Saturday, December 15, 2007

 


A muscled-up Ken Caminiti celebrates
winning the 1998 National League championship
with champagne. Caminiti, the 1996 NL MVP,
would be dead in six years.

Lyle Alzado was the first professional athlete I was aware of to cop to using steroids. Alzado was a football player who played for the Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns & L.A. Raiders from 1971 into 1985. Alzado, who later became a professional wrestler & occasional actor, blamed steroids for the brain tumor that killed him at the age of 43 in 1992. What I remember about him – what made him stand out at the time at a position, defensive end, where frankly few football players ever garner fame – was the intensity with which he performed. Alzado on the field seemed driven by an insane rage. This made him very effective closing in on hapless quarterbacks, tho it also led to more than a few penalty flags over the course of his career. That’s a perennial problem with loose cannons: they go off in all directions.

Thursday’s report (PDF) to Major League Baseball (MLB) by George Mitchell reminded of this, in part because the years of Alzado’s career really predate baseball’s admission of its own “drug problem.” When Alzado died, the controversy of the role of steroids in his death caused these medications to get written up in all the sports sections. One of the side-effects, it seemed, was “’roid rage,” emotional volatility that was a direct reaction to many steroids. And quite effective at intimidating opponents on the field, at least if it was directed in the right direction.

Reading those articles at the time made me realize that I’d already seen one transparently obvious instance of ‘roid rage on the baseball diamond. It occurred in the 1990 American League championship series, which pitted the Oakland A’s against the Boston Red Sox. The series was tied going into its final game, one of those wonderful moments when an entire baseball season came down to who won a single game. Oakland started its ace, Dave Stewart, against his counterpart from Boston who very early in the game “blew up” at a pitch the home plate umpire deemed to be a ball, blew up so badly in fact that he was thrown out of the game, the most important game of the season. How could Boston let somebody get so out of control like that, I wondered at the time. The fact that their starter didn’t get out of the second inning cost them the game, the series, the season. Later, in the wake of the articles that surrounded Alzado’s demise, I thought to myself – that guy had to be on steroids. Because that sure looked like an instance of its tell-tale uncontrollable rage to me. The Boston starter that day was named Roger Clemens, and in 1990 he’d already won two Cy Young awards and one MVP title. Was I surprised to see his name in the headlines surrounding the Mitchell report? Not very.

This doesn’t mean that the Mitchell report is much of a document, however. With the exception of a couple of interviews that MLB effectively coerced, most of the documentation in the report amounts to old news clippings and hearsay. None of it would stand up in a court of law and most of the players named are not of the Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds type elites. Even without chemical enhancements, Clemens and Bonds were the best pitcher and best hitter of the era. If you don’t believe me, look at Bond’s strikeouts, which border on non-existent. That kind of coordination is not enhanced by muscle mass – if anything, just the opposite. Yet nobody has come close to Bonds in the last several decades in the old basic “see the ball, hit the ball” side of the game.

Which is why steroids don’t help every player – one of the 91 current or former players named in the report was David Bell, a hardnosed hustler of a third baseman who was a so-so fielder and an even worse hitter. Bell, the son and grandson of major league ball players, is one of those guys who clearly benefited most from baseball’s expansion of teams from the traditional 16 that dominated the game from the early 1900s until the sixties to today’s 30. He wasn’t trying to buy an edge – he was the classic hanger-on.

Ball players will do anything to survive and excel. Not long ago, an episode of Mythbusters demonstrated conclusively that corking a bat actually robs it of somewhere between ten and twenty percent of its power. Yet how many players have bought into the urban legend about the power of the corked bat and gotten caught – and suspended – for actually compromising their hitting power? They might as well have been hitting with microwaved poodles. The funny thing is that more than a few of these players have hit home runs with these compromised bats – the placebo effect is strong. As Yogi Berra says, “90 percent of baseball is half mental.” Whether Gaylord Perry threw the illegal spitball or not was a lot less important than the belief players had that he did. Perhaps he only threw it often enough to get caught and keep the myth alive.

