31 December 2005

Larry Fagin and Ron Padgett

Meeting with Larry Fagin last January made me see that a life devoted to poetry -- a life such as Larry Fagin's -- would be a life well-spent.

Lying in bed this morning reading Ron Padgett poems made me see that if I devoted the rest of my life to reading Ron Padgett poems -- to experiencing all that I experience while reading his poems -- it would be a life's remainder well-spent.

30 December 2005

Chile con art (carney)

The pun of my title for this post isn't really a pun, is it? Kevin Connolly says if I can't put it into the context of a joke, it doesn't really work as a pun.

In one week I leave for Chile. Still piecing together the 40-hour course I'm teaching there. I'll be all neurotic and anxious about it, and then it will come off really well. That's my experience. Would it be good to be confident, or would confidence be a major error?

I'm hoping to get a substantial leap on my novel in Chile. Who knows? I really want to finish a book already, whether it's the novel, the short stories, or the poetry. Too many projects hanging over me. Why can't I be like Elyse Friedman and just plough through one project at a time?

Interesting conversation with Sandra Alland is reverberating still this week. We were talking about the issue of explaining how a particular poem, or poetry sequence, or poetry book, was written. For instance, if it's a homolinguistic translation, should that piece of info appear with the poem? My instinct is that no, it shouldn't. But then I think of visual artists, whose work is so often accompanied by an "artist's statement." I think sometimes, though, because we've created something that is, for us, experimental, we want to explain what we did. Or perhaps we wrote something in which we allowed the unconscious or chance to take over, and we're not used to that -- we might want to explain.

I thought of my poem "Yankee Doodle Dandy," in Surreal Estate. It is a homolinguistic translation of several American poems, all smooshed together. I know I considered putting some clue ot that in the book, but in the end I decided to just let the thing fend for itself. I'm still a little uneasy about it: it's not radical or anything, but it sounds unlike anything much else I've ever written.

On the other hand, I know that discovering a bit of Ted Berrigan's process, for example, allowed me to get into his work as I hadn't before. Things that were once oblique and inaccessible -- I became more relaxed about them. Same with Ashbery. But the explanations didn't accompany the work: I got them from other sources: essays and interviews.

I dunno. Sometimes it seems to be that when writers explain their process, they're bragging. Or explaining what geniuses they are. I've occasionally seen one of my "students" read a poem they wrote in one of my Boot Camps: "I wrote this in one of Stuart Ross's workshops, where he asked us to write a poem in which every line contains ...." That kind of thing. While I'm flattered that I'm mentioned, I kinda wish they'd just let the poem stand on its own, instead of pointing out that it was the result of a particular exercise.

Over and out.

25 December 2005

Menorah and menorah and menorah

Been an eventful time, but I haven't much felt like blogging.

Recent events:

The 20th anniversary party for CineAction magazine at Robin and Richard's place. That apartment was for a long time such an important site in my life. Lill and I used to live just a block away, and that was when we were taking film theory courses with Robin up at York. Hadn't been there in probably a decade or more, and hadn't seen R&R in years. I always love seeing them, although I do find Robin a bit intimidating, in that "do I have anything interesting enough to say to him?" kind of way. But he was in great spirits, and very funny the other night. Many people in the gathering were gushing about what a big influence he's been on them, and that's certainly the case for me too. He was embarrassed by the attention, but probably happy as well. He's really an amazing person. And Richard's great too: he and I share a love for Kim Novak, and he told me about his real-life meeting with Kim at a film festival in Rochester last year. I was very happy for him: he said Kim was warm and gracious.

Also recently, Dana and her new friend Risa threw a latke party at Dana's new place. Just a small gathering, but really nice. And the latkes were spectacular! Dana and Risa each have their own latke strategy: Risa's are more consistently round and solid, while Dana's are a little fluffier and have little dishevelled potato strands sticking out around the edges (sort of like cut-off jeans; I called them Daisy Duke Latkes). Both were equally good, though. Neither were how my mom used to make them, but I still had heaps of each. The condiments offered: apple sauce, sugar, and sour cream. When I was a kid, we did sugar. Mainly I stuck to a light dollop of apple sauce on each little latke this time around.

