannot be correct
We haven't time
- Blaster Al Ackerman
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
It seems like only yesterday that Blaster stepped off the bus and we were getting mugged together in the alley between North Ave. and the Charles Theater after re-upping on beer for the Shattered Wig Night at The Astro Chimp Impact Crater. He's now been in Austin for a year and skull shaking hallucinations just haven't been the same, not to mention life behind the counter at Normal's or up on the Shattered Wig Night stage.
But he's getting daily fresh enchiladas and basking in the Texas sun, regenerating his formidable writing machine once again. Delaware poet and Blades editor Francis Poole and Baltimore poet and archivist Megan McShea happened to both be visiting Blaster this week and Francis was kind enough to send some jpegs.
Arriving just in time to make me feel almost like a real writer again is the beautifully bound Mud Luscious Stamp Story Anthology with my tiny 50 word story. Order a bunch! Perfect stocking stuffer.
[ C. ] An MLP Stamp Stories Anthology is shipping now & to celebrate, we've done two things: First, we hooked up with the wonderful & freakishly good Scott Garson to create a special edition of Wigleaf, including thirteen original Stamp Stories by thirteen of our [ C. ] authors, all online & free here. Second, we are putting [ C. ] on sale for the next few days, giving you one-hundred Stamp Stories by one-hundred of the greatest contemporary writers, all for $10 with free shipping here. Good right? We thought you'd like it. So, read the special Wigleaf, order a sale copy before our deal expires, & then wait hummingly at your mailbox for the likes of some beautiful new Mud Luscious.
Stamp Stories are texts of 50 words or less, printed on 1×1 cardstock, & shipped free from participating presses. We wanted to tie together the indie press community in a vibrant yet viable way, & so this venture was born. Through 2010, we solicited stamp-sized texts from 100 authors & distributed the physical Stamp Stories through more than 40 participating presses. [ C. ] collects all of these texts into one perfect-bound edition.
Participating Authors James Tadd Adcox, Jesse Ball, Ken Baumann, Lauren Becker, Matt Bell, Kate Bernheimer, Michael Bible, Jack Boettcher, Harold Bowes, Jesse Bradley, Donald , Melissa Broder, Blake Butler, James Chapman, Jimmy Chen, Joshua Cohen, Peter Conners, Shome Dasgupta, Andy Devine, Giancarlo DiTrapano, Claire Donato, Elizabeth Ellen, Raymond Federman, Kathy Fish, Scott Garson, Molly Gaudry, Roxane Gay, Steven Gillis, Rachel B. Glaser, Amanda Goldblatt, Barry Graham, Amelia Gray, Sara Greenslit, Tina May Hall, Christopher Higgs, Lily Hoang, Tim Horvath, Joanna Howard, Laird Hunt, Jamie , Harold Jaffe, A D Jameson, Jac Jemc, Stephanie Johnson, Shane Jones, Drew Kalbach, Roy Kesey, Sean Kilpatrick, Michael Kimball, M. Kitchell, Robert Kloss, Darby Larson, Charles Lennox, Eugene Lim, Matthew Lippman, Lock, Robert Lopez, Sean Lovelace, Josh Maday, Dave Madden, John , Kendra Grant Malone, Tony Mancus, Peter Markus, Chelsea Martin, Zachary Mason, Hosho McCreesh, Alissa Nutting, Riley Michael Parker, Aimee Parkison, David Peak, Ted , Adam Peterson, Ryan Ridge, Joseph Riippi, Adam Robinson, Ethel Rohan, Joanna Ruocco, Kevin Sampsell, Saterstrom, Davis Schneiderman, Zachary Schomburg, Todd , Ben Segal, Gregory Sherl, Lydia Ship, Matthew Simmons, Justin Sirois, Amber Sparks, Ken Sparling, Ben Spivey, Michael Stewart, Terese Svoboda, Sean Ulman, Deb Olin Unferth, Timmy , William Walsh, Rupert Wondolowski, James Yeh, & Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé.
Participating Presses Artifice Magazine, Artistically Declined Press, Atticus Books, Barge, Blood Pudding Press, Blue Square Books, Calamari Press, Cow Heavy, The Cupboard, Dark Sky Books, Dzanc Books, Ellipsis Press, Fairy Tale Review, Featherproof Books, Gigantic, Greying Ghost, Hobart, The Iron Rail, Ink Monkey Mag, Keyhole Books, Kitty Snacks, Lazy Fascist Press, Magic Helicopter Press, Monkeybicycle, Narrow House, Opium, Outside Writer’s Collective, Pank, Paper Hero Press, Pear Noir!, Pilot Books, Publishing Genius Press, Quick Fiction, Ravenna Books, Scrambler Books, Starcherone Books, Typecast Publishing, Tyrant Books, Word Riot Press, & Yes Yes Books
Thursday, November 17, 2011
They say that when you travel a great distance with a loved one you unearth new secrets about each other. On this trip down South I discovered that Everly thinks hotel rooms are giant spunk traps where the spilt liquid DNA of lonesome truckers live forever like nasty sticky ghosts on every polyester fiber of bed cover, carpet, plastic tv remote and vinyl chair.
