Herbie Mann Comin' Home

Monday, November 30, 2009

Spearesques 10

Virago: What now? Three cabbages that claim to be heads.

Say business.

Inch: Is a russet for Your Grace's table.

Virago: Not a chew's value. You -- pay out my moment's worth.

Ounce: Colored pebbles quarried for Your Hi'ness' jars.

Virago: Keep for thy gargle. And you, dog? What's clutched in your paw?

Thumb: A crush of fine-smelled rose.

Virago: Polluted by the oils of your breath.

(aside) One half-man is not half a man.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hello, Columbus

Why watch Winds of War, the made-for-TV 'saga' from the 80s, a multi-hour mini-series, extended to yet more multi-hours as War and Remembrance, both titles coming from Herman Wouk best-selling novels of the time?

1) Ali McGraw. Flat-voiced as she always was, nevertheless good-looking with marvelous legs. I think her 'dark beauty' satisfied someone's idea of a passable 'Jewish look', so her success earlier as Brenda, the Jewish Princess, in Goodbye, Columbus, led to the role here as Natalie Jastrow. She works her nostrils and puts up with nobody's guff. Frankly, she's hot.

2) Robert Mitchum. Always tending toward the 'sleepy', here should have been issued 'USN regulation' bedroll as a naval captain itching for a battle command and reluctantly being thrust into the highest diplomatic backchannels to show us history as it is unfolding. Just like McGraw, it's the 'screen glamor' that works. Old, tired, working-for-the-check, Mitchum still merits a gaze.

3) History to be watched by 11 year-olds. I'll rate it PG. Should be seen before middle school.

4) History as sentimentalized 40-plus years after the fact for a then-aging War generation of people sitting on sofas and planning Vegas vacations.

5) History as ironic reflection of what we took for granted and now have begun to see slip away: heroic America, the 'good guys', the 'world-beloved', the 'savior democracy' -- all those positive epithets and likely others now worn thin, or simply buffed-up at the Museum of the Right Wing.

6) History as the prospectus of a hedge fund, the kind of 'political capital' that a certain President, recently stepped-down, was willing to spend out of his sense of entrepreneurial caveat emptor on its surface manly, but in its recesses the sunken instablility of a lost child.

7) Ali McGraw: contact (this) home. There's a place by the hearth for you!


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Good Writing. The Questions.

Is it

Who notices that it is

Who admits that

Who subverts it

Who never knows it

Who 'rediscovers' it

Who profits from it

Who forgets it

Does it have a 'use value' beyond its own birthing


The Creature

It is what it is now: that

From the doctor's hand

And burps with mistake

Hates its fear; fears its hate

Meant to show beauty

That fazes onlookers

The best of the batch


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Health Precaution, Beauty Aid

Hand sanitizer.

My fingers dessicated. My palms parched -- 'working on the Alaska pipeline'.

Moisturizing lotion.

It replenishes, adds years back on. Not close. Not even.

Skin texture: 'Fairbanks'.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pendulum Swing

It's a food holiday, and someone may have over-prepared

I've heard sirens all day, it's drizzling, the markets are full

Something has to go very right soon or some

Thing is going to go very wrong, so something has

To be done just so, or the edge tips, trap slips, thing will

Plummet, taut, go strangle-dangle, slow to a hang. Amen.


Working The Suit

The one to the left of me passed.

The one to the right of me had already passed.

She bids 5 hearts; I lay down dummy.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Spearesques 9

The remains of my worries should be tied at the wrists and littered,

Drayed-off to the place where go the remains to black-winged birds

Who serve their natural office, breaking and fluttering and whitening,

Upturning undersides -- transparent appetite through swift vultury.

Thus to retire from suspect looks, by the urgency of a responding corps

Eager to haul and bury and leave whatever nature wants to have,

Or -- no longer quick -- quickly by a smoke of disappearance --

By such efficiency rest attains; stress not more, I, then.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Gotta Love These Guys

An inexhaustive 40-year collage of ineffective community wisdom:

Do what you like.

