Friday, April 30, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
The sweetness of the spring blossoms
made the night sticky and sweet.
The stars one by one
fell from the sky
into an unseen abyss.
One thousand men
driven from their homes
to a burning bridge
they could never cross.
Their defiant yells
could be heard at the world's edge
as they were forced to follow the stars.
One thousand skulls
amongst the rocks of a sorrowful dream.
Prayers and supplications
that never reached their lips
still caught between
their sun bleached teeth.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
The sun is sinking,
restlessness swallows me whole.
Memories of temptations
become the distractions
that carry me along
as I try and get lost to all
except the moon.
I reach the spot
that may have once been house or home
but is now a field
where the weary rest their bones.
Where you and I
collided under star light
becoming lost in a motionless world
where we promised to keep
Monday, April 26, 2010
German Expressionist Cinema was a short lived movement in film that occurred in a post World War I climate, peaking in Berlin in the 1920's. Though various forms of Expressionism were coinciding throughout Europe at this time, the Expressionist movement in Germany had its own distinct traits and influences. The filmmakers of the German Universum Film AG developed their own distinct style through use of symbolism and mise-en-scene to add mood and depth to their films. The major films of the era were, The Student of Prague (1920), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), The Golem (1920), Destiny (1921), Nosferatu (1922), The Last Laugh (1924), and Metropolis (1927).
The horror of World War I left the people of Germany in a state of desperate poverty and psychologically scarred. The films of the German Expressionist school tapped into that, with plots that dealt with madness and other dark themes in a highly stylized and symbolic way. Since the German studios had little to offer filmmakers in the way of a budget, the directors of the movement took this opportunity to freely experiment in an attempt to compete with the films that were coming out of Hollywood. The most notable of these experiments came in the form of the films visual statements. The films of the German Expressionist period, were dynamic and wildly non-realistic, with sets made of odd, geometrically shaped buildings, paint used on floors and walls as symbolic representations of darkness, light, objects, and shadows, leaving the actors to appear to be performing in the three dimensional painting as opposed to a stage set typical of the Hollywood films of the era.
Historically, two major genres of cinema were influenced by German Expressionism. First being the horror film, particularly the Universal Studios classic monster films of the 1930's. and the second being Film Noir . The influence upon the early horror genre is more obvious and direct. When the Nazi Party rose to power in the 1930's most of the directors and producers fled Germany for the United States, seeking employment with the various Hollywood Studios. Karl Freund, who was a talented German filmmaker of the era, worked as the cinematographer on Tod Browning's Dracula (1931) which would be the essential introduction of the visual style of German Expressionism to the U.S. movie going public and would set the tone and style for the rest of the Universal monster movies of the 1930's.
Film Noir took a more subtle approach to the influence of German Expressionism. Film Noir, particularly the sub genre of the crime film, would embrace the darkness of expressionism and the plot themes more so than the visual styles and use of symbolism. Filmmakers like Fritz Lang, Alfred Hitchcock, Otto Preminger, Billy Wilder, and others, would infuse their films with techniques learned from Expressionism.
The influence of German Expressionism would continue on through the decades. From films like
Ridley Scott's. Blade Runner, to the films of Tim Burton. The strong influence of Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927) on Batman Returns (1992) can be found both in both the visual representation of Gotham City and the use of the name Max Schrek, as the evil character portrayed by Christopher Walken in the film. Max Schrek was the name of the actor who played the vampire in Nosferatu (1922). But German Expressionism's greatest influence on Tim Burton can be scene in his film Edward Scissorhands (1990). In the film Burton cast Johnny Depp in the role of Edward, a character who is a visual tribute to Caligari's somnambulist servant. In the film, Burton borrowed themes from German Expressionism and modern Hollywood films and retold the story recasting Edward, the outsider, as the hero and the townspeople as the villains.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
When the winds first swept over the lands
that the waters had shaped before they receded,
they carried with them, a cry of love.
When the first coyote came down from the hills,
he bayed out the cry of love the winds had taught him
to let the moon know he was still there.
When man first walked through the valley
he challenged God and beast out of fear.
