Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Coca-Cola Company Discovers Frank O’Hara’s “Having a Coke with You,” Uses It for Promotion | Locus Solus: The New York School of Poets

The Coca-Cola Company Discovers Frank O’Hara’s “Having a Coke with You,” Uses It for Promotion | Locus Solus: The New York School of Poets:
 Frank O'Hara would have loved it .I think, given his method of associative drift , which would be starting with one idea, situation and place but then deviating from his nominal topic and instead addressing what his gaze fell upon and what he thought when he saw it. O'Hara made an art by not really talking about things he begins to murmur about .

The fact that Coca Cola chooses a poem that does not discuss Coke or its benefits for 90 percent of its length seems consistent. It's in keeping with O'Hara's determination to elide rather than elucidate. This dovetails well with the soft drink slogan "Things go better with Coke" that was their ad campaign for years, with the emphasis being on the things that the soft drink goes better with and not the beveridge itself. Less a product with qualities in-themselves, it is sold as an enhancer of things in the world that assumedly already have intrinsic worth; Coke just makes them better, somehow, like the right seasoning on the right filet of fish. 

O'Hara's poem, which does not discuss the merits of Coke, is annexed for a promotion that wants us to consider the world surrounding the cola rather than the cola itself. There is enough here for a visit to the semiotic field, but it's enough for me just to relish an irony no one likely saw coming.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

James Cotten, Chuck Berry

James Cotton Monterey 1981.jpg
Harmonica master James Cotten, dead at 81 years old. He was a great player and a huge influence on my particular harmonica hero, Paul Butterfield, but Cotten's playing never grabbed me the way it did most other blues aficionados . There was nothing wrong with his playing, and I wasn't looking for flaws  or mistakes--his tone was second to none , his phrasing and the way he could build a solo were testaments to what can be done in a 12  bar and 16 bar format, his sense of funk revealed the dual qualities of grit and artful finesse-- it's just that I was paying attention to other players. One can say that I had missed my chance  to attain a lifelong love of the man's music. Still, I liked his playing and tip my hat to his legacy. He helped create a path later players I would follow in turn .This is as fitting a tribute I can manage, and I apologize to any stalwart fan who might be   reading this searching for more animated words describing this good man's life. All the same, godspeed and rest well, Mr.Cotten.



Chuck Berry 1957.jpg
For Chuck Berry, gone at 90 years old, what can one say  other than he perfected rock and roll as musical form and going aesthetic concern?Chuck Berry is the Beginning of it all. His is a shadow that falls over ABSOLUTELY ALL who took up guitar after him. He created the language and vocabulary of rock and roll, both as musician and songwriter. His body of work , truly, is the Gold Standard against which all others are judged. One may be considered a jazz guitarist if one hasn't studied the work of Django or Joe Pass, but if a would be -rocker hasn't learned Chuck Berry's resolutely brilliant set of chops, may relinquishes the right to call themselves a rock guitarist. All good things in rock and roll pass through the innovations of Chuck Berry. He is to rock and roll what Harold Bloom says Shakespeare is to the rest of literature--without his existence , we would be saying less interesting things about our lives in far , far less imaginative ways. Hail, Hail Rock and Roll.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Old mean stoners



'via Blog this

The Daily Beast informs us that Steve Bannon, the Svengali behind Trump, was a Grateful Dead fan and "Jerry Brown liberal" when he was in college. What should we make of that? Nothing, precisely stated. 'The media often makes the mistake of assuming that because someone has a hippie/free love/drug taking/rock and roll background in their past that they are, by default aligned with left wing and liberal causes and sentiments. Many are and many are, and those who go destructively right wing as they age should not surprise us, since the counter culture was, in effect, libertarian idealism played out in real time."Do what you want and don't let the man keep you down."

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, beard and closeup Yes, there was a core streak of peace and love and live and let live and non violence in all that, which dominated the discussions concerning the era and its bohemian propensity, but there was a strong vein of self-regarding assholism and know-nothingism in there as well . They did the same drugs, listened to the same music, dodged the same draft and had as much sex as they could get away with, but they were the ones who would their bitterness that the expectations about what the Sixties would bring about didn't pan out into a cartoonishly vulgar array of racism, misogyny and all the rest. 

