Herbie Mann Comin' Home

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Beau Brummel

Without a shaven face and flossed teeth

I wouldn't stand out in a crowd of Neanderthals

(But they do tend to stoop more than I

Even when I knuckle-walk.)


This Can't Be Love

Whatever you do, if the names 'Lenin' or 'Trotsky' come up in conversation with Wall Street types, make sure you spit your drink up in a confusion of astonishment and derisive laughter.

Lenin appreciated smart women, but used too many exclamation points.  Moreover, his stand-up wasn't funny.

As to smart, particularly literary, women being the object of attention:  'been there, done that' says this would-be sharpie.  What was her name.  Tall blonde, of Icelandic heritage.  Wrote formulaic Romance novels by the ream, a beauty, and 'liberated', both of us about 21 at the time.

I did my Weltschmerz-poet routine on her, and she . . . well, let's just say my stand-up wasn't very funny.

Maybe I've been immortalized in one of her novellas.  Maybe more than once, say, in Napoleonic times, and again when knighthood was in flower.

Just speaking for myself -- and this may sound selfish -- if any Wall Street guys are listening and have tips that are 'pure gold', I wouldn't mind living the life of a rich man publisher with a movie starlet concubine in a simulated castle somewhere on the California coast, and meet kings and really good polo and tennis players and all.


The Welcome Artifact

In the mail

A letter from a friend

I mean a real letter, enveloped and franked

Sent through the USPS, slotted into a metal bin and sacked

Sorted by machine, and then by hand, trucked

To a plane, and in reverse,

(Handwritten, too)

To me


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Philosopher's Conclusion

('exploded paragraph' entry of this last word by Jean-François Revel, in his portion of The Monk And The Philosopher):

"The West has triumphed in science, but no longer has plausible systems either of wisdom or of ethics.

The East can bring us its ethics and teach us how to live better, but these are devoid of theoretical foundations -- the only exception being perhaps in psychology, which in any case, like sociology, falls short of being a science.

If by wisdom one understands an alliance of happiness and morality, then to live according to wisdom is certainly more difficult if that wisdom is constrained within purely empirical limits, with no help from a background of metaphysics.

Yet such limits have to be accepted.

Wisdom will always be a matter of conjecture.

Ever since the Buddha and Socrates, man has struggled to turn it into a science, but in vain.

It would be vain, too, to try to derive a system of ehtics or an art of living from the kind of knowledge that has become demonstrable.

Wisdom is not based on scientific certitude, and scientific certitude does not lead to wisdom.

Both, nevertheless, exist -- forever indispensable, forever separate, forever complementary."


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Animal, Vegetable, Mineral

A cluster of two flowering ornamental plums

Snowing pink onto the rock recess of a yard

At the trunk of one, a thin white dog

Gumming mushrooms among the  blossoms


A Political Poem From Material I Didn't Really Know What To Do With

1) Elephantine

2) Things I remember, essentially pointless: Honey Fitz, Eugene Pallette . . . wanted a longer list . . .

3) I wouldn't, if I were me

4) To die laughing!

5) (These lines went nowhere: 
Wrest all from the wrist / The end of Spring's wind is no Spring / Hope that blossoms as a daffodil / That trumpet flowering in shower's light . . . -- nowhere!)

6) (This daydream, as many, as the few whose trail I trace back, only limp when expressed:

Mugging a face with arched, wide-open eye, I reminded myself of the actor, wonderful Shakespearean actor, Sir Donald Sinden, who, though I've seen him recently as the King of France in All's Well That Ends Well, must have played Hamlet at one time or another

. . . which made me think of Mel Gibson playing the role in a film whose Gertrude was Glenn Close who was one of the actors in The Big Chill, a film claimed to be the apogee of the Baby Boom Gen's 'maturity' and life stance, but whose shallowness embarrassed me the very hour I walked from the theater in 1983 watching other people I knew almost beam with self-satisfaction and vanity -- and real estate money

. . . this only two years and some months into the Reagan presidency and the enormous reactionary slide we have yet to shore up against adequately.)

Elephantine!  Honey Fitz!  I wouldn't, if I were me! Wrest all from the wrist!  To die laughing!
The end of Spring's wind is no Spring


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Nightscape City, USA

Pol Pot, Georgia

Himmler, New York

Il Duce, Florida

Tojo, Colorado

Saddam City, California

Goebbels, Indiana

Ulyanov, Arizona

Eva Braun, Nebraska

Trotsky, South Carolina

Ilsa Koch, Kentucky

Stalin, South Dakota

Führer, New Hampshire


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Variation On Heather McHugh's 'Wise Is Lightweight'

My body's a colony wise with ideas

Like fireflies in their envy to become a second sun

Appointed to hover, they rise

Against the liquid of their own heaviness

And though myself am pure fuel,

I withdraw undercover, hating

The lightweight for its green,

Righting my head in the black


Sociodelic, Man!

