Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sunday Scribblings #135: Scandalous


Sean the 8-armed animal,

London mega mall, long before the dinos,

spotted with a new flame,

shocked after the man powers up,

his diabetes rate doubled after

10 years, one click closer

to the one, and zero late fees—

one toke over the line, sweet Jesus—

shocking, simply shocking,

a zombie classic

“due to strong personal convictions,”

and no heir apparent as of yet:

vitriolic alkoloids,

hamster-brained essence of neo-fire,

futuristic palindroNes,

“Who sez the French are uptight?”

The most popular of virals ever

in the come and see, come and do

Fortune 500, does will hunting

fever the scavenge any better

than that, the inverse manner

of grotesque shapes,

cautionary measurements,

substandard deviations,

mouseketeered beyond recognition?

As the alien Other rolls

his eyes, the daffy notion

would be doing fine

were it not God’s photocopy,

God’s minstrel joint,

God’s flabbergasted cassowary:

articulated orgasms of the first

dominion, domino effect,

anno dominoes,

the causal retraction—if

only on page 9—after

the Standards and Poors,

ignoring two simple facts:

catastrophic reiteration &

booth ignorance, found

in the unending obsession

of 50,000 megawatt power,

Jones babies of reality schmoozers,

sexy little Marxist teasers,

prayers for the people,

nursing a bad leg,

accruing the eldritch foetor of

netting the glowering fish,

mephitic daze in the

hooligan hollandaise of systemic risk.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Sunday Scribbling #134: Bragging Rights


not Karen Carpenter

not Condaleeza Rice

not Ella

not Stevie

nor Little Stevie either

not Colin

not Cheney

not Nancy Wilson

not Mose Allison

not Van

not Dylan

not Sting

not the Righteous Brothers

not the Everlys

not Cher

certainly not Sonny

not Atom Egoyan, while we’re getting all Armenian about it

not William Carlos Williams

not Gertrude

not Alice

not Perry Como

not Marmaduke

not Lennon or McCartney

not the Modern Jazz Quartet

not Stanley Turrentine

not Wayne Shorter

not Jaco Pastorius

not Joni Mitchell (yes, I’m probably the only one)

not Pat Metheny

not Oprah

not Dr. Pill

not the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

not Blake

not Eliot

not Pound

not even Rikki Ducornet

or Donald Fagen

I lost all their numbers

Elizabeth Bishop, it would have been easy

the only boy in a class of four

reflex genuflector

a virgin without condoms or MFA

such are the wonder daze

Lowell, too

Phil Levine was outraged

I just walked out

I knew frenzy up in smoke

I was looking for the door

But the madman was checking the windows

14th floor, that ain’t pretty

Now, get this, it’s not a moral thing

certainly not the vision thing either

I’m blind as a bat

Governor Edwards next door, if he was running against them

he would have said, I slept with them all

in the lap of luxury he shits where he eats

me, it’s a quandary, a conundrum

it brings out the sandra in me

i start wearing berets

my voice slides up an octave or two

i prowl tattoo parlors late at night for full body frescoes

black Madonnas on my xiphoid process

HEB candles burning down my sighs

friend of mine, her list includes Duke

not the futzy cowboy, but the A Train

I’m not even sure Mother Theresa could have pulled that off

pretty socks over pretty ankles

long slender toes in leather slippers

hound’s-tooth bathrobe at the piano, you’ve got one hell of a serenade

i don’t care how indigo you’re feeling

what future geniuses were not begot?

[Image: Bed of Dreams: Kathy Ostman-Magnusen]


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sweet and Wild and Sure

From Tom Clark's Junkets on a Sad Planet, his lovely meditation on the life of Keats. Wonderful companion read to Devil Mood's recommendation of Jude Morgan's Passion.


I strolled the Heath with gentle Coleridge
that archangel now a little damaged,
greying, shaky, wandering, rolling-eyed,
yet still air-floating, shadow-loving:
we spoke of nightingales, nymphs
who live beneath the ocean, dark,

far metaphysics, stars,
monsters, the kraken, ghost stories,
and how the mind keeps on
going, discharging into wordless
depths of feeling the wreath'd

trellis of a working brain
even when the lights are out,
the eyes closed, and the river
of the dream starts flowing
sweet and wild and sure in language strange

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

This Was Beautiful

Regarding Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama, from The New Republic:

Powell seemed particularly angry about the accusation, stoked by some McCain supporters, that Obama is a Muslim - and not only because it's inaccurate. (Says Powell:)

"The correct answer is 'He's not a Muslim. He's a Christian.' ... But the really right answer is, 'What if he is?' Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is 'no.' That's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she can be president?"