What all of this means, I think, is this. Baseball has been abusing drugs much more widely, and for far longer, than the Mitchell report suggests. Olympic doping scandals date to the 1950s. The days when ballplayers could simply scoop up some “uppers,” “greenies” as Willie Mays used to call them, from a bowl in the locker room may be behind us, but it’s telling that the Mitchell report doesn’t address the ongoing problem of methamphetamines in the game. Just what would those day games after a night game look like if some folks weren’t buzzing around on speed?

I’m prepared to wager that there has not been a game since at least 1975 – if not 1945 – in which a minimum of two players on either side were not somehow “enhanced.” After all, Mitchell got 91 names basically from a Lexis-Nexis search plus a pair of interviews. What if he’d had subpoena power and access to the trainers for all thirty teams? We’re not talking dozens of violators, we’re talking hundreds, perhaps thousands. Just look at Wikipedia’s list of athletes penalized in doping scandals, only a tiny fraction of who played baseball. Which means that it has been the norm, not the exception. Athletes will do anything to improve the odds in their favor. If there is a culture of acceptance, they will push the envelope that much further. Is this any worse than software programmers living off of Jolt and working until three in the morning, or fighter pilots in Iraq using “go pills?”

It can be for the players. Steroids are nasty meds. Most any asthmatic in the U.S. has had occasion to depend on prednisone, a steroid. I have to use prednisone a couple of times each year when I get hit with sudden deafness syndrome. And I know that when I’m on the 12-day program of meds I need that I seriously have to watch my temper. No point getting tossed from an important game.

Performance enhancing medications simply underwrite the much broader drug culture in sports, which includes hard drugs and bad habits like needle sharing. I’m not concerned that a ball player may get high. But I am concerned about a Ken Caminiti dying of an overdose or an Alan Wiggins dying of AIDS. That’s the real price of drugs in sports. Just like rock ‘n’ roll.

What is most depressing here is the charade of mock righteousness on the part of owners and baseball executives – including the Giants’ Brian Sabean who was warned about Bonds’ activities and never spoke up, and Bud Selig, one-time owner of the Milwaukee Brewers during this very same period (ever check out the muscles of Rob Deer, Bud?) … and even that former owner of Texas Rangers & one-time employer of Sammy Sosa, George W. Bush. It’s the owners far more than the individual players who are culpable in this sad affair. If there is a culture of permission, it begins there. Relatively little of this could occur without the tacit acceptance of baseball execs, anxious to see their product performed at the “highest” level. If there are a few casualties along the way – Hey, I’m not the one shooting myself up in the butt every day. And pass me that cosmo. If Selig wants to hand out suspensions or expulsions, these are the folks who should go first. Don’t hold your breath.

The other group that I find completely appalling in all this are the sportswriters, a profession itself that has always lived large off of chemical enhancements, in its case mostly alcohol. The thought of one more self-righteous diatribe from a red-eyed sports hack about the “purity” of this pastime – the very same game that Cap Anson organized in the 1870s to expel players of color & which threw its world championship in 1919, and which brags to this day about the feats of Babe Ruth, who hardly ever inhaled a sober breath (and died of cancer young because of it) – well, it troubles my sleep.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

 

Ocho 12
is the first poetry mag
available on Kindle

Ocho 13

Ocho 14

§

But
Kindle is a total loser
argues Cory Doctorow

§

Homeophonic Celan
by Robert Kelly

§

Grammar and neuroplasticity

§

W00t
is the “word of the year
sayeth Merriam-Webster

Elsewhere,
locavores
garner publicity
for a dictionary

§

Sean Duffy, DJ Hi-Res & Tom Devaney
in The Grove
at
Arcadia U

§

Clayton Eshleman’s
Juniper Fuse

§

Talking with
Wilson Orhiunu

Sam Twenti Tiri

§

Transcript of a web chat
with Robert Pinsky

§

Michele Leggott
is the first Poet Laureate
of
New Zealand

§

Jordan Davis
on
Richard Garcia

§

An in-depth interview
with Jim Bertolino

§

Thom Donovan
on Kyle Schlesinger’s
Hello Helicopter

§

A profile of
Afaa Michael Weaver

§

He’s ba-ack!
Ed Dorn Live

§

Talking with
Dorianne Laux

§

At La MaMa in New York,
Monday, December 17,
Gangs of the New York School

§

Nation Book Critics Circle members
think linking reviews & ads
is ethical

The actual survey

The same survey in 1987
(PDF)