Let me tell you what I saw outside the window it was a young woman with long straight hair down over her shoulders in front

by a few inches and a young man was walking with her, his hair puffed and wild and kind of circular like

a dome and he was draping his arm over her shoulder and they wore casual clothes, both, bleached mostly of color and funky-

soft, and as they walked they paced and loped, it wasn't a dance, but its rhythm casualized the way they proceeded and he was telling 

her something funny and she smiled nicely and they were without a care, it looked as if, but that's just a characterization I'm making now, but it

struck me then as well as now that 'this is the 60s', a picture straight out of the 60s which never in style have I seen this 

accurately on the street, on campus or even in movies when I pore over the details knowing that I remember it better than the costumers can get it, yet 

here it was, and, no, not a bad drug flashback, but something giving up right now what they were giving up then, perhaps, a faith in what's been going on.



When the little dream becoming the big dream becomes the little dream we sleep again.


Abstract Expression



Normative because:

Swum-in, scabbed-over, 


Streak-seen, dropped-off, 


Baked-arid, coolly

Sun-wet, by tongue


Pesher Uno

'Pride goeth before a fall':

Having the first causes the other.

Having the first causes the other to be worse (that is, 'the bigger they are, the harder they fall').

The first, while still holding boldly, signals to the prescient onlooker the inevitability of the second.

Once pride goes, one withers.

Self-recognition sobers one, allowing a meaningful end. 

No fall is worth noticing unless it's preceded by strong ego.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Brother Grim

D, a master of anecdote, ironic or sentimental, quirky and always clear-sighted, was relating a story, one of the million told about Ecocity, about a park preserved right in its heart.

After all these years, my reading is still so hasty, sloppy that it misconstrues meaning until a third or fourth reading.  He was telling me, I thought, that on his birthday he was walking there and came across a mature woman whose hair, snowy and pulled back, demarked her as the momentary, magical incarnation of a swan who resides at the park's lake.

Another swan, I was misgathering from his tale, had been shot, darted-down by an unknown, sinister hunter, and because of that this swan had taken human form to solve the mystery of who'd done it and to bring the murderer to justice.

The story continued, this veer finding the Swan Lady and D together coming upon a man crouching over the corpse of a duck hen.  The Crouching Man told them the duck had been attacked by several drakes and left lying at the lip of this pond where they stood. 

My imagination leaped to the conclusion that the Crouching Man was the same as the Swan Hunter, and that he created this ruse in order to evade capture.  As it turned out, D was relating literal events, literal avian deaths, in the literal surround of Palace Park in Ecocity.

It was only I who concocted this potential myth, turning brute happening into a capacious world of mystery needed only for the psychological balance of young children, 'rest-home' inmates, and myself.

I am incapable of understanding the world as it is.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Micro-Second 'And A Inch'

Gad!  These NOAA projections get closer to RT ('real time') the closer I get to NT ('no time')!  

Get this:  clouds at my window's 2 o'clock high, circling counter-clockwise, slow as even fast-moving clouds do, from our south.

Casually, I click on National Weather Service and find a bulletin placed there a minute before warning of a hurried hail storm coming, ice big as a penny!

Thunder crack.  Pellets smacking the house gutters and walkways, gully-washing the street and swamping the sewer-grate which gulps like a whirlpool, like a drowning man.

While one cat burrows under bed, the other stares from safety at the backyard slider, as I watch with it the wads of white hack at the wood deck as if envying it its splinters.

Then over.  No single bullet lies a penny big, nor e'en a ha'penny, perhaps a farthing size, but angry-faced, a foe well-dead, de-energized.

And the bolder cat jumps down from her couch, and stretches to be scratched and to nosh.  So I give her what her boldness has earned; I scoop her her kibble, designer fat girl meal. 

And I think about Weir's movie, The Last Wave, where the Abos get the last word and we all go down. 


Car Wash

Spittle or bugsmear at the shotgun window

Someone does not like me, or paranoid ideation

Or karma purchased earlier.

In thinking of it as 'karma', am I pricing a future karma?

Is that paranoid ideation?

How do half-a-dozen trails of bugs die sliding on the side of a car?

The name of the perp, she must have a name.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Unbearable Repulsion Of Politics

Why aren't things working well with our self-government?

