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Showing posts from January, 2007

Moving House (4)

Finally there is something good to report on the house moving front. With the excessive hours I'm having to work to pay for it, and the horrible experience of having to open my door to people who've come to look around a house I don't want to leave--listening to them discuss what they would do with what I have come to think of as my living room, though I know it isn't--I was starting to think it would be one ghastly event after another, ending who knew where?

Today, though, I went to look at what was described as a flat in the Estate Agent literature--this was in the next village along from me, Earls Barton (I know, it sounds like something out of Robin Hood)--and found myself looking around the first floor of an eighteenth century thatched building with a narrow winding staircase as access, thick oak beams in the ceiling and a view out across the village square to the church, which itself is placed on a hill and looks imposing and beautiful. I knew the minute I walked …

BLUE FRED TAKES OVER WHALEN PAGE

I just took over management of the Philip Whalen MySpace page today. I'll add a link so interested people can go over and have a look.

Philip is probably one of the least known of the Beat Era poets. He wasn't Beat exactly, though the influence of Ginsberg and Kerouac loosened the breath of his poetry the way it did everybody else's. He is most accurately linked, as a writer and thinker, with Gary Snyder and Lew Welch, both roommates of his at Reed College. Which may be a point of very little interest to the casual reader, but I find these things absorbing, for some reason.

Somebody's got to tell the story right if even the Estates of the principal Beat authors have sacrificed accuracy in the name of moneymaking revisionism.

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL TABERNACLE

Image
Come on! We're always moaning that nothing ever happens in Northampton.

DON'T BIOGRAPHY DOWN MY BACK AND TELL ME IT'S RAINING

I spent some of yesterday in email correspondence with the legendary poet Charles Plymell, who has agreed to write some things for my site WHOLLY COMMUNION (http://whollycommunion.blogspot.com ). We had one piece already and we were agreeing on a final shape for it for publication.
Well, we did it finally--Plymell has to be the most unpretentious major poet I've ever dealt with--and his piece is now there to view. Another negative commentary on the Allen Ginsberg Estate.

People have commented on my bravery in taking Boss Morgan and his pals to task over their withholding of some important details from I CELEBRATE MYSELF (or is it I SING MYSELF?), and their alleged involvement in the blacklisting of 'difficult' authors like Gerald Nicosia, Jonah Raskin and yours truly. But trust me, I'm not brave. If the Ginsberg Estate comes after me with a lawsuit I will probably run like a frightened rabbit.

So, what's this about?

Naivety really. And a certain stubbornness. The first…

new poem

SHE WAS ALWAYS THE ONE
BUT SHE PREFERRED PLAYING SPLINTER CELL


I had to chase your love
but that was fine.
I wish you'd care enough
to chase for mine.

THE MESSAGE

Am I a snob? I've been accused of it many times. But I don't care. Do I look down on someone with low intelligence? Do I look down on people with no awareness of the arts or politics?

I don't know. My alliegance is bohemian. I am a member of the creative community (you might say everyone is in some way, but you know what I mean.) I believe in the primacy of the imagination and the individual mind. Put me at a fancy dinner party and I will look like a tramp who's wandered in from the rain. I will panic about social ettiquete (however you spell it), and I will probably make no conversation at all.

Those kids who draw cartoons in lavatory cubicles of hoodies smoking spliffs and holding guns in the air--they think they're free. Those girls who spend Saturday afternoons in shopping centres dressed up in their best clothes and flirting with boys think they're free. People who say "fuck" all the time think they're freer than someone who labours to find the…

WHY, HUH??

Why is it that people who belch & fart & swear & mispronounce words & get falling-down drunk & then talk about it obsessively, people who never express an idea of more than one dimension, people who proudly boast of having read nothing more than the back of a cereal packet--why is it that those people are called "real" & "honest" & are treated like the posessors of high virtue? Since Bukowski even most of the poets have fallen into the thrall of this ghastly post-Enlightenment new-Dark-Age cliche, though the arrival of Paul Skyrm on the scene suggests that there may be something new & exciting & (damn!) intelligent about to happen in poetry. In our society--in England if not anywhere else--anybody who is well-read or declines to swear & doesn't drink or prefers not to talk about sex or expresses himself (or herself) in a complex or abstract way is laughed at, seen as pompous, false (as if the truth is shit & puke &…

VOTE SHILPA. SHOW THOSE K K KOWS!