An unbelievably social week too, and maybe far too social considering how much I have on my plate before Chile. Visits with Kevin, Sandra, David McF, Lisa R and her little baby, Doug from the MTO days, Hugh, and Camille. I feel like I haven't really seen many friends lately, so it was good, but hectic. Ran into Derek McCormack in the Annex, and he said he was looking forward to January, when his Christmas book would disappear. What a card. Exchanged many messages with Mary, but no time to visit; she's consumed with work and family.

Feeling very distant from the poetry "community" at the moment, but that's OK. The distance is needed. I was feeling like I might self-destruct.

Saturday I spoke to my brother, Barry, for the first time in many months. It was a great relief, as I've been anxious about our estrangement. We're going to get together on Tuesday. That would make my parents happy, and Chanukah, which starts Sunday night, is a good time for that.

For sure.

Over and out.

16 December 2005

Rediscovering an ancient text

I don't think I'd read The Mud Game since maybe 1996. So it was a very strange experience reading this challenging, fragmented, hallucinatory text aloud last in the gallery about This Ain't the Rosedale Library.

It was a small gathering of really interesting people: Dana Samuel, Jacob Wren, Paul Bouissac, Bev Daurio, John Farrah, Camille Martin, and Gregory Betts. Poets, playwrights, actors, publishers, musicians, composers, academics, new media artists. Outside, the snows came down, though not as nastily as predicted. Gary, my co-author in The Mud Game, couldn't make the trip from Hamilton because of road conditions.

It felt very awkward being both the host and the sole reader. I wasn't pleased with the first half of the reading, Chapters One through Ten. I stumbled, I was confused, I was concerned that everyone was bored. I felt bad that they had to listen exclusively to my voice, instead of hearing both me and Gary read the text.

I had thought of the possibility of having everyone read a chapter and "going around the circle," so to speak, but decided I should read the whole damn thing. Maybe that was a mistake.

The second half of the evening, Chapters Eleven through Twenty, went much better. I felt more confident, perhaps because I was kicking off with a chapter I had entirely written. And because the book was coming together, beginning to make more sense within its hallucinatory confines. The repetition and gradual mutation of imagery is just as important as storyline in this novella, and it seems it's not till the second half that things begin to gel at the same time they fragment.

Afterward the reading, we all sat and chatted about surrealism and collaboration for 15 or 20 minutes. Paul talked about Breton, Soupault, and Automatic Writing, and wondered if Gary and I had employed this method for the book's composition. But it wasn't exactly that: though Gary and I were "duelling" as we wrote, and not discussing the book with each other, we wrote slowly, for the most part, and with conscious thought.

Anyway, of the many, many hundreds of readings I've given, this was one of the strangest, at least for me. There's a feeling when you embark on reading on a long poem or short story that you're committed — you can't turn back, so you have to hope it goes over well. You maybe panic a little, internally, as you're reading. But in this case, I was reading about seventy pages, and seventy pages of very weird, dense prose, and there was no turning back.

Somewhere in Hamilton, Barwin was huddled in his home, hoping I'd do us proud.

Over and out.

15 December 2005

Muddy, not snowy. Or is it the other way around?

In less than two hours, the 10th anniversary complete reading of The Mud Game is scheduled to begin. Gary Barwin and I wrote the little novel in the early 1990s; I believe I spent about a week at his house. A year later, we reconvened to edit the book. And in 1995, the courageous Mercury Press published it.

I have so far received 9 expressions of regret from people who wish they could be there tonight, etc, etc, and 2 expressions of "going to do my best to be there." Fair enough all around. But it sure is always an odd thing when you have a reading: those who can't make it often dutifully wish you the best, and those who can rarely speak up: why should they? They'll be there!

Readings themselves don't make me nervous. Wondering if anyone will be there makes me nervous. But tonight, really, even if I'm reading to myself, it'll be sort of fun. See, there's a snow storm coming through Southern Ontario, so Gary himself may not be able to get here from Hamilton. The highways are reportedly a little on the treacherous side.

