Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Well written article on e-reading...or how Dio foresaw technology's impact on culture in the 21st Century

In Matthew Shaer's essay "The e-bbok, the e-reader, and the future of reading" for the Christian Science Monitor, he quotes Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid, who argues that with electronic readers and the twilight of the codex that, “[...] we will develop within the next generation a shorter, less-enriched [brain] circuitry for reading, and I don’t think I’m ultraconservative. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t read online.... I’m saying that we need to preserve what’s best about the present reading brain – preserve the beautiful function of books in our lives – as we move across mediums that will allow us ever greater access to information.”

Others say that both the e-book and the codex will co-exist for a very long be honest, I am uncertain. Who can really say? Yet Christopher Harris, a librarian and the creator of the blog says that as a librarian he has to "go where the information goes." I can agree with that. Plus, he gets all heavy metal: "But as with any disruptive technology, you’re either guided forward or you’re steamrolled. The only way to do it is to jump on the tiger and take control of it.” Didn't Ronnie James Dio say so much the same in 1987? Ahem, "Holy diver you've been down too long in the midnight sea oh what's becoming of me / Ride the tiger you can see his stripes but you know he's clean oh don't you see what I mean." Indeed we do, Ronnie.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Awful library books...

Can be seen here:

This site is awesome--from crazy old Satanist scare books from the 80s and 90s to how to jump start excitement with Tape Recording. Really, it's worth checking out!

See why weeding really can be fun!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Jacket #38

Excellent article on Jack Spicer and print culture by Graham Foust in Jacket #38. Here's a taste:
"As in a detective story, the reader is incorporated into Spicer’s poems, and it seems that Spicer’s ideal reader is one who is able to rewrite, recreate, and continue the textbook rather than follow it to the letter. Spicer’s electric poetics aren’t a power trip, as he maintains that even the poet herself remains only a co-author. This process is impersonal, as is Poe’s, but Spicer’s impersonality goes one step further into the Outside by insisting that metaphors are not for readers or writers, that they are not, in fact, “for humans” (Vocabulary 300). Spicer does not seek to predetermine his effects, but rather is affected and afflicted by ghostly figures; in turn, he sounds the stories of these invasions."
And if this gets you going, then be sure to check out Mr. Foust's reading on Thursday December 3 at Studio One Arts Center. To read more information about the upcoming reading and an interview with G. Foust, there's more here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Punk Passage at San Francisco Public Library

For those interested in punk rock, San Francisco, and photography, the SF public library will be hosting Punk Passage, an exhibit on the SF punk scene from 1977-1981. Included are photos from shows, posters and fliers, video footage, and other ephemera. Also of interest: tomorrow, Tuesday 9/17, there will be a panel discussion with band Queer Punk, and how being Queer influenced their music and their memories of the original SF punk scene. The exhibit runs through December 6. Read more at:

"The photographs represent some of San Francisco’s contribution to the international punk movement. The message is unabashed individualism, creativity, do-it-yourself activism and black humor. Bands such as The Avengers, the Dead Kennedys, the Dils, Crime, Sleepers, the Mutants and others are represented, placing them within the historic context as an important part of San Francisco’s counter-cultural history, as innovative for its time as the beat and hippie movements were."

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Like gashes, little foxes

So here is a short story I wrote in time for Halloween, but then I forgot to post it... ah well.

Kathryn could hear the foxes barking outside. They had been barking for nearly two hours. Perhaps they made such a ruckus every night, but Kathryn had only been here for two days so she had no way of telling. She was looking through the window again, wondering what she should do. There was plenty of food in the house, the weather was mild, and in other circumstances she would be happy to holiday here.

The sun’s last traces went skimming through the leaves to create soft shadows on the honey colored grass that surrounded the house. Great clouds unfurled against a reddish sky, and a small breeze, like their emissary, drifted through the window and past Kathryn, pulling her hair into dark rivulets.

Now she found herself alone in a house supposed to be occupied by her boyfriend’s elderly aunt. And the car, her car, which she and Richard had driven here was broken half a mile out with a bent axle, and now Richard was gone on a very long walk back into the last town they had driven through on their way here. So she now found herself with the house, a cup of tea, and the vulpine evening.

Really, she shouldn’t be worried overly much. Richard’s aunt was supposed to have met them here, and her absence wasn’t terribly strange. She was older, in her late sixties, and according to Richard, an active capable woman. She had grown up in the Midwest among a primarily Russian immigrant community, and had fished and hunted and wandered with her father during the Depression and had never let go of her self-assurance. Kathryn had always admired that same characteristic in Richard, and had been looking forward to meeting this woman of whom Richard had always spoken with so much esteem. Kathryn was sure all would work out well, and that Richard would be back in a few days.

Instinctively, she pulled her cell from her pocket, to check for a message from Richard; of course, there was none. There was no reception here--there hadn’t been any for the last ten miles. Richard promised to return as soon as possible after he got into town and found a mechanic. He expected to be there within a day or so and back late the next. They had joked about the foxes when he left, Kathryn teasing that he, as usual, would have a harem of vixens within a day of arrival anywhere—even here so far from anything else.