She brought this up vividly as I tried to choke down a Greek salad and some of her pizza that we'd just purchased at a closing joint up the street in a strip mall. We turned on the clunker of an old electronic dream box and the remote system looked like the equivalent of the first Space Invaders video game. It basically seemed to be hooked up to be a conduit to porn movies. The four movies "currently showing in theaters" that you could see were "Captain Ron" starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, "Couples Retreat", "Bruno" and some movie where Amy Adams buys high heel shoes.
We happily went back to Duke University radio, which was playing all Rough Trade singles from 1978 to 1982. Kleenex and Delta 5 really hit the spot and still sounded fresh. And in honor of the land we were visiting (although in the Red Roof Inn we could have been pretty much anywhere) I cracked open the Collected Stories of William Faulkner.
Everly is nothing if not the researcher. Plowing through Yelp and old Splendid Table shows she got us to the amazing Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen somewhere near Chapel Hill, North Carolina. A drive through only and a longstanding legendary joint they were not amused by or indulgent with our initial confusion pulling up to their window of vast splendid greasy coronary journeys. They knew that if we dithered for even two extra minutes there'd be a pile-up of hungry angry drivers.
When I'm at home I usually stick to just a piece of toast or croissant to line my stomach for incoming iced coffees and allergy pills, but I love me a good greasy breakfast on the road. But this place is the Speedy Meemaw of Hash Slinging. Just in the ten minutes that we were there wolfing down our chicken, egg and cheese biscuits (and I ate my hash brown hockey pock after standing and waving like a fool in front of the annoyed lady in the order taking glass box so I could get some hot sauce) at least a dozen cars went through.
With swollen gut and my pleasure centers sated with cholesterol and carbs and Texas Pete we headed for Chapel Hill's main drag and came upon a coffee place conveniently located next to Occupy Chapel Hill. Although I've been a fried and frazzled bastard and all my time lately has been sucked up by work and trying to at least keep up a pretense of being of a writer, I confess I haven't checked out Occupy Baltimore, but the movement has been a breath of psychic fresh air in the atmosphere of politicians fighting each other to see who can turn the clock back as far as they can to pre-FDR times and common human empathy.
The first bookstore of the day was Nice Price Books. A friendly unassuming shop that had the feel for some reason of a beach shop Nice Price also had a good vinyl record selection. In fact, I found the records to have nicer prices than the books, which were generally paperback and strictly half the cover price which these days and for most paperbacks isn't really that great.
But in the vinyl bins I scored a nice 12" Ramones promo, an original Bikini Kill split with Huggybear and a few obscure jazz pieces.
There was an enigmatic man working there who resembled a Nashville mix of Neil Diamond and Elvis with a sliver of Benicio Del Toro. He kept hovering nearby with a broom clearing phlegm and emitting a vibe of "I just want you to be aware that I'm miserable". But he kept reminding me of a lounge singer that used to be my assistant manager when I was a teenager working at Rite-Aid (it was a quaint pharmacy with a lunch counter and was named Reads before the Rite-Aid hog ate the head off it). He ate chili for breakfast every day, his admirable dark hair was always exactly the same without looking like a wig and he took me aside after we talked music and I told him I was a writer and singer and he told me to always follow my dream no matter how much resistance there was and who got angry about it.
Above is a picture of All Day Records, my Moby Dick of vinyl. It was such a beautiful day in Chapel Hill, around 70 degrees in November and we were on only the second day of our vacation adventure and Nice Price Books had whetted my appetite to find some great records.
Walking up to All Day Records I thought I'd found the place. The lights were out, although it was Tuesday and near noon, but I could see great stuff lined along the one wall in three rows - Erkin Koray, Skull Defekts with Asa and Brother Moonfish Higgs, a bunch of titles on the Indian label and Link Wray in front of the used bins.
Despite the darkness and no upright humans insight within I grabbed the door excitedly and it opened to an empty shop. Was this a cruel scientific lab test? Was William Shatner dressed as an army psychiatrist in a backroom watching me, waiting to send volts of electricity through me if I tried to pluck a $5 Ajda Pekkan album (the one where she's riding a horse nekkd) from a rack?
Apparently we had arrived at a time not falling within the parameters of "All Day".
But hey, I am a fellow dealer who does not like waking early. Or waking period, really. It's an ugly affair, getting the electrified ancient meat prone and functioning after 9 or 10 hours of flying through hidden mountain caves with Batman. Plus it made us feel like participating North Carolina citizens to hang out by the door and make sure those more desperate or less enlightened than us not walk in and have a mad grab of freebies or engage in a foul "Blastoma" - the medical term for an orgasm reached while having a Starbucks' induced bowel movement crouching in a darkened retail store.
Also we got to check out the graffiti near All Day and post some Normal's stickers (although if you're Johnny Law I'll deny it).
Eventually a much younger couple approached the store and sadly they weren't there to (hu)man the counter. The girl was touring under the name Headache and the gent was touring under the name Michael Collins, which he claimed was his real name. Turns out they had just played the Copy Cat building in Baltimore a few days ago, so that led to me heatedly throwing out all the Baltimore venues I could think of until they backed away Twittering.