The benign hippie freedom they wallowed in has turned into a free floating rage that articulates itself barely as a form of social Darwinism: get rid of the state and let nature take its course by ridding the species of its less fit (or deserving) members. Bannon would have been the least interesting one in any bunch of longhair layabouts, a dude with the wrong hair, too many zits, too fat, trying too hard to get in conversations that were over his head, the one who was mocked in front of his own face by those of higher status in the clique. His later career plays out like a revenge porn fantasy. Or at least that's part of a revenge fantasy of my own wherin a nefarious , dangerous and nihilistic punk and all around blaggard over-reaches from whatever proximity to power he's attained and is , ever ironically, hoist by his own petard. Meaning , of course, that we want him done when his plans backfire and result in his professional demise. More realistically, Bannon may have well been the sort of dude-ster who would have fit into one of the several social circles I had least one foot in during my college days. Perhaps we'd been arguing music, movies and women at the campus pub , solving exactly nothing with our jargon and recycled thinking. Admittedly, I was a registered Libertarian for a year during that time, 1979-198 and 1981 approximately, a stunt I offered up more as a way to irritate a few of the hard Lefties still haunting the pathways of the University I attended. It was more fun to make fun of Libertarians, though, than it was to be, so I claimed my Democratic Party bona fides again and have been a yellow dog ever since. Bannon, of course, found his own calling, and it is his current mission we have to concentrate  on, the so called "deconstruction of the administrative state".  The     focus needs to be on what he's doing now,not on what he was. Irony , at the moment, is a distraction that can kill us.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Lack of depth makes for a shallow grave

Image may contain: 1 personKim Rosen of the Huffington Post wondered in a 2010 post if Americans are afraid of poetry; some of the essay is a warmed over collection of the usual symptoms, and some of it is intriguing, worth a gander. I don't think Americans are afraid of poetry; rather it's a matter of not many Americans, comparatively, think of poetry as a resource since we, as a culture, are not an introspective culture, but instead one that continuously looks forward to a future to be created.

Poetry, so far as the general reader is concerned, is a matter of one being alone with their thoughts and structuring their experience in a narrative form, a narrative that not only chronicles events along a time line, but also the nuance of experience, the fleeting sensation of something changing in their psyche. This requires making the language do extraordinary things to accommodate an uncommon interpretation of experience, and Americans, a people reared on the ideology of what can be done in the face of adversity, have no expansive desire to do something so impractical. Language is a thing meant to help us solve material problems, to achieve material goals, and poetry, a strange extension of linguistic twists and shadings, does nothing to put food on the table, put money in the bank, to further the quest to cure an endless variety of incurable diseases. 

Poetry is immaterial to purpose, function, policy; the absence of larger audiences for poetry isn't about fear from a perception that it's a mode of expression that is the least useful among several the lot of us might select on a given day. There are those of us who would argue that poetry's lack of identifiable utility is exactly what attracts us to the form--I happen to think that, like Wilde, that all art is quite useless in practical application (save for the fact that I believe humans crave beauty in form and in expression) and adhere to Harold Bloom's running definition of what literature, in general, avails the reader: to paraphrase, literature (poetry) helps us think about ourselves. Americans , I think it's safe to say in the broadest sense, have no real desire to reside individually and psychically work their way to an "aha" experience with poetry as a conduit.

Americans are not an introspective people, a national habit that infects all of us; it seems, regardless of race, skin color, religious choice, cultural formation or any number of things. I might suggest prevailing conditions of isolation, anomie, alienation and a host of other diagnostic words that have lost their punch and are now mostly free of meaning, but what it comes down to, basically, is that it seems most of us in this stew, within these borders don't like to think any harder than it does to make a peanut butter sandwich; we want things given to us in images, sound bites, we want things "broken down" into simple parts and not actually explained. Our psychic well being depends on how the world effects our material status; that is the equation we prefer, with a massively huge collective case of denial that there is any need to plume the depths of the soul, those elements of imagination, spiritual worth, of being willing to consider one's place in the universe and how they might better live in it. Poetry, when the desire for poetry arises , is not the "aha" experience, but for the blandishments of "there, there", the mother or the nurse stroking your hair, feeding you chocolate, assuring you things will balance out and that one's bad dream will soon be over. It's not surprising the poetry that is the most popular, while routinely competent as crafted compositions and generically clever with insights and surprises you sense coming as one does traffic lights, are therapy rather than art. We like the illusion of being deep while continuing to view the universe we are in as no complex than a daily comic strip. This is a bad thing, absolutely horrible.

We do think about ourselves, but more in terms of accumulation rather than an inner equilibrium. The measure of a man is his wallet, not the subtlety of his thoughts, and this a form of fearlessness that borders on insanity.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Prose poems are go!

