Nomad Ink

Saturday, February 06, 2010

just like i pictured it...

New York has been a wild ride and a real tonic. Sabbatical Heaven, that is, etymologically, seventh heaven. I'm working feverishly on a wonderfully fun project with Adeena Karasick. My normally sluggish intellectual metabolism has been boosted by her intense wordplay mind, and i find myself putting together warped etymologies, mid-20th C. Euro- Jewish intellectual history, and textilic rhapsodies nonpareil. Also went to a class Alan Sondheim's teaching at the School for Visual Arts, we watched a movie on free jazz which was v inspiring. I learned that John Tchicai is half-Danish. It's nice to share something with such a creative soul. It was great listening to him talk in the movie, he sounded like my mother and all that side of the family when they venture into English. Then celebrated Alan's b-day w/ a feast made by Azure, and met Joanna and Eugene Lim, daughter and son-in-law. Also spent previous wkend w/ the Funkhouser-Hufnagel family unit in rural New Jersey, writing collabs way into the night which i then posted on Wrytings. They made pizza for the kids and for the grownups so i got my NY pizza fix in NJ. Now i'm plumping up around the middle, so must go back on walking regime. More to tell later, and fun night at Jean Franco's writing goofy groupoid poems at a party in honor of Nicanor Parra's daughter, the artist Catalina Parra. I took the opportunity to share the work of my host Walter Lew; everyone was most touched and impressed and asked where they cd get the books. Yay. More more more to tell tell tell, later later later.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

time to catch up

Dear me, it's been almost a year? I keep forgetting my password and I just figured out how to get a new one. Duh.
I'm being a culture vulture in NYC interspersed with days of loneliness, traditional (i'm told) beginning-sabbatical depression (the transition to unstructured time), and lovely long walks throughout the Queens neighborhoods of Sunnyside, Astoria, Woodside, and so forth. I bared my brains under the El for a few hours the other day and traversed miles of pigeon-shit bespeckled sidewalk, smelling the fabulous smells of burning sugar and frying meat all along roosevelt avenue and digging the splashes of color from the sidewalk displays of the grocery and 99¢-&-up stores.

Went to the Tuli Kupferberg benefit at St. Anne's Warehouse on Friday eve, with Eddie and couple of his friends, Ardele and Liss. The benefit was my kind of thing, homey and warm, with raw edges (lots of time between the sets to switch equipment, etc) and a high level of artistry. Kind of like when I went to the Vision Festival in the 1990s, it was all these world-class musicians performing at ear-splitting volume in a church basement that still had a shred of tinsel from the Christmas pageant draped over the curtain cable overhead, even though it was Memorial Day weekend. Anyway, the highlights were the Fugs, Peter Stampfel (of the late great Holy Modal Rounders, whom I remember listening to at night as a teen on Boston's "underground" radio station, WBCN and chuckling over "Boobs a Lot." He sang "Dook of the Beats," and I was chuckling along. Flutterbox was new to me, and great. Jolie Holland was uneven: first song powerful, second incomprehensible. John Hall, whom i'd just seen at the PoProj benefit marathon, was great but a bit over-amped. Laurie Anderson/John Zorn/Lou Reed were good but went on too long. Trance music. Melodic at times but mostly not. I liked it when they all played the same note at the same time. Gary Lucas powerful. Sonic Youth, again, first song great, second okay but not great. Who really cares. It was a benefit for the guy "who jumped off Brooklyn Bridge this actually happened and walked away unknown..." or something like that. He didn't really walk away. He spend months in a body cast. So don't try this at home. There was a lot of love there, and I picked up a copy of Tuli's Teach Yourself Fucking and a commemorative t-shirt, since all the proceeds go to him. Shame on our health care system (and can i tell you how mortified I am on behalf of my home-state Massachusetts?), that the assembled efforts of the evening probably covered one minor "procedure" or one day of care, but it gave us an excuse to get together and experience art .