The four of us did bring up the possibility, though, that maybe the counter person was collapsed behind the counter in the dark. This brought to Everly's mind a library story of a patron sliding under a table after a heart attack and not being seen in the slow, quiet period until another patron came along and discovered him.
At any rate, Everly ventured in just long enough to peek behind the counter like someone rushing through an apartment where you'd just set off pesticide bombs, then ran back out. Having determined no foul play or acts of God, she went to the open business next door and told them "Human Vaporizing, NC" what was going on. They kind of chuckled, shaking their heads and saying the record store owner's name in a manner that implied perhaps this wasn't unusual.
The young touring couple moved on, but I couldn't let go. Finally Everly lured me away, promising me we'd drive back after cruising the neighborhood some more. And to her credit, as always, she told the truth and return we did. At 1. Still no lights on. We exchanged a quiet moment of mutual understanding like in a Hallmark television special when little Aiden realized that Innskeep the Gerbil had gone on to Heaven and it was time to put it in the Keds shoebox and bury it next to Grandma's grave in the backyard.
And like many a human who's old enough to see end written in the newly exposed crinkle lines of his balding pate and no longer has good strong vices to erase the pain of being human, I happily let tasty North Carolina style barbecue assuage my vinyl lust at Hog Heaven, another Everly discovery (hopefully she will Yelp this bitch up, cause she writes real good like!). This place is on the outskirts of Chapel Hill when you're pointed towards Atlanta and they serve up a tasty subtle chopped bbq sandwich. And the best chicken and dumplings I've ever tasted in my life.
To top it off, they also had hanging the Men's Room this plaque that reflected both portions of their sign "Hog" and "Heaven". "Accept one another. Just as Christ accepted you." Sentiments I definitely like. But these hogs are up for slaughter!!!!!
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Thankful and feeling more lighthearted now that the store was on somewhat of a roll and that I had a crew that I felt confident leaving it with, hungry as hell for some sunlight and new scenery and new books and vinyl, grateful and blissed out that I was with a partner who loved books, records and funky road food as much as me -, we set out to see what was left of America and how its mutation was going.
The first point of interest was "Aqualand" in southern Maryland. Sadly closed down, but it looked like it probably originated in the '60s or '70s and I'd never heard of it before. Had that Enchanted Forest kind of DIY vibe to it.
Our first stop was a very disappointing quick peek in at a roadside antique shop. It was full of granny lamps, but I thought it was worth a shot asking for records and books because it might be the kind of place where they just threw a few boxes of them in the back for sale cheap with no regard for their value. Instead, I just got a lecture from the too prim white moustachioed gent about how a man can't make a living off of selling records. "Tell me something I don't know Bizarro Santa. How many elves do you have strapped into Iron Maidens behind all those Tiffany glass trinkets?"
The next stop was much more fun and gratifying - Plan 9 Music in Richmond. After loading up on historic “Sally Bells Kitchen” potato salad, deviled eggs, cheese nip and Smithfield ham of course. The place was started in 1924 and some of the original sunlight from that year still warbles in egg yolky blobs throughout the eldritch interior.
As I was near giddy with happiness going through Plan 9’s International Music bargain bin and finding a few really cheap treasures, the gawky young teen behind the counter played some of the most gruesome hair rock I’ve heard since being mocked in Jumper’s Hole Mall in Glen Burnie in the ’70s. Refreshing, though, in a backwards masochistic way to hear such awful music in a record store in these ultra-hip times.
In their new arrivals I snagged a near mint Bob Dylan bootleg I’d never seen before called “Tangerine”. Live in Paris from 1978 it covers a diverse selection of songs from his career. And the cover is a photo taken during the shooting of Billy the Kid. Also got a really nice clean copy of Leadbelly Sings Play-Party Songs Volumes I and II on the Stinson label, pressed on red vinyl and a very good + original Reprise stereo copy of the Fugs’ “Tenderness Junction”. Does the gatefold include a nude picture of Sir Allen Ginsberg? Why, yes.
The one frustrating thing about picking up all this great stuff on the road is not being able to spin the new vinyl. I've got about a dozen Brazilian albums from 1975 or before that I've never heard but that look fantastic. Plus the Dylan boot has a live version of the weirdly compelling "Changing of the Guards" from the underloved masterpiece "Street Legal".
Cary Street where Plan 9 abides, also hosts a great new and used book shop called “Chop Suey”. It’s two-storied and the first floor is mainly a fairly small but well curated selection of new books. But their new arrivals area near the front boasted four Phil Dick paperbacks, so my bibliowillie was engorged.
One of the books I was seeking out for myself which I’d owned many times before but didn’t hold onto, was a copy of Paul Bowles’ autobiography Without Stopping. Sure enough I found it, along with a hardback bibliography of the books of William Burroughs, in their “Beat Era” section. It’s a fine UK Peter Owen hardback to boot. (And today I just found a Putnam first of it in Decatur, but more on Decatur later).
