Monday, April 30, 2007


Bill Simmon posted an article last week on David Halberstam and the book he loved the most, The Breaks of The Game. There are also links to some more of Halbertam's pieces for including his first interview with Ted Williams from which this classic Teddy Ballgame anecdote is lifted: "I was told to be ready in my motel room at 8 a.m. (at least I remember it as 8 a.m.,) and at 8 a.m., there was a ferocious knock on my door, and I went to open it, and the legend himself -- tanned, fit, stunningly handsome -- looked at me, and said, in a loud voice, 'Well, you look just like your goddamn picture. Let's go!' "

A Day on the Iowa River

We took a walk by the swollen river for the art festival over by Hancher on Saturday. On the way we stopped and sat in what I envision our future living room will look like, two Eames Lounge chairs (although not in my favorite style, the Santos Palisander version....and I think Santos Palisander will be the name of my protagonist in my (eventually) best selling noir crime series....but I digress...) and a Jackson Pollock on the wall. We also saw the Picturing Eden exhibition with some decidedly creepy looking kids and some other good stuff...for lack of a better word. I recommend seeing it before it leaves town. After that the art fair was disappointing just your usual suspects of carpetbagger painters with many Thomas Kincaide looking pieces. The earring booths were busy however.

Ruminating about the river this weekend , finding this poem in my email, and seeing El Duderino's boys fishing caused a Proustian rush... (as Woody Allen said that would be a great name for a perfume) ...of canoeing in New England and hanging out at one end of the Connecticut River or the other. The Dude and I fished near the source with a bunch of soon to be lawyers several years ago. We arrived too early in the season as the ice had not moved out of the lakes and I think one guy out of fifteen caught three trout. We should have thrown back the trout and tossed in a few lawyers for better luck the next time around. But I digress. James Merrill and the Dude lived in the same town, Stonington CT. I am not sure where Merrill lived but El Duderino and his girlfriend (now wife) shared a nice apartment on Water Street in the Borough. I don't know about your "Ur-Conceptual mimesis " , The Dude will have to explain that since technically he does have an English degree.

A Day on the Connecticut River

The billionth-or-so dawn,
And yet how primitive
The little factory looks, upstream,
Its brickwork that of "early man"

Launched and paddling through creation's
At-a-stroke venerable inventory
Baked into clay banks, bedded onto stone,
The day meanwhile our own.

Tire after scuttled tire
Glides under the canoe,
Manholes of a twilit avenue.
Better admire

The tannin-tinted clarity
—An opal freckle? A bug's wing—
Dimpled, asway, working
Cures for singularity,

Each view, to its least defect,
Flawlessly duplicated, healed . . .
Or was that last cornfield
Greener in reflection than in fact?

Duck! Museum
Skylight lowers
Like a boom. Through bowers
Of the no-see-um

One broad-bowed solo
Chord subtending, now,
Brindled cow,
Barn and silo,

Carries the Ur-
Conceptualist further
Into mimesis:
Life ever truer

To life, begun
Afresh with a few like-minded species,
While the rest of our whizzes
Down Route 91

Whose traffic drone
(Or falls ahead?
Stay, reconnoiter
This white water—)

Yields to the eternal
Drumming of bees
In a noon tree's
Bleached bone.

Ah but, our zenith passed, my friend,
Two galley slaves, retracing a dead end
Of scum-glaze, lilypad, Atari dragonfly,
We're cuffed alert by headwind—empty sky—

Miles from a landing—every pulse a mean
Swipe of the palette knife—painstaking sheen
In jeopardy—the master's touch lost—sun
Cross-questioned, mutely reddening—damage done:

What good's "eternity" if it won't get
Us anywhere in time to build a fire
And pitch a tent and heat our stew before
Night falls, and share a final cigarette

Whereby new-smelted leads of the moonrise
Nonplus the prowling far-off headlight eyes,
And twin dreams fumble, enter and earth chill,
Shadow and cave, for on another—? Still

Once more in the event
All came to pass
First light. Then, piece by piece,
Exact scales weight the fortune lent

On such fair terms. From clay,
Cuneiform cliff swallows whistling dart—
Transaction noted here, in part—
Up and away.

James Merrill (1926-1995)

Friday, April 27, 2007

"All My Daydreams Are Disasters..."

It was tough saying goodbye to friends in Tucson...

...But I was meeting the Beach Drink Easter Boys up in Phoenix for a Midsummer's Night's Dream wrap party at one of the fellows new digs. Here Montana (left) hits it off with funny man Kristof. I immediately wanted to produce a reality show with these two. You had to be there.