Eddie was getting uncomfortable (cramped seats) and the luminaries were fading, so we left but it was a wonderful evening just the way i like it: homey, unpretentious and full of uneven bursts of brilliance and talent.

Last night went to see Foofwa, Alan Sondheim and Azure Carter at New Dance Amsterdam, yet another overlapping but sufficiently-unfamiliar world. Again, homy feel of folks who know each other, combined with superamazing artistry. I know Alan as an internet theorist and poet, so it was exhilerating to see yet another side of his polymathic creativity: he played a range of unusual (except for one guitar) string instruments (strong instruments) while Foofwa danced and Azure sang. I'm not a dance person so i have no vocabulary for describing what I saw except to say it stimulated my brain and body; Foofwa is like the Iggy Pop of dance (intensity, channeling intense masculine energy) which from me is a high compliment. I loved his quote from John Cage: "I decided to not make choices but to ask questions." Too bad I left my I Ching in Minnesota. The audience was super-responsive and loved the show. As far as I cd tell.

I went earlier in the week to a screening of Howl, Rob Epstein and Jeff Friedman's encomium to everybody's hero Allen G. James Franco was really excellent; not since his James Dean do I think he's had a role so worthy of his talents. (Not that i've seen all his films.) He caught Allen's vocal inflections and gestures, at least from when he was older. I don't know if he did that pedagogical thing with his finger as a younger man, but it resonated with the Allen I knew.

The night before, I went to Nada Gordon's bday party. That was really lovely. Nada looked like a glamorous cream puff. It was fun to see folks, again, a nice homy (that's "homey," not "horny") group of sharp folks it's a balm to be around.
Also nice to see so much of Walter Lew, my in-and-out host here in Queens, and walk around the nabe with him yakkety-yakking.
Ok i'm exhausted. Good to be back, y'all.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

text textile exile...

EM, for Emma Bernstein and Her Family: Charles, Susan, Felix
Phrases taken from Charles's and Felix's remarks at the funeral
click on image for closer detail.

Terra Divisa/Terra Divina: for Iain Biggs

Thursday, January 15, 2009

my tribute to ron asheton, the late stooge

I first encountered Ron's presence and voice in the pages of Please Kill
Me, the wonderful oral history of US-based punk rock. His anecdotes were
vivid, wryly hilarious, insightful. He made me want to learn more.
Believe it or not, I had never listened to the Stooges before, though
i'd heard about them a bit, especially Iggy Pop. I instantly became an
iggiologist and Stooge freak at an advanced age, and it revolutionized
my life. I feel happier on a daily basis, I have more energy, I'm not
afraid to be more sassy and humorous and performative. The Stooges, one
could say, gave me my groove back. Ron's hypnotic guitar playing brings
me deep into myself and out into the world simultaneously. He plays
those riffs and it seems as if they have been in the world forever, but
they haven't. That, to me is the sign of genius: when something is
initiated into the world, like a three-chord riff, it suddenly seems so
obvious and right–natural even, as if ordained by the logic of natural
processes–but it never had existed before. That is the Stooge genius: it
sounds simple, but it is a whole concept, a unity, a total experience.
It's Life. And Ron Asheton, who gave so much to so many in not all that
many years, has made this enormous contribution to humanity.
My thoughts are with his friends and loved ones and colleagues as they
learn to fully internalize and pass on what he gave them.
deepest sympathies and warmest wishes.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ron Asheton RIP