§

Philip M. Parker
is the most prolific author
in history!
(scroll down)

§

Joyelle McSweeney
on Hsia Yü’s Pink Noise

§

A gathering of
Indian & Pakistani poets
in
Oman

§

Vèvè Amasasa Clark
has died

§

The Arab world
begins to open
to Western lit

§

Paul Zarzyski,
the Kerouac of cowboy poets

§

Orgies in Towson?

§

Translating William Carlos Williams
into Chinese

A profile of PoetrySky

§

e.e. cummings
in the
Soviet Union

§

“You say you want a revolution…,”
how about Yusef Komunyakaa instead?

§

Ibrahim Al-Hadrani
has died

§

“The quiet moral authority”
of Robert Hass

§

Tony Harrison
&
Anthony Thwaite

§

Remembering
Martin Carter,
”national poet” of
Guyana

§

Hyam Plutzik,
obscure poet

§

A. Van Jordan
on poetry and film

§

The problem of “classics
in the school curriculum

Dumbing down poetry

Imagine judging school districts
by how they teach poetry

Report reveals all poetry is rubbish

§

The literary genius
of Karl Rove

§

This week’s death-of-a-bookstore article
is about a leading institution
in
Dallas’ gay community

Perhaps even more alarming,
Bookstore Tourism
has shut down

§

A study of the Iraqi poet
Sa’di Yûsuf

§

A librarian’s
worst nightmare

§

Jay Parini
on Umberto Eco

§

Philip Larkin,
rock god

§

The Hollywood writers’ strike
is heading for disaster

§

Canada puts off © update

& the changes may fail

§

Talking with
Ashley Capps

§

Living your script
can be deadly

§

Papers from the Lancaster
Postgraduate Conference
on Language & Linguistics

§

Grim stat:
dropouts & reading

§

A Nordic-Bangla poetry fest

§

Japanese weeklies
have begun to decline

§

Time to buy a Warhol

or the Magna Carta

§

The works of Sigmund Laufer

§

The NY Times goes to
Art Basel Miami Beach

§

Dia has sold its Chelsea building
for $38.55 million
& what that really means

§

The strange deaths
of Jeremy Blake & Theresa Duncan

§

Judging art

§

Cinema is music

§

Remembering Stockhausen

The San Francisco Chronicle
finally runs a reprint
of the LA Times’
Stockhausen obit

(and has yet to run one
for Landis Everson,
tho he lived in
Mill Valley)

§

Elliott Carter:
What Next?

§

Talking with
John Seely Brown

§

Empirical philosophy?

§

Workers of the world, unite!”

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

 


Singing “
North Country Blues,” 1963 (photo by Dave Gahr)

I see where A.O. Scott of The New York Times has listed Murray Lerner’s documentary of Bob Dylan’s performances at the Newport Folk Festival between 1963 & ’65, The Other Side of the Mirror, as one of his critic’s picks for the week, and given it a brief review here. I’ve had the DVD sitting atop my TV set since summer, when I bought it the instant it became available at the ever entrepreneurial bobdylan.com website. I’ve been planning to see I’m Not There, but the only location in Philadelphia where it’s playing is downtown, which means, given Philly traffic, leaving the house no later than 5:00 PM for a 7:10 showing. Given that Krishna works until six, that’s just not going to happen, so, pining for a broader release, I finally popped the DVD into the machine and watched it. When it was done, I immediately watched it again. Then the next night, because Krishna hadn’t seen either the 1965 portion or the Murray Lerner interview also on the DVD, I watched those sections again. It is, in fact, a great documentary, very much for the same reasons that Scott mentions. Lerner simply has put together all of Dylan’s public performances from the three years together, well-filmed and acoustically well-recorded, with very little that is extraneous to this – a brief interview with Joan Baez, Baez imitating Dylan imitating her, Johnny Cash singing “Don’t Think Twice,” a couple of comments from teenage festival goers & a brief (less than a minute) scene of Dylan half-trapped in a van by window-pounding young women. Everything else in the 83-minute film is Dylan singing.