All right, it's not normally the focus for a literary blog, but please, everyone who's reading this in the UK, vote for Shilpa to win this year's Celebrity Big Brother. She's beautiful, intelligent, she has class, and your vote will stick it to the ignorant racist pack animals who've been abusing her for the last two weeks (or however long she has had to endure the torment), in the house.

Is this modern Britain? she asked last night after enduring a violent verbal assault from another contestant. It's certainly one side of it, yes. Let's show her, and India, and the world, the other side. A vote for Shilpa is a vote for a nicer Britain.

WHY WE'RE HERE

The purpose of "Suffolk Punch" is for me to write down whatever I might be thinking or feeling on any given day. Nothing else. The apprentice writer makes himself sit down and put pen to paper--or finger to keyboard--to discipline himself to the rigours of his craft. The writer who's been around for a long time sits down to write because he has no choice. After ten or (in my case) twenty five years, writing is as natural and as unavoidable as breathing, or the morning trip to the benjo.

FREE AT LAST

it's better not to have
those rules of conduct
that bind the man
in a relationship?

so he is free for what exactly?

to pound the night streets
under neon window lights
among the windblown ladies
drunk and shrieking
spilling their kebabs.

to sit all day underneath your window
uncombed, unshaven, dressing
gown exposing pale chest and
shrivelled cock that only stirs
for pictures on the internet

listening to voices passing
no responsibility to anyone
just let the dishes pile up
the crust of beans'll still be there
when you don't wash it off tomorrow.

you're free to chase women
you don't want to catch
the supplicant forever, perfecting
an act of nonchalance that finally
will seep into your bones
until rejection doesn't matter
it's just a game with sex
or banal chat over cocktails
with some braindead idiot the prize.

nobody can tell you what to do
it's like the bedtime wish
of sullen teenagers come true.

and all the while there's a trapdoor
yawning underneath your feet
and creeping thru t…

OLD SOLDIERS NEVER DIE

Tony Blair's speech yesterday shows how much he has been ruined, as a politician and probably as a man, by the War Against Terror. All that waffle about "Great Britain" having to decide whether it had an international role as a defender of freedom and a champion of democracy. If we wish to keep the world safe for industry--uh, democracy--he said, we must become a Nation of Warriors.
Even I am speechless, at least at the moment, to offer a counter-argument to such utter nonsense. But what else can one expect, in these end days, from the only man on the entire planet who thinks George Bush is right to escalate the conflict in Iraq by sending 20,000 more American troops?
Blair has been pushed into such a corner by his own miscalculations and bad decisions, he has no objective anymore other than to defend his profoundly damaged legacy; and his rationalisations of the mis-steps that damaged it are increasingly perverse, increasingly divorced from reality. He is yesterday's …

SOMETIMES YOU CAN'T TELL THE CHRISTIANS FROM THE MUSLIMS

Channel 4 in England is trailing a new show about Islamic extremism with quotes from Muslim leaders stating that women's equality is a myth, homosexuality an infamy, and the Bible a tract full of filth.
And yet, many Christians believe exactly the same thing--obviously substituting the Koran for the Bible. They'll state with bullish pride that a woman's place is in the home and that gays are going to Hell, though they will give you the bullshit rationalisation that they condemn the act of homosexuality rather than the person.
They won't state publically that the Koran is a tract full of filth, but they'll say it quite happily in private. I know. I heard one say it yesterday. They warned me that if I read the Koran I would be risking spiritual and moral danger.
So...
anyone got a copy I can borrow?

I'm beginning to wonder how much of a difference there is between the Muslims and the Christians, at least on the radical side. Maybe their nearly-identical philosophies e…

NEITHER, I'M A TOURIST

George Bush's speech last night--in the edited form I saw it--was not a masterpiece of public speaking (the man can't even read a speech coherently), but for deluded logic it should win the Nobel Prize.
His thinking reminds me of the story about the guy flying into Jerusalem. The man in the seat next to him leans over with suspicion and asks Are you a Palestinian or a Jew? To which the traveller replies Neither. I'm a tourist.
Bush has established a premise in his mind--Axis of Evil, international tairism etc. etc.--and now, working backwards, is trying to squeeze a big awkward universe into it.
When he accuses us (who I note are being called "the Left" again--how lovely!), of having no plan to deal with the situation in Iraq, he is forgetting that we don't work from the same flawed premise.
Withdrawal will send an emboldening message to Iran?
So what? Who said we had a right to interfere with Iran in the first place? To be honest (and I may wind up in a British …

Moving House (3)