The winds replied with a cry of love
that he refused to hear.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
-Bob Dylan in an interview with Mary Travers.
Blood On The Tracks marked Bob Dylan's return to form, even if he did declare himself a, "creature devoid of form", in the song, Shelter From The Storm. Released in January of 1975, Dylan's 15th studio album would reach #1 on the Billboard Charts and #4 on the UK charts, and in 2003, the album ranked #16 on Rolling Stone magazines 500 greatest albums list.
Despite Dylan's refusal to admit that any of the songs are autobiographical, the recording and release of the album coincides with the painful and bitter split with his wife Sara Dylan. It has been cited by fans, critics, and music lovers alike, as one of the greatest break up albums of all time.
Blood On The Tracks opens with the classic Tangled Up In Blue, which peaked at #31 on the Pop charts. Tangled Up In Blue is an impassioned and beautifully crafted song about two lovers who's connection seems to defy time and space in any linear fashion. Despite the depth of love that these two feel towards each other their relationship is doomed by fate or circumstance, and despite all best efforts, there's nothing the two can do about this, except to take consolation in the knowledge that they will cross paths again one day.
Simple Twist of Fate is the second track on the album. The theme of fate again, plays an important role in the vision of Dylan. This song is by far the saddest and most alienating of the ten tracks. The narrator provides the tale of two doomed lovers first in the third person, then switching to first in the final verse. The voice is that of a man at the end of the line, lonelier than he ever thought possible.
You're A Big Girl Now continues exploring the painful depths of lost love.
The fourth track, Idiot Wind, takes the tone of the album in a different direction, and providing the blueprint for the angry love song. The song is a brutal verbal attack unleashed by a snarling and angry Dylan that hadn't been heard from since Like A Rolling Stone.
You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go, is the last track of side A on the original vinyl version of the album. Again, Dylan changes the tone of the album by throwing in this playful gem. Again, the same themes are approached that he did in the previous tracks, but in this one there is not only a sense of hope but even the possibility of reconciliation.
With Meet Me In The Morning, Dylan taps into the twelve bar blues and gives the listener a funky little number to open the second half of the album.
Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts, is the most complex story on the album. The song feels more like a short story recited over a country and western tune, than a song in any traditional sense, or even in comparison to what Dylan delivers on this album.
If You See Her, Say Hello is the eighth track and with it, Dylan returns to the slow, languid, pace he began the album with. In this song, the narrator has reached a state of acceptance with the hand he's been dealt and the fate of his love affair. This track was also featured at the end of an episode of Showtime's Californication.
Shelter From The Storm which might be the strongest song on the album, combines the themes and storytelling of the previous tracks put approaches them in a different way, using the voice of biblical prophet similar to the songs on John Wesley Harding.
Bucket of Rain, the final track on this album, is a nice closing piece and a good counter point to the heaviness of the previous track. Bucket of Rain, the final track on this album, is a nice closing piece and a good counter point to the heaviness of the previous track.
And what would any classic Dylan album be without a myth story to accompany it. Blood On The Tracks was originally recorded in New York City in September of 1974. Just before Columbia Records was due to release the album, Dylan pulled the plug and elected to re-record some of the tracks. In December of 1974 Dylan backed by studio musicians recruited by his brother David, Bob re-recorded five of the songs on the album. Since its release fans and critics have speculated on the reasoning. Some have cited that the original version of the album was monotonous with two many songs in the same key and with the same languid rhythm. I have also heard the story that Bob and others found the original recordings of the album to be too raw and personal, citing that on the New York version of Tangled Up In Blue you can hear the buttons on Dylan's coat sleeve taping against his guitar while he's playing.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
The morning started soft boiled and hungover. My friend Steve Rogers and I were feeling the remnants of last nights drinking binge. After a couple of bong hits, and much needed caffeine, Steve and I began a city wide search for a missing beer keg that had an appointment to be filled at a local liquor store. “The early the better,” the clerk said when I called. “It is New Years Eve and I'm going to be busy as hell.” I understood that he meant business, and if we wanted to get the keg back at a reasonable time, we'd have to drop it off as early as possible.
