Monday, December 20, 2010

I've always wanted to hear Oliver Lake live. My opportunity presented itelf when I attended his performance Friday evening. This program was part of the Fresh Sound Series, "a series of experimental, electronic, contemporary classical and improvised music" under the umbrella of Sushi Contemporary Performance and Visual Arts.

Lake performed solo, interspersing his alto and soprano saxophone pieces with verse. From recited text that evoked a mother's wisdom and guidance, to the catastrophic effects of Katrina, Lake's performance engaged and startled. Lake painted space, tossing out sound by swinging his horn from right to left--HOOOoooonk. Brush strokes of sound. An occassional 360. Chaotic riffs like "scrambled eggs." Long, introspective passages. Quick, playful lines reminiscent of a joyous angel practicing a quebradita in front of a bemused lover angel.

The night was fulfilling, and I left the venue with a lighter step.

* * *

Finished Patti Smith's Just Kids. Beautiful.

* * *

"Reading is done in the immediate past, writing in the immediate future."
-Kenneth Koch

* * *

Looking over proof copy for my new chapbook 1984. "Watch out Orwell. I got your number." I hope to have copies available soon.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Just devoured two books whole in one sitting: Nicanor Parra's After-Dinner Declarations and Ada Limon's Shark in the Rivers. These, along with the steady regimen of vitamins, jogs, trumpet practice, and writing, keep the spirit ignited and beast-like.

I just got my hands on Patti Smith's Just Kids, which I'm going to try and knock out this week.

* * *
I remember receiving a rejection slip on Christmas Eve one year.
* * *
Back to the blues scales.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

An old friend sent me this Jean-Michel B vid. Raise the volume and feel tragic. Dance, too, though. Please dance.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"But I'm not Nijinsky. I plunge into poetry, as Nijinsky plunged into the dance. With all the effort and faith and dedication possible. As singlemindedly as possible. And with eyes open. Not as Nijinsky, but having seen Nijinsky, like Nijinsky. I don't want art to save me.
I want to be alive. To look at things carefully. To write is to love again."
from a letter to Sandy Berrigan from Ted
* * *
The Palabra Magazine reading in L.A. was wonderful. I really thank elena minor for providing me with an opportunity to read there. While there, I picked up a couple of back issues. Still reading them like crazy.
* * *
Just finished The Poetry Lesson by Andrei Codrescu. Lots of fun! Looking about for my missing "ghost companion."

Friday, October 22, 2010

I've been reading a lot of Susan Sontag essays lately. I just finished re-reading "A Century of Cinema." A section that struck me was the one in which she drew the line between home theater options vs. the old movie houses. In it, she alludes to how a great movie watched in a theater can transport us for a couple of hours. Here's her creepy but exciting illustration of this: "To be kidnapped, you have to be in a movie theater, seated in the dark among anonymous strangers."

This had me thinkin' of a recent experience. We were recently at the Ken watching the new Basquiat documentary. As the film concluded, I heard a soft weeping that reached us from a few seats to the left. In the darkness, light splashed across half of her face. I was moved by this for a lot of reasons, and shared a bit of sadness at that moment with an anonymous stranger.

* * *

I'm listening to Violeta Parra this morning as I write. My mind wanders. Imagine the conversations between Violeta and Nicanor! Check this out.

* * *

I recently celebrated a birthday. My abuelita called and sang to me. It was utterly beautiful! Following this, she asked: "Mijo, are you still writing?" "I'm trying, grandma." And then she snapped "Don't try! Do!" Brief silence. "Have a happy birthday, mijo. I love you." Click.

* * *

I'm playing trumpet again!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The New Bitter Oleander Is Here

The new issue of The Bitter Oleander has arrived, and it's a great-looking piece of work. I'm happy to have a poem included entitled "The Yearning Feed," which happens to be the title of my new manuscript. It's a slight boost of confidence to pub. the title poem, especially as the rejection slips continue to slap against my house like angry, lost bats.

In this issue, I've been especially interested in the special addition, featuring the Ecuadorian poet, Ana Minga. Included are an interview, photos, and several poems, including a selection from her newest collection, Orphaned Birds.

