Thursday, January 29, 2009


If you happen to be in San Diego this weekend, stop by and check out Batwings. Here's my brother's other band, Cub and Pony.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Juan Felipe Herrera is a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award!

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Mexicali! Great bands! Here's another one: Maniqui Lazer.

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Speaking of Mexicali, I'd love to get to la Serie del Caribe '09

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thorns of Life - Brooklyn

I managed to catch ex-Jawbreaker frontman Blake S.'s new band, Thorns of Life, last night at Bar Pink Elephant in N. Park.

"Filming punk shows is like dancing to architecture," he added, when someone on stage asked a few in the audience to stop recording the show. Huh?

Good to hear the old voice again.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Here are a few books I'm reading/rereading before my semester begins:

Night Wraps the Sky: Writings and about Mayakovsky, edited by Michael Almereyda
All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque
Grave of Light, by Alice Notley
Arthur Rimbaud, by Enid Starkie
Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage, by Paulo Freire
Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age, by Modris Eksteins
Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook, by Charles Bukowski
Driving and Drinking, by David Lee

Friday, January 9, 2009

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Remembering Freddie Hubbard.

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I picked up a fantastic anthology that I'll be using with my batch of sophomores this semester called From Totems to Hip-Hop, edited by Ishmael Reed. Here's a little something from Reed's introduction to the anthology, something that struck me: "...They have been confined to an intellectual cave by what William Oandasan called the Ogre with One Eye, the limited vision of American missionary education that's driving blacks and Hispanics from the classroom. Maybe someone will get a grant to study why black and Hispanic students pack the slam poetry events and write hip-hop verse themselves, but doze off in the missionary classroom and receive low scores in reading and writing on the missionary's SAT."

He then goes on to write: "Why can't T.S. Eliot and Tupac Shakur and Bob Holman, all in this anthology, be studied together? They're all homies."

I'm especially interested in this anthology's section entitled "Manifestos," since my students will be writing their own in response to this present [teen]Age of Anxiety. Get it? Pieces by Amy Lowell, Haki Madhubuti, L. Ferlinghetti, Dead Prez, and several others are included.

Because we'll be looking at the first part of the 20th century, both WWs and so forth, one of the suggested readings will be Clifford's Blues by John A. Williams. I mention this here, because I once had the incredible pleasure of hearing John A. Williams read in San Francisco. I remember him sharing his libretto that night; we all listened, and it nearly brought my ass to tears. The look on his face as he listened to the music circulate the room was priceless, as they say--his eyes closed, the gentle smile. What possibilities! I remember thinking to myself.

And who introduced him that night? Yes, it was Ishmael Reed. What an evening!

While flipping through FTTHH, it was also nice to see a poem bien bad-ass by Ernesto Trejo. There's a copy of his Entering a Life at the Imperial Valley College that still bares a slight coffee cup stain from when I foolishly placed my mug near the book's edge. O, but how I loved that book! I'm sure it's forgiven me by now. Fire and water, the book's greatest enemies. Or is it the book burning asshole who drinks water after his sport?

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Just returned from New Orleans, and it was fantastic. My wife and I stayed two blocks from the French Quarter and walked and walked and walked, taking it all in, all of it coming back to me. You see, I had the opportunity to blast my horn through the streets of New Orleans during Mardi Gras when I was in high school. I remember we got my homeboy, P, to buy us all Hurricanes, because he was the tallest and had at least a fighting chance. "Button up your shit to your neck, man," we said, "and look old." Guess it worked, because our legs went noodly on us when we grabbed those things out of his hands and took a couple of small swigs. Needless to say, the effects of those things remain.

I'm really looking forward to this year. There are many, many projects I want to complete. Hmmm, maybe talk about that stuff later.

In other news, it was sad to hear about the passing of one of my favorite horn players, Freddie Hubbard. It especially hurts because I missed the chance to hear him play here not too long ago for his 70th birthday tour. My reason for missing, I don't have one. I fumbled. His work on the fluglehorn is some of my favorite. I'll be posting some vids during the week.
Speaking of which, my wonderful wife bought me Miles Davis' and John Coltrane's: The Complete Columbia Years for Christmas. Sketches of Spain (Okay, and Bitches Brew) is my favorite album, album, but the chance to hear some of the outtakes, with Miles scolding Teo Macero is funny as hell. Wait, I think the scoldings are in the Bitches Brew sessions. It's cool to see how a single tune could undergo so many variations.