I feel sad; Ron Asheton, visionary guitarist and raconteur extraordinaire, died this past week. I haven't been able to get into my blog for almost a year, and then mIEKAL showed me how to set up an account...and reset password, etc.
And a couple of weeks ago Emma Bernstein died.
Now these are two people I never met but i feel as if they have touched my life: Emma through her father Charles, a wonderful, generous poet and colleague; Ron through reading his words in Please Kill Me and through being an Iggy Pop fan. In the last year i've become something of an Iggologist, and now this. Yes, I feel sad.
May all beings be at peace
May all beings be happy
May all beings be free from fear.
A lot has happened in the past year; i went to latvia; i got promoted to full prof with the help of my outstanding chairperson, i made some stuff, i wrote some stuff...
i feel better and better about being in the world, and now people are leaving the world, at least people as they've been.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


what's expanding is my girth, as i recover from 10 days on the east coast 5 of which were spent sick in bed in the home of my childhood in newton centre MA.
what i'm hoping will expand is vision, creativity, energy, productivity, imagination, generosity, compassion, mindfulness.
the phone rings and i know it's long distance but i'm glued to the screen here...stymied by the fretfulness of available activities, i can always turn to this sort of reassuring diaristic writing, which soothes me.
i don't feel like evaluating dissertation projects, though they're asking me to log on to show i exist...
i don't feel like proofing mIEKAL's novel (i mean right this moment i don't feel like it; what i've read is actually great)
i shd go to the gym but i don't have time b4 i head off to leslie's bat mitzvah party (gorgeous happy-making time at the shul this morning, had a deep experience of my people, though i had no idea what the f*** anyone was saying, except i caught words like "moses" and "egypt" here and there...and the food was great, hence expanding girth etc)
i shd clean my room...
i shd cut 22,000 words from my ms
i shd write another letter of rec
i shd send a condolence card to my mother's friend Pia
i shd...uh, nominate someone for something
all i feel like doing is...writing in this little space, my comfort zone, and reading yet another bio of iggy, who is also a taurus.
all of these things will get done except the cleaning of the room. who really cares?
so, i feel better, energized, already, having written my banal little confession, sweetly packaged in bloggy pyjamas and sent off to bed in cyberspace.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

fin de semestre blues...

sleeping, sleeping, reading silly rock and roll bios, latest was Tearing Down the Wall of Sound, about Phil Spector, who is interesting as a demented diasporoid, and about whom i did a bit of work in a paper on Adeena Karasick...but lots has been going on. First, Renee Gladman and Carla Harryman came to give a reading under the auspices of VG:Voices from the Gaps and the UMN's Institute for Advanced Study. They were terrific; Renee read 2 pieces, one about a woman dying from being hit by a car, losing blood and observing the activity swirling around her in response to the accident, the other a brilliant piece about orientation, disorientation, trying to get from one place to another in a city without using the handdrawn map in her back pocket, just asking strangers and trying to reconcile all the crazy and familiar things people say in response to being asked directions. Carla gave a spirited and equally brilliant reading of 3 of her Adorno's Noise hybrid essays; the first a breakneck speed Acker-esque (in theme if not in style) piece about being fucked/bullied by the President; the second a long piece that ranged over the galaxy system ("McBasin") to a meditation on a fiber-sculpture woman corpse by a woman artist that resonated strongly with Renee's first piece, then...anyway it went all over the place to v impressive effect. The last piece, which was somewhat blurred by a lot of folks needing to leave, was a speedy word-salad pirouette through...can't remember as well. Anyway the house was packed, it was good, and Adam Schrag manned our new camcorder ably. Then the next day Dhana-Marie Branton interviewed Renee really well in the VG basement office and we took her to the VG class where, though she felt it was a bit awkward (she thought she'd be reading from her work), she answered student questions about The Activist, a book that I teach a lot and that Maddy Chakraborty had put on her syllabus at my suggestion (thanks, Maddy). Then we had Ethiopian food and I took her to the Ashbery bridge by the walker art center.
THEN the following night we had our Samuel Beckett 101 Celebration in the English Dept (we missed the centennary and thought 101 sounded better anyway. It was amazing, 23 languages being read (including English), excerpts from Godot, The Unnameable and other yummy Beckett snippets. Here's the playlist:

