Tuesday, November 26, 2013


I just watched the documentary A Band Called Death.  What a story!  I'd heard of the movie, but forgot about it.  Uncompromising.  Ahead of their time.  Super talented musicianship.  Check it out!

Before Bad Brains, the Sex Pistols or even the Ramones, there was a band called Death.
Punk before punk existed, three teenage brothers in the early '70s formed a band in their spare bedroom, began playing a few local gigs and even pressed a single in the hopes of getting signed. But this was the era of Motown and emerging disco. Record companies found Death’s music— and band name—too intimidating, and the group were never given a fair shot, disbanding before they even completed one album. Equal parts electrifying rockumentary and epic family love story, A Band Called Death chronicles the incredible fairy-tale journey of what happened almost three decades later, when a dusty 1974 demo tape made its way out of the attic and found an audience several generations younger. Playing music impossibly ahead of its time, Death is now being credited as the first black punk band (hell...the first punk band!), and are finally receiving their long overdue recognition as true rock pioneers.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Rothenberg Reads

David Antin introducing Jerome Rothenberg: DG Wills, La Jolla California
My goodness.  Such history and sustained, vigorous artistic output in the main space at DG Wills on Saturday night (Rothenberg has four just-published books out this year).  David Antin introduced his old friend, Jerome Rothenberg, while the amazing and tough Diane Rothenberg and Eleanor Antin sat in the front row.  It was nice to hear stories about the two couples long history together as told by Rothenberg and Antin, sixty years, if me remembers correctly.

The reading was in support of Rothenberg's giant collection Eye of Witness: A Jerome Rothenberg Reader, Edited with Heriberto Yépez.  The reader was published by Black Widow Press, and it features a portion of Goya's Asmodea as the cover art.  It really is a beautiful book.  Selections from Rothenberg's years of producing amazing poetry, translations, and anthologizing world literature is presented in this volume.  If not for Rothenberg's anthologies and translations, who knows if I would have ever had an entry point into the work and/or chants of figures like María Sabina, Léon Damas, among many, many more.  

María Sabina--Mazatec curandera
Léon Damas--One of the founders of the Négritude Movement, poet and politician

Inclusivity is a word that I often hear or read regarding Rothenberg's work.  The idea of enthopoetics, and the act of forging into the luster of deep culture, as he calls it, I can dig it.  

J. Rothenberg--BTW: the bag of chips didn't belong to him.

Following the reading, I began fingering through Eye of Witness at home, as well as pulling up old footage of Rothenberg readings and interviews on my laptop.  A piece that struck me can be found on the LINEbreak program.  It's from "The Horse Songs of Frank Mitchell."  In it, Rothenberg performs a 'total translation' of a Navaho horse blessing.  In the same episode, Rothenberg answers Charles Bernstein's questions about those who might criticize 'the outsider' who is perceived as infiltrating cultural artifact.


In closing, I wish there were more younger people in the audience that night.  An oral history was on display that evening that could have been tapped with deep and hungry questions.

Upon having my copy of Eye of Witness signed:

Me: muchísimas gracias, Mr. Rothenberg.
Rothenberg: de nada.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Wanda Coleman RIP

Mercurochrome is a book that I return to ever so often.  To see Wanda Coleman and Austin Straus read and perform together a couple of years ago at the San Diego City College International Book Fair was a undoubtedly a highlight for me.   Damn.

Junot Díaz at Chicago Humanities Festival

Jerome Rothenberg

Jerome Rothenberg at the Kelly Writers House, April 29, 2008
I'm looking forward to tonight's reading and presentation by the incomparable Jerome Rothenberg at DG Wills bookstore at 7pm.  He will be introduced by David Antin.  Are you kidding me?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Vermin on the Mount reading was so much fun on Sunday.  I was blown away by the authors and their readings.  O, goodness.  Jim Ruland, the architect behind the reading series is amazing.  Check out this recent write up in the L.A. Weekly.

I also want to thank, Bret Kofford, and his class at SDSU-Calexico for inviting me to read and chat this Monday.  It was a great time, and I absolutely enjoyed the conversation that ensued after the reading.  That same evening I read at the campus gallery.  Lots of friends and family in attendance.  Cool day!

Wednesday was another special night when I had the chance to see and listen to Dr. Ofelia Zepeda at SDSU Main Campus.  I bought her Where Clouds Are Formed and got the signature--yes!  Many of the poems she read that night dealt with the forming of words, I noticed, the breathing in and out, the push of sound from the mouth, the subtle formations of meaning.  As a professor of linguistics, this makes sense, no?

I'm listening to the Vivian Girls right now.  And the Hot Snakes (it's a shuffle)!  And the Vaselines, now--

Absolutely loving Helene Cixous' Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing.  Also loving Calvino's Cosmicomics.  Wept twice, and nearly a third because of imagination soaring in these pages.  Wow, says I.  Where am I now, says I.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Saturday, November 9, 2013

I have a black and white flying V guitar that I need to repair.
I have a black and white flying V guitar that is in total disrepair.
Although my black and white flying V guitar is in total disrepair,
it is not allowed to wear yoga pants nor spandex underwear.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Three recent losses that have affected me psychically--though through their respective works they will live forever:

José Montoya
Frank Lima
Lou Reed