The funny thing is, he’s as changeable here as I suspect he is with six different folks portraying him in the Todd Haynes film. That may be overstating it, but only a little. What it’s really like is that feeling you have when you see some friends maybe once a year and their kids are teenagers – one year they’re kids, the next long and gawky and infinitely awkward & the year after that they seem to be complete adults who tower over their parents. Dylan in The Other Side of the Mirror is only a little older, really, going from the age of 22 in 1963 to 24 in 1965. In the process, he’s not only transformed, but the whole of American pop and folk have as well, dragged along in the wake of his effortless density as a songwriter.

In 1963, Dylan is nervous, humble, earnest, seemingly hyperconscious of the experience & expertise, not to mention talent, surrounding him as he sings “North Country Blues” while Judy Collins, Doc Watson & Clarence Ashley listen intently, merely the most famous of the large crowd attending an afternoon workshop on which they too were probably on the bill. Dylan at this point has already written “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Masters of War,” “Girl from the North Country,” and the other early masterworks that would have assured his reputation as a songwriter had he never written another word. Only the first of these is in the film, Dylan closing a concert by leading Baez, Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul & Mary and The Freedom Singers in a group version (he’s at the mike, everyone else behind in a chorus, the hierarchy is unmistakable). It’s less than three weeks before Dylan will be singing the same song at a giant rally in Washington, DC, after which Martin Luther King, Jr. will deliver his “I Have a Dream,” speech. Is Dylan in way over his head? Absolutely. But his commitment to his music and to his impeccable enunciation of lyrics – something at which he’s never been equaled – are sufficient to get him through.

By 1964, Dylan is complete a star & conscious of it. The opening scene for that year is of Dylan at the topical song workshop singing – for the first time before a large audience – “Mr. Tambourine Man,” newly penned. You can see Pete Seeger sitting silently, looking down, frowning, trying somehow to fathom what is “topical” about the “jingle-jangle morning” in which “I’ll come following you.” According to Lerner in his interview, Newport had never seen a workshop with an audience this large – maybe 5,000, a quarter of what they got for the “large” evening concerts in those heady days before Woodstock.

Lerner is incredibly fortunate in that Dylan sang two songs at more than one festival, first “With God on Our Side” in 1963 and 64 – twice in 1963, both times with Joan Baez, the first at the workshop – a version that is widely known and deservedly famous for its appearance on one of the Newport anthology albums that appeared in the 1960s – then in her performance on one of the evening shows. The second is “Tambourine Man,” which Dylan sings only at the workshop in 1964, but reprises in the 1965 concert after he was persuaded to return to the stage and do a couple of acoustic numbers (the other is “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” Dylan’s farewell to Newport) after the raucous crowd reaction to the intense & brilliant – but decidedly paradigm shattering – performance of “Maggie’s Farm” and “Like a Rolling Stone” (another song completely unfamiliar to the crowd, tho it had just been released as a single) with electric versions accompanied by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

Considering its content, it may seem curious that the key element differentiating the performances of “With God on Our Side” is Dylan’s relationship to Baez. At the workshop in 1963, they’re giggly young lovers, she’s the superstar and he’s very much her project – as he was Pete Seeger’s, the two determined to let the world know how good Dylan is and make him famous (be careful what you wish for). At the 1963 evening concert, tho, Dylan & Baez are all business and it’s very straightforward – and it's not as good a performance, frankly, because of this. In 1964, Dylan & Baez have evolved into good friends – you can see his affection in his grin as he looks at her while they sing, really an extraordinary moment given Dylan’s “head down, focus on the song” performance mode that he’s made the hallmark now of a long career.