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Julian and Maddalo Revisited

The irony of Julian and Maddalo (Shelley and Byron) riding in the Venetian marshes:

From Jude Morgan's Passion:

They buried her on the salt beach beyond the lagoon.

Shelley and Mary Shelley's infant daughter Clara, three weeks old.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

"The spire is hot and my cells can't feed..."

My musical/astrological guide sent me Tori’s way: Tori sent me back to revisit Rufus. Yes.

Tori Amos: “Talula”

Tori Amos: “Caught a Little/Lite Sneeze”

Rufus Wainwright: “Go or Go Ahead”

Rufus Wainwright (and, yes, Burt Bacharach): “Go Ask Shakespeare”


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sunday Scribbling #133: "My Style"

They actually had to ask?

[as if desert was your last ending]

father wolf in the basement of the circle school

sucking on communion wine

wheeze of subterranean a/c

running fountain of toilets overhead

votive legions

he’s a papal fandango

papal bull

charlton heston without his pistols

he’s still a major motion picture

not your average bear

not your average Budweiser

earl abel’s éclair in krispy kreme disguise

father wolf in the basement of the circle school

ypsalanti michigan by way of jersey

victoria texas was definitely not in his visualizations of

the fall of rome

much less the basement of the circle school

but mary’s been his steady since 1938

upper peninsular sequined mary

he used to glue her face inside grape nehi bottle caps

long before folk art was capitalized

long before the advent of surface design

in the last daze what avatars of foot cheese

will spoil our fun?

not father wolf in the basement of the circle school

zz top beard spread across his luciano pavarotti chest

his gold tooth displayed

versace in papal black

he’s hot for lucinda williams or

at least mary chapin carpenter’s version of the same

passionate kisses on the stoop at our lady of perpetual help

before they kicked him out

nuns scandalized by his holy flame

sisters of mercy without an ounce of the latter

father wolf in the basement of the circle school



hand me a slitz

buck the altar boy turned chauffeur valet

buck with his fine stash of Eurodollars

the envy of GPS

master carpenter master of disguise

jerusalem artichoke of worry

he sez:

you’ve been out of slitz for a week

which worries the good father in the basement of the circle school

slitz is the moral fiber a body needs

when you’re gluing cotton balls to your bald spot

when the elmer’s glue is running out

when st. jude’s your drinking buddy

and even the little flower’s patience is running thin.

gloom – feral gloom – invades the dark sanctuary of

the circle.

nusrat, good buck

sez father wolfgang amadeus jones

in the basement of the circle school

parochial bane of sorrows, poor clares, prompt succors

good buck fires up the lincoln continental

nusrat rumble on the box

nusrat fateh ali khan on the verve label

barry white of the pakistani set

you see the father in the basement of the circle school’s got a date with

dark mary over on beethoven avenue

two sword scars on her right cheek

from a street fight on rigsby avenue

on the ride over,

wolf sez:

can the nusrat, buck

gimme a sermon from 1959

from before the bald spot

opulent waves of papal fur

the envy of the entire coastal archdiocese

buck slips in a burned cd from the wolfman’s archive

155 of his own sermons downloaded from napster

this darkened pair cruising south new braunfels avenue

tortoises of autumn libido

progenitors of visionary bliss

aqualungs of vital despair

anarchists of the five and dime

cheesebearers of the ultimate queso

supplicants of vivid mescal

top down, buck

sez the good frere

as the first hail hits the vinyl top

calm the waters, buck

sez the good frere

as soggy cotton balls fall from his crown

as last temptation smiles down

as amethyst invades his memory

as the black madonna drowns his sorrow-ridden kiss.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Common Cents

From the latest blog (Politics and Letters) to join the Blinks here at Murat11. I’ve been having some fun here, and plan to have more. To wit (this excerpt from a two-part article on comparisons between the current situation and the Depression):

Greenspan concurred: "intended investment in the United States has been lagging in recent years, judging from the larger share of internal cash flow that has been returned to shareholders, presumably for lack of new investment opportunities." (Age of Turbulence, p. 387) (Italics mine.)

So the Bush tax cuts merely fueled the housing bubble-they did not, and could not, lead to increased productive investment. And that is the consistent lesson to be drawn from fiscal policy that corroborates the larger shift to profits, away from wages and consumption. There is no correlation whatsoever between lower taxes on corporate or personal income, increased net investment, and job growth. (Italics, again, are mine.)