Never trust anyone over 30.

War is unhealthy for children and other living things.

If it feels good, do it.

Turn on, tune in, drop out.

The Silent Majority.

Back to the country.


Family values.

Government can't solve the problem; Government is the problem.

No new taxes.

The Contract With America.

No child left behind.

Compassionate conservatism.

War on terror.


Friday, November 20, 2009

The First Man

Orson Welles. Charisma at a physical distance. At a temporal distance. Charm, presence, energy, failure.

They make it sound as if he frittered his talent, recharged his genius in projects never 'salable' to solid backers. Left to peter out unfilmed, understaged, sub-financed.

He played Cagliostro, the hypnotist, the enchanter. He was one.

His later body had to store all the power they would not let him release.

Imp, charlatan, shape-shifter.



Eppur Si Muove

Willing enough to speak out in committee, one learns key behavior:

Casual politeness.

Good cheer.

Understanding of 'the task'.

Reconfirmation of each participant's position.

Helpful, clever support of what clearly is the pre-established outcome.

This despite utter opposition. Despite the sickened feeling of astonishment at such implicit social hierarchy, the flattery dance. Such forced tribal agreement. Cro-Magnon.


I (Heart) Venetia

The scene in Fellini's Casanova where Donald Sutherland, as C -- the character aged now -- a librarian in the employ of Waldstein-Wartenberk at the latter's chateau, C seen by us the audience up to now throughout the film as a pre-eminent cocksman and witty rogue, see his face, alone, candle-light reflected. Candle-light extinguishing.

Poorly remembering this. The residual loneliness, though. Thus, memoir.

Virtually, Communication

The nearest analog to online chat:

Walking 30 awkward steps in leg braces

To revitalize legs damaged by polio.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Electric Off

Other people's talk: inane and bored.

Voice inside the head: the caged 'me'.

Rare ambient sound outside

Snow thuds from a branch

Prayer to the waning light, up.

Down, a crow's mock sound.

Without a clock, but like one

The earth hour moves to dark


Monday, November 16, 2009

Sick Day

Thermometers registering me high today.

Fahrenheit up from the usual low 'corpse' readings that no doctors ever believe.

Three things from this illusory 'fever':

1) The word 'Edinburgh' appeared in the chance meanderings of the ceiling putty.

2) Reading about Gorky during 1917, his political good sense utterly lost upon that time, a man of letters judging the mob responses to Petrograd lawlessness. Then noting per chance an article in the newspaper about the release of Sarah Palin's book -- as a possible precursor for further political power.


3) Memory of head lights seen through glass -- home window? stationary car window? -- headlights moving in rain, feeling myself very young, younger than school age.

Society is vulnerable as a child.

The politics of this time pinprick stability like a fever.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Romantic So-And-So

Tomorrow evening,

driving home in the predicted rain about 10 pm,

my car playlist at 'heart' volume:

Windmills Of Your Mind
Save Your Love For Me (Melissa Morgan)
You Turned The Tables On Me (Anita O'Day)
Isn't It A Pity? (Zoot Sims)
How Long Has This Been Going On? (Julie London)

Tess's Torch Song (Dinah Shore)
Until . . . (The Brodsky Quartet [and Sting])
What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life? (Irene Atman)
Two For The Road (Greta Matassa)
My One And Only Love (Art Tatum and Ben Webster)


The Devil's In The Small Print

Most difficult things I've tried to read? For differing reasons (sublime to ridiculous):

Spinoza, at (my) age 14

Derrida, now

Statutory law

Teach Yourself Arabic

Computer instruction manuals


Medical Advice Line

Walking on volcanic rocks in the throat.

Surfing the crest of the waves from the nose.

Sitting still in the module waiting for blast-off: 10 days - 9 - 8 -7 . . . when the lean, healthy body performs again cleverly like the ferret it is.

Therein The Word Therein

The point at which you realize that learning a foreign language is learning your own language.

When you find how arbitrary your way of relating to reality is.



Saturday, November 14, 2009

'Proud Dad Of A URI'

Upper Respiratory Infection, that is.