The stairs leading up to the used floor were lined with really good contemporary art. If I had had more time I would have gotten some information on the artists, but we wanted to get to Atlanta at some point and who knew how many more thrift stores and flea markets awaited us.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
As I Have Said Before
Face the lumpy one the hairy cookie
under the couch and my stone of stunning water
where I broke my ticktack camera do it
even before meat's door grows sticky with your black heads
finding an airport destination, setting and landing
on a giant empty hole known to all of us in the club
as what if not a scream to yourself into an empty hole
anyway I drew my trash thicker across my forehead
with pagination had I clutched the wheel
mumbler dazed into the windshield scummy
its holiday strips open late
my foreskin lost in towels
basins tongues watches trembling
petulant you've addressed yourself to all that surgery
I thought I'd whistle locker's throat fainter than
the key's throat but that was not the locker's throat
that was brittle nesting theory brought to you by
crossed eyes and how many open late
(from jmb of 2/24 etc.) - Blaster Al Ackerman
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Lecture on Marxism 3 – The Glory of the Lard.
I was sitting beside my bed-ridden grandmother not long before she died when we got to talking about lard.
For her beautiful, flaky biscuits she preferred the lard from Regyptus County , Mississippi , where even the livestock was virtuous.
The humans of that county were famous for a profound act of Christian charity: they had shaved off the horns of grateful Jews so the poor heathens could wear bigger hats.
Regyptus lard was used as a salve for aching horn stubs.
When she was thirteen she got work as a yolk spooner at a biscuit factory in Vicksburg , where she learned the lubricatory secrets of lard, for which she credited her landing a husband.
I asked her to entrust these secrets to me, but she took up the question of flour and the grind thereof, gave out on me and passed on.
When I entered my late middle age I started to think on death, politics and biscuits.
All I had left of my grandmother was a wooden spoon by which I mastered yolks.
Even though I lack all vibration in my dangling lobes, I listened for rumors of a certain lard.
I recalled my grandmother believed there was one particular lard that should be universally despised and yet was coveted.
It came from Clitchen County , she said, not far from Dripping Nipple.
The men there preferred to marry animals and were dying out because what offspring they had were helpless, bleating monsters.
Needless to say, the lard from there was spunky, the men having made mistresses of the boars, fucking, slaughtering and selling the remains of all they had not married.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Some of you may already know the talented, gentle Amanda Dorsey with the beaming smile from local folk duo Sea Couch, who are playing the upcoming November 4th Shattered Wig Night with Her Fantastic Cats, Kim Gek Lin Short and Bruce Jacobs. Not only can she play a mean banjo and mandolin, but she has also been doing some fine artwork and writing. Here is a poem that I love from her blog "Hello My Name Is Dreaming" at:
This morning passing
all at once--
birdseed patio galaxy
suspended in ivy
twin fig trees and typewriter
sharing far-off love
your afternoon eyes
damp cheeks of sisters
tricycling through bed sheets
watering the rug
below blue room rotary
the taste of candy corn
lingering in our mouths
lingering once again
Saturday, October 8, 2011
(Image borrowed from Mr. Topp).
Lecture on Marxism 2 – Resolution on the Current Situation, June 2011.
So the Trotskyites didn’t like the class composition at Syntagma Square .
No, composure is not entirely different from composition.
For example, I had a rabbit-headed character once – I used to draw comic books to entertain my friends – who calmed down enough to be a Marlowe-like detective.
I suppose I did mean the one who wrote “Edward II.”
Some people thought that Marlowe was a spy, which is somewhat like a detective.
Anyway, here is how people in Chengdu eat rabbit heads: after the spicy meat is gone, use the jawbones as utensils.
Once I held the rabbit head on my fingers and made it say funny things, like a puppet.
“I’m the gay King of England! You can’t find my butt!”
Nothing peeks out when you are incorporeal.
The story of the King’s two bodies was in another play in which two bloated, bobbing monarchs were towed out to sea.
I’m so sick of monarchs, aren’t you? They just swell, explode and ooze.
Swell, explode and ooze.
That’s also the three stages of socialism.
If trinity could be a verb, it would mean something like that.
Meanwhile, I have never met a rabbit that enjoys high humidity.
They just fall out like the rest of us, lolling about in the grass, demanding to be shaved.
Well, they don’t say, “Shave me, shave me!” It’s just that everyone knows what they mean.
And then, as the harpsichords plink merrily along, a real human baby is born, or a champagne bottle is smashed against a big spaceship or a crowd of workers is shot.
That’s how it goes most of the time.
Since the Moon got popular we’ve been gathering at the riverside lighting incense and commemorating the late Michael Jackson.
Some have been grumbling, but, as I gnaw at the cheek flesh of this rabbit head, I think we have a lot to be thankful for: no King; actual Soviets; General Intellect.
- Mark Hossfeld
Friday, October 7, 2011
The change of season could be smelled in the air at night, but the last swampy tendrils of August and August, The Sequel (The Month Formerly Known As September) were still trying to snatch at our flying ragged coattails.
It was nearing the end of a pleasingly busy day when the tall thin gent with the deadpan expression, long black Prince Valiant locks and Huck Finn cap entered holding a Regal acoustic guitar with his equally tall girlfriend endowed with loose black ringlets of hair, holding a black chihuahua and looking like the head of a cutting edge ballet company.