For example, the 50 corporations with the largest benefits from Reagan's tax cuts of 1981 reduced their investments over the next two years. Meanwhile, the share of national income from wages and salaries declined 5 percent between 1978 and 1986, while the share from investment (profits, dividends, rent) rose 27 percent, as per the demands of supply-side theory-but net investment kept falling through the 1980s. In 1987, Peter G. Peterson, the Blackstone founder who was then chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, called this performance "by far the weakest net investment effort in our postwar history."

The responsible fiscal policy for the foreseeable future is, then, to raise taxes on the wealthy and to make net contributions to consumer expenditures out of federal deficits if necessary. When asked why he wants to make these moves, Barack Obama doesn't have to retreat to the "fairness" line of defense Joe Biden used when pressed by Sarah Palin in debate—and not just by the lunatic fringe where hockey Moms and supply-siders congregate. The leader of the liberal media, the New York Times itself, has also admonished the Democratic candidate on his proposed fiscal policy: "Mr. Obama has said that he would raise taxes on the wealthy, starting next year, to help restore fairness to the tax code and to pay for his spending plans. With the economy tanking, however, it's hard to imagine how he could prudently do that." (NYT 10/7/08)

In fact, if our current crisis is comparable to the early stages of the Great Depression, it's hard to imagine a more prudent and more productive program.

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Sunday Scribbling #132: Lost in Space

History 230: Hadrian’s Villa: Tivoli and Beyond

Mr. Pencil Supply Company sat in the blue isles of McCullough Avenue, rattling the cages of serial commodities, evaluating the NASDAQ empires of fun to be had at the Greek Funstival, opting for neo-conservative liquidity in the dying daze of communal warfare. The tributaries of his lust swarmed the figurative Guineveres of marsupial podcasts, envying the water lilies, aspiring to Forms 183-B and Dissipations 196 and 197-F.

“I’ve breathed my last,” said the stiffneck, his Eberhard Fabers at half mast. He’d muscled his shoals one time too many, for rich or for poor, in sickness and in health. He took comfort in the fact, presumed apocryphal but indeed not in the least, that Henry David had spent large parts of unsurveyed summers deep in the heart of Teutonic graphite technology. He’d withered in the end, as likely to cut a stick as fill a barge, but the sentiment was there, there might as well have been an “& Bros.” shingle, had brother survived the dismal winters that would eventually claim them all, HD in the faltering bloom of now eleven years the junior of the pea-brained executive wailing in the middle of 5 o’clock rush hour traffic. No Armadillo World Headquarters to dispense wisdom of the ages or even the sound-bite of a Pearl longneck in swamp-locket sweat.

“I came because I was axed,” Cyril breathed in stentorian monochrome: fervent cheese maker, liberal democrat, calibrated sensualist in these the fading days of the artesian west. He’d climbed into the beds of the Stephen F. Austin women twins, the abattoir of next to nothing you would that I didn’t.

Mr. Pencil Supply Company was having none of it. Sisal was not his cup of tea, violins were not his drug of choice. He felt he’d seen the last of casual percolation, and he was not about to sin for the better. That edge cut too deep, and the cost/benefits were loaded solidly in favor of the latter.

“Nod, if you must.” This from his mother, a wedding bell beeline, seminarian licensed to kill, Beethoven Hall debutante, sequestered since ’79 in the back hollows of the King William, a projection dimmed by fading headlights and occasional transmission. Mi Tierra at two in the morning, breasts in detailed inventory through rummy haze and titular scheming, these were the lemmings of all our ancient lusts, and those were the subliminal checks and balances of an account long overdue. You fought for the window seat, but you never cried foul, never gave the signal.

“I’m a Beauregard,” she said once, hoping it would stick, but never sure of the effect. You might think berets and absinthe and calendrical yearnings for boozy teen Rimbauds, but the truth was lost in Abyssinia, severed hands, severed tongues, severed hearts of the very matters most not on your mind. Those were Gemini days, when anything could happen, and absolutely nothing would. We prayed for rain; rain was beyond repair.

“Kisses, then.” The last thing you’d expect from Mr. Pencil Supply Company, in the stormy surge beyond the Conrad Gesners of Borrowdale, in the fiftieth parallels of curricular wit. Cancel the subscription, animate the fuse, embezzle the fiefdom, generate the mesmerism that entails the each and every last you ever hoped for.

“I will not desist.”

“I will loom in the mist.”

“I will expedite the very last syllable of youth’s crazy bliss. Finally, enviably, charismatically, reverentially, with hope of prism or capital. The rest is yours, and I am forever lost in your midst.”

The prismatics, the optics, the barometrics, the geriatrics of embryogony—find your persistence and fire at will. Only time takes down the willow.

