Sunday, March 29, 2009

George Brecht Colloquy at Chez Bushwick

Saturday was another day that forced a choice between simultaneous poetry events, and I wound up missing a reading from the Crowd series to make the “George Brecht Colloquy” happening a few blocks away at Chez Bushwick (an impressive, though unfortunately named, space).

The event, which included

sights : Betsey Biggs
things : Jimbo Blachly
sounds : Jarrod Fowler
information : Seth Kim-Cohen
words : Lytle Shaw,

was a room with five stations or “bureau-burro-burrow-borough-barrow”s. At Lytle Shaw's, you could see him typing what appeared to be letters to Marcel Proust, which he would occasionally email to another station. Jimbo Blachly's desk slowly morphed from piles of Brecht-related papers with small clay sculptures, to a single folded piece of green felt, to a draped piece of glittering fabric that collected balls of crumpled paper. Jarrod Fowler put a mic to the things near him or played noises not already in the room. Betsey Biggs projected images onto a small screen, and her station was next to a table of wine and very good homemade bread. At one point, Blachly put on a cape and a helmet and demanded another participant get up from his own information station (piled with books), but his confrontation was unsuccessful.

It was definitely the kind of event that did a lot of response measuring—people in the room would get lazy at observing the stations and would be catching up and drinking wine, when one of the stations would draw attention to itself momentarily and bring everyone to a few minutes' silence. Brecht's film “Entrance to Exit” got everyone to sit on the provided pillows from start to finish, though the quiet didn't last the whole 7 minutes.

The colloquy forced evaluation of what events demand and why/when people do what they are asked to at them, and it created discomfort--not knowing whether you should sit down, not knowing whether to look over someone's shoulder, not knowing, especially, whether to talk or where to move. But it also didn't always demand a lot of attention, which is a part of it I still need to think through.

The stations weren't connected—the people staffing them occasionally consulted about the next task or exchanged words and work, but they weren't working together, and the paper lying in copies around the room insisted read:

“If it’s not on the wall, in a book, on a pedestal, on a DVD, it must be in someone’s head. But whose head? None of the bureau-burros, the stationery-martyrs, holds the joystick of the others."

Keeping in mind that it must be in someone's head allowed the visitors' actions (a lot of curiousness, a lot of non-Brecht related mingling) to parallel the events': we all walked around trying to look into some other heads.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Little Pictures to Love

I've re-arranged our "buy Les Figues" page -- now with pictures!

Other new (or newly revised) pages include Rosenfield's excerpt (here) from re: evolution and Cain's I Go To Some Hollow.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Readings Tomorrow: Lytle Shaw & K. Silem Mohammad; Lawrence Giffin & Regan Good

Two readings in NYC this weekend:

1. Saturday, March 21st at the Bowery Poetry Club at 4pm:

I’ve been looking forward to this reading since the Segue list for this season was released, but I’m especially excited because I just picked up The Chadwick Family Papers (A Brief Public Glimpse) when browsing the Faculty shelf at the NYU bookstore. (The copy I bought is blue, not the pink depicted in this picture from Amazon). It’s a great object to encounter in the less reassuring context of a bookstore; if you buy it online, you’ll have a helpful review to let you know that Jimbo Blachly and Lytle Shaw “pretended to be the editors of the papers of the Chadwicks, a mysterious family of connoisseurs, dandies and amateur historians”, while the book positions itself as virtuoso art scholarship (which it, of course, is).

There is a good review of K. Silem Mohammad’s Breathalyzer by Kareem Estefan at Sustainable Aircraft that you can check out here , and you can listen to him reading from Deer Head Nation on Pennsound.

2. Also Saturday, March 21st, 7:00pm
@ Outpost Lounge
1014 Fulton Ave, Brooklyn, NY
(between Grand and Classon, C to Franklin or G to Clinton-Washington)

I can’t speak for Good, but I have Lawrence Giffin’s new chapbook Get The Fuck Back Into That Burning Plane, and it is amazing. If you’re not in NY, consider this a recommendation of the chapbook rather than the reading.