We thought about cancelling, but there's no way of letting people know at such short notice. Plus, if we don't do the reading tonight, it'll likely never happen. So the show goes on, even if I have to read the whole damn thing myself! To myself!

Break a leg, self!

Over and out.

14 December 2005

Unrelated thingies

Wednesday was moving day for Dana. She moved only a short distance away. Four of us and a van did the job. There's a reason I'm not a professional mover. Dana's new place is pretty spectacular. I still live like a student.

Who is Canada's hardest-working poet? Certainly not me. I haven't written in quite a while. I'd say Kevin Connolly is Canada's hardest-working poet. And among the best. Everybody should read Drift, his book from Anansi. It continues his two-decade assault on poetry that perhaps began with the leaflet of his I published in the '80s, A Canadian In Paris.

Started rekindling my Spanish in preparation for the Chile trip, which is only a few weeks away. Still have a 40-hour course to design, but have lots of ideas for it. I bought a 900-page book of poems by Neruda; it has multiple translations of some of the poems.

A painful kiss: a smouch.

Tomorrow Gary and I read The Mud Game in its entirety at This Ain't The Rosedale Library. Maybe we'll just read it to each other.

I haven't spoken to my brother since the summer, if even then. I left him a "Happy birthday" voicemail on September 18.

Was checking out the links on fHole, where I'd been enjoying the photos of torn posters lately, and discovered that Daniel has a site devoted to his visual work. I feel dumb for not having known that.

I got reports from two people who saw my Heart Of A Poet episode on BookTV. I wasn't notified that it was airing. The producer and I will be at the same party on Sunday: that should be fun.

I bet it's really cold in Yellowknife. Oh, Yellowknife. I miss Deborah and her family. I miss the Vietnamese noodle place.

I'm growing a beard of a kind I've never had.

Over and out.

13 December 2005

20 minutes to get the needles into his arms

California stuck some needles into Tookie Williams last night and pumped some death into him. So justice has been done and Americans can walk safer streets now. Yippee.

Meanwhile, George W. Bush stunningly estimated that 30,000 Iraqis, "more or less," had died since the invasion. Is this his first non-abstract reference to the Iraqi civilians who died by U.S. bombs? The "more or less" sounded a bit like a shrug of the shoulders. And as if the lives didn't really matter, anyway. That was the tone.

But even after three major speeches on the U.S. strategy to "win" Iraq, two-thirds of Americans don't believe he has a victory plan. That's heartening. I'd be interested in knowing, too, how many Americans think "victory" is even possible, whatever "victory" might be.

Canadian peace activists Jim Loney and Harmeet Sooden: we don't know their fate yet, nor the fate of the American and the Brit who were abducted along with them. Their Iraqi kidnappers had demanded the release of all jailed insurgents in return for the four. That wasn't going to happen. Sometimes hostages have been released, and that's the hope. Sometimes, though, their murders are announced or their bodies are eventually found. Sometimes they're just never heard from again.

Loney and Sooden's supporters simultaneously call for their release and for the U.S. to get the hell out of Iraq. Seems like a complex and right-minded analysis of the events.

On to my day.

Over and out.

11 December 2005

A drove of one

A little late in posting about my last day in New York....

Beautiful snowfall in the morning, and I had to get up really early to meet Fagin for breakfast at 8:30 a.m., worried I wouldn't get across town in time and knowing he's a busy guy who shouldn't have to wait. So got to the East Village on time, and Fagin showed up shortly thereafter. We talked poetry -- well, he did most of the talking -- for an hour and a half, then headed off to St. Mark's and browsed together. It's a great learning experience spending time with LF, but I figure I don't have a lot to offer him. He was generous with his time, though, and shared a lot of clever, outrageous, and smart insights with me.

Then it was 10 blocks north to meet up with Padgett for lunch. He was warm, friendly, curious. We talked only a bit about poetry -- mostly about the Koch launch -- but also about more regular-life stuff, like grandchildren, cheap lunches, and rural retreats. If felt good to have this visit: wasn't attached to a literary event, so was relaxed. Having lunch with your favourite poet couldn't be any better. Grilled cheese for me, tuna sandwich for RP.