With “Tambourine Man” in 1964, it’s very much the serious get-through-the-song Dylan onstage at the workshop. (He was, in fact, still carrying the lyrics around in his pocket, as I learned when he sat next to me at a party during that festival and I asked what he was writing – he pulled a thermal photocopy of “Tambourine Man” out of his coat pocket to show me.) In 1965, after very distinct choruses of booing to his electric set, he was coaxed back onstage by Peter Yarrow and had to ask the audience for somebody to throw him an E harmonica – there’s a clatter as dozens hit the stage – and Dylan then gives what I can only describe as the most intimate performance of that song I’ve ever heard.

The politics of the Newport festival do show up from time to time, the sense that the workshops – if not the trains – have to run on time. Putting Dylan toward the middle of the evening concert in 1964 – he’s followed by Odetta & Dave Von Ronk (neither visible or audible in the documentary) – may have been attempt to keep Dylan from thinking himself too big a star, but the gesture backfires as the audience goes on & on demanding an en core until Dylan himself comes back on stage to say that the other performers have to have their time too. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t show Dylan’s return to the stage during his friend Van Ronk’s set, during which Dylan literally crawled on all fours about the back of the stage to gales of audience laughter that Von Ronk at first couldn’t figure out and didn’t seem to fit with his song.

By 1965, nobody makes any attempt to thwart the gods of audience adulation. Dylan’s workshop appearance has a vast audience and his evening concert closes the festival (as it had in 1963). The ’65 concert is legendary as the moment that folk let rock & roll through the door. In addition to the evening concert, two songs electric, then after he’s talked back onstage, two acoustic, the film also shows Dylan’s afternoon sound check with the Butterfield Blues Band (sans Paul Butterfield, who is visible in a single shot, watching from a distance). Dylan of course used Mike Bloomfield, the best rock guitarist ever not named Hendrix, on the recordings of Highway 61 Revisited, as well as Al Kooper who replaces Bloomfield organist Barry Goldberg for the evening concert (and whose sloppy playing to some degree overwhelms “Like a Rolling Stone”).

Given its controversy at the time, it’s ironic that this live version of “Maggie’s Farm” is the best arrangement & recording that song has ever had. For one thing, the Butterfield Band had a cohesiveness as a unit that The Band (nee The Hawks) never valued. Whereas Dylan’s own arrangements during the entire period up to the enforced hiatus due to the motorcycle accident the following July are effective, if sometimes ethereal, the hard-driving blues sound of the Butterfield Band has often struck me as an opportunity not taken by Dylan, and “Maggie’s Farm” is my evidence for that. It is the high point of this very great documentary not just historically, but musically as well. The one song that matches it for pure intensity is the acoustic "Chimes of Freedom" closing his performance in 1964.

The final element that holds all of this together, curiously, is Peter Yarrow, he of Paul & Mary, who serves as the emcee for all but one of the events Lerner has captured of Dylan. It is Yarrow who says, of the 22-year-old Dylan in 1963, that he has “his pulse on his generation.” It is Yarrow who has to cope with tens of thousands unhappy customers as Dylan completes his 1964 evening concert so that Odetta & Dave Van Ronk don’t get left out. It is Yarrow who beseeches Dylan to come back and do a couple of acoustic numbers in 1965, telling the audience to be patient, “Bobby has to find an acoustic guitar.” It is Yarrow who scolds Dylan & the Butterfield Band that they have to have their settings “down cold” because they won’t have a chance to fix it during the concert. He’s a funny presence, very much the figure of Before as Dylan passes through folk music – more so in this documentary than Pete Seeger, who’s only visible for the finale of “Blowin’ in the Wind” in 1963 and the topical song workshop in ’64. Yarrow’s binding presence is, like Dylan’s repetition of “With God on Our Side” & “Mr. Tambourine Man,” another instance of Murray Lerner’s incredible luck putting together this almost perfect presentation of Dylan’s career as a folk musician. This is one of those works where everything turned out just right.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