The boys had arrived early helping C.K. move his stuff up from Tucson and also to prepare for the party. They put the new firepit together but could not find any fire wood for sale in Phoenix. It had to do with no burn days or the only thing they could find was the fake fire logs which gave off a toxic fume most of the night. Actual quote from one of the female actors whose beer can became hot..."I don't understand why they would build a table so close to the fire." Thankfully no one responded.

Our host for the evening, Oberon- King of the Fairies , seemed to do well for himself.

Sunday morning after leaving Oberon's house I ventured into Tempe.

I will throw up some more shots later. I didn't really take as many as I would have liked. Have a good weekend. Looking forward to Red Sox v. Yankees Round 2. Alas, I don't think its on tv around here. Should be up to 80 on Sunday according to weather reports so my initial shock after arriving from the desert to a three day deluge has dissipated.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Best and The Brightest

David Halberstam 1934-2007

We lost one of our greatest journalists and writers earlier this week in a car accident. David Halberstam was a sublime chronicler of American history and culture. During his life just to mention a few he covered the failings in Vietnam, the firefighters who died in 9/11, and the friends surrounding Ted Williams' final years. He was one of the best prose writers I have ever read and his two books chronicling the Red Sox and Yankees, Summer of '49 and October 1964, should be required reading for all baseball fans. It was not too long ago that I read his latest (last?) book on the making of Coach Bill Belichick with great pleasure at the insights and depths of such a slim volume . Mr. Halberstam was clearly still at the height of his powers. I would recommend reading him in his own words before reading the links below about him. There is a piece from here on fishing vs. the Super Bowl.

The NY Times obituary is here.

Jim Caple over at remembers him here.

His Wiki biographical entry is here with list of published books.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Chapter One: 11:56 p.m.

Eyes mark the shape of the city. Through the eyes of a high-flying night bird, we take in the scene from midair. In our broad sweep, the city looks like a single gigantic creature—or more like a single collective entity created by many intertwining organisms. Countless arteries stretch to the ends of its elusive body, circulating a continuous supply of fresh blood cells, sending out new data and collecting the old, sending out new consumables and collecting the old, sending out new contradictions and collecting the old. To the rhythm of its pulsing, all parts of the body flicker and flare up and squirm. Midnight is approaching, and while the peak of activity has passed, the basal metabolism that maintains life continues undiminished, producing the basso continuo of the city’s moan, a monotonous sound that neither rises nor falls but is pregnant with foreboding."

The above is excerpted from the new Murakami novel due out May 8th. More of the excerpt is here at the Random House site. It is shaping up to be a promising spring with the new Wilco due out May 15th and they will be appearing on David Letterman that evening. I am pretty sure Jeff Tweedy planned this to all coincide, at my request of course, with the celebration of S's birthday.

You can pre-order album with DVD extra and other goodies here. There is a free download of the new song "What Light" from their website. What else? Oh yeah, they are playing in Davenport at the Adler Theatre on June 13th. Tickets on sale now. I might even have two extra tickets if another couple is out of town that week and can't make the show.

The Temptation of St. Anthony

I am back in Iowa. There were just a few things left to clean up as you can see by the photo above. I have been pressed into service helping out on some other things before heading out to New Mexico next month. I will get some pictures up and mention some of things I have been buying with the intention of reading but not actually reading.
I have been really into the new Arcade Fire, Neon Bible. (Gotta love almost any John Kennedy Toole allusion.)

Monday, April 16, 2007

I miss the Ocean

Going to see New England's own reunited Sebadoh tonight at Hotel Congress. Even better its an early (7:30) show so I can still get a respectable amount of sleep. I am meeting a friend whose wife is due to give birth any day now. She has a cool site, Ocotillo Grove, that I have only had time to briefly peruse. Check it out. I will also add it to my list.

Just a quick update on Vonnegut. There is a transcript of discussion of his work led by Micheal Dirda here. Although probably not considered one his best I always liked the novel Bluebeard about the painter first introduced in Breakfast of Champions. I seem to remember reading somewhere that Vonnegut based this character on Mark Rothko so I put one up that struck me.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Trooper

One thing led to The Other. The Bitchfits myspace page had a friend, She Guevara, and her page linked to the above video. More Gaucho Salta videos at their webpage. "Don't Cry For Me Argentina"