Kathryn sipped her tea, and eventually decided to roll a cigarette and sit on the front porch steps. The evening had grown pleasantly chilly, the moon clear and bright, and a cigarette—something Richard always frowned on—would taste good and she could listen to the foxes speaking in their language of high pitched yelps and barks. Perhaps tonight she would actually see one. She flicked on the dim porch light and shut the door behind her.

She looked out across the large yard to the road winding out through the copse of pines and twisty grey oaks surrounding the house. The house perched on the top of a small hill so that it looked out but not over the tall trees growing everywhere around it. Kathryn liked sitting out on the steps, and if she was honest with herself, it was because the house was too large for her and made her a little nervous. The Yakova residence (Aunt Barbara’s surname) was as gray as the lichen-covered oaks and seemingly as old. The house was a modestly large affair with two stories, a high roof, and the haughty demureness that all these Victorians seemed to evoke. Kathryn had once visited San Francisco and under the presence of so many similar houses had felt like she was constantly being gently scolded by well-meaning but overly prim aunts.

She exhaled and watched the smoke drift out toward dissipation. Shadows flickered here and there in the woods and she could make out the foxes’ small shapes and the sharp flashes of their eyes. She saw light falling on the grass around the house and cursed. She had left the light on again upstairs in the bedroom, and now she would have to go up again and turn it off. “Serves you right, Kathryn, for never getting over your scarredy-pants-ness. Now you have to go up all alone in an old house with a missing old lady and your man isn’t here to go with you.”

It was the last part that roused her courage to not just ignore the light and sleep downstairs on the couch. Richard was always in charge of himself and liked to tease her for her jitters. Kathryn knew that if she were to give in to unfounded fears then they would only become worse and by the time Richard arrived, she would be sleeping in the broken down Honda with a blanket, a box of crackers, and a flashlight.

She exhaled the last of her cigarette, turned to ascend the few stairs to the now darkened front door, and heard a bark behind her nearly at her feet. Twisting like a cat, she saw a small dark fox. It barked again, its teeth small and sharp, its tail puffed high above it. She was happy she didn’t cry out herself, and readied herself to kick the fox were it to attack and then run back inside. She began walking slowly back up the stairs when the fox hissed and ran back into the deep shadows around the house. Shivering from cold and nerves, Kathryn pushed the slightly ajar door open.

The door slammed a little too hard behind as she shut it, and she jumped. “What the fuck was that?” She was talking to herself to break the spell of quiet the was all too easily cast here, and walked into the living room, flicking on the lights as she went. The staircase to the second floor started from the corner of the living room and made for a narrow ascension to the rooms above: two bedrooms, a storage room, and a small bathroom.

Richard and she had spent the first night upstairs in the guest bedroom, and had investigated the entire house room by room looking for clues to where his aunt may be. Richard had received a letter a month or so prior inviting him to visit and go over some issues of Barbara’s will and estate. Richard had promised to be her executor, and Barbara probably would appreciate other people filling her house with people as it had once been when she was young. They had set up a date, and then Richard and Kathryn had arrived to an empty house and a less than empty forest surrounding it.

“Kathryn.” Her heart became a sparrow, and for the second time that night she jumped. Her name had come from Barbara’s room, and was not Richard’s voice. Could her cell phone be on and working? Had she misheard? She checked and still no service. She didn’t recall a phone or answering machine upstairs but perhaps they had missed one in his aunt’s room. Kathryn opened the door, reached around the doorway for the light switch, and flicking it on, opened the door fully. The window was open slightly and she could feel a cool breeze raising goose bumps. She stepped in. Her eyes swept the room looking for a phone. She suddenly felt like a mannequin, hollowed out and stiff, realizing there was such device in the room. Turning to leave, she saw the door slowly shutting.

She jumped, caught it, and slammed the door shut. Forgetting to turn off the light in the room, she fled down the stairs turning on every light she could find. Only when the whole floor glowed with artificial electric life, did Kathryn calm down enough to realize that she probably heard a fox, or a branch swaying, or the breeze and, out of her loneliness, had hoped it was someone calling her with news. And of course the door shut—the window was open and hadn’t she felt the breeze herself?

“Girl, you have got to get your shit together. Now go in the kitchen, raid the cupboards, and take a breath.”

Later, after a cup of tea and some soup, did Kathryn finally fall asleep on the couch, far from the rooms upstairs, but never far from her small and lurking disquiet.

Kathryn dreamt that night of visitors. She was upstairs in the house, and was looking out the window awaiting Richard’s return. Someone kept knocking politely but persistently on the door below and she was sure whoever it was would soon leave if she just remained quiet and ignored the knocking. She was wearing a dress that she had not seen before—a simple blue dress with embroidered stars here and there, and around the square-neck was a curious embroidered pattern of intertwining branches. The knocks downstairs had become something close to thunder and suddenly Kathryn could not breathe and she could see Richard on the road back to the house and was terrified and awoke in the dark to see someone sitting in the room with her. She lurched forward, gasping, to awake once more in an empty room.