"Sir! Ma’am! For the safety and security
of you and your family,
I need you to get the fuck
back into that burning plane.
For the 245 whites of Shanksville, PA,
bombed from eight weeks in the future,
recovered into historical memory
from the pixel debris connecting
the monitor to the hardpoint,
please, get the fuck
back into that burning plane.
A finger prodding you through an array
of channels and devices:
lab, factory, prison, school.
Into the time-period you go,
fluctuating like a canister,
handed yourself by the bursar
and the ombudsperson
like a glass of gravitas.
You lick the bottom of the glass;
there is candy there.
You lick the wreckage of racialized vespers;
there is a nation here.”

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The early appearance of tears in this child

(almost from birth and certainly within the first forty-eight hours, according to the records of physician and nurse) is exceptional

(i) Drawing of the mouth to a square shape
(in the 12th week a protrusion of the low
er lip preceded crying); (2) closing of the eyes; (3) the vocal
sound a A a; (4) reddening of face; (5) tears.

The crying was not accompanied, and
no indication of the sob as late as the 7th week,
except its possible beginning in a slight catching
of the breath. In the 9th week sobbing was
clearly present. The reddening of the surface
that accompanies the cry was definitely observed

in the 8th week. It began in the face, spread up
over the top of the head, and simultaneously down
toward the feet. As early as the 7th week

the vocal cry was well differentiated and the cries
of hunger, pain, discomfort, sleepiness and anger
clearly distinguishable from each other.

The sob also varies with the nature of the feeling which accompanies the cry.

March Sleep Medicine

Lately, I've been thinking about sleep and the ways it is therapeutic. Five minutes is enough to reset something in my body. This morning I am wonderfully rested, but I have just come back from the Bighorn national forest. I got to see it again in the night, a herd of deer, a friend I am still friends with, a hut with a missing wall.

I stay in bed and read.

I read this, by Anne Carson, from "Beckett's Theory of Tragedy."

"O is shown moving to the window.
What a rustling what an evening. Oh little actor
(living moving mourning lamenting and howling incessantly)
time to fly back to where they keep your skin."

Bison coming to me in my sleep in the Bighorn national forest. In that hut with a missing wall, I was afraid they were next to my head that had no protection from the night. Dream from four years ago meet the dream I just had.

And sleep.

And read.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Figs Do Put Out

Figs and Les Figues have started to meld in my thinking about ‘the Southland’ — our fabulous media market of 'Greater Los Angeles'. We've cultivated orange groves, olive trees, pomegranates, avocados, vineyards and figs forever, wanting to be 'Mediterranean'. And more, the Southland has always been sold as a Heaven on earth. A bill of goods, you may say.

In church they teach the story of Jesus cursing the fig tree as a lesson to 'ya about having faith and the need to put out the goods. The tree got cursed for not putting out. My theory is that ministers use the story as a way to chastize their wives.

It's true that figs don’t put out. You can't ship them. They’re not commodifiable. They don’t keep. They'll never be a lollipop flavor. You don't put figs in a rum fool. When fresh, they ooze, then rot, attracting gnats. Figs are strictly hand-to-mouth. You can't pick figs by the handful. To pick them requires deliberation. You cradle the bottom of the fig in your palm, put a finger on the sappy white stem and snap the stem from the branch. Otherwise you blow the top.

Figs do get themselves into jams. They like a chocolate bath. They sit on their netherworlds and deliquesce, wasp traps. Oh fig, thou art sick!

“Conceptual poetry is poetry pregnant with thought.” (Charles Bernstein)

I have a fig tree at my family home. More figs fall than we can eat. They plop on the ground, bottom-heavy, bruised and stoic odalisques posing in a random yet constrained pattern under the leaf canopy. They may be staging a critique of Christianity’s prejudice against figs, fags, & fogs of doubt. Or it may be a visual poem honoring the slow food movement & innovative writing by women. That's how figs put out, here in the Southland.