It wasn't like this the last time.
Yesterday I went out to view the flat I hadn't been able to view the previous Saturday because of the non-appearance of the Estate Agent and guess what? They didn't show again. I waited for fifteen minutes, in the rain and dark of rush hour Wellingborough (the flat is on the main road through the town centre, so that rush hour detail is relevant), and once again the Estate Agent didn't turn up. I had their number with me but this time I didn't bother calling it. If they can't even turn up for appointments, how reliable are they going to be as landlords?
Mightily pissed off, I walked home, stopping at a convenience store for a loaf of bread and some energy-reviving lucozade along the way.
Then my existing landlord came to my door. Jesus, I thought as I opened the door and my porch light illuminated his face in the dark, don't I get even two minutes' break from this house moving business? But I kept my exasperation to mysel…

His Vietnam

Sooooo, George Bush has responded to the Republicans' crushing defeat in the mid-term elections, and the diplomatic recommendations of the study group, by announcing an increase in troop levels in Iraq, with the objective of "retaking Baghdad" in 10 months. Or something. Those commentators were right. It really is his Vietnam.

SOMETIMES YOU CAN'T TELL THE CHRISTIANS FROM THE LIONS

I found it quite disturbing yesterday, seeing the footage of those Christians outside Parliament protesting against the anti-discrimination legislation going through the Houses. Holding placards and singing songs to maintain the right to abuse and condemn and marginalise a whole stratum of society in the name of a beautiful man like Jesus.

He needs to come back and start his religion all over again. If He leaves it any longer there will be nothing left of the original message, and all the best people will be looking elsewhere for inspiration. If they aren't already.

two poems

packing boxes

packing boxes
ready for my move--
the past's accumulated weight
secured with masking tape
so it doesn't spill.


mobile poet

writing bad poems
on my mobile phone--
i'm down to the last
bar, as usual

Moving House (2)

This morning I went into town early and picked up another lettings list. I am seeing the studio apartment from Saturday later on this afternoon, but I don't want to take anything for granted. I just have to keep pushing at doors until one of them opens. Which as a metaphor is almost literally true.

Courage doesn't come naturally to me. Yesterday I was feeling pretty stressed trying to balance all this moving house business with working a full-time job. This week I am Acting Manager at work too, which increases the pressure. But when I left off shift last night I phoned Ruth, and after talking to her for an hour I felt a renewed strength. She is always the right person to lean on in a crisis.

In every other thing I do I try to remember, when I'm buckling, my childhood hero Muhammad Ali and all the tests of courage he has endured and spectacularly passed in his life. It helps me find my own focus. Gird my loins, so to speak. I am now going to do that with the house move. If he…

EIGHT MONTHS, AND STILL I MISS

the warm geography
of her lovely hams
underneath my duvet
in the mornings

Moving House (1)

I had a studio flat in Wellingborough to look at today. I had arranged the viewing yesterday over the phone from work, for 1pm.
When I got to the street the flats were on I stood outside in the rain for fifteen minutes, until I was thoroughly drenched, watching up and down the street for signs of an Estate Agent in case I was waiting in the wrong place. I would know an Estate Agent straight away. They would be alone, in a medium priced car, probably young, definitely short-haired and clean shaven, and wearing a fancy suit and tie. The only people who look like Estate Agents are mobile phone salesmen.
I stood, waited, dripped, sneezed, wiped. The rain kept coming, but no Estate Agent appeared. I considered phoning them to ask where they were. But I didn't have their number with me. It would have to wait until I'd done the shopping and gone home.
As I was walking down the road I passed a second block of flats that hadn't been there the last time I spent any time in the town, an…

If I Can't Write, I'll Write About Why

I haven't written a poem for a long time now, except for that little piece about the jabbering schoolgirl. My mind hasn't been in the poetry zone since I heard I had to leave the Lookout and find another place to live.
What's a poetry zone, I hear you ask? Isn't anything a suitable subject for poetry--moving house included? Yes. But then you have to organise the lines and think of the harmonics and all that kind of thing; and I'm not in the right frame of mind for harmonics.
So it occurred to me this morning that I would use my writing time to tell you about the thing that is stopping me from writing. It probably won't produce very much of literary worth, but it'll keep me busy when I'm not working or phoning estate agents, and my experiences might chime with a few of you out there.
Somebody might even give me indefinite use of a big country house to get my inspiration back on track. They did such things for Gregory Corso and for Ezra Pound. But I'm no…

ELVIS, CASH AND PATSY CLINE

by Martin Hodder

I've just been reading your latest postings.