The sun was streaming through the windows and her face was warm. She gathered herself, breathing slowly and regularly as she always did when she woke from nightmares. Soon she had brushed the night’s occurrences away, and was left with a strong desire for coffee and someone to talk to. If not Richard, then her sister. She suddenly missed her sister. She wanted her sister here, with her, filling up this house with her brash laughter. Kathryn and Richard had considered inviting her sister along, but had decided to just make it the two of them and bring family over later. Kathryn didn’t normally spend a lot of time alone, and was getting not only lonely, but a little stir-crazy. She busied herself in the kitchen making coffee, and reminded herself that she could use this time for a little self-improvement and maybe meditate or something while she had the time.

Kathryn didn’t meditate that day, but she did clean. This was usually a meditative exercise for her, and she thought it would not only give her something to do, but would also make Aunt Barb happy when she arrived. She swept about the house, dusting, and of course, doing an entirely justified and respectable amount of snooping. Covers and cushions were lifted, drawers were opened to clean the interiors, and while checking the drawers in the kitchen to see if any utensils needed a clean scrubbing, she discovered phone bills. The last time a phone bill had been paid was nearly eight years ago, and she and Richard had not seen a phone in the house. This was curious.

After ransacking the rest of the house, now with little care for covering her tracks, she found a box in Aunt Barb’s room, under a chair with other documents: doctor’s bills, electricity and water bills, and unsent letter in an envelope addressed to Richard; all were postdated at least eight years prior. The letter was innocuous enough, asking Richard to come visit, that she had some work that needed to be done and that he would be of great help in her quickly failing health. Kathryn decided that this was absolutely enough and that she would be leaving this fucking house immediately. There was still time to get a start toward town before it got dark, and hell, she would bring a blanket, and would be happier out there than another night here in this strange house with its bizarre mysteries.

Kathryn couldn’t get out.

The forest, or something, wouldn’t let Kathryn leave. She would walk in, following the road for an hour, and then find the house balanced on the rise in front of her again, its immense mockery apparent. At first she had thought she had just gotten turned around, a little lost, but after the third time it happened, Kathryn finally understood that she would not be able to escape under her own power. Helplessness swept through her and, shaking, she sat and wept. She pounded the dirt road with her fists and raged at her own lack of agency. She had been swept to the side and shown her own powerlessness. Eventually, worn from crying, when one suddenly just feels a little better for having run out of tears, she nodded, acquiesced that something was happening with the foxes and the shadows and the strange sounds and if she couldn’t leave, well then fine, but she certainly wasn’t going to give up. She’d sleep in the Honda and wait for Richard’s return. She stumbled to the car and realized that she had left her keys in the house. Slowly, she slid down the door and sat in the cold dirt, and did not scream. She gathered her will and decided that she would go back inside, gather her keys, and then would return to the car. This was going to happen just as she planned; when she was certain, she rose and slowly strode to the house.

Kathryn ascended the stairs warily and wearily. No lights were on inside, and she waited by the door for a moment’s listening. As per usual, all she could hear were the foxes barking in the dark trees behind her, now more like great rips in the world in the shape of trees with the small foxes like knives flitting from gash to ground to gash again.

The door was unlocked. She had left it unlocked in case she missed Richard on his return, and was now glad she had left it so as she was relieved to not fumble with keys in the dark. Slipping in, she flicked on the light and went to the coffee table in the living room where she recalled leaving her keys. The table was made from perhaps a walnut or some other dark wood and was probably an antique; Kathryn wasn’t sure, but it certainly looked old. It also was absent of keys. Kathryn scanned the room. Frustrated with herself and Richard and the foxes and this goddamned house, she fumed into the kitchen, and everywhere throughout the house, but it was just as empty of keys as it was of any feeling of menace. It was as if the house had realized its creepiness, and was doing its best to shunt that aspect aside and only show its house-ness. As if it were saying in its best dinner table voice, why there’s nothing here but me, just an old house on a quaint and quiet piece of normal property.

Kathryn could scream.

She instead sat on the couch and determined to make a plan. Fine. She would stay in the house one more night. She would not sleep, but instead would sit here on the couch with all the lights on, and if she felt sleepy she would smoke cigarettes. Inside. Tomorrow, she would attempt to leave again, and if she was turned around again, she’d burn the whole fucking thing to the ground, and that would be sure to garner someone’s attention. “Did you hear that, house?” She asked. “Tomorrow I’m either on my way toward town, or there’s gonna be a reckoning.” She shook her head, amazed that she was at a point where talking to houses seemed totally okay.

She woke with a start. Fuck, she had been sleeping. Someone was in the room with her. Sitting quietly on the antique chair looking at her. She screamed.

