Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Nancy takes me to a coffee shop called "Jitters"
which is, I'm thinking, like naming a bar "Drunk":
what you get when you get too much of what it is

they've got to give you - though that's just me
of course, going off. I'm feeling kind of drunk
on talk and too much coffee and Nancy's laughing

easy like she maybe thinks: *okay*. Me, I mean,
though I'm reading into things of course -
talk, laughter - speed-reading into things

what with all the coffee and little sleep
I'm running on of late. Things, their course,
have not been great though I'm feeling not

unhappy to be alive and not asleep and here
with Nancy blabbing out my life like some black
and white Karl Malden movie tough guy grateful

to finally confess and yes I'll obsess on
splitting that infinitive since Nancy knows
syntax ("*syn*-, together + *tassein*, to arrange");

Nancy knows yoga, Neruda, dogs, and yes
to the body's thoughtless crush on the world and
her smile flies open like a sun-flushed dove

and right, I know I talk too much and think
too much about what I'm thinking and not
enough about what I say, and simmer too long

in the crock of myself, which is right where I
get when I get this way and want to say
shut up, Simmerman, just shut up. . . .

Nancy takes me to a coffee shop.

Jim Simmerman

For some reason today I want to mete and dole laws unto a savage race. Maybe I should just cut back on the vending machine coffee. It tastes like it could have been made in Berlin in 1945 before the Allies arrived with actual coffee and they could stop using bark.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I almost forgot. Iowa City gets a mention as one of the featured destinations of the month(with Portland, OR and Atlantic City) in the current issue of the uber-perky Rachel Ray's magazine. There is a map to all the places to eat etc... Alas can not be accessed online.
You may now commence to slag me for my choice of reading material but all I can say is that anyone that can knock the Tony Danza show from his time slot deserves a chance. I also did not intend to sound so morose on the last post. Perhaps it was watching The Woodsman.

The Locust Song

. . . the wise and wry observation which the young William Butler Yeats offered one evening in The Cheshire Cheese to his fellow young poets in the Rhymers Club:"None of us can say who will succeed, or even who has or has not talent. The only thing certain about us is that we are too many.
— Paul Carroll

The tyranny of poets: "Like." O we were like
the infinite regression of roe, in the sex crease
of a sturgeon. We were like — what? like, as numerous
as the stars, the grains of sand, the uses of "like" itself.
Too many of us. Too flakes of snow, too fish
in the deep, too waterbugs of Florida. In the thick air

of the evening Cheese, a muss-haired Willie Yeats stares out
across a bobbing sea of schnockered literary faces
and he sees, as if implied in these, the overmany faces
of the shantytowns, and the Chinese steppes,
and the grim Malthusian banks of the Ganges river
on a holy day . . . too many of us. Those birds

slouched on the wire have served as a bar of music now
in how many poems? as a squadhouse lineup
in how many poems? as heavy portents over
the words in the wire itself, how many times?
Too many many-of-us. That zero now, the "black hole"
of the astronomers . . . by now it's the rose

and the willow and the rainbow and the nightingale
of two generations of us; string theory is easily the sunrise
over the Mediterranean Sea of us. "I think of . . ." then
a historical reference, Mendel, Bruegel, Mata Hari,
how many times? The prize and the prize and the prize.
A swarm of prizes. I think of William Butler Yeats,

a sloshy evening spent in fellowship with his kind. Some
have a scribbled paper with them. Some, a published pamphlet.
All of them have dreams to share. "Inside of every fat man
there's a skinny man waiting to be let out." And inside every
too many of us is a me. Right now, a hundred me
are lifting up their pints and toasting Yeats's observation.

Albert Goldbarth
The Humor Issue
Volume CLXXXVI, Number 4
July/August 2005

I have not had the urge to blog and is more of a general malaise then an avoidance posting but this poem seemed also to capture a feeling about online journalists too. I have been reading a lot of late and wanted to share some of it. In short if you liked Freakanomics then The Tipping Point is also well worth reading about trends and impacts. I hope to get around to posting more soon. Sorry for the cobwebs.

Monday, July 17, 2006

A poem and two photos


The coin of our pleasure,
Its obverse face
Minted in high relief --

And its reverse?
The same type incuse, stamped
By the punch of taboo.

Robert Wells

S. had some good shots of Millenium Park on her camera. I finally picked up the film today.

Interesting feature on one of the matched 50' towers of Crown Fountain. Apparently the artist gathered a collection of a 1000 faces from a cross section of Chicago residents that are used in rotation as a modern version of the classic gargoyle.