It's still, it runs deep, and it's watery.

A man's gotta 'take ownership of' his cold.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Riff On A Russian

Lines from Anna Akhmatova, 1913:

So many requests, always, from a lover!
None when they fall out of love.
I'm glad the water does not move
Under the colourless ice of the river.

By which she may mean it's good no longer to be plagued by the requests.

By which she may mean it's good to be forgetting what were welcome requests.

Aren't such requests always sweet, even coming like a hammer?

Isn't the taste even of angry departure something you refuse to rinse your mouth of?


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Spearesques 8


Pondering prole I am, am I?

Yes, if truth be seen emerging bright

From such prisons as I walk half-crouched

And find rest by bending knee each hour.

The sign reads Stoop and firm's that syllable.

A tall man, sure, who doesn't show obeisance in dreams

Or always fear the knout for not so doing.

Democratic Man! Sing democratic man --

The hierarchy's in the hand that holds the willow

Or the one beyond with birch.


Royce Hall

Drowsy and drizzly. Curved stairs.

Stairwells well-deep in my attempts

At reading Sophocles. At Shakespeare.

Lear and Cordelia. Antigone, Rex.

My mocassin grinds at tobacco stubs

Which custodians curse into the blind night.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tehuantepec, Revisited

Wallace Stevens, his 1923 Harmonium.

When 'Sea Surface Full Of Clouds' measures-off a visual re-apprehension over 5 sections in four pages.

Phrases travel thus, in parallels among the sections, showing interaction between the water and the viewer's interpretation:

From rosy chocolate and gilt umbrellas
To chop-house chocolate and sham umbrellas;
Further, in continuing parallel, to porcelain chocolate and pied umbrellas.
Then, to musky chocolate and frail umbrellas,
Finally Chinese chocolate and large umbrellas.

Poaching on beauty carries a purgatorial sentence. Read the entire poem, of course. Absorb it. The point is that such writing, such witnessing, isn't merely a rich and eccentric description. Not just, no.


No one I've ever known in my widest acquaintance had, or had ancestral memory of, yachting off Mexico during the Harding era. Stevens had such access and likely a social orientation to match. But what he's presenting isn't a position in society, still less a hedonistic gloating, the value of the scene in USD.

His aesthetic balance gets defined. It's not a vulgar having or enjoying that's at stake. It's the human imagining. He's able to attain literal -- not allegorical -- visions. And what's arrived at and held onto is a reality, a situating of oneself in the moment that shifts around, as all moments do.

If this were music, we'd understand the modulations.

We compose our world.


Brain Gaps For 500, Alex

This 'memory thing'.

Newspaper Asimov quiz.

Varying 'chase' films, this one q about 2 prisoners chained together escaping prison.

Instantly could name the stars: Sidney Poitier, Tony Curtis. Prestige BW from the late 50s.

For the life of me couldn't come up with the name of the movie.

Dih . . . dih . . . dih. Nothing beyond that, as though I had forgotten the word pencil.

Dih . . . deadly? No. Dih . . . damn? Not at all. As though I were in need of speech therapy.

Later, after I had consigned the problem to mental 'deep search', after a power nap, the rhythm came to me:

Dah-DAH-dah-dah. Within split seconds after that: The Defiant Ones.


'Lithe And Fierce, Like A Tiger'

Cats, like boxers and football linemen, look low, watch for foot movement and the weight-shift.

Eyes lie.


Chutzpah, Universe Style

The 'Theory of Everything'?

Which sounds like a bold, optimistic 'shot' by a systems-oriented mathematician.

A label so big it's overpoweringly fit for the lit stage of stand-up comedy.

That individuals of our species can devise a name, such as 'The T of E', with a straight face might give us hope that there is indeed an 'upside' to what year-by-year slides dirtward closer and closer.

Could be careerism, useful as a big notch in a resume, in one's own self-esteem. Could have the heft of achievement of a Fabergé egg, true creation, but have little commensurate effect, except on practitioners and collectors.