“Kathryn! It’s me. It’s okay.” The shape lurched toward her, arms heavy and ready to crush her. Beating them away, Kathryn heard from a distance, on the periphery of hearing, the form saying something but all she could hear were the foxes almost chanting outside and around the house, and inside her head. She stopped to listen as the barking seemed to almost coalesce into language. The foxes were saying something and Kathryn knew she should hear whatever it was they were saying and then Richard was there holding her tight and whispering, “I’m here, I’m here.”

“There wasn’t a mechanic who would come out here!”

“Richard, you don’t get it, we have to go! You weren’t here!” Kathryn was weeping again. Lord, she was tired of crying. Her fists were clenched at her side and she decided that hitting Richard would not actually hammer in the valididty of her concerns. but he was saying something.

“...come on, Katie, don’t you think that just maybe you could be freaking out? Just a little? You know you’re not very good alone, you’re Ms. Scaredy-pants, remember? Anyway, I’m here now and it’ll be fine. The house is beautiful, the little forest outside is lovely, and we deserve to be here.”

“What about the bills, Richard?” Kathryn pointed to the bills scattered across the counter. She had shown them to Richard to prove that something was happening here, and that maybe Aunt Barbara wasn’t here anymore and wouldn’t be coming back.

“Well that is strange, Kathryn, but I received a letter from her just a month ago, remember? And it was her writing, and she asked me to come here. Let’s just wait a week or so. And what were you doing, anyway? This isn’t your house. You shouldn’t be snooping around.”

And so it went for a good portion of the day. Eventually Richard retreated to the upstairs room, and Kathryn sat on the couch--less afraid of course, but frustrated and feeling very alone. She could hear him upstairs, pacing about and cleaning. He once came down into the kitchen and grabbed some cleaning supplies and a broom. The house didn’t need cleaning, but Richard was fastidious, and sometimes cleaned as a means to cool off. Yet he scarcely came down, and when he did, he ignored her. He was zoned out, probably tired from the walk back, and frustrated he had not found a mechanic. He didn’t need her paranoia upon his return. At leas this was Kathryn’s analysis, but when she tried making amends and was brushed off like a stranger—well to hell with him. She could ignore him too; tomorrow she’d leave. She would leave tomorrow to walk to town. If Richard didn’t want to go with her, fine. And if she got turned around again, she’d pull him by his ears with her until he saw it too. So once again she slept alone downstairs, and this time tired Kathryn fell quickly asleep and did not dream.

Early in the morning, long before any light, she began to feel a little cold and groped for her blanket. She pressed herself into the back of the couch, facing the living room and pulled her blanket all the way to her chin, both hands curled into fists holding the blanket tightly wound in each.

The stairs creaked and she woke no longer angry but immobile and cold and panting.

Something was coming down the stairs heavy and terrible.

Something was lurching toward her. She tried to see what it was, but it was dark, and it’s movements too abrupt, terrible and unnatural.

She tried to scream and couldn’t. Where was Richard? Was he dead? Had this thing been in the house all along, just toying with her? It was closer now, and she could finally begin to see it and oh god oh god oh god it couldn’t be how could there exist something like this so unnatural and monstrous.

It was Richard, but not him. Good god how could it be him? She couldn’t hear the foxes tonight. Just her heart and the floorboards creaking as if under immense weight. As it moved down the stairs toward her, the sound of teeth gnashing and bone scraping along the old stairs filled the room and oh if she could only scream.

It was Richard and it was not. Flickering in and out and through him was a terrible old woman. Metal teeth grinned out at odd angles, and a merciless and empty humor dripped in and out with the rasping breath. It whispered her name, just once, and she shuddered for in those two syllables there was such hunger and such invitation. It was Richard asking her to love him, pleading. It was the old woman pleading to be fed. It was her first lover whispering her name during sex, and Kathryn felt herself giving in to their demands. They needed her. A strange sort of resigned peace spread out and warmed her. She had read of predation, of how some animals simply go slack at the end. How by finally letting it all go, they reach some sort of primitive transcendence in the teeth of whatever creature is at that instant like their god.

Richard’s not-face was above her now and she could not differentiate between the old woman with absent sockets filled with night and a chicken foot hanging from her neck and Richard’s panicked, sorrowed eyes hungry for so much of her. She heard a fox bark, and finally could scream.

Like fire ripping through the house, a fleet of the small and vicious creatures swept into the house. Blood and fire and white teeth consumed the heavy backed and bone-legged crone. Foxes swirled over her screaming and biting and bit. For every fox she tore off broken-backed, two more would be there rending. Kathryn felt like the house was on fire, just as she had planned, and finally began crawling toward the cool air rushing in through the front door.

Kathryn looked back once from house’s exit. The old woman opened her mouth to speak. It was smeared red. She was trying to say something, something Kathryn knew would be hideous, but stemming from her mouth were dozens of branches, lichen crawling over her desiccated lips, branches black and grasping. Foxes snapping at her lips and pulling. Kathryn watched, unable to breathe. The lips began to part even wider and the hag began to shake her head in fury.