Born in 1983, Minga talks about the genesis of her 3 collections of poetry, all of which, I believe, won various awards. Her first collection was called Pandemonium, written when she was just 18 years old. What a title, no? Additionally, Minga writes of her affection for dogs, solitude, dangerous journalism, books, among others. She also reveals episodes related to her long-time relationship with insomnia, and her experiences growing up in the "relatively isolated world of Opus Dei," where her father acted as administrator.

Minga is intense, she lives intensely, explaining that she sometimes writes days at a time. How many of us would love to claim this? And of this, comes lines like: It's hard to turn into a Lion / or some invincible God / when words break apart and we cry dead birds."

I am certainly going to try to pick up all of her books. Pick up this issue of The Bitter Oleander, and you'll know what I mean.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Check out this fantastic D. Cherry performance, my tied for first fav. horn player.

Whatcha You Thinkin' Maya Maya Maya?

D. Burliuk, Aleksandr Kruchenykh,
V. Mayakovsky, Viktor Khlebnikov

from A Slap of Taste in Public Taste

To the readers of our New First Unexpected.
We alone are the face of our Time. Through us the horn of time blows
in the art of the word.
The past is too tight. The Academy and Pushkin are less intelligible than
Throw Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, etc. etc overboard from the Ship
of Modernity.
He who does not forget his first love will not recognize his last.

translation from the Russian by Anna Lawton & Herbert Eagle

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Rattle presents...
Issue #33 Reading& Release Party
Sunday, August 15th 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
The Church in Ocean Park 235 Hill Street Santa Monica, CA

Rattle #33 featured a tribute to humor, along with interviews with Aram Saroyan and Carl Phillips, and our always-eclectic blend of accessible poetry. Poets from across the country perform their work, including interviewee Aram Saroyan.

Refreshments provided. Admission is free. Donations to the church accepted at the door.

Featured readers include:
Devika BrandtJ. Scott Brownlee, John Harris, Marvin Klotz, Manuel Paul Lopez, Rick Lupert Aram Saroyan, Steve Westbrook

Friday, August 6, 2010

Moving to a new place is a #*%^&! It was a local move, but still. Anyway, we're in, nothing broke along the way. A few scratches here and there, but that's usually expected. We're near SDSU now, which means I'm near its library and special collections! Which brings me to this, here is a list of some of the books I was able to read during the packing and moving. My summer vacation is waning, but there's still a week and a half left to squeeze in a few more titles.

Against Interpretation and Other Essays, Susan Sontag
Purgatory, Raúl Zurita (A book I want to write about later. It was haunting.)
Voices of a People's History of the United States, Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove
Revolt of the Cockroach People, Oscar Zeta Acosta
Countering the Counterculture: Rereading Postwar American Dissent from Jack Kerouac to Tomás Rivera, Manuel Luis Martinez
To the Break of Dawn, Oscar Bermeo
Peeping Tom Tom Girl, Marisela Norte
The Duplications, Kenneth Koch
Glow of Our Sweat, Francisco Aragón
Painter Among Poets: The Collaborative Art of George Schneeman
Poems of the Millennium: The University of California Book of Modern and Postmodern Poetry, Ed. Jerome Rothenberg and Pierre Joris (Cont' to peck at this giant anthology)

* * *

I'm listening to Red Garland as I type this, and his piano makes me feel like I'm under a mild sedative. In a good way, of course.

* * *

This is what I look like when the mailman hands me a self-addressed envelope.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Arizona State Superintendent Wants Videos

Arizona State Superintendent Wants Videos Of Tuscan District's Ethnic Studies Classes.

Arizona's Daily Star (8/4, Huicochea) reports that Arizona Schools Chief Tom Horne is requesting that the Tuscan Unified School district "videotape courses over the fall semester to be used as evidence that would show whether they are in violation of House Bill 2281." The legislation restricts schools from offering "courses that promote the overthrow of the US government, promote resentment toward a race or class of people, are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group, and advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals."
Mary Ann Zehr wrote in the Education Week (8/3) "Learning the Language" blog that Horne "has told the superintendent of Arizona's Tucson Unified School District that he will announce a withholding of 10 percent of the district's funds as soon as" the law "goes into effect Dec. 31." On Tuesday, Horne sent a letter to Superintendent John Carroll, in which he also made the request for a videotape of the ethnic studies classes "in their entirety." Zehr added that "Tucson Unified officials would have the opportunity to appeal [a] withholding of funds before an administrative judge."