Remember: This is the same species that finds it hard even to tie a shoe without self-interested hurry, grumbling sloth, incompetence, or anger.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Fit Crit Of Brit Lit

Philip Larkin. His poem Broadcast.

One imagining another, distant, being present, anonymously as part of audience at a musical concert, Royals in attendance, played out over radio airwaves.

Imagining her fallen glove, her conservative shoes. Trying to make out the sound of her hands,
tiny in all that air, among the rush of applause.

Magnificently lonely.



If a bird in the hand is worth two in a bush, will it get cocky?

If life is short, why does the day drag on?

If silence is golden, what sound does blindness make?

If a penny saved is a penny earned, how do I get them in the first place?

If 'He's got the whole world in His hands', where does He put his feet?

If haste makes waste, why don't I shit more on busy days?


Friday, November 6, 2009

Cognito Ergo Dumb

Just in case the Nobel Committee is listening in:

In all humility I think I deserve recognition just for being me.

If not a medallion and 10,000 USD,

Perhaps a breastful of old Soviet medals commemorating service in WWII?


Thursday, November 5, 2009

To The Forces That Have Birthed Me And Kept Me Living This Long

A 'thank-you' to them.

For giving me this past hour reading Northrop Frye quoting Italo Calvino and having them both make sense of finding, amidst the difficulty of such finding, the place where literature vibrates between me and what's not-me.

Fragile Crockery

If what I fear about the politics were true

That it were not its rough-and-tumble character or that labyrinth of its institutions, but something deep, deeper- lodged, past the shadow of the coccyx, tucked inside the birth canal, in the alpha and beta of its AGCT, coded genetically, irreparably --

If it were that that drives the conflict of its reason to the serial, mad, self-negating conclusions

Again and heavier mounting again that push that strife to wring out to tear the need right out of itself by peeling back the skin and breaking each finger in the hand

To retaliate for not possessing the One answer that would stop the pain of its own committing -- if that were true:

I'd break like a plate.



1) To the contrary, women still 'wash that man' right into their hair.

2) Then, why not 'find and you shall seek'?

3) I have -- on occasion -- been turned 'outside-in'

4) The feng-shui of this room: upside down.


TV 'Ghost' Guest Geist

Al Capp

Hans Conreid

Selma Diamond

Jack and Reiko Douglas

Ernie Kovacs

Henry Morgan

Tony Randall

William Redfield

Monte Rock III


Baby. Bathwater.

And the fact that pop culture is 'democratic' and ephemeral and undercuts traditional canons supported by 'hegemonic' authority structures is real subversion because . . .?


Hard-Learned Lessons

Jack Paar: I kid you not.

Johnny Carson: May an unclean yak sit on your breakfast.

Steve Allen: Shmock! Shmock!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I'm Gone, Man

Near home. 10 p.m.

Art Pepper lips All The Things You Are.

Ambulance at stop sign. Patient propped inside against the cab, facing me.

Left, it turns, no siren, no speed,
a false scare, just a dry run, off-off-Broadway.

3000 miles from Broadway

Out-of-town run.


Multi-cultural Arm's Length

Paris is only 140 miles closer to here than Pyongyang.

Where am I?

(This isn't a riddle; it's shellshock!)

(In air miles, 5150 vs. 5010!)


Intertextual Riffs

'In the morning I don't want to know where I'll be in the afternoon.' But in the afternoon, I'll know exactly where I've been.

'A dead writer has no ego' . . . and a live reader dances upon its grave.

'Where would you be if you left all your troubles behind?' Beating my Maker in a friendly game of checkers and having Her unbegrudgingly foot the cost of the champagne.

(Credit nothingprofound's blog out of context: pieces of life for the savvy, clean launching points, me for the extensions.)



1980: Shocked, Taken aback

1980s: Distanced, Disempowered

1990s: Misrepresented, Assailed

2000 - 2008: Robbed, Stunned, Outraged


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Mottoes, Expansions

1) 'Fast' = bad, 'slow' = good

2) Don't save time, lose yourself in time.