That night Kathryn fled through the dark trees, running and tripping along the road, leaving the blaze of foxes and that thing that had taken Richard to whatever doom was their fate. She cried out as she ran, her breath ragged and eyes raw. She wept from relief and its attendant guilt. Poor, poor Richard. Once, from the road, she looked back again, and thought that she saw the house, smaller now, moving away jerkily as if on legs, light leaking like blood from its windows and foxes giving chase.

Friday, October 16, 2009

small, new poem from a mss hesitantly titled "somewhere there is a forest"

O quilted leaf, pneumatic
limbs of noisy light. I am
piercéd! Cumulative questions
loft into lilting conflict.
Electricity has lost
its watch and seven small winds
sweep the elms, speckled greenly.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What does your soul look like?

This project is really neat! Draw your soul, and send it to the good people at Information is Beautiful. Closing date is Oct.31st though, so get on it! As David states on his site:
If enough people do this, it could be really interesting. Because we’ll all be blind to other peoples’ drawings, there’s a chance here to spot patterns, commonalities and any interesting coincidences that might appear across all the souls.

And to my agnostic and atheist friends, swap out "soul" for "mind" and play on.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Public Libraries and Provocateurs

Reposted from the September 19, 2009 San Francisco Chronicle article the "Public Option" by M.C. Blakeman:

Of all the current assaults on our noble republic, perhaps none is more dangerous than the public option - specifically, the public library option.

For far too long, this menace has undermined the very foundations of our economy. While companies like Amazon and Barnes & Noble struggle valiantlyeach day to sell books, these communistic cabals known as libraries undercut the hard work of good corporate citizens by letting people read their books for free. How is the private sector supposed to compete with free? And just what does this public option give us? People can spend hours and hours in these dens of socialism without having to buy so much as a cappuccino.

Furthermore, not only can anyone read books for free in the library, they can take them home, too. They get a simple card that can be used at any library in town. No checking on the previous condition of books they've read. No literacy test. Nothing. Yet, do these libertines of literature let you choose any book you want, anytime you want it? No. Have you ever tried to get the latest best-seller at a public library? They put you on a waiting list for that, my friend. And if you do ask these government apparatchiks a question about a book, they start talking your ear off, and pretty soon they're telling you what to read.

Of course, if you break one of their petty rules and return a book late, you have to pay fines that mount grotesquely each day. Even if you die, your overdue fees keep piling up. Is that not a death tax? How long must the elderly live in fear of burdening their children with these unfair sanctions on their estates?

Don't be fooled for a minute. Somebody has to pay for these "free" libraries, and I'll tell you who it is, pal. Those good ol' suckers, the
American taxpayers, that's who.

Have you ever wondered who's really behind this public library option?
And don't you think it's fishy that they mask their nefarious activities with benign-sounding names, like Friends of the Library? What's their real agenda - and why do they have so many "volunteer" meetings, anyway?

No, my fellow Americans. We cannot wait until we're all goose-stepped into a massive book checkout line. This assault on capitalism and our very way of life has got to end. Be subversive ... burn your library card! Go out and buy a book!


Friends, if this made you mad, then you definitely need to read this.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Y'all know that I love technology, but this is heart-breakingingly...

...dumb. And sad.

James Tracy, Headmaster of Cushing Academy says, “When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books,’’ and has successfully pushed for a book-less library. *sigh*

And one more quote from the article--this time one I agree with:
"William Powers, author of a forthcoming book based on a paper he published at Harvard called Hamlet’s Blackberry: Why Paper is Eternal, called the changes at Cushing 'radical' and 'a tremendous loss for students.'

'There are modes of learning and thinking that at the moment are only available from actual books,’ he said. 'There is a kind of deep-dive, meditative reading that’s almost impossible to do on a screen. Without books, students are more likely to do the grazing or quick reading that screens enable, rather than be by themselves with the author’s ideas.'"

And what about the simple arithmetic of constantly changing technology? With a library with books, once a book is bought it can be used until the contents are no longer relevant; that's a pretty long shelf-life! With a room full of kindles and laptops (which are perfectly wonderful tools in addition to books) what happens when these machines are no longer a supported format and the library cannot afford to purchase another $15,000 to $50,000 worth of new hardware?

Well, it's a first--I'll give Cushing that.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Nick Harkaway talks about Web 2.0... it relates to authors and publishing, and, surprise, it relates to libraries as well. Take some of this those lessons he mentions and move them from publishing reps to librarians and they still make a lot of sense. He also includes space capsule artifacts and witty banter, and relates the internet to a pub. The most simple and most important idea he mentions (and writes in < big > letters) is "The internet is not a broadcast medium." Yes. Yes. Yes. To read Harkaway's post, go to: (or perhaps you a fast clicker person and have already clicked on the title link).