P.S. I also am working on feed subscribe buttons but am still figuring them out so they don't work yet.
The desert bloom photographs of Dr. John P. Schaefer (above) are being show at Arizona-Sonora Desert Musuem here in town and I would like to visit it this time around. I want to see a mountain lion too and I hear they got one. There is also a Rembrandt and Dutch exhibit at Phoenix Art Musuem that I want to see and visit with Juche and family. I am trying to ensure we do not have to work this weekend. Wish me luck.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

why must itself up every of a park

why must itself up every of a park
anus stick some quote statue unquote to
prove that a hero equals any jerk
who was afraid to dare to answer "no"?
quote citizens unquote might otherwise
forget(to err is human;to forgive
divine)that if the quote state unquote says
"kill" killing is an act of christian love.
"Nothing" in 1944 AD
"can stand against the argument of mil
itary necessity"(generalissimo e)
and echo answers "there is no appeal
from reason"(freud)--you pays your money and
you doesn't take your choice. Ain't freedom grand

E. E. Cummings

Cummings and Vonnegut, veterans and POWs, who both experienced the absurdities of war and took a decided approach against such matters after. Neither one would be considered pacifists but anti-war for sure and they earned the right to speak against. I first read both of these writers while in the Army. (This was of course before I was required to enter a theatre of combat operations and the operative word must still "combat" simply because people died for real and not "theatre" despite the cast of clowns in charge. I swear I mean that.)

I put this poem up in memory of Vonnegut and his stand against stupidity. He used to live in Iowa City. Although I am uncertain of precisely where the famed Vonnegut House is.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. 1922 — 2007

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


I found this guy in the pool. I fished (or mothed) him out of the pool after the shot as he was heading towards the pool filter despite his best butterfly stroke. I wish I could have taken a better close up because he really reminded me of Mothra. If you click on the pic you can zoom in.

I am taking a dinner break before I return to work and watching the Red Sox and Matsuzaka work his way out of jam in the 2nd inning against the Mariners. Sox down 1-0. I was watching highlights of the home opener and they celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Impossible Dream Team, the 1967 Red Sox who almost surprised the Cardinals in the World Series. The heart attack kids made famous in that other Updike essay about the Sox.

I have only been to one major league Opening Day game but it was at Fenway in 1997. I can't recall who won the game but I do recall it was a great time and I still have the baseball they handed out. This the year of Nomar but also Heathcliff Slocumb. (I just looked it up on the amazing Baseball Almanac. The Sox lost 5-3 to Randy Johnson and it was also on 4/11 and also against Seattle.) Johnson is now back in Arizona I would love to see him pitch again.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Boys

The photographer hates it when his subjects pointedly ignore him.
Slept in today since I am covering the night shift and realized way too much time has passed since I put up a picture of the boys. The latest report from home had them eating some flowers that had bloomed outside but needed to be brought inside to save them from the cold. Such good boys they are. A poem for them:

The boys i mean are not refined
They go with girls who buck and bite
They do not give a fuck for luck
They hump them thirteen times a night
One hangs a hat upon her tit
One carves a cross on her behind
They do not give a shit for wit
The boys i mean are not refined

They come with girls who bite and buck
Who cannot read and cannot write
Who laugh like they would fall apart
And masturbate with dynamite

The boys i mean are not refined
They cannot chat of that and this
They do not give a fart for art
They kill like you would take a piss

They speak whatever's on their mind
They do whatever's in their pants
The boys i mean are not refined
They shake the mountains when they dance

E.E. Cummings

Monday, April 09, 2007

"If you're not into yoga, if you have half-a-brain..."

I was fairly certain that El Duderino would probably be the only Air Force trained weather specialist I would ever meet. I of course was wrong. Not only did I meet two other gentleman of the same prior service experience one of them even had the same first name as The Dude. The picture is from one of the weatherman's apartment complex in the foothills of the Catalinas. Some one dubbed it Beach Drink Easter. It's a little fuzzy but then again so were we.

Actual text message I received this morning from the weatherman read as follows:

"Rabbit Fur Coat Brings the Flood of a Century That Looked Like a Blonde on Blonde. Beach Drink Easter hurt my head.”

We listened to a lot of Dylan and some Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins which may explain the non sequiturs.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Signs of the Apocalypse?

I had K. sign me up for the Oprah book club while I was telling her about being surprised by Oprah's latest selection. Surprised is an understatement. I signed up chiefly so I could find out when Oprah will have an exclusive interview with Cormac McCarthy. And also to read about tidbits such as the following from the website: "Is The Road a cautionary tale of the all-too-near future? Could such a disaster happen to us? Coming soon."

This will be epic. In other news No Country For Old Men directed by Coen brothers will be released Aug 2nd. It has to be better then 300. I think the film rights to The Road have been sold but I couldn't find any details about who is involved.