The flight home was good. I was feeling good. And pretty much as soon as I walked in my door back home, I had to get ready to head out again: end-of-the-year party at Dana's gallery. Had a great time: lots of neat people there, and it didn't feel at all like the kind of art events I'm used to: it was relaxed, like a rec-room party.

A weekend mostly frittered away followed, but some nice time with Dana, and a visit with my friend Mary. This afternoon I dropped by This Ain't the Rosedale Library's gallery, the last day for Dan Bazuin, bill bissett, and Sandra Alland's show. John Laughlin also set up a book and painting table for today. Bought a book art book from him, plus a painting and a framed visual poem from bill. I really liked that Dana spent some time talking with bill, who was in excellent form. What a dear, dear man. In 48 hours, I spent time with two great poets who are excellent models for how to be in one's sixties.

A little residual fallout came late last night from the Lexiconjury "wars" in the form of personal email from John Barlow. That, and my still unpleasant feelings about the moralizing there, moved me to unsubscribe, at least for a while. It interested me that the mods were suggesting that people were leaving the list in droves during the recent bitch-fest, but in fact the membership numbers shifted over that week from 101 to 100.

Over and out.

09 December 2005

Who will stop the snow?

Good day today. Met up with my old friend Charles George in the Village. He's a visual artist (painter, sculptor) who did the cover of The Inspiration Cha-Cha. He moved from Toronto to New York five years ago and I hadn't seen him since. Now he's working for a daily news tabloid here, making maps and charts and stuff. It was great to see him. Exchange of gossip, talk of Parker Posey, and more. We went to a Burmese restaurant for lunch. Really good to be back in touch with him.

Afterwards, I took a walk down to the Lower East Side, through the tenement neighbourhoods, amazed at how much Jewish stuff there still is down there.

Then into Chinatown, and finally into Little Italy. Really nice time. I've been very good about staying away from bookstores the last couple days. It's the only sane thing to do.

Disappointed to see on the news today that George W. Bush's approval ratings have gone up a little, because of the supposedly good economy here. Weird being in the country he runs.

This evening I met up with Dre and Jim from the Randy Newman listserv. Had a beer or two and then went to an Off-Off-Broadway production of Hot l Baltimore, which starred Kymm Zuckert, another member of the Randylist. Kim was spectacular. The personification of the brassy broad. Funny as hell. The play itself is pretty uneven, but entertaining nonetheless. The theatre was on the sixth floor of a building, in a tiny space that seated maybe 50 or 60 people. There were 14 in the cast. Then Jim and Dre and I headed off to some posh Broadway steakhouse for more beer. There were about 200 cow chunks in the window there. Chunks of cow, you know what I mean.

Really great visiting with these guys, who I also saw when I was here last February.

Dre and I took a walk through Times Square just before midnight. Man. It's so audacious. Grotesque and exciting at the same time.

Tomorrow morning I'm meeting Larry Fagin, and then Ron Padgett. Then it's off to the airport, and I sure hope the plane leaves on time. There's a "storm" supposedly coming through tonight that may delay travel. Wanna get home on time for the end-of-the-year party at Dana's gallery.

Over and out.

08 December 2005

Snorting Koch

Wednesday night was the Koch launch at the Poetry Project. Ron Padgett kicked it off by reading the excellent "To Jewishness," accentuated by Ron's own non-Jewishness. Anne Waldman read "Sleep With Women," which is very very insistent about sleeping with women, which was maybe because Schuyler and O'Hara and Ashbery were gay and Kenneth Koch wanted emphatically to be clear about his hetero-ness. Philip Lopate took the stage and said, "I miss Kenneth." And then he read "To World War II." Lots of people read from New Addresses. David Shapiro, the Woody Allen of New York poets, told about a zillion anecdotes and I imagine he'd have stayed up there for three hours had it been allowed; but he was sweet. Paul Violi read, and Mark Halliday, and Kenneth's daughter Katherine and Kenneth's widow Karen. Nice hearing Koch's work in all those different voices.