The woman eventually passed the dog off to the gent and we talked about his dog and my dog Max. How I actually had a black chihuahua in my mind when I looked for a dog years ago, but then into my lap dropped THE GREATEST DOG THAT EVER LIVED. By a very subtle extra light that came into the quiet man's eyes I could tell that my passion for young Maxwell had not frightened him but touched him.
From dogs, the conversation easily moved to one of the other great passions of life - books. The couple also came in with a few friends and one of them had helped unionize Powell's in Oregon, one of the Promised Lands of used books.
At this point I was already a happy bookseller. Embroiled with good talk among customers who were making tidy piles of books and records. With a black chihuahua to boot. At about this point the enigmatic and beautiful possible Ballet Company Director said: "We should probably go soon Mangum".
The rusty bells of the chapel that I usually set my hunchback to each gray UK morning in the abbey finally began to clamor.
"Wait, are you Jeff Mangum, playing Baltimore tonight?" Indeed he was. The beautiful acoustic guitar should have been a tipoff, but in the mood I was in I was fixated on the dog more than a customer walking in holding a guitar. "I'm coming to your show tonight with my nephew. He and my nieces sacrifice gentle creatures in your name on handmade eco-altars each night and hold you only slightly below Buddha in esteem."
The surprising thing was that from my nephew and niece's hushed discussions of Mr. Mangum's decade of silence since "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea" and some sort of possible Christian induced seclusion from the material world, I always envisioned him as a small haunted nervous man, but here he was completely in the moment and at peace in his skin and pretty damn tall and model-like.
Riding the crest of my third iced coffee I asked if he would sign something for my nephew Geff, saying that it would place me at the highest reaches of Unclehood. He went me one better, asking for a piece of paper and doing a signed drawing on the spot. Plus an additional one for the store.
At about this time said nephew himself, claiming he had received psychic messages that Jeff Mangum was in the store (true), showed up to use the can. He played it far cooler than myself and engaged Sir Mangum in subdued musical chatter. I loaded up his bag with my Origin of Paranoia As a Heated Mole Suit, Blaster Al Ackerman's Corn and Smoke and The Baltimore String Felon's CD.
I almost dropped the ball on getting my own ticket for the night of Hawk and the Hacksaw and Jeff Mangum after pulling the few strings I have left in Baltimore (thank you Todd and Tiffany!) to score one for my sleeveless nephew Homie Geff, but luckily Madame Tiffany called me a few days before saying she had one for me. I count myself a fan of Neutral Milk Hotel and a few other groups from the Athens, GA Elephant 6 collective, but I hadn't quite had my Jeff Mangum religious conversion moment until catching his show that night after meeting him in Normal's.
Opening act A Hawk and A Hacksaw (the core of which is pictured below) didn't hurt. They played crisp charging Balkan music that had my limbs stirring and made me want to call my old pal from Furniture Falling Down the Stairs and Little Gruntpack, Scott "The Swede" Larson. The things that Jeremy Barnes (formerly of Neutral Milk Hotel) was doing to the accordion would have had Scott drooling expensive imported beer into his rustic wiry beard. And Heather Trost on violin was impeccable. I hope to live and remain married to Kim Jong Ev another 9 nines at the least and to have a lot of money so I could hire these folks for our 10th wedding anniversary. By then I most likely will only be a pair of gray eyes floating in magic water inside an old Cracker Jack box, but still.....
After a blistering set by A Hawk and A Hacksaw, Sir Mangum quietly took the stage with a few acoustic guitars and a music stand. The atmosphere he created and nurtured was truly blissful. The crowd was so far into his songs that they sang along very ably with most of them and did some nice background on others. And once again I was surprised because his live voice was even stronger and clearer than on the records.
Among all his by now classic songs he also did a moving version of Daniel Johnston's "True Love", which local duo Sea Couch also covers. It was beautiful and reminded me of how happy I was in my own life having found Everly and how just a few years ago I'd lost all hope of my heart finding a home.
And then, as if I wasn't already floating on air from the Zombies show the week before, Jeff Mangum and crew hanging in the store and then catching his great show that night, someone yelled "Where have you been?" "What do you mean?" Sir Mangum asked. "Like today? Today I hung out at Normal's Bookshop."
Thursday, Oct. 27th. 8PM at Normal's - 425 E. 31st St.
Baltimore, Cultural Capital of the Known World
Suggested donation of $5 or $6 for musicians
The Violet Hour
Alicia Jo Rabins and Aaron Hartman
Local duo The Violet Hour who played an amazing Sunday afternoon here long ago return to enchant and introduce their touring friends Alicia Jo Rabins and Aaron Hartman (pictured above), who play "post-biblical art-pop" .
Leonard Cohen meets Owen Pallett with Violin looping; lyrical songs about leprosy, betrayal, and love.
