Friday, March 30, 2007
...is a veteran singer songwriter (but new to me) from Austin, TX, whom I saw live for the first time last night in Cleveland, OH. He sang many of his songs with a self-deprecating attitude, nothing-is-sacred-to-me attitude in fact, which is how I like it. His voice has grown very gravelly over the past thirty years he's been whoring around, but it suits the combination of cynicism and melancholy in his songs. One of the new songs he played is about a guy who is sent to a rehab or prison, where he meets "junkies and strugglers," and remembers how Neil Young got it all wrong in "Needle and the Damage Done," and concludes he's/they're "not beautifully broken, just broken, that's all." The song resembles the 1996 "Something Broken in the Promised Land" by Wayne Kramer so much--not just music, but the key word "broken" and the reference to the same N.Y. song--that it cannot be a coincidence. Kramer's song is about how fucked up things were/are in the U.S., and Graham complains specifically about our tendency to romanticize "junkies and strugglers" (all the while marginalizing, incarcerating them, etc.) On the other hand, Graham didn't indicate where his inspiration for the song came from. Should I care? I love both the songs.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
I've been hearing on NPR that one of those shows I really dislike on that radio, This American Life, will become a TV show. Now I'm seeing in my entertainment gossip online news that the show has begun airing on one of the TV stations. The TAL episodes that I've heard on the radio all are formulaic, a bit quirky, always a bit or plenty sad, always leading to some little epiphany. They never ever manage to do anything for me, perhaps because they're so emotionally manipulative. Yet it seems I am one of the few people with a distaste for Ira Glass, TAL, and pretty much all the people on it. If anyone is reading this post, what are your thoughts?
Thursday, March 8, 2007
I took these two pictures (stitched together in PhotoStudio) from the bus I was riding to school today. I don't know what the protest was about. The red sign is saying "all religions believe in justice." The protest took place at Blue Island and 14th, next to Testa Produce (wholesale produce I guess), in this area between new developments and old projects, the area full of empty lots, wire fences, dilapidated buildings, old warehouses being turned into condos, etc. A strange place for a protest of any kind. One thing is for sure, it was not related to the International Day of Women, which is today.
My digital camera, by the way, cost 10 bucks, it's the size of a matchbox, and it doesn't have that thing through which you look in order to frame whatever you're trying to photograph. That's next to trying to take a pic blindfolded. So the pics, taken from a moving bus (it was moving slowly, granted) are fucking great.
Most people know Carl Andre as a "minimalist" sculptor. Just type his name in Google Images, and you'll see many pics of his sculptures. At Gallery 400, cultural historian Liz Kotz talked today about Andre's poetry collected in four unpublished manuscripts: "The Theory of Poetry," "One Hundred Sonnets," "Shape and Structure," "Lyrics and Odes," and "American Drill." Kotz's argument aims to: "show how Andre used strategies of removal, isolation and fragmentation to reveal what he saw as the “textual unconscious” of American genocide. (...)Andre’s most substantial series of poems of the 1960s concerned “King Philips War” – a series of battles that took place in 1675-1676 in Massachusetts, whose outcome was devastating to the traditional way of life of the native peoples of New England." He used a standard typewriter to type up his poems, and so the size and shape of the paper, of the letters, the inconsistent typewriter ribbon (so the letters are sometimes sharp and sometimes faint) all play into what the poem will look like on the page. He worked pretty much exclusively with found text (whether he found words in the dictionary, or in sentences in books). The result is that the poems look like his sculptures, but the best ones also make statements about war, genocide, racism, historical amnesia, what have you.
Sunday, March 4, 2007
Juliana Spahr has three poetry books out: Response, Fuck You Aloha I Love You, and This Connection of Everyone with Lungs. Some memorable off-the-cuff comments she made during her conversation with UIC grad students and faculty (English Dept): "I actually kind of like writing." "Some people call what I write poetry. I call it sentences." Her upcoming book is mixed- genre, and it's called the Transformation. She said the book is "two hundred pages of anxiety." Here's a link to an excerpt from it: http://www.trout.auckland.ac.nz/journal/13/13_49.html.
Back in 1934, Jiri Voskovec and Jan Werich starred in "Hej rup!", which they co-wrote with Vaclav Wasserman and Martin Fric; the latter directed it. It's a comedy with lots of music, slapstick, and working class empowerment. Facets.org sum it up, "the plot concerns an industrialist and labor organizer working together to create their own socialist nirvana," but really what the duo does is organize a milk-and-dairy-manufacturing co-op, and they successfully compete with the large corporations on the capitalist market. Moreover, there is a whole scene where they mock the Soviets, or state socialism by implication, just as they mock corrupt capitalism. Czech satire at its best!