Steve and I had planned everything out last night. We even made a To Do list with a timetable on bar napkins, in order to be prepared for what promised to be a crazy New Years Eve party at our friend Alex Graham's house.
It took Steve and I nearly three and a half hours to track down and recover his missing keg, which was three hours longer than we had anticipated. Since he had lent it to his brother three months ago, the keg has made the rounds and had in fact had already been promised to someone for the night. Of course since it was the property of Steve Rogers and had been branded as such, when we finally tracked it town on the back porch of some friend of a friends third cousin by divorce, neither of us thought twice about cutting a hand-sized whole in the screen in order to unlock the door and retrieve the keg.
By 9:30 the party was really swinging and there were so many people at Alex's house, that it was easy to lose track of who was there and who wasn't. Because of this, Alex pulled me aside and told me about a party he had been invited to down the street. “We need to go there, they have the best parties. Don't tell anyone we're leaving. I'm going to grab another beer, meet me on the front porch and we'll sneak away.”
Alex and I arrived to find an exotic costume party. The inside of the house was like a psychedelic love-in, with different colored lights in all the rooms. The backyard was decorated like a Tikki bar. Half-naked people, faces painted, were sitting in the hot tub, sipping cocktails. The gorgeous hostess of the party was dressed in a sexy Cat Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer style) outfit strolling around with a platter of Jello shots.
While Alex and I were pillaging beers from one of the coolers on the patio, the host of the party, who was dressed as an unknown superhero, came up to us. “You guys need to come with me out to the garage.” We followed the man in tights, because well it was his house and we didn't want to be rude. When we got to the garage we found ourselves apart of a circle of five. There was Austin Powers, The Penguin (Burgess Meredith from the Batman TV series style), and what we learned was Bongman.
Neither Alex nor I knew what to say to these three beyond “hey, what's up?”. Luckily, we didn't have to, because The Penguin pulled a velvet pouch from the inside breast pocket of his jacket. “This here, is the stuff I've been telling you about.” Austin Powers and Bongman looked on excitedly as The Penguin pulled out a plastic baggy with weed in it. When he caught me looking at him quizzically, he said, “I got this at Cannabis Cup. I was a judge again this year. This is the most amazing weed you'll ever smoke.”
Bongman pulled a brand new glass bong out from one of the cabinets. “This has never been used, I bought yesterday especially for this amazing weed.” Alex and I grinned at one another, both wondering how the hell we ended up in this moment.
“At what point did you realize that the ground we were standing on was gone and we had fallen down the rabbit hole.”
“When Austin Powers passed me the pipe. When I inhaled I stopped falling. When I exhaled, the falling resumed.”
"You know, The Penguin is a good guy, the people of Gotham just never understood him."
After a few go rounds of The Penguin's magic bud, which was indeed the best bud either Alex or I had ever smoked, it was hard to remember what to take seriously and who not to poke in the stomach to see if they were real. We thanked Bongman, The Penguin, and Austin Powers for their time and hospitality and dashed past the other guests, back to the familiar. Alex and I left the house floating in a Technicolor dream haze, laughing in a way that we hadn't since the days of Saturday morning cartoons.
Monday, April 19, 2010
After the initial shock and wonder that a work of such playful ingenuity, of such satirical importance was virtually unknown to everyone I knew, I sat down in a comfortable chair and took in the comedy. I felt like I was reading page after page of a boy in short pants thumbing his nose at the literary establishment, and I was loving every minute of the ride.
In short succession, I would read through the poems, stories, and novels. A Confederate General From Big Sur and his detective novel, Dreaming of Babylon, being my two favorite works. Through most of my early years of writing, I felt I was walking in the awkward footsteps of this lanky man-child.
For the next ten years, I periodically read and reread Brautigan's works always finding some new joke or vision that I had somehow missed in my previous readings. But for some reason I never looked into the life of the man, instead I created a brilliant fantasy life for Mr. Brautigan and the women he appeared on the covers of his books with, and of course his dalliances with Ben Franklin and Trout Fishing In America Railroad Shorty.