Here are some rave reviews from top guns:
"Hauntingly lovely" -- LA Weekly
"Dynamic folk-rock" -- New Yorker
And here are their sites to check out:
Also on the bill will be Jefrey Brown of Jackie-O-Motherfucker and Evolutionary Jass Band fame.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Okay, I finally send something that I think I haven't sent before. Don't be fooled by the title: Lectures on Marxism.
But it is kind of funny: I actually gave Lecture One at Dian zi ke da (University of Electronics, Science and Technology of China, where I teach) to a roomful of bewildered students and got paid for it. The things a foreigner can do around here!
I copy it here in the email and as an attachment:
Lecture on Marxism 1 – From Chengdu , Sichuan .
I just stole this pen from Rupert over there.
His reply was, “Property is theft.”
The happy philosophy which instructs me to cheerfully steal from my good friend – who knows when I’ll be able to do that again – also proves my beard-worthiness through exceedingly apt quotation about sulky submissiveness and how it just ain’t right.
But even these lofty ideas came to grief when the high-spirited became:
!). The professional and finally, fatally, the credentialed.
At this rate, the stately, graven system will grow hard as a hoof day before yesterday.
No more about it then.
That’s like looking for the soft side of an axe.
Speaking of which: the dashing Che, who all the girls cooed over, where are his hands?
Why, they’re safe in haven, that little opening to the sea.
Where is Dietzgen in his leather apron?
Gone, gone; pinched down to the size of a Fukushima particle.
That particle is the narrowest, privatest portion of collectivity, by the way – private because some things become the memory of just one person only.
Watch as it gets inhaled: length without breath, air without the little poky bits, shrunk back into their molecular scrota – even the fossils lie screaming up for more.
Who has the microscope that can find me out in the vast tracts of my nothingness?
Out of nothing I came, nowhere near rich, yet I was nonetheless formed a pauper princeling, idling my childhood in a castle by a lake.
There are dragons at the bottom of the Lake of the Saline Women.
Rheumios dipped their dicks into the skirts of the lake and the game of spoons glistened over girls’ knees.
It was a golden age, for there is no need to be somber when you know how dumb you are.
But it was also a long time ago, when apples had skins like polished furniture and everyone had recently escaped a breached Bastille.
Then there was thunder.
Omens are like that, they grumble that nothing’s happened yet.
Then there was wind and rain and hail.
Smart black cats scurried under carports.
Millions of humans put on their ponchos and revved their motorbikes.
Machines labored on, lashed by the weather.
I called my family after the storm – the power came back – and America sounded nice enough.
Apparently a giant, metallic robot lumbered by, almost stepping in the rosemary.
The Communist President had turned out to be a disappointment, though.
I called my friend in Shanghai , who, in a hushed voice, told me indignant Spaniards were everywhere.
I called my mentor, a Greek Jew, who told me my grandfather is the dust wherein I draw a happy face with my forefinger.
He was right, I had done that.
2) My phone card ran out, so I went to my meeting and found a friendly guy who confessed he was a murderer.
I thought to myself how the letters of the law spell a tortured soul.
Thou shalt knot, from the holey scroll of punk perfection.
I said, well I hope you done give that shit up.
Turns out he had, of course, but he had taken up thieving, which was crueler, in its own way.
Crueler to him, that is.
The urge to kill good and suppressed, he was full of lust for toaster ovens, garlic mashers and sturdy ladles.
The glint of the sun on a perfect stranger’s French press was a palatine dream.
But that’s the key to understanding, he said.
It’s the sun that’s the original and despite what you may have heard, you can’t steal the fire of the sun.
The mosquitoes had found us on the roof, so I said I’d walk him home.
We walked until we heard a rustling in the ecological park.
We went in, peers in fear.
There was graffiti-scarred bamboo shouting warning and giant banana leaves darkened the place.
We saw some light on the ground and pushed the fallen leaves away until we found the glowing roots of the moon.
Them is some photons, he said, illuminated.
Monday, October 3, 2011
Shattered Wig Night is very honored to be the venue hosting the CD release party for Baltimore's loving string duo Sea Couch. Original material on mandolin, banjo and acoustic guitar with a pleasing punk edge. Plus some beautiful servings of a few old traditionals and contemporary gems like Daniel Johnston's "True Love". Part of the Loveasaurus and Soulgasm collectives, Sea Couch keeps expanding their vision and sound.
Listen to songs and view video here:
Pictured above is Her Fantastic Cats. Do not let his feet frighten you! This former Annapolis lad plays some of the most original stew of solo guitar with percussive feet beats that I've heard since Abner Jay stole my chicken cheesesteak. Part Delta blues, part post-punk angular sideways construction, part I don't know what because I'm not much of a music writer.
Bruce A. Jacobs is a poet, author, and musician. His newest poetry performances treat poetry and music as one. He founded the long-running First Tuesdays Poetry Reading Series at Irina's Cafe in Baltimore in the 1990s. He has won poetry slams in Baltimore and at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York City. His books of poems are SPEAKING THROUGH MY SKIN, which won the Naomi Long Madgett Prize from Michigan State University, and CATHODE RAY BLUES from Tropos Press. His latest nonfiction book is RACE MANNERS FOR THE 21st Century. He has appeared on NPR, C-SPAN, Sirius, and elsewhere. His work has appeared in dozens of poetry journals and in many anthologies, including, unbelievably, one edited by Billy Collins. He also does a weekly Tuesday poetry blog at agonist.com and a race & politics blog at aliasbruce.typepad.com. He plays drums, poems, and saxophone. A friend has promised she will teach him how to whistle through his teeth.