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

As We Wish Our Souls to Be

Opening Lines from Shelley's "Julian and Maddalo":

I RODE one evening with Count Maddalo

Upon the bank of land which breaks the flow

Of Adria towards Venice. A bare strand

Of hillocks, heaped from ever-shifting sand,

Matted with thistles and amphibious weeds,

Such as from earth's embrace the salt ooze breeds,

Is this; an uninhabited sea-side,

Which the lone fisher, when his nets are dried,

Abandons; and no other object breaks

The waste but one dwarf tree and some few stakes

Broken and unrepaired, and the tide makes

A narrow space of level sand thereon,

Where 't was our wont to ride while day went down.

This ride was my delight. I love all waste

And solitary places; where we taste

The pleasure of believing what we see

Is boundless, as we wish our souls to be;

And such was this wide ocean, and this shore

More barren than its billows; and yet more

Than all, with a remembered friend I love

To ride as then I rode;--for the winds drove

The living spray along the sunny air

Into our faces; the blue heavens were bare,

Stripped to their depths by the awakening north;

And from the waves sound like delight broke forth

Harmonizing with solitude, and sent

Into our hearts aërial merriment.

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

In What Oozed From Them...

My vote for Post-Obama. He'll only be 88 in 2016. From The New Republic online:

The Debate's Real Losers

Richard Stern is a novelist and emeritus professor of English at the University of Chicago.

It's 50 minutes after the vice presidential debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden. The losers were David Brooks, Mark Shields, and other commentators supposedly hired by television executives for intelligence, sensitivity, and ability to articulate clear-eyed responses and titillate viewers with their amusing and thoughtful reactions to political events. That these two regulars on PBS's "The NewsHour" failed to see that Sarah Palin's brassy, blind narcissism, chirpy ignorance, evasiveness, broken syntax, self-vaunting folksiness, and robotic falsity disqualified her for important public office should be their end as commentators. That they did not commend the essentially thoughtful, well- and widely-informed performance of Joe Biden should cancel their television contracts. The contrast between his intelligence and her stupidity, yes, stupidity, was too clear to be missed by all but blazing partisans.

Yes, this writer is partisan, but makes some attempt to accurately appraise what he sees and hears. That is more important than most causes. Otherwise, value systems will disintegrate and the boundaries between right and wrong, vice and virtue, truth and falsity will be destroyed. Brooks and Shields abandoned the standard to which they've given more than lip service. If their failure should help lead to the elevation of a foolish, almost willfully ignorant person and the defeat of a thoughtful, humane, and articulate public servant, I hope they marinate for years in what oozed from them tonight.

I've been proud that Brooks had been a student of mine at the University of Chicago. That pride has turned to ashes. As for Shields, it has been a minor pleasure to hear political insights he'd gathered over years of reportorial work.

No more. Working such special streets of punditry as "Who came up to expectations?" "Would Biden gaffe his way into headlines?" or "Would Palin again reveal the ignorance she showed on the Katie Couric interview?" this Tweedledum and Tweedledee of savvy politics failed to distinguish what was basic, namely which of these two candidates could head the American government. May they rot in Commentator Hell.


Friday, October 03, 2008

Sunday Scribblings #131: Forbidden


"First, God created idiots. That was just for practice. Then He created school boards." - Mark Twain

And then, the piece de resistance: She created Plano.

From the Banned Books Project:

The Pigman

AUTHOR: Paul Zindel ISBN: 0553263218 Plot Summary: Mr. Pignati is the Pigman--an old man with a beer belly and a strange story. When two high schoolers meet up with him, they learn his whole sad tale. Complaints: Offensive language, sexual themes A parent in Plano, Texas, said: The first few words, including 'epic' and 'avocation,' made the novel seem normal, but following words, like 'raunchiest,' 'excruciatingly' and 'subliminally,' are strange words that imply ugly things." Solonor Says Ban It Because: Imagine the uproar over words like 'rational' and 'educated'!

I stumbled over this earlier this week, while reading Zindel’s
The Pigman and Me. It was hilarious for a number of reasons, but mostly for this: My first day at the Instituto, one of my sophomores introduced herself by saying that she didn’t like teachers who used excruciatingly long words. I loved the lovely irony of her invoking the very thing she was complaining about. She’s turned into a wonderful poet, with a penchant for all manner of lovely excruciations, so as soon as I found the little BBP entry, I passed a copy along to her. She came back later in the day, smiling, and said, “That is the most wonderful thing anyone has given me in a long time.”

On a darker note, my freshman class is reading Orwell’s 1984. This class of nine boys is awesome: focused, interested, and many of them are avid writers with independent writing projects they have been writing on now for two years. What darkened the darkness of 1984 even more was our realization that the very thing they love and live for would have made them criminals and enemies of the state.

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