I had read about Richard Brautigan's suicide in the author's blurb in the back of Trout Fishing In America. It's the last thing in the book, just before the word “mayonnaise” appears on the back cover. I never gave it too much thought though, just another writer and another tragic end. I'm still not sure what compelled me, perhaps it was my own feelings of being disconnected and unappreciated, but one night not to long ago I did a little research into the life of Richard Brautigan.
Given the tragedy of his early life, including an absentee father, a neglectful mother, a series of abusive step fathers, all the while living in extreme poverty in various places throughout the Pacific Northwest, his childlike escapist stories and poems make sense. It was like Lawrence Ferlinghetti once said of Brautigan, "As an editor I was always waiting for Richard to grow up as a writer. It seems to me he was essentially a naif, and I don't think he cultivated that childishness, I think it came naturally. It was like he was much more in tune with the trout in America than with people."1
1. Manso, Peter and Michael McClure. "Brautigan's Wake." Vanity Fair, May 1985: 62-68, 112-116.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
“Think of us as erotic politicians”
The Doors, composed of keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, drummer John Densmore, and vocalist Jim Morrison. Released their self-titled debut album on Elektra Records in January 1967. In the forty plus years since, it has become one of the most influential debut albums in rock history.
The album opens with the track Break On Through (To The Other Side). An up tempo straight out rock song that features all the elements of what would become the Doors sound. Driving rhythm, catchy guitar riff, poetic lyrics, and an organ solo. Break On Through was the first single released off the album and music video for it was shot and aired on local TV.
The second track on the album is Soul Kitchen, which is tribute to a soul food restraint Jim Morrison used to frequent in Venice Beach, California.
Crystal Ship follows Soul Kitchen. The song is beautiful ode to lost love, that uses imagery from Norse mythology. This possibly one of the most beautiful songs the Doors ever recorded. They once performed the song on American Bandstand.
Twentieth Century Fox is the fourth track on the album. The title is both tribute to Twentieth Century Fox studies and a beautiful woman. The song was supposedly written about Ray Manzarek's wife, Dorthy.
Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar) is a cover from Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht famous musical The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.
Light My Fire is the sixth track on the album and quite possibly the most famous Doors song ever. Written by Robbie Krieger, Light My Fire was the song that launched the Doors from just another band from L.A. to global rock stars. The Doors performance of Light My Fire on the Ed Sullivan show would also be another moment of myth making in the bands history. After agreeing to alter the lyrics for their live performance on the show, the band went ahead and included the much feared word “higher”, infuriating Sullivan's producer and getting them a lifetime ban from ever performing on the show again.
Back Door Man, the seventh song on the album is a cover of the Willie Dixon penned blues song that was most famously recorded by blues legend Howlin' Wolf.
I Looked At You, is probably the weakest song on the album. Both musically and lyrically the song comes off as filler.
End of The Night, is a song of dark romance that contains two distinct literary illusions. The first being in the title which was taken from Louis Ferdinand Celine novel, Journey to The End of the Night. The song also contains the couplet, Some are born to sweet delight/ Some are born to the endless night, which was taken from William Blake's poem, Auguries of Innocence.
Take It As It Comes, was written as an off the cuff tribute to Ray, John, and Robby's meditation instructor, and much like I Looked At You, feels like filler in comparison to the rest of the album.
The Doors self-titled debut album concludes with the most complex and surreal song in the entire bands pantheon. The End is a nearly twelve minute piece of rock theater that the band played to perfection night after night at the Whiskey A Go Go. The song would become a thing of great myth as the decades passed. The story goes, that Morrison missed the bands first set one night at the Whiskey because he was loaded on acid and was hiding out in a motel room. The band managed to track him down and get him to the Whiskey in time for their second set. The show went off without a hitch until the band began The End. On this night, the band and the rest of the patrons, would be introduced to a new verse of the song. Morrison, would resurrect the drama of Sophocles, Oedipus Rex, by inserting the lines “Father, I want to kill you/ Mother I want to fuck you all night.” The band would be fired from the Whiskey for this but it mattered little because the band had been signed by Elektra Records recently and the incident would be another great mythical moment in rock history.