 


This way to Hogwarts

Not having read Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass is, I suspect, an advantage in watching the film by that same name, which I did on its opening night last Friday. One of my kids, a moderately serious Pullman aficionado, used the word “irritating” within ten seconds of the credit roll at film’s end. Which is to say that his problems with this film were different from my own. The film he saw, I gather, was a badly cut stew of moments from the book – minus its dénouement. The film I saw was an enjoyable enough couple of hours in the theater, a mishmash of every kids’ epic that’s been made over the past few years, with the most recent Bond flick, Casino Royale, tossed in for good measure. Addressing some of my son’s issues with the film – at 113 minutes it tries to tell a story that really deserves a full three hours – might have helped some of mine, tho hardly all.

The primary failure of this film is the director’s inability to envision a complete world in which all of these different actions should take place. A good part of what makes Lord of the Rings or the Harry Potter franchises work literally is their unmistakable distinctness as realities. You know you’re in Middle Earth instantly & completely, and you can stay there for three films running roughly nine hours total. The Potter series isn’t nearly so well done – different directors for different films is a real problem – but you know when you’re at Hogwarts or Diagon Alley. The Golden Compass, on the other hand, gives you its own version of Hogwarts, only much blander, and leads you to a battle on the ice that is lacking only in Orcs, led, by of all things, a bear out of a Coke commercial. There are even a couple of moments right out of Lemony Snicket & Stuart Little. Woe is the media-literate child who tries to make a world out of this collage.

To make it worse, much worse, director Chris Weitz has cast veterans of Lord of the Rings into a couple of important roles – Ian McKellen is the voice of Iorek (pronounced Yorick), the dethroned prince of the ice bears who enters into a contract with Lyra, the girl who seeks to rescue her uncle in the North, and Christopher Lee, Saruman in Lord of the Rings, has a cameo as a key member of the Majesterium, the faux Catholic Church that functions here much the way the Empire does in Star Wars. It would have been far better had Weitz chosen to reverse their roles, giving the Bear the resonating timbre of Lee & not reminding us, every time one or the other speaks, how much better the Ring trilogy is. Eva Green, fresh from Casino Royale, does a turn playing Cate Blanchett/Liv Tyler from LOTR and wouldn’t you know that James Bond (Daniel Craig) is good Lord Asriel himself. Fortunately, Nicole Kidman chews the scenery in her Cruella De Vil imitation – not quite as wicked as Glenn Close, but not bad. Also fortunately, Sam Elliott seems only capable of playing himself, the friendly cowpoke who gives good moustache, so you don’t even notice, almost, that he’s really Han Solo.

Is it any wonder these parts never gel?

Not having read Pullman’s book, I can’t tell you if the inspiration for this is such a compendium of clichés as the film. But the film is almost a guessing game of where did the director get this, where did he steal that? Which is quite a shame really. Dakota Blue Richards, the thirteen-year-old actress at the heart of all this silliness, is quite decent. She may not light up the screen the way Emma Watson does in the Harry Potter series, but that may have as much to do with the quality of direction here as it does her actual skills. I found myself rooting for the actress & not so much the character as this film went on.

Much has been made in the media about Compass’ abstention from using the word Church to describe The Authority that is trying to stamp out free will. Frankly, a nomad off the tundra in Tuva could recognize the Majesterium as Catholicism in, oh, maybe eight seconds. Pullman’s take on the church may be no more nuanced than Dan Brown’s in The Da Vinci Code, but as an argument it has the advantage of some history. The problem here is that, in such a carnival of second-hand film effects, who would take such an argument seriously?