Harkaway is also the author of The Gone Away World. You can read a review of this book here (written by yours truly):

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Letter to electricity

(for Robert)

We were deluged
with your absence
the sky hanging low
we reaching out
our mouths moved
and I noticed
curvature of
lips and sound
then the lights
they went out
out where you might be
now I’m writing
this to you and to
all electricity
the rain outside
that night accompanied
by light and wind
was, is not architecture
when the sky
is hung to sleep
every star a pill
of potential dreaming
the old constellations
still there and no one
reading them at all
we opened our mouths
so you could speak
only stars spilled
forth driving and flickering
possibilities and languages
frozen in static
so this is a letter to you
a tracery of what might
this is a letter to you
to electricity.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Heidi Taillefer's art is pretty cool.

It seems that ever since Mark Ryden (and maybe before him Frank Kozik) there has been a plethora of artists that re-imagine narratives combining the mythic, banal, monstrous, political, and absurd into pieces that while times both whimsical and disturbing, are nonetheless often sub par (Mark Ryden excluded--his work is fantastic!). Take a look at Juxtapoz magazine and you'll see what I'm talking about. Nonetheless, sometimes an artist skips away from the rest, and while still playing with the same elements, does so in more interesting ways. I discovered Heidi Taillefer in an advertisement in Art Forum and immediately went looking for her site, (okay, obviously, it wasn't really much of a search); nonetheless, her work is fantastic (pardon the literal-ness here) and well worth taking a look. Here's just one example:

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sunn O))) at the Independent

Sunn O))) at the Independent was immense! Here are a few of the photos I took sans flash with my Canon Powershot SX10IS:

More pics can be seen on my flickr page: and a few more are at my pal Saudade's blog:

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Same Hat! Manga Site

Just read about Same Hat! in the Last Gasp catalog. Same Hat! is a manga blog edited by Ryan Sands, a fella who lives close by in San Francisco and translates said Eastern comics. So I went and checked out the blog and was impressed with the site and the provided manga--especially Dorohedoro--a story of sorcerers and animal-headed people who apparently can chomp heads or eat ramen and gyoza.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

and finally a new poem on the blog...

a gloaming union
bloodied and phrastic
"O lively inhuman
we'll be heretics"

against our mouth
music, glass, concrete
writing is uncouth
a blushed discretion

oakland howls, demands
"smoldered throat / peeled collision"
we'll sing a smattering
tendoned fête

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Interesting article on copyright law from a science fiction writer

Just read this piece by Cory Doctorow about copyright law and was surprised to learn that Frank Herbert's estate sued some Second Lifers because they paid an homage to Dune in SL. Absolutley ridiculous. In any case, Doctorow's essay is concise and makes a unique point about copyright's bias against constructive creativity. Read more here:

*Good thing the bit below is a parody*

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

brief thoughts on Tuned Droves

Eric Baus’ latest book, Tuned Droves, is a perceptual transmission, a linguistic reengineering, and a phenomenal cartography of a wild borderland both innocent and amoral. Reading these poems, with lines like “The bee’s stinger is like an enclosed, dark tongue. The atonal tortoise is a kind of dictionary in reverse,” reminds me of the often overlooked linkages between the world’s contents and their connection as well to language and thus thought. Eric Baus’ poetry refreshes the world and makes it more dangerous.

[EDITED on 4.29.09]
Remember! Tomorrow is Poem in Your Pocket Day. Don't be embarrassed when someone asks you to share a poem, and you reach into your pocket pulling forth only lint.
Print, steal, tear, memorize, or write a poem and carry it in your pocket. Dare to disturb the universe!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Books stabilize culture

I read a terrific essay today by Stephen L. Carter over at The Daily Beast. Carter begins with the following:
Like a lot of writers, I am wondering when Congress and the administration will propose a bailout for the publishing industry. Carnage is everywhere. Advances slashed, editors fired, publicity at subsistence levels, entire imprints vanished into thin air. Moreover, unlike some of the industries that the government, in its wisdom, has decided to subsidize, the publishing of books is crucial to the American way of life

Ironically I read this online, but I very much agree with Carter when he asserts that the book itself is quite different from information, and that both are necessary. We so often tend to blindly adopt new media and throw out the old without taking the time to critically analyze not just the benefits and costs of each, but the deeper nature of different media types. I'll take a book any day over a kindle, and I don't trust those who wouldn't do the same.

And in tangential but ever-so related news, Ama.zon (may it be crushed by its own weight) has decided to define its LGBT titles as "Adult." WTF? Read more here:

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Hurray for Vermont!

I don't really have too much to say, except that I am so pleased about Vermont's legalization of gay marriage, and that California needs to get its act together.

Read more here:

I love California, but c'mon, are we really this far behind the curve on this? Sheesh.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Friday, February 27, 2009

A good week of training and poetry and people

It's been a great week; I got to do the things I most love: hang out with my girl, train a bunch, engage with some terrific poetry, and talk with really intriguing, smart people.