Image result for great american prose poem
There is much cross over between prose and poetry forms in contemporary literature, which one can read about in David Lehman's excellent anthology The Great American Prose Form. What he argues in his comprehensive introduction is that we need to rid ourselves of the idea that postmodernism was the advent of writers blurring genre boundaries and realize that writers, poets and prose writers both, have been mashing together the forms for quite awhile; rigid ideas of what "poetry" is should be loosened because the way the better (and lesser poets) of the day compose their verse won't obey some one's global dictums. The marvel of the anthology is that the selections contradicts the general assumption of casual fans of contemporary poems--those readers who haven't much knowledge of American poetry besides a blurred and indistinct knowledge of the Beats--is that the prose poem, as a form, isn't a radical and irreducible avant garde gesture only recently dropped on our country's credulous readership. (Although we could use more bomb throwers and trashers of tattered form to allow us to sharpen our wits, collectively, or at least argue constructively about what matters when   we use words to describe events and things and feelings about the world we attempt to navigate with a minimum of meanness of spirit). 

As the subtitle insists, it begins roughly with Poe with his many effusions that roamed beyond his Gothic decadence and wondered about the metaphysical of the universe that is always striving to balance its harmonies against man's self will, and taking us through the chatty  and unarmored paragraph-based lyricism of coming generations, a  diverse collection from TS Eliot, HD, Amy Lowell, Billy Collins, Gertrude Stein, The Beats, Leslie Scalapino, Michael Palmer, an impressive roster of writers, scribblers, musers, ponderers and poets all who've found themselves , at various times, realizing that even the relative freedom of "free verse" was not enough to extend language beyond the limits of what a sentence can quest to uncover and address and turned to the paragraph, that block of sentences on which our most exploitable accounts of what we experience in the world we explore, and attempt to drive into the deepest parts of their individual mysteries. 

This is not the paragraph that instructs, enlightens, persuades, berates or conventionally seduces, it is the paragraph as poetic expression, the act of taking what is otherwise common place and otherwise banal in the world and subjecting to a scrutiny and interrogation that might reveal a dualism otherwise obscured, or perhaps expose a universe of dualism that multiply and continue to do so until we stop looking for then. Styles, cadences, idioms and such vary greatly here among the writers  according to their backgrounds, regions, gender , and each pen to paper, each finger to typewriter eye, each attempt to take what one knows and test against what is not already cast  in one's vernacular is a journey surprising , passionate, chaotic, incoherent and vital in keeping our language relevant and, shall   we say, self-correcting when another era's metaphors cease to give us light and instead are grown      over with such foliage that only a noxious shade is available to   us. 


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Should Trump Get Credit for Good Jobs Numbers? - The New York Times

Should Trump Get Credit for Good Jobs Numbers? - The New York Times:

'via Blog this' The New York Times column asks the questions if the recent impressive job numbers should be credited to Donald Trump , our current President. They do a nice job of providing a fuller context as to what can influence an economy to perform well to do badly, apart from what actions The White House can take. In less than a hundred days office, there have been no real policy initiatives put forth and put into action that could have resulted in 235,000 jobs or so being added to the job market last month. Sorry, but the slew of executive orders he issued in his first couple of weeks would not have had this large an impact on employment numbers, if any. The upshot of this Upshot, so to speak, is that although one cannot cynically dismiss any positive effect of Trump on the economy, the new robust job statistics are not fantastically improved over employment growth rates from recent months. Perhaps he will unleash the animal spirit of bosses who might suddenly go crazy and expand their work force as they hadn't before. More convincing are the long term effects of actual policies put into place by the Administration. Much as Trump supporters want this added to his win column, these stats should more credited accurately to Obama and his team , who oversaw 75 months of job growth. It remains Obama's recovery. This is where those who appreciated vetted facts and not spin or magical thinking must be alert; Trump inherited a strong economy from the Obama Administration, he inherited a very strong one, robustly recovering from eight years of policies, economic and political, from the George W. Bush administration before him. As many think, the decisions Trump has made as President seems like nothing less than the acts of a man in a rush to destroy something vital and thriving.

14 hidden jokes and cryptic metaphors in The Big Lebowski - YouTube

14 hidden jokes and cryptic metaphors in The Big Lebowski - YouTube:

'via Blog this' I'm not sure about all the interpretations offered, BUT how many films can even invite this level of interest? I've watched Lebowski at least six times, and i always pick up something new (and usually very funny). Some of the speculation seem a little far afield (and I can imagine how much further it goes in the full-hour video the narrator advises us to watch), but the point is that all this stuff merits discussion.  I've seen this a number of times all the way through--4?5?-- and there is always something else that catches my attention. A detail, dialogue, character traits and ticks, an edit, lighting, the fluid naturalness of the performances. John Goodman says that many fans think that the cast is inspiredly adlibbing through the picture, and informs them that no, ad libbing is something that does not happen in a Coen Brothers movie. The performances were the result of an inspired script ,a great cast and, according to Goodman, three weeks of rehearsal before shooting began