1. Bulgarian: Stoyan Tchaprazov

2-3. Chinese/Japanese: Leo Chen, Leo's friend Toshi

4. Danish: Ole Gram

5. Dutch: Jenneke Oosterhoff and friends

6. English: Richard Rose
Philip Bratnober
David Bernstein
Kevin Riordan
Richard Rose

7. Finnish: Susan Larsen

8. French: Christophe Wall-Romana, April Knutson and Maria Brewer Pascale Crépon, Amy Kamel, Mira Reinberg

9-10. French/Latin: Robert St Clair, Steve Jackson

11. German: Rembert Heuser

12. Greek: Tom Lewis

13. Hungarian: Maria Bales

14-15. Irish/Korean: Annmarie Lawless, Eunjoo Kim, Jewon Woo

16. Mongolian: Lisa Fink

17. Russian: Masha Zavialova, Sasha Zavialova and Kesh Zavialov

18. Spanish: Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, Joanna O’Connell

19-20. Swedish/Norwegian: Susan Larsen

21. New Guinea Tokpisin: Steve Winduo

22. Turkish: Ayca Ulken

23. Urdu: Bali Sahota

Ryo Yamaguchi made t-shirts saying "I can't go on, I'll go on," which sold out in minutes (i was wearing mine and sliced it up a bit punkish, and had a great time mc-ing) and we had a cake with the same line, plus a huge thing of Jameson's, a six-pack of Guinness, lots of dried fruit, wine, cheese, challah, nuts, chips, salmon, etc., a really great hospitable spread that kept everyone happy, thanks to our generous dept chair Paula Rabinowitz, whose husband David Bernstein did a mean Krapp, bottle-uncorking sound effects and all. The eerie thing was, when he was doing his Krapp, the video From Silence to Silence, which was playing (silently, of course) on the other side of the room showed a famous Beckettian actor also doing Krapp. The synchrony was fabulous. It was really well-organized thanks to our genius loci, our low-key inhouse genius, terri sutton. It was a really high-energy evening, capped off by a mass reading of the last 2 pages of The Unnameable loud enough to rouse the dead. We were, in fact, honoring our spiritual/literary ancestors, and I think it must have made Sam (if I may) happy. it was, as i told folks in an email later, Beckettastic. There were about 75 people there (Paula counted). It's becoming a tradition (last year it was Howl@50 that started everything). Who will we "do" next year? Dickinson? Stein? Sappho? I'm rooting for a chick, but we'll see what the weather brings.

That was last Friday night. Saturday was a party for the MCBA "winter book," which this year was Vispoeology, an anthology of visual poetry concocted, i mean compiled by Scott Helmes, Tom Cassidy and John Bennett, stalwarts on the scene. mIEKAL and Camille came into town to celebrate and for mIEKAL to perform his masterpiece of spam-generated playwrighting, Neologism Hospital Theatre. I got to play Dr. Grace Butts, and the next day or so got the best pseudo-doctor spam name in history in my in-box: Dr. Whalen Bump. Anyway it was a lot of fun getting to be part of the festivities and then partying at the after-party and going for a big sushi meal beforehand.
Then a few days' lull and then the grand finale, dinner with my graduate seminar chez moi, i cooked all day sunday and monday and tuesday, that was really fun: cream of leak and potato soup with CSA leeks and potatoes, squash soup w/ coconut milk and ground pumpkin seeds, cilantro humus, mesclun salad w/ pears, red onion and feta, good cheeses, 2 kinds of bread pudding with whipped cream and ice cream, coffee, roast free-range chicken: they brought: really good cheese and bread, brownies, walnut cranberry pie, cherry pie, cookies, rotisserie and southern fried deli chicken, wine, and other delicious things. They talked about their final papers and read some sample paragraphs. It was exciting and fun and afterwards I've barely been able to move, sleeping and reading silly rock bios, and continuing to look at iggy pop videos online and draw inspiration from his manic creativity and smart id.