Shattered Wig is also very happy to announce that Philadelphia author Kim Gek Lin Short will take our stage for the first time:
Kim Gek Lin Short is the author of two full-length collections, The Bugging Watch & Other Exhibits and the forthcoming China Cowboy, both from Tarpaulin Sky Press. Her chapbook Run was the 2010 Golden Gloves selection from Rope-a-Dope, and a previous chapbook, The Residents, is available from Dancing Girl Press. You can visit Kim at a reading at her blog or in Philadelphia, where she lives with her husband and daughter and co-curates General Idea.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
OCT 7: Martin, Maxwell, Scalise, van den Berg
Posted by Adam Robinson ⋅ August 30, 2011 ⋅ Leave a Comment
SPECIAL Normals Books reading!
As part of Free Fall Baltimore, this reading will be held at Normals Books
425 E. 31st St
Megan Martin‘s first book of prose poems, Sparrow & Other Eulogies, was released in April 2011 by Gold Wake Press. The collection was the runner-up for the 2008 Slope Editions Book Prize, judged by Maxine Chernoff. Her work has appeared inWebConjunctions, Denver Quarterly, H_NGM_N, CakeTrain, Action, Yes!, Tarpaulin Sky, elimae, BlazeVOX2k8, Word Riot, andWunderkammer, among others.
Kristi Maxwell was born in Tennessee and currently lives and writes in Tucson Arizona. She is the author of Realm Sixty-four(Ahsahta 2008), Hush Sessions (Saturnalia 2009), and a chapbook, Dancing & Wise (Dancing Girl Press). Her latest collection,Re-, will be released by Ahsahta in fall of 2011. She holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Arizona and a doctorate in English from the University of Cincinnati. Boise State Bio
Mike Scalise lives in DC. He has written for a bunch of magazines, blogs, websites and journals and received fellowships and scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Corporation of Yaddo, and was the Philip Roth Writer in Residence at Bucknell University.
Laura van den Berg was raised in Florida and earned her M.F.A. at Emerson College. Her stories have or will soon appear in Ploughshares, One Story, Boston Review, American Short Fiction, Conjunctions, Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008, Best New American Voices 2010, and The Pushcart Prize XXIV. Her first collection of stories, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us (Dzanc Books, 2009), was a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection, longlisted for The Story Prize, and shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor Award. She currently lives in Baltimore.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
A few Mondays ago I had my first taste of being a feeble old man in the tender loving care of a kind relative. In a good way. My beloved Niece Shredder (pictured above) who got a teaching job straight out of the starting gate at the very Junior High that I went to when I was limber and full of hope and my neuroses were fresh - visions of goitered booted nuns still dancing in my head. Needless to say, Boom! she's already making way more than her beatnik uncle with his high falutin' popsicle stand.
(Dave Cousins, vocalist and guitarist with Dave Lambert, guitarist and vocalist, of the acoustic Strawbs)
Shiva, Kali, Buddha, Jesus and John Astin's Gomez have blessed me with three amazing and talented and sensitive and smart nieces and one amazing and talented and smart nephew who just needs to stop chopping all the sleeves off his muthafuckin' t-shirts! They are all huge scholars and music lovers, but Tina is perhaps the specialist of the bunch. Her love is not widespread among all the Delta bluesmen and/or country pickers and/or whatnot, but focused like a government top secret laser on one or two groups or solo acts at a time.
For many many long and fertile years of her childhood and tweens and early teens she plowed diligently the fab field of Beatlemania. Histories were read, posters sprouted. Then, there was a natural progression or expansion to Beatle contemporaries The Zombies! Who doesn't love the dang Zombies??!! That's some smooth catchy smoky soul stuff being laid down with funky organ and slinky guitar work. And to her aged uncle's surprise she somehow branched out to creaky crunchy Tom Waits (it was from a high school experience in a reverb drenched hallway during a theater project). Currently, and she can be forgiven for this, for she is a kind and gentle person, she is stuck on Eddie Vedder like an elf on a rainbow. A very cool outgrowth of this unreasonable Vedder passion is she has now bought herself a very groovy "Sea Foam" color ukulele and is strumming up a fierce wake of jubilant sound.
At any rate, all that being said, said Niece Shredder pounced on some Zombie tickets at The Annapolis Rams Head the second she heard they were on sale. Luckily her beau was not going to be in town and is not that big of a Zombie fan, so her aged uncle got to escort her to the show and share a table that was directly pushed up against the front center of the stage. A view so intimate that I felt like if I stared any more deeply into Herr Blunstone's eyes one of us would have to make the first move.