UPDATE: I just found something from the Oprah site which K. had read to me over the phone.

"Have you read Cormac McCarthy's The Road? What do you think happened to the earth? How long could you "carry the fire"? How far would you go to protect your child? See what others have to say about this mind-blowing novel."

'How far would you go to protect your child?' What kind of question is that? Until they kept whining about starving to death? Until a mindless army of cannibals was approaching and then I would throw him to them in order to facilitate my own escape? The unintentional comedy scale is going to be off the charts. I would say more but I do not want to spoil this amazing book for anyone that has not read it yet. And if you haven't now is the perfect time to pick up a trade paper copy with the Oprah seal of literature on it.

I am not trying to sound like a book snob. Well okay maybe a little since I am one. "It's not what your like it's what you like" of the Rob Gordon school of thought and all that. I do appreciate what Oprah has done for reading. Her choosing such niche writers as Rohinton Mistry (whose A Fine Balance selection was overshadowed by the Franzen fracas) and introducing millions of readers to classic authors they might have been afraid to try on their own more than makes up for fiascoes like James Frey and a preponderance of "issue" books. I have forgotten some of the really good choices she has made and I think she has come to understand the power she has and the responsibility that goes with it.

Late night in Tucson. In a few hours I am going to a swap meet. I am very, very, excited. And I don't mean that in an Eddie Haskell way.

Friday, April 06, 2007

A Very Good Friday

I found out today that I do not have to work this weekend. Even though Pitchfork hated it (At least Popmatters enjoyed it) , the above cd will be cranked up in the Mazda and the top will be down.

I get to sleep in two days in a row and do multiple loads of laundry so I thought this poem from Ted Kooser's ALP column was appropriate to all things going on. Happy Easter!


All our life
so much laundry;
each day's doing or not
comes clean,
flows off and away
to blend with other sins
of this world. Each day
begins in new skin,
blessed by the elements
charged to take us
out again to do or undo
what's been assigned.
From socks to shirts
the selves we shed
lift off the line
as if they own
a life apart
from the one we offer.
There is joy in clean laundry.
All is forgiven in water, sun
and air. We offer our day's deeds
to the blue-eyed sky, with soap and prayer,
our arms up, then lowered in supplication.

Reprinted from "Making the Bed," Main Street Rag Press, 2004, by permission of the author. Copyright (c) 1995 by Ruth Moose, whose latest book of poetry, "The Sleepwalker," Main Street Rag, due out in 2007. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


The Daisuke Matsuzaka era has begun. He was apparently impressive in his debut striking out 10 and getting the win. I say apparently because I did not get to see any it because for some bizarre reason the debut of an international phenom with a price tag of over $100 million did not have enough hype to be broadcast to a national audience. That or a Royals game merited a blackout to everyone except the New England/Kansas City area because it had its first sell out since George Brett left town.

Granted I had to work but I was planning on a long lunch to catch some of it only to find out I was SOL. The Sports Guy kept a running diary of the game for those interested. Also reading the Sports Gal's review of the first episode of The Bachelor was a pleasant distraction from work. Sort of a "Desperation is the world's worst cologne/perfume" theme played out for our entertainment. Good stuff.

"Still Life with Apples,Pears,and a Gray Jug" by Paul Cezanne, 1893-1894.

Study of Two Pears

Opusculum paedagogum.
The pears are not viols,
Nudes or bottles.
They resemble nothing else.

They are yellow forms
Composed of curves
Bulging toward the base.
They are touched red.

They are not flat surfaces
Having curved outlines.
They are round
Tapering toward the top.

Wallace Stevens

From the poem a day email I mentioned previously from Knopf.

The Boys of Summer

Cubs and Angels warming up at HoHoKam Park

Former Red Sox standout Shea Hillenbrand at the plate

Ju Che's son behind the bullpens. Kerry Wood (left side of Cubs pen) came into the game and blew a 1-0 lead late for the Cubbies.
Here are a few pictures from the Sunday before last. I had hoped to catch a few more spring training games but work got in the way. I am still holding out hope for a Diamondbacks game. I had to bail on the Son Volt concert tomorrow night because I am covering a night shift. Sebadoh is coming to town on a reunion tour with original lineup (I think) so my fingers are crossed that I will be able to make that one. Robyn Hitchcock must now live in Tucson as he seems to play here every time I visit. Or maybe this is winter home. Both bands will be at Hotel Congress.

Along with the return of the national past time it is also National Poetry Month.
Poetry Daily has special feature email of a featured poem a day during as does Knopf. Although at least one person is speaking out against this flowering of April verse.