Monday, July 26, 2010


I got pulled over today by a peace officer in a black and white car while riding my wife's powder blue beach cruiser with white basket along El Cajon Blvd. He asked me if i had any I.D. He asked me if I had anything illegal on my person. He asked me if he could search me. He asked me where I was headed. He told me to have a good day. Away I rode on my wife's powder blue beach cruiser (mine's flat) down El Cajon Blvd with a book by Oscar Zeta Acosta in the white basket.

* * *

I've been listening to a lot of Daniel Johnston lately. Here's a pretty beautiful version of his "Life in Vain."

* * *

I'm really excited to be reading in L.A. this month. It's in support of the new summer issue of Rattle. Check out the details here.

Friday, May 7, 2010

I am very proud to be a part of this relief effort for Haiti. As a response to the tragic earthquake that happened in Haiti, this org raised over $22,000 in six weeks for the recovery of Haiti.

HTH (High Tech High) for Haiti is currently selling great, black T-shirts that read HTH for Haiti. If you're interested in donating some funds or purchasing a T-shirt, please drop an email at the HTH for Haiti website.

* * *

I just plucked this off of La Bloga. Here's Carmen Lomas Garza talking about her life and her art. This link is part of Los del Valle Oral History Project. I love la música en la sangre. "La música es muy celosa."

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lalo Alcaraz at UCSD

I really enjoyed Lalo Alcaraz's talk at UCSD. He showed some slides and added commentary. He said his hate mail is more abundant than usual, probably cuz the Arizona debacle, he said, and his responses to it all.

His backstory for the image below was cool, too. Alcaraz explained how angry he was during the whole Sotomayor confirmation hearings and some of the mindless coverage she was receiving in the mainstream media. Of his response, he said, he suddenly "went pink." There was much more to the story, and it was truly inspiring.
I think it was a good choice. I purchased a signed copy and will be waiting to offer it as a gift someday.

Monday, April 26, 2010


If you want to see a powerful film, check out That Evening Sun. It's been some time since I've seen something like this. Hal Holbrook is so great!


I found a cool copy of Lost Body, poems by Aime Cesaire with illustrations by Pablo Picasso.

"The houses out here
at the foot of the mountains
are not even as well arranged as hobnailed boots
the trees are explosions whose last spark
goes out washing over my hands
which tremble a little"
Here's an interview I did a couple of weeks ago @ La Estrella De Túcson

Mexican Poet Wins Cervantes Prize

Jose Emilio Pacheco wins Cervantes Prize.

Also here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


the city
has no

a nightmare!"
I say

"a chance
to count

you say
to the sky

Francisco X. Alarcón

* * *

I want to thank the Tucson Poetry Festival board for offering me the chance to participate in this year's program.

Reading alongside gypsee yo, Sonya Renee, and Linda Russo was great fun. To say they got down would just not be enough.

Another highlight for me was the state-wide high school poetry contest, and being there to meet and hear the student winners. Also present that day was Dr. Ofelia Zepeda. It was an absolute honor to meet her.

Friday, April 9, 2010

This spring break has been an interesting one to say the least. My parents, brother, his fiance, sis., brother-in-law battled that 7.2 earthquake, rode it, fought back. I wasn't there, but I can only imagine the experience. I still remember the '79 earthquake. I was in my backyard with Willie Joe and Susie. I think we were playing marbles. Anyway, my swingset looked like it was walking toward us. "Ma! Ma!" I screamed as I tried to get into the house. And that shit was only a 6. something. Everyone I speak to who experienced the recent earthquake has the same glazed look, the return, a rattling, noisy dishwasher in the head. My parents haven't had a good night's sleep in nearly a week.

When it struck, my family was in the backyard, everyone except for my mother who was upstairs in her bedroom. In the midst of all this mess, my younger brother reacted and ran his ass into a possessed house. Dishes flying, glasses breaking, the dude ran in. Like I say, you either got it, or you don't.