Poem is one being retired from Poetry Daily archive this week...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"Remember When You Were Young?"

Musician Syd Barrett Dies at Age 60
by Felix Contreras
From All Things Considered

Npr had decent obit with nice musical beds. Shine on indeed...

Monday, July 10, 2006

Introducing, for the first time here...

Iggy and Hopper

We recently adopted a couple of Kalona farm cats. I promise that I will not turn this into a series of cloying shots of kittens hanging off of branches, swinging from the chandelier, or mauling each other. I was attempting to photoshop them into one of Robert Rainey style portraits below but that turned out to be difficult so I quit.

It has been years since I have had a kitten. When dogs play it's as if they are preparing for a sporting event, albeit one with lots of fetching and drooling. I suppose it could a football training camp. Kittens on the other hand while amusing to watch still manage to maintain an air of menace to their play. It's like they are in an unregimented ninja training school and will eventually graduate and become assassins. Like Le Femme Nikita but without the instructors or etiquette coach.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Do you remember, remember D. Boon?
Part of what he was is a part of me now
And if you think back, where would he be
Where would I be if time had allowed?

from Uncle Tupelo's D.Boon from album Still Feel Gone

I swear I just walked into the Record Collector to see if they were selling Dave Alvin tickets since they had the poster for the upcoming Mill show in the window. Alas, they were not but on the counter was the dvd pictured. I watched most of it last Saturday morning before hitting the road. It is a true tragedy of a band hitting its peak and losing an integral member to sheer chance. I remember first listening to them on an SST compilation tape that I picked up because it had the Husker Du covers 8 Miles High and Love is All Around so it was after D.Boon died that I heard them. Solid documentary with a whole extra disc of songs and live footage.

Coincidently the Gram Parsons documentary Fallen Angel was waiting for us via Netflix when we returned. Another tragedy but one that evokes much less sympathy. Gram was amazingly talented as well but seemed more inclined to throw it away. Born rich, beautiful, and gifted he proceeded to take several steps backward for every step forward. I love his songs but ended up leaving this film not feeling that sorry for him and feeling more for his family especially after the whole post-mortem farce that must be heard to be believed. Again by chance, I happened to be reading the liner notes to the Dwight Yoakam box set from Rhino Records and ran across this quote from Chris Hillman, exasperated frien and band member, who had to twice fire Gram for various reasons chief of which was that he would rather just hang out with Keith Richards

“Of all the people out there, I…look at (Dwight) Yoakam as being the Gram Parsons that worked – the operating model.”

Following the same string of chance, Dwight is playing a free show at casino in Des Moines which is where I am headed this afternoon.

On a dramatic note we watched Woody Allen’s Match Point that is not as much written as assembled. I am curious as to why it received many rave reviews. It only stands up well compared to some of his later films. It seems to be a hodge-podge of an overt Crime and Punishment rehash (main character is reading Doestovesky at the start of film) with a bit of Thedore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy (filmed with Montgomery Clift/Liz Taylor as A Place in the Sun) thrown in, and capped off with a subplot from Woody’s own Crimes and Misdemeanors. The cast was decent but even Scarlett Johanseen seemd a little off but perhaps it was just some of the dialogue. Not a bad film just a bit overhyped I guess.

We fared better with the film version of Everything is Illuminated. It captures the essence of the Safran-Foer novel with just a few major gaps. I recommend checking out the deleted scenes features. It’s worth watching but I keep excepting Elijah Wood to revert to his Sin City character and start bouncing around and eating people. But that’s just me.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Robert Rainey's Two Way

Examples from another exhibition we saw at the CCC. Each portrait was mounted in a mirror like light box which refelected your image when light was off and illuminated the photo when light was on. Not sure if it worked that well but overall I enjoyed the concept.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Weekend in Review

Took a trip up to Sioux City on Saturday. The Sgt. Floyd Monument we drove by is in memory of the only member of the Lewis & Clark party who died on the trip, apparently of an appendicitis. It also is the furthest west I have been in the state of Iowa since moving here almost seven years ago this summer. I have wanted to follow the route of the explorers since reading Blue Highways by William Least-Heat Moon. In it he refers to the the DeVoto edition of the travel diaries which led me to pick that up. I always like travelogues that include the books that the authors bring along. In the Ireland book by McCarthy which I am finishing up he has a copy of Thackeray's travels through the Emerald Isle along to read and compare. Paul Theroux also does this. It leads to more of what Least-Heat Moon would call a 'deep map' of your trip. We also adopted a couple of as yet unnamed kittens on Monday. Not sure which is fraught with more potential peril, the cats or a night on the town in Sioux City.