But speaking of passion for all things vintage and especially originating from the '60s, Niece Shredder has a very cool blog wherein she writes of vintage clothing and her highly skilled sewing excursions: http://decadedisplacement.blogspot.com/
(ABOVE: Dave Lambert, who possesses one of the most intense faces I've seen in real life. Kind of as if John Hurt experienced perhaps twice the pain and developed maybe a half dozen more folds. It made for powerful expression when he sang.)
A sweet bonus of this show in addition to the venue being very intimate and friendly (not one hassle while we were in there and the waitress didn't seem to care at all that we were both teetotallers ((perhaps glad to see a few folks under 60??? Not that I am much under that or to be ageist about the crowd)) was the opening act -- The Strawbs. I had heard a few songs by them over the years, but this was before Pentangle and Trees and Bert Jansch had helped me pierce the veil of British vocal rusticism.
A good deal of the songs seemed to come from "From the Witchwood", which we just happened to have at Normal's and which is now playing on my car stereo. Strong songwriting mixing in British history and olde folk with sitar and occasional funky organ flourishes. On stage this night it was just three acoustic guitarists, but man Dave Lambert, the gent above who looked like he was weeping when he sang, could really play. Did some very nice bird sounds also with his strings and without effects pedals. Also, having heard "From the Witchwood" about three times now since the show, I have to say that Dave Cousins' voice has really remained strong. Or at least remained at a high level. I mean, he's not Van Morrison or Colin Blunstone, but his voice serves well his tales of working underclass English folk.
We also got lucky and shared our small table with an older Annapolis deejay named Charlie and his wife. Charlie has been around the music world for a long time and really knew his shit on the blues and folk. Heard many fine stories of him meeting old blues greats. Since he and his wife live near the venue they have caught quite a few of the shows there, including two I would have loved to have caught - Kris Kristofferson and Marianne Faithful. Which made me think of Leonard Cohen! Man, if he were to play this small intimate club I would give up an entire paycheck for sure. I gave passing thought to catching him when he was at Merriweather a few years ago, but the evil "legal" ticket scalpers who aren't Ticketmaster, but actually are Ticketmaster, had driven the price up to around $100 for a crummy lawn seat where you might as well be at a cricket match.
But I am not just hung up on the Eldritch Ones! I was soon to catch Jeff Mangum with opening band Hawk and the Hacksaw, but more on that in a later post......
But the smoky smooth sweet melodic blast of the night we were anticipating began when the Zombies themselves (with "new" guitarist and drummer) took the stage slipping right into "I Love You". Immediately I was awash in my Niece Shredder's voluminous flow of drool and I realized that my grin had knocked my glasses off my ears.
Now I am very picky about my reunion shows. I held out for many years with a purist record until the Gang of Four reunited with their first drummer! The ho who left them for the simpering band ABC. The Gang of Four sounded just as fresh a few years ago as they did in my drunken fairly angry and confused twenties. They were clearly loving what they were doing and having a great time and I did not regret revisiting them live.
The same can definitely be said of seeing the Zombies with three of their original members. Colin Blunstone's ethereal voice is still 95% percent right there and the music with its strong dose of soul influence really holds up.
The fairly touching part of the night was that Rod Argent kept selling the band their history to the audience as if we weren't already aware of their significance and tastiness. He told us how many indie and alternative bands over the last few decades have named "Odyssey and Oracle" as one of their all time favorite and most influential lps and instructed us on all their offshoot groups and hits. Part of this might be that somehow the group is not yet in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Which seems pretty ridiculous. Isn't Weird Al Yankovic in there now even???
The one "ouch" of the night was when they did "God Gave Rock 'n' Roll To You", which I think was an Argent song that Kiss had a giant bloated cash-filled pus explosion with. But with charming Senor Blunstone singing it looking like an androgynous slim granny it was kind of fun.
I really enjoyed their cover of Argent's "Hold Your Head Up" Colin knocked that one out of the ballpark. Pictured above is Sir Argent of the Bounteous Wig.
The gent above is Jim Rodford and he can strike a timeless austere pose. This badass cat also played with The Kinks! So you know he knows his way around an addictive hook and a hotel room full of plush madness.
There is a new Der Sting album out. On the cover The Man Who Wears Down Mirrors Almost As Fast As Phil Collins is standing with his back toward us (if we were to look at his greatness head on our eyes would flash out instantaneously into smoking black holes!) knee deep in a lake. I guess he is looking for where his private helicopter dropped Excalibur. At any rate, I want to see this pugnacious Rodford fellow doff his breeches and hit that fucking water like the pitbull after Josh Brolin in "No Country For Old Men". Then the back cover of Sting's album could be Rodford's head completely spattered red in a frothy red lake, nothing of Sting to be seen except the remaining splinter of the neck of his teal colored Ovation acoustic guitar floating a few feet away.
We speak now of Zombies, though, and the '60s and love. Above is Colin Blunstone with the guitarist Tom Toomey. Sadly the lights have come on. Announcing the end of the magic night and revealing that at the peak of Niece Shredder's ecstasy during the set, when they played "Can't Nobody Love You", which she wants played at her wedding, she had lost control and put her shrimp fork through both eyes of Charlie's wife, her last whimpering cries for help smothered by the comforting aural blanket of Zombie sounds.