An interesting note on this album is that if you listen to it from beginning to end on continuous loop, you discover that the album is actually circular, in the sense that The End leads back in to Break on Through, which gives the album a feelings of continuous death and rebirth, much in the same way as James Joyce's novel Finnegan's Wake.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Driving toward desire
The ever delicate,
Thinking about her touch
What she tastes like.
We're like those two lover's in the movie.
I the writer,
her the socialite.
The two of us
for something meaningful.
Something that's not loneliness.
Something like love.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
and the boy killer / has finally grown / in passion and fame / finally has ice in his veins // his hunter is guided by lighting / has a star over his heart / will spill blood for immortality's sake // a collision course / a myth that lives freely in out subconscious / us versus them / david struck down by goliath.
Monday, April 12, 2010
“The poet makes himself into a seer by a long, involved and logical derangement of all the senses.”
When the seventeen-year-old Arthur Rimbaud wrote the above line in a letter to Paul Demeny dated May 15, 1871, he had already fully committed himself to being a visionary poet. Like William Blake and Charles Baudelaire before him, Rimbaud believed that the true quest of the poet was to obtain the unknown. And like Baudelaire and the shamans of indigenous cultures around the world, Rimbaud believed that gate between the known and unknown could be unlocked with the use of various rituals and drugs.
“It doesn't matter if these leaps into the unknown kill him: other awful workers will follow him; they'll start at the horizons where the other had fallen!”
Arthur Rimbaud's visionary quest ended in 1874 at the ripe old age of twenty, not from his own destruction as he had romanticized, but by his total abandonment of poetry. In 1875, Rimbaud, now living in Stuttgart, handed the poet and his ex-lover, Paul Verlaine, his final manuscript, which Verlaine would later work to get published under the title 'Illuminations'. After that, Rimbaud severed all ties he had to the literary world.
The mythic persona and writings of Arthur Rimbaud have been a major influence on art and the counter- culture since the time of his death in 1891. Writers such as Dylan Thomas, Vladamir Nabokov, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, JD Salinger, and Henry Miller all cited Rimbaud as a major influence on their lives and writings. In 1956, Henry Miller published The Time of The Assassins: A Study of Rimbaud.
Even more than writers, Rimbaud has been cited as being a major influence on musicians. When Bob Dylan shed his Woody Guthrie folk hero persona, he adopted that of a rock and roll Rimbaud. The lyrics of his songs turned away from social protest and became lengthy, hallucinatory songs that were carried by strong imagery and clever wit, much like the poetry of Rimbaud. Other musicians such, as Patti Smith, Jim Morrison, The Clash, Courtney Love, Frou Frou, Manic Street Preachers, and Richard Hell have also, in one way or another, paid tribute to the influence Arthur Rimbaud has had on them.
The cinema has also felt the presence of Arthur Rimbaud. In 1995 Leonardo DiCaprio starred as Arthur Rimbaud in the film Total Eclipse. Director Jean-Luc Godard made reference to Rimbaud in his films, Bande a Part, and Pierrot Le Fou. In 2007, Todd Haynes' film, I'm Not There, which was a symbolic biographical film about the life of Bob Dylan, had a character named Arthur Rimbaud, who was played by Ben Whishaw, and was meant to represent Dylan's own Rimbaudian period.
Amongst the poets, there will always be a rebel. And in the case of Rimbaud the myth of him as poet and rebel has grown to the point of continuing to influence the generations that have followed him, just as he had hoped.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
underneath bare feet
We trampled slow, steady
Our minds filled with
the soft gray
of a cloud bank
that won't move.
There are boned beneath us
Thousands of years
reabsorbed in the womb
There are songs being sung
Birds giving alms
to the hiding sun.
underneath bare feet
We trampled slow, steady
Our minds filled with
the soft gray
of a cloud bank
that won't move.
There are boned beneath us
Thousands of years
reabsorbed in the womb
There are songs being sung
Birds giving alms
to the hiding sun.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
There are blackbirds in the trees
Huddled, hiding in their wings
as a violent, sideways rain
pummels, until nothing remains
She wants silence
She wants to be alone
She wants to hear destiny speak
She wants the winds of change
to blow through her front door.