Monday started the week off well as I trained with the Oakland Buyu group and, as usual, learned a lot with them.

Tuesday, I had off, went out to dinner, and then was off to train again at the San Francisco dojo.

Wednesday I was lucky enough to catch Peter Gizzi at St. Mary's College where I was reminded of the importance of breath to poetry. Hearing Peter's poems is a pleasure; he's a terrific reader! Peter talked a lot about his poetic process, and I was inspired to ditch the laptop for initial composition, and to employ the more visceral pen and notebook.

Thursday night, Ammie and I went for a long walk, ate some delicious food, and then I was off to my martial art class in SF after getting off work. What a night! my teacher, Dale, taught principles relating to disappearing and misdirection, and was damn near ghost-like when I tried launching a few full-speed attacks.

Today, on a walk with Ammie, we ran into Willis and Sarah Barnstone, and had a great talk that included a story about Willis having lunch with Robert Frost (as well as another poet with the last name of Snow). Frost, the great populist, in a discussion about Dante, remarked that he had only once briefly read Dante while taking courses at Harvard and then had only read the great Italian poet in Greek. Talking with Willis is stunning. He is easily one of the most remarkable, open, and thoughtful scholars I am likely ever to meet.

Thinking on all this today, I am reminded of the importance of space in, and to, art. The Japanese use a term, Yugen, to describe a space in poetry and art for the unsaid and unrealized which deepens a piece's tone and allows the viewer an entry point wherein he or she could supply his or her own imagination. This idea of Yugen, different than just simply space, is vital for arts (poetic, visual, and physical) to become alive. Keeping this sort of "space" open seems so vital to any creative endeavor, as it is an invitation of sorts for the dynamic unknown potential of things to breath life into whatever is being created--a poem, a movement, or a conversation.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Censorship, Comics, & Porn

Just read this today at the Telegraph UK after reading an article about a quiet invasion of immortal jellyfish: two pieces of law in the UK working to limit certain types of porn could potentially make a host of comics illegal. Basically, and on the surface rightly, one law seeks to ban print-material that depicts sexual violence. Sounds good, yet one critic aptly criticizes: "A kick in the balls or a--- would constitute this, and a kick in the balls is a well trodden part of humour." So the Punisher and Batman are probably right out, and the Preacher is definitely in trouble. Read more here:

"Take that squirrelly legislation! Here's a little love from Planetary!"

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Don’t Worry, the Librarians Will Save Us, or, Really, They Will Save Us—a Careful Analysis of Librarians in Pop Culture, and What That Means to Those

Think about the last time you needed some information. Maybe it was whether your Chinese zodiac meshed up well with that of your date last night, or maybe it was work-related: suddenly your boss needed to know the economic demographics of northern Utah. Who knows? It could have been anything. Yet, I am willing to bet that you didn’t think of turning to a librarian. You probably first went to Google, then wikipedia, then maybe you either followed the links at the bottom of wikipedia, or you went back to Google and tried a different search. I know because I’ve been there: this has been my search strategy in the past, and I have watched my roommate do the same on a number of occasions. Friends, there are better options.

Why not a library or librarian? Libraries’ web-sites are usually well designed, librarians are friendly, a phone call away, and, best of all, cost nothing. I bring up cost for a specific reason: if we do suddenly say, “Whoa! How have we fallen into this depression we saw miles ago? Where did my savings go?” librarians are still going to be around to help us find the jobs we lost, the community resources we may need, and possibly the best place to get a drink to deal with where our economy has gone. Really, no matter all else, librarians are vital to our continued social well-being as they possess four skills from which we might all benefit: they can find information better than anyone, they excel at discovering patterns, they are friendly, and, for the most part, offer their services for free.

Thinking about why my friends don’t love librarians as much as I do, I thought it might be worth everyone’s time to take a quick look at the, ahem, relevance of some pop-culture librarians (to the librarians who are reading this, you probably already know who these are, but please do continue if you need some positive reinforcement). I considered creating a poly-hierarchical taxonomy and adding several more examples, but, realizing that sometimes brevity really delivers, have decided to categorize these librarians under two basic headings: Librarians-as-Adventurers and Librarians-as-Information-Gods.

Librarian as Adventurer

Okay, if we all think about it, we can probably agree that Rupert Giles of the Buffyverse stands at the head of those librarians who not only know everything, but are quite willing to stand up to the forces of overwhelming darkness. Giles was not only a librarian par excellence, but could wield a mean axe (actually, thinking more on this, I realize that these are not really mutually exclusive). How many times did we watch him polish his glasses, get the team back on track, and provide Buffy et al with both the relevant and accurate information they needed to save the world?

We would all be remiss though if our imagination did not briefly touch upon Willow. Granted, she wasn’t a professional librarian, but nonetheless she was a wonderful role-model for every digital librarian worth a damn. Willow, armed with her trusty Mac Book could find just about anything, and best of all, she conducted good reference interviews!