Nice visit beforehand with Kim, and she and I and a couple of her New Orleans friends went to the reception thingie after the reading.

The afternoon: a visit to Museo El Barrio and the Jewish Museum. More on those later I'm too tired right now.

Sleepy sleep sleep sleepishness.

Over and out.

07 December 2005

U.S. army uses white phosphorous on dinosaurs!

New York, Day 1.

Nice to be back here. The trip in from Newark Airport is more and more routine. Checked in at the hotel, up at 75th and Broadway. Fancy neighbourhood, but not mega-fancy. A walk in Central Park, which was nice, and a few moments in the Strawberry Fields garden that Yoko set up across the road from the Dakota, where John Lennon was shot.

Crossed to the east side and decided to pop into the Museum of Natural History, just because it's not something I thought I'd do. Pretty amazing place. Lots of dinosaur bones. Excellent commentary on the exhibits. When I was a little kid, I thought that dinosaurs were actually these skeletons that walked around. Maybe I'll put that in my novel.

Some other good stuff too. Took notes; will write poems.

Having been in New York for about five hours, I could no longer resist going to St. Mark's bookshop. Which I did. And bought lots of stuff. Some amazing poetry, both by poets I'd heard of and hadn't.

A little wander in the village, then headed over to Dixon Place, a very funky little space (reminded me of some of the alternative theatres in the 70s in Toronto) where there was to be a reading by Lynne Tillman, who's a pretty big novelist, and Tonya Foster, a friend of Kim Bernstein's. Lynn McClory showed up, which made the room about 10% Torontonian. Foster was fantastic: read chunks of a very long essay both autobiographical and sociological, but it came off almost like a performance poem (in a good way): tons of very smart word play, very lively. Then she read some recent poems, which were excellent. Tillman read a short story, though she has a new novel out, and it too was excellent. I hadn't read her before, but I sure will. It was sort of a conventional story, but with a similar kind of word play as Foster employed.

Some excellent dinner with Lynn at Dojo's — my favourite New York cheapo restaurant — after, and then she and I wandered back to St. Mark's, where I spent more money, this time in the fiction section. Got a nice little novella by Richard Hell that looks good.

Lynn, meanwhile, has published her first chapbook, 10 Poems (under her own Ahem imprint), which largely came out of a course she took with Phil Hall. It's a straightforward production, filled with a range of really good poems in which Lynn's trying all sorts of things. She's only been writing a year and a bit, but I hope the eclecticism continues. Too many writers settle into one way of writing and then see early books as embarrassing because they don't display "a coherent voice" or whatever.

I took a late-night stroll around the Upper West Side. And now sitting in front of a computer. And soon to bed.

Oh, I spoke to my old friend Charles George today, for the first time in five or so years. He moved to New York that long ago. A brilliant artist, who once did these incredible, grotesque sculpture of giant babies, and little demented voodoo dolls, he now makes maps and business graphics for one of the daily tabloids here. We're gonna meet up on Thursday.

I'm tired. But one more thing: on the bus to the airport in Toronto this morning, we passed beneath and insanely complex cloverleaf and I couldn't believe that this monstrosity was considered an achievement. I dunno. It just struck me. Suddenly I was looking at buildings and vehicles and thinking how disgusting it all was.

Over and out.

05 December 2005

Mmm, curry. Mmm, peanut.

The first installment of The Fictitious Reading Series was a success last night. We had 20 or so people there, which fairly fills up the gallery above This Ain't the Rosedale Library. Harold Johnson and Heather Birrell both gave solid, absorbing readings, and Kate did a great job in the post-reading "onstage chat." I was scared that much of the audience would leave during the second break (before the chat), but most stayed and seemed to enjoy themselves.

One thing I noticed: when I go to a poetry reading, I feel like somebody is giving a poetry reading. At an all-fiction reading like this, well, it felt like someone was reading to me. Next time perhaps I'll wear my pyjamas.