He wants to love
He want to hear her say his name
He wants the pity without the shame
He wants to learn to live with the
without having to remember their
There are blackbirds in all the trees
from here to Memphis.
The sun is out
trying to heal the pain
caused by brother rain.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
And what did that horizon look like /without telephone poles / arms outstretched // Great burnt brown
mountains / without homes / jaggedly running throughout / like stitches after a nasty fight / after that last drink you shouldn't have had // And then I looked over at her / and all those things went way // The setting sun set the tips of her hair a glow / her eyes a flame.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Monday, April 5, 2010
“We have built our reputation by confronting the actual world.”
The above quote came from a letter penned by Albert and David Maysles to the New York Times. The Maysles brothers were a documentary film making team the made what they called, Direct Cinema, which has been described as the cinematic equivalent of a non-fiction novel. The brothers David and Albert, along with the partner Charlotte Zwerin made over twenty films of the course of two decades.
Albert was born on November, 26, 1926 in Brookline, Massachusetts. In 1949 he graduated from Syracuse University with a bachelors degree in psychology. He would receive a masters degree from Boston University, where he would later teach. In 1955 Albert made his first documentary entitled Psychiatry in Russia. Albert was once called “the best American cameraman” by Jean-Luc Godard. In 2001 Albert received the Sundance Film festival's Excellence in Cinematography Award for his lensing of LaLee's Kin: Legacy of Cotton.
David Maysles, who was born in Brookline, Mass on January 10, 1931 and died January 23, 1987 in New York of a stroke, teamed up with his brother for the first time in 1962. The Maysles brothers, along with various partners and contributors played an important role in the development of the cinema verite style of documentary film making. Some of the key films they made together include, Salesman (1968), which follows four traveling salesman as they try to sell expensive bibles in low income neighborhoods throughout New England and Florida. Gimme Shelter (1970), is a documentary amount the Rolling Stones concert at Altamont Speedway. The film and the concert itself, can be viewed as a symbolic end of the 1960's. It is also famous for having captured on film the stabbing of an African American concert goer by members of the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club. Grey Gardens (1976), is the story of Big and Little Edith Beale, who were the aunt and first cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and their reclusive lives living in squalor in their dilapidated East Hampton mansion known as Grey Gardens. The Maysles brothers 1964 film on the Beatles originally titled What's Happening! The Beatles Visit America, which forms the backbone of the DVD The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit, can be viewed as the beginning of the 1960's and is a complimentary piece to Gimme Shelter.
The Maysles brothers film making partnership ended with David's death at the age of 54, but Albert continues to make films and contribute to their legacy. In 2005, Albert founded the Maysles Institute, which is a nonprofit organization that provides training and apprenticeships to underprivileged people. Also in 2005, Albert was given a lifetime achievement award at the Czech film festival, AFO (Academia Film Olomouc). Currently, he is working on an autobiographical documentary.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
It's as if
what could be
the sunrise came
as a tidal wave.
slow and steady,
revealing itself in
purples and blues
oranges and yellows.
All the things
that may have been
under the sparkling
of last night
are bleached bones
in the midst of cracked earth
what could be
but shall never
except for the first and last
Saturday, April 3, 2010
He of the clean sort / beard, full and bushy / but eyes with a glint of the madness in them // Twelve butts from / Hand rolled cigarette / 8 to 12 inches away / In direct line with his right knee cap // He sits cross-legged on top of a sleeping bag / that's resting on six cardboard boxes // “Hamnet the Homeless”/ he shouts at me / using a different inflection each of the six times he repeats the phrase / as I pass by.
Friday, April 2, 2010
Red wine hips
Lies dancing off
her the tongue.
I get her
what used to be.
on late night
she and I
leaving us longing
Thursday, April 1, 2010
have to learn
the poor man's shuffle
know what it is
to sleep on
the cold concrete
that steals away
any and all
And the cold slap
of the shop owners broom
across the back
letting them know
it's time rise
time to greet the
rot and decay.