1) No doubt, graft, kick-backs, baksheesh

2) Obstructionism

3) Committee Vitiation

4) Expediency

5) Cowardice

6) Careerism

7) Constituent Mediocrity

8) Low Vision

9) Ideology

10) We Crave Disagreement


'Scene', Pt. 4

Later in the day, five or six tumblers of no longer chilled wine not nearly all pissed out of me, and whatever generous remainder chemically going about its business, we drove home in our VW bug, windows open for 'cool air' and, if needed, for regurgitation.  

The vomit never came; would that it had!  

So, for hours I lay naked on our bed, floor fans angled up toward my body which B -- fine nurse! -- had covered with cold-water face cloths.


My Dog, My Regret

Let emotional words escape your mouth

They'll bite you hard with their teeth


Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Mothers

These were they, some may still be:

Margaret Ethyl Betty Beverly Rita 

Sylvia Edna Sylvia . . . and Sylvia 

Marcella Dorothy Faith 

Shirley Beatrice Gloria Ann

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Pessimism In Chic

No project too fine not to be denied by the perfectionist

Spearesques 17

Dame Nature's twos afford bilateral proof:

A breast's topography and her twin's

Get mapped by double expeditions,

Hand and hand, ten climbers, bent

Dear in their assault, and mounting

Never -- neither -- neither, top but both.


Spearesques 16

Youth's first adult conclusion:  

What's gone before's hypocrisy.

Yet what that is is art, not false:

A ho-hum choreography per day

Slick song and shallow word

Transmute plain dirt to myth.


'Scene', Pt. 3

On that day, one marked incidentally by all our observation of the stallion's enormous erection, when Doug (or Ron or Rob -- his name is lost in the 100-degree sun) ignored the party and kept filling troughs with one abraded-leather glove on the 'hold-hand' and the other between his teeth to allow the free hand to spread feed -- on that day, after drinking far too much and allowing the alcohol to dehydrate me to alarming, hot-weather, levels, I envisioned an image which, when told, became the vow. . .


Vulgarian Love Chirp

Get a name

Get a number

Get a room

Get it on

Get it off

Get a towel

Get out

Get wasted


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Air And Proper Exercise

Survivalist self-reliance:  strangling on a jungle vine.

Communal network: climbing around a jungle gym.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

'Scene', Pt. 2

. . . He had been a successful San Francisco broker who jumped ship, bought acreage in the north county, and now 'ran' a horsehay ranch-cum-chicken farm.

She was a librarian in pigtails, laboring all her off-hours in great joy and hippie dedication at communal work and, frankly, pleasing her man, a 'Type-A' whose vocational vacation was operating the biggest agricultural enterprise in a rich, suburban area. . .


NW District, 23rd And Johnson

When the street woman yapped

We held our take-out food

So close to our heart

The plastic container bent

We felt that much more hurried


Sunday, April 4, 2010

'Scene', Pt. 1

The vow came in hot weather.

Some time in the Carter Administration, B and I spent a morning on the local farmland of friends;
B worked with the woman.

While he was stringing corral wire,

We sat indoors, where it was a cool 85 and drank red jug wine . . .



Logical positivism:  pouring ice water on copulating young lovers.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Belated Word on 'Boxers-Versus-Briefs'

Inspired by the impish genius of a precocious 'Tween, giggled at throughout the length of junior high school, artfully smiled-at, in passing, while furtively assessing reaction on dates, raucously brought up as standard laugh-lines during stand-up comedy gatherings over a pitcher of beer, this informal poll came to be a measure (yes, there have been a couple of puns already) of one's 'sexual maturity'.

What was being sought?

1)  Focus on male genitals, sure;

2)  'Boy' wear and 'Man' wear;

3) Relative constraint and consequent precautionary modesty of the brief as opposed to the loose, open-fly freedom boxers allow for (oops!) the 'inadvertent' erection; and

4) Last, but never least, if you need boxers, you must be so large (how large is it?) -- so large that you can't be contained in briefs.  By implication, 'a Mississippi black snake' or 'a schlong the size of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel'.

MTV even ran this by John Kerry when he sought the Presidency.  Boxers, said the senator, without so much as a pause.  Didn't help.  No matter how big it is, there's always a cigar-chomping crew in the wings able to cut it off. 'Swift-Boaters', 'Meat-Cutters'.

Unlike Engels who formulated the notion that 'quantity' eventually transmutes into 'quality' -- enough of something becoming something else dialectically new -- American sexual obsession, bleeding even into its politics, goes in reverse:  'quality' is only 'quantity'.

On our eventual grave-marker, two words:  Gimme and More.