Oh yeah, and we had a manual typewriter there! People were encouraged to contribute a sentence or two to a collaborative fiction piece. Only about five sentences by night's end, but it was pretty fun reading it. Shelagh Rowan-Legg, who wasn't able to make it to the reading, very generously loaned us the typewriter. It was strange: it typed in something an 18-point sans-serif face. And you had to hit the keys so hard. Now I want a manual typewriter again.

In the new year, we're changing venues to a place that has food and booze. Otherwise the This Ain't space would have been ideal: it's an amazing place for intimate events. But I think we'll get a broader audience in a licensed place.

Tomorrow morning, early, I'm off to New York. My evenings there are busy already, with readings, social visits, and perhaps a get-together of some Little Criminals (from the Randy Newman listserv). Gotta make good use of the days too: book-shopping of course, and maybe a visit to a publisher or two, just for the heck of it. Oh, and I want to go to the Whitney. And have some fries at that incredible Frites joint on 2nd Avenue, where they have about 50 different toppings. Mmm, curry. Mmm, peanut.

Got a turn-down for the Works-in-Progress grant from the Ontario Arts Council today. Luckily, there was almost no one on the list of successful applicants who made me gnash my teeth. Reminds me that I've got to get my Writer's Reserve applications out there already. I'm probably too late as it is.

Well, that's what I'd better go and do. That, plus the laundry.

Over and out.

04 December 2005

The Beeg Epple

Looks like I'm going to New York, after all! Some of my blog readers were really helpful, with suggestions and offers, and now it's happening. I'll get to make the Kenneth Koch launch on Wednesday and see Padgett and a bunch of others read, and I'll get to hang out with Kim Bernstein, who I met at the Padgett workshop last February, and likely I'll get to see a little batch of Little Criminals (people from the Randy Newman listserv). Gonna be a busy three days. And Lynn McC — whose Aeroplan points (in exchange for poetry tutoring) made this trip possible — will be in New York at the same time, by coincidence.

Tonight, Sunday night, is the first instalment of the Fictitious Reading Series, and as usual when I'm involved in organizing an event, I'm nervous about attendance. But at least this time I get to share my nervousness with Kate, who probably isn't nervous. I really want this to work. It really is weird that there is no fiction reading series in Toronto. About a million poetry series and no fiction series. You'd almost think it'd be the other way around. How come it isn't?

Had a fun Friday night with Dana at the Prefix Photo gala party shindig hoedown. Met some cool people. Saw some good video art. Ten artists were asked to do a short video about "selling." Dana's was great — a straightfaced Yiddish vaudeville turn of old jokes; Andy Patterson's was really fine, too, and so was R.M. Vaughan's. R.M. did a sort of inept 20-minute workout (though only for a couple of minutes) wearing a black ponytailed wig.

The ongoing saga of the Lex list debate has taken up too much of my time, and left me a little exasperated. Some weird chill going down just for making a rather mild remark or two about a couple of reading series. Will I think twice next time? Nope. But things got very crazed when Daniel Bradley stepped in to show me how it's really done. Daniel embraces the aesthetic of reckless slagging. I wish people would pay as much attention to his remarkable, unique writing as they do to his wild swings (both mood and fists) on the Lex list. Seeing the controlled intensity of his dense poetry of the last few years puts a different spin on his combativeness. Anyway, he made me gasp with fear for him and laugh out loud at the same time with a couple of his posts this weekend.

Been fitting in a fair amount of reading: the usual endless stuff about Iraq and the Bush admin's unbelievable attempts to spin the news. It sure does feel like things are finally crumbling. But when I wrote to my friend Kim in New York that the Canadian government fell because of a scandal, she said, "Misconduct brings consequences, who knew?" It's mind-boggling to all of us that Bushco haven't just resigned in shame.

Also reading Barbara Caruso's fascinating journals of her life as a painter in the late 60s/early 70s. It's an absorbing mixture of the banal, bouts of self-doubt, brief anecdotes about not-yet-famous friends, and so forth. I really like how clear her writing is, how straightforward. Even back then. Also going through derek beaulieu and Gary Barwin's collaborative poetry book Frogments from the Frag Pool — I put a rush on it because I wanted to see what it is that DfB is slagging so vociferously.