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Monday, December 10, 2007

 

Photo by Leslie Poirier

In The Nation,
Joshua Clover
on Rod Smith

§

Doris Lessing’s
Nobel Prize acceptance speech

§

Barbara Henning
on
Brenda Coultas

§

Film’s relationship
to literature

Barrett Watten
on
I’m Not There

§

A haven for writers
in the Ivy League

Some local reaction

§

Susan Bee & Jerry Rothenberg:
The Burning Babe (PDF)

§

On the Road
on the bus

§

Relational poetics

Plus a replica
of Ketjak

§

I’m out, but Philly is in
& Reginald Shepherd’s blog
is both in & out
in Major Jackson’s
Poetry blog

(my favorite –
Gertrude Stein is out
Gertrude Schnackenberg is in
– pretty much says it all)

§

Individual
National Book Critics Circle
recommendations:

Daisy Fried

Robert Pinsky

Scott Esposito

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Eric Banks

Phil Keoghan

David Ulin

Kevin Prufer

§

Nine months suspended sentence
for “terror poetry” in the
U.K.

§

Turkish publisher on trial
for “insulting
Turkey

§

Ghulam Farid
& the idea that poetry
”teaches spiritual democracy”

§

What winning the Nobel has meant
for Orhan Pamuk

§

Worth attending in NYC
December 11,
The Medead
by Fiona Templeton

§

Worth noting in NYC
December 19,
Shab-e She’r Poetry Night
at the Bowery Poetry Club

§

Tony Tost’s
Complex Sleep

§

Charles Simic
on his own poetry

§

In The New York Times,
David Orr
on Michael O’Brien

§

A striking
Battlestar Gallactica
writer

starts a blog

§

A good place
to meet writers
in
L.A.
is on the picket line

§

The “godmother
of Canadian slam”

§

Ivan Blatný’s
Drug of Art

§

Paperspine:
Netflix for books?

§

The limits of Kindle

Cynthia Ozick &
Sam Lipsyte

consider Amazon’s ebook

§

Finding the measure

§

The U.S. boom
in Spanish-language books

§

Life, death, art
on the border

§

The Butterfly’s Burden
by Mahmoud Darwish

§

Bukowski
in
Tehran

§

Reading
Forugh Farrokhzad

§

Alan Brownjohn
reviews 4 books
in 5 paragraphs

§

Theodore Roethke
as a poet for children

§

Postmodern Bourgeois
Poetaster Blues

§

Is policy killing poetry
in the U.K.?

§

Publishers
to kiss up
to critics

§

Terry Teachout,
deeply confused
by the
two modernisms

§

Of two marriages:
Claude Cahun & Marcel Moore,
Gertrude Stein & Alice B. Toklas

§

Knowing
what not to read

And what to read twice

§

Shakespeare on the brain

§

Beyond celebrity poetry
with Ethan Coen

§

Considering
Daniil Kharms

§

Vu Cao
& Pham Tien Duat

have died

§

The Brits & science fiction

§

“Like being in the presence
of a couple of great
surrealists….”

§

Not liking Denis Johnson

§

Wendy Cope
wants to be
the RIAA
of bad poets

§

George Bacovia’s house

§

Talking with Kirsten Dierking

§

An echo
of Olson’s plaint
in Northumbria

§

This week’s
death-of-a-bookstore piece
comes from
Washington, DC

§

Bookstore readings
flourish in Marin

§

Unable to prevent
the implosion
of a
Berkeley institution,
Cody’s Andy Ross
finally quits

§

A gift of books

§

A life of poetry
in
Central Indiana

§

Trethewey to receive
honorary doctorate

§

False starts and fragments

§

If reading
were the same
as writing

§

The Cracker Poemer

§

In praise of bathos

Larkin’s “The Explosion

§

African fractals

§

All about SoHo’s
New Museum

§

Paul Brach has died

§

The “real” Richard Prince

§

Art skateboards
at Printed Matter

§

India’s booming
art market

§

Paul McCarthy’s
latest sculpture

§

Art Basel Miami Beach:
Fashion as high art

Design Miami 07 Catalog (PDF)

§

Santa’s Ghetto

§

Godard stole to make films

§

New work from
Margie Jenkins

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Talking with
Radiohead

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A profile of Peter Gay

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Where blogging really counts

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