Fortunately, my family is alive and well. For those who have been impacted by this in ways that one could only imagine, I can only send my prayers of prayers.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hugo Crosthwaite

Just returned from the San Diego Museum of Art where I saw Hugo Crosthwaite's Brutal Beauty exhibition. Amazing work. It really sucks that there wasn't a bench available near the work for my lazy ass to sit and stare for awhile. Lots of unsettling drama in these works. Really incredible. Here's an interview with Crosthwaite on These Days.

Watch Crosthwaite work on Brutal Beauty here.
Almost time for the Tucson Poetry Festival!

Here's an interview I just did with the Arizona Daily Wildcat. What a goofy bastard.

Other news: My wife and I went to see Cat Party, a show in which they were book-ended by two very, very stylistically different bands. I'll leave it at that. Don't know how I feel about it all, only that I feel that I've been addicted to FIFA '10 as of late!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Night at the Pink

I saw Abe Vigoda Thursday night at Bar Pink in San Diego. The patrons were subdued, which is no criticism, we all (s)lumber through our days in different ways. Although it would have been nice to feed the band a little more energy. They're headed to South by Southwest with the UK band Lovvers. Abe Vigoda's set was mainly new stuff (really cool), but ended, I believe, with "Skeleton," a great one! "Don't take me out! Don't break me out!"

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Book of Light Before Bed

I've been reading Lucille Clifton's The Book of Light each night just before dropping for the day. A solid week and a half of this.

* * *
I want to thank the editors of Palabra: A Magazine of Chicano and Literary Art and Rattle, respectively, for accepting some new work.
* * *
Man, I want to buy this book.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Elliot Smith's "I Better Be Quiet Now" just came up in the shuffle. It seems a bit faster than I remember it. Might be a good thing.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Tucson Poetry Festival

I'm really excited to share that I will be one of the featured readers at this year's Tucson Poetry Festival in April. Details are available here. I'm looking forward to the opportunity! Special thanks to everyone at TPF!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

While hanging with an old friend Saturday night before his gig, we started talking about Monk. My homeboy's keyboard was set up and his trumpet was pressed into his hotel room bed; he had obviously been rehearsing earlier that evening. After awhile I asked him "What makes Monk so great?" He didn't answer me immediately, but sort of recoiled in thought, then walked over to the keyboard and played a flawless rendition of Monk's "Just a Gigolo." He explained to me what was going on musically, though using no more than 10 words or so. He mostly asked me to listen. After that, I felt like the top of my head had flown off; my ears finally opened. I even felt like my vision had improved!

Needless to say, I spent all Sunday listening to Monk Alone: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings of Thelonious Monk.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Listening to Magnetic Fields new album Realism. Don't know how I feel about it yet.


Goal for next week: See Joe Jack Talcum

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Wow! It's been such a long time since I've typed anything at this space. With the closing of another semester, the holiday season, and some traveling, it's just been really hard to update this thing, which I've always felt ambivalent about anyway.

Just returned from Roma, and some of the highlights were Caravaggio and Francis Bacon at the Borghese Gallery. That sure was a nice space. With light rain, a cool and crisp breeze, I was totally feeling it on the way to and from the gallery. The chance to see an A.S. Roma vs. Chievo game was also exciting. The rain let up that evening for just long enough to enjoy the match.

An interesting coincidence also occurred--I had just bought Andrei Codrescu's The Posthuman Dada Guide: Tzara & Lenin Play Chess for the trip and read the entire book on the plane ride over there. I think it's fantastic, and agree to some extent (there's just so much I haven't read) with Vladimir Tismaneanu blurb "No other book has treated the relationship between the artistic and revolutionary avant-gardes as originally and provocatively as Codrescu's." Anyway, upon arriving, I read in one of Rome's local weekly's about the big Dada/Surrealism exhibit that would be on display during my time there. Overall, it was great. Saw most of the big daddies and big mommies of the movements. There was Tzara, Duchamp, Loy, Picabia, Ernst, on and on, and on and on and on. It was really cool and really inspiring, being that I've been messing around with collage fairly recently. I also saw some Joseph Cornell boxes, which were beautiful, mysterious, and creepy.

All in all, it was a good time, though I'm glad to be home.