And I've started Clint Burnham's novel Smoke Show. He's really taking this "realist dialogue" thing to extremes. It's the most meticulously sloppy thing I've ever read. I mean, he is depicting sloppiness meticulously. Really enjoying the book and eager to see what kind of response it gets. Hopefully he'll come to town and read, and maybe even in The Fictitious series.

I'm weary with hunting fain would lie doon.

Over and out.

01 December 2005

The Fictitious Reading Series

Kate Sutherland and I are starting up a new reading series. It will feature only fiction. I don't think there's such a series elsewhere in Toronto. It's poetry, poetry, poetry, poetry. So I'm excited about this new venture. And I certainly hope the fiction people come out to support it. Hell, and the poetry people too. It's gonna be good.

Here are the details about the inaugural event:



HAROLD JOHNSON (Back Track, Thistledown Press)


HEATHER BIRRELL (I know you are but what am I?, Coach House Books)

Sunday, December 4, 7:30 pm

This Ain't the Rosedale Library (upstairs gallery)
483 Church Street, Toronto (just below Wellesley)

Admission: PWYC

Hosted by me and Kate

In the new year, The Fictitious Reading Series will take place the last Sunday of every month, at a location soon to be disclosed. (Just gotta get the confirmation by the owner.) We've got some great stuff planned. Please come out this Sunday!

Over and out.

No New York

My memory, at best, is always foggy, but I recall a punk album from the '70s called either No New York or No New Wave. Anyway, I was hoping to go to New York next week, planning the visit around the launch of Kenneth Koch's collected poetry and fiction books at St. Mark's, but I was stunned to find that there are no hotel rooms available within my budget (under US$100). I tried the Murray Hill, the Carlton Arms, the Second Home on Second Avenue, and others. Nothing. I guess I've just been really lucky on my two previous trips.

Oh well. Next year.

But what I Iiked about this event was that it was the closest thing I'd probably ever get to an original New York Poets event. Even though Kenneth Koch is dead. (As is James Schuyler and Frank O'Hara. John Ashbery is the last man standing. There is some argument that Barbara Guest is the last woman standing.)

I'm going to try a little more to figure something out.

Over and.

Working in the Cole mine

Well, the firestorm I expected didn't happen over on the Lex. Not so far, anyway, Some interesting discussion, though. I am relieved.

But more importantly, here is a site I read every day. It's called Informed Comment:


I first heard about Juan Cole from my dear buddy Joe Grengs (now a daddy -- congrats, Joe!). Joe teaches at the same university Juan Cole teaches at. Cole offers the most honest analysis of the Iraq War that I have seen. It's only a coincidence, I think, that Joe and Suz named their child Coleman. When Joe told me that was the name they were considering, back when we met up in Windsor last June, I immediately thought: Coleman Hawkins.

When I'm in Chile in January, I'll have very little Internet access, so I'll have to give up Juan Cole for a while, and Informationclearinghouse.info, and CommonDreams.Org. I'm not sure if a newspaper will make it onto the rural ranch I'll be staying at, but if it does, my Spanish will get a serious workout. What bugs me the most in this regard, this news regard, is that I will be away during a Canadian federal election campaign. But maybe it's all for the best. I'll go away for a few weeks, and return to be pleasantly surprised that I'm now living under an NDP socialist utopia.

Unrelated: I dropped by elyse and Randall's for a visit yesterday. It's been a long time since I've been there, so I haven't seen their son, Max, in ages. I think he's only about 17 months. He looks like David Hemmings, from the Antonioni film Blow-up. I asked if he'd been to the Riverdale farm, and elyse said it was a long time ago so he might not remember. She asked him. "It was stinking hot," he said. Randall's last name is Cole.

Over and out.

I accidentally stifled my commenters

Weird. So glad that Rox asked me why my blog wouldn't take his comments anymore.

Seems I somehow hit some button that meant I would moderate comments. There were 16 comments waited to be moderated — pretty much all of November's. Now they're published.

I'm sorry.

But I'm also relieved. I thought no one was commenting because I've been blogging so irregularly.

Over and out.