I know The Mummy was not really the best film, I considered not even using it, but credit must be given to the writers for including a librarian. Evy Carnahan not only know her Dewey Decimal System, but also could read hieroglyphics. Unlike the main protagonist of the movie, she more than once paused to consider options, retrieve information, and then act. A sure sign of a fine librarian.

We even have super-hero librarians! Go ahead, and take a second to let that sink in. Yes. Batgirl, aka Babs Gordon, is a librarian, in fact she’s a Head Librarian at Gotham Library. From 1967 on, she’s been fighting Gotham crime as well as illiteracy (though not always as Batgirl--after a particularly nasty run-in with the Joker, she lost the use of her legs, and became Oracle. There is also Jet Li’s character Tsui Chik in the film The Black Mask. Honestly, Tsui Chik wasn’t really a great librarian (he was kind of surly), but nonetheless, could feel no pain and kicked kung-fu ass all over the rain-soaked streets of Hong Kong (or whatever city that was).

Friends, these librarians are indeed fictional, but that is no reason to discount the qualities they share with real life librarians: fearlessness, selflessness, and an uncanny knack to find the right information in time to at least postpone looming disaster (be it the end of the world, or just not finishing that report and having to work over the weekend).

Librarian as Information God:

I bet you didn’t realize that there was actually a librarian in The Matrix (with a speaking role no less!). Tank. He was the pretty burly good-looking guy who ran the information systems on the Nebuchadnezzar. This is important to librarians because it reminds everyone that librarians need not always be surrounded by books—sometimes they can be well-muscled digital-resources virtuosos.

Speaking of well-muscled digital-resources virtuosos, while Julia Stiles as Nicky Parsons, logistics coordinator for Treadstone in the Jason Bourne trilogy, lacked the brawn, she totally counts as a kick-ass digital librarian. See, even ruthless shadow government agencies need information professionals (and of course, as a responsible professional committed to bettering her society, Ms. Parsons abandoned said shadow organization when she realized the evil they did).

I ask you dear readers, where would these fictional worlds be were it not for intrepid librarians? The Buffyverse would be over-run with undead and demons, all would suffer under the dominion of an undead mummy, Hong Kong would suffocate beneath the iron hand of a ruthless government as would America, and the robots would win. Suffice to say, are not these terrible forces of all-things-bad so much the same as the forces of ignorance and repression, still alive, well, and among us? Friends, next time you have a question that needs answering, please think of your local librarians. Don’t let the robots win.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Information, Culture, and Responsibility

These screencast videos about technology and culture are so often tacitly about design as anything else; nonetheless this video is thought provoking (and well designed!):

(It should be mentioned that Bermuda has such high internet penetration, relatively, because it is tiny: just over 66,000 people living on 20.6 sq. miles.) Actually, that's my only gripe with this presentation--where did this information come from? Is the data properly contextualized? I know I'm splitting hairs here, but I do wish the video would include at the end some sort of indicator about about how the information was gathered and from what sources.

This video also reminds me of a concept I still often ponder--the difference between information and knowledge, and of course, the process of information becoming knowledge. The video asks "Do You Know?" This is a good refrain for the video, but I then have to ask, what good is knowing when the knowing does not (or cannot) alter behavior in positive ways for the "knower"? I don't mean to sound cynical, this is rather just a question about which I wonder. Perhaps that is the difference between information and knowledge: information is data that cannot yet be acted upon, while knowledge is data that, to use a business term, is actionable.

The tacit question, of course, is how we as a species will begin to deal with this immense amount of information. When we realize that we can create and publish information so much faster than we can organize or even comprehend its fullness, the above presentation takes on a slightly more serious tone; nonetheless, that doesn't mean we can't try. Ah the joys of librarianship! I knew I went into this profession for good reason.

Thanks to Karl at for posting the above video!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

New poetry arrives in the mail...

...which is exactly how a new year should begin. Michael Cross, the man behind Atticus/Finch, and an old friend of mine, sent me his first book of poetry, In Felt Treeling and it is gorgeous (both in edition and content).

Cross frames the poems as a libretto for Lavinia (from The Tragedy of Titus Andronicus) and Eumenides. The poems seem to hint at a sort of internal syndetic structure, but one that has begun to collapse. The language, though, evokes and surprises:

"e. sallow blossom / dis-
sympathy your eyes / sort of
emphatic squints / spatially met
useless near you rend / already
yield / for instress"

In the second half of the book, Come Flora Err--Solos for a Mezzo Soprano, Cross leaves the lyric structure behind and concludes the collection with a series of prose poems (hurrah!). I love the prose poem as a form, but it can certainly be tricky to write. happily, the prose poems in this collection manage to balance the visceral lyricism of the earlier section with the more dense structure of prose blocks.

Chax is publishing some really interesting writers and I am happy to see Michael's work included in their catalog.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

A new year...

is the very best and worst of all worlds.

Happy New year everyone--let's make the most of it!