I agree with every word you say about Elvis and Johnny Cash. First some further observations on EP:

Surely it's the case that a lot of the people - especially media types - who have been making comments such as those to which you refer regarding his later appearances do not really understand the whole Elvis thing. Mostly, this garbage is being uttered by typically arrogant and uninformed idiots in the media who were perhaps only toddlers at the time, if they had even entered this world at all.

These people have created an Elvis persona of their own making, and then go on to believe the tripe they produce. What makes this worse is that their audiences believe it all, and they can't be blamed for that because what other information do they have? In truth, as you know particularly well, there's a lot of honest, factual material out there, but with today's spoon-fed society most can't be bothered to try to f…

HURT

Why Johnny Cash and "Hurt"?

I read somewhere that it's the song most likely to be at the top of the list of a forty-something male's favourite songs. And sure enough, it sits high on mine, though I doubt anything could ever knock "Freebird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd off the number one spot, or "Love Buzz" by Nirvana off the number two for that matter.

I'm a lifelong Cash fan, trendoids, having bought "Silver" back in '76 or '77 and progressed from there. So I was predisposed anyway to love a supreme example of his craft like "Hurt" (which is, in fact, his best-ever recording/ performance.) But it also moves me for a very personal reason: the song and video portray the feelings and the thoughts I get during my depressive episodes exactly--it is like a particularly elegant projection of the inside of my head. And being a narcissist I want to look at that. And fearing the severity of those episodes, I sometimes want to understan…

ELVIS PRESLEY AND JOHNNY CASH

A mood of quiet melancholy seems to pervade my MySpace page today with the addition of two new videos, "Hurt" by Johnny Cash and a live performance of "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" by Elvis Presley, recorded two months before his death for his last television special.

Elvis' physical appearance shocked everybody who saw those last concerts, either in person or on television. He was overweight, his skin was bad and at times he looked sluggish, even confused. And the version of "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" featured here has been used ever since as proof of how sick, and degraded, he had become. He stumbles over words, misses beats; he even appears not to know where he is or whom he's addressing. Jesus Christ, the critics said then and still say now, this guy was really off his face!

HE WAS JOKING, IDIOTS! Okay, the first verbal slip was a mistake but the rest was a traditional piece of self-effacing on-stage Presley clowning. He did it all the time; and …

poem

TO THE TEENAGE GIRL ON THE BUS TONIGHT
WHO JABBERED FOR THE WHOLE TWELVE MILES HOME

I hope one day
You discover silence
If only
For your boyfriend's sake.

This Life Plus Ten

Last night on British tv we saw "This Life Plus Ten", which took us back into the lives of the people in my favourite mid-Nineties drama series "This Life" and showed you what had happened to them in the last decade.
I loved "This Life" with a passion. Everybody I knew found the story of young lawyers Miles, Anna, Milly and her husband, would-be writer Egg, too serious, the characters vain and uninteresting, the hand-held cameras pretentious. But it all struck a chord with me. Even now I feel as if the show tells something about me in the mid-Nineties, though I had neither money nor ambition at the time (I did have drama.) I understand it inspired similar feelings of devotion in all of the people who watched it week in week out for the short period of its life (you may recall the BBC pulled it, to loud protests, when it was at the height of its cult appeal.)
"Plus Ten" was always going to suffer by comparison. And the pretext that the author Amy J…

George Bush's New Iraq Strategy

(1) Make the enemy even madder than they are by killing Saddam.

(2) Send more soldiers for them to shoot at.

How can it fail, eh?

O.Z.Acosta: Not Just A Psychedelic Nut-Job

I've just finished Oscar Acosta's "Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo" (Vintage, 1989).
You know Oscar: he's the infamous "allegedly erstwhile Samoan attorney" of Hunter S. Thompson's classic "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." Except he wasn't Samoan, although according to his own autobiography he liked to joke that he was.
Acosta was Chicano, and this book charts the strange road he took through the Forties, Fifties and Sixties to discover his identity. And guess what? Though it's not perfect, it's a really wonderful book, vividly written, portraying the lives of the racially disinherited underclass in America in a way I haven't seen equalled by any other author. It also describes the wild psychedelic Sixties--the San Francisco bars, the hippies, the drugs, and adventures with a certain half-crazed journalist friend of the narrator's who may be somewhat familiar to readers.
The two strands of the book, as described, hang tog…