Category Archives: Ground Level Conditions

The Large Economy of the Beautiful

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Phoebe MacAdams – The Large Economy of the Beautiful – Cahuenga Press (2016)

Cahuenga Press is a poets’ cooperative dedicated to publishing books by its four remaining poet-founders: James Cushing, Harry E. Northup, Holly Prado Northup, and Phoebe MacAdams. Founded in the very early 1990s, along with Cecilia Woloch and myself, it has published two dozen volumes of poetry. (Due to financial and time constraints, I dropped out after contributing typesetting time to the first two volumes.) Both Holly and Harry have been featured in my three most recent blog posts because of a poet-led campaign to raise money to assist them in recovering from a fire that obliterated much of their apartment. I have no doubt that the fire went beyond damaging their personal lives, but also caused grievous losses to their publishing project. I urge readers to go to Small Press Distribution’s on-line site and buy as many Cahuenga Press books as possible in order to help restore this project’s solvency.

I bought my copy of MacAdams’s most recent book several weeks ago at her house in Pasadena. She had given a reading to celebrate its publication to an appreciative audience in her backyard. Among the guests in attendance were Steve Anter and Steve Abee. It was a pleasure to hear her read her poems that afternoon. Her voice has a distinct timbre that serves both to soothe and reassure, as well as to remind us of how joyfully serious the present tense should be.

Although she has spent most of her adult life in California, first living in Bolinas, and then living in Ojai and Los Angeles, these poems reflect the influence of poets in New York City, such as Ted Berrigan, as well as poets who taught at Naropa in Boulder, Colorado. “Boulder,” in fact, is the title of the first poem in her first book, Sunday, from Tombouctou Books in Bolinas. The time she spent in Boulder largely resulted in prose poems, which is a form she should consider returning to. Few poets back then were interweaving the dream world and daily apprehension of contingent circumstances with the intrepid ease demonstrated by MacAdams, and young readers of poetry could well benefit from having more such models from her.

Each successive book from which MacAdams has chosen representative poems record a poet’s life as destiny. To write these poems required the work of paying close attention to the emotions lingering like scents within each task:

“The poems still look for the poet,
enter our lives naturally,
meandering and willing
to notice the blue flowers
carved out of inner space,
deep ordering that preserves.”
(“I Understand the Mystery of Scissors/In Feeling a Constant Longing”)

Ordinary Snake Dance remains my favorite of all of MacAdams’s books. and the poems she has selected from this collection deserve to be translated into many other languages. To speak to the moment of inspiration so that it transmits more than local knowledge is one of the primary tasks of lyric poetry. MacAdams modulates her voices (note the plural) so that we hear the knowledge of the many lives discovering the singular, and she does this with wit and compassion.

“All the roads lead home, and
all the roads leave home behind.”
(“About My Children Leaving Home”)

The individual book that benefits the most in this 240 page collection is Livelihood, which on its own as a stand-alone volume gained considerable traction by its focus on teaching and learning, but also risked being seen as a specialty book. In The Large Economy of the Beautiful, the flow of poetic vision from Ordinary Snake Dance buoys the ground level conditions of pedagogical challenges, routines, and rituals, and makes this summary of MacAdams’s life-long journey an authentic hybrid of spiritual enlightenment and deeply felt daily pleasure. MacAdams has lived in Los Angeles for well over 30 years at this point, and has made herself one of the essential poets of this city.

GoFundMe for Two Beloved Poets — Holly Prado and Harry Northup

Saturday, August 12, 2017

A fire recently obliterated much of the apartment in which Los Angeles poets Holly Prado and Harry Northup have lived for the past several decades. I gather from the accounts of friends who have talked to them that the fire started in the middle of the night, and that the cause was a problem in the electrical wiring. I have also heard that they barely escaped with their lives. Several poets have launched a GoFundMe campaign in order to help them reestablish their household and modest furniture. Some things, such as their working library as poets, are irreplaceable, and perhaps when they are settled again, we can all bring some extra books over and help them in that regard, too.

In the meantime, practical assistance is needed. I gather that Holly, for instance, has lost all of her clothing. I would urge everyone who can make the slightest contribution to go to the GoFundMe site and help out. If you are unable to make a donation, then please post this notice on whatever social media you have access to.

https://www.gofundme.com/help-holly-prado-harry-northup

For those of you who do not know of Holly Prado and Harry Northup’s poetry and writing, I would recommend that you go to CahuengaPress.com and read their biographies, and then purchase through Small Press Distribution some of the very fine books this publishing co=operative has issues in the past 25 years.

Thank you. The community of poets in Los Angeles thanks you.

The Los Angeles-Minnesota Connection

Saturday, August 5, 2017

“Emerging Writers” Grants in Minnesota

In less than four weeks, I will have students asking, “So what did you do during your summer vacation, Professsor Mohr?” and I’ll respond that “vacation” will deserve yet another set of scare quotes. It’s been several decades since I had a summer off. This year, I had originally hoped to visit two former students in Croatia and spend a couple weeks reading and writing at an arts colony they founded a couple years ago near Pula, but the illness of one of Linda’s sisters impinged on those plans, and so we have stayed in Los Angeles County this summer. I ended up teaching a summer course in 20th century American literature in June and early July, during which time I began reviewing the applications of over 200 writers who live in Minnesota. As is well known to writers in California, Minnesota is the land of milk and honey in terms of literary support. Of course, we who labor at any art other than screenwriting in California tell ourselves that Minnesota has to bribe its writers to stay there. Unless an economic infrastructure provided some cultural largesse, why else would one endure those endless winters?

All envious kidding aside, I was very happy to serve on this panel because I have long felt a kinship with the literary community in Minnesota. I first noticed the editorial hospitality of Minnesota towards poets based in Los Angeles in The Lamp in the Spine, a magazine edited by Jim Moore and Trish Hampl in the 1970s. Their issues included work by Doren Robbins, Holly Prado, and Ameen Alwan. Subsequently, I visited The Loft in 1986 along with Doren Robbins to contribute to an two-day celebration of Tom McGrath’s poetry on the occasion of his 70th birthday.

Two hundred applications, each with an average of 20 pages of writing, is quite a pile to go through and comment on, so being on the panel turned out to be a major undertaking, but it was also very gratifying to see how much good work is being done in Minnesota by writers who have not yet published a substantial amount of work. The grants were for “emerging writers,” which meant that these applicants did not necessarily have to compete with those whose precocity had already allowed them to flourish. Many of the applicants whose work I read in the past couple months will not have to wait too long for a book to come out, however. I spotted at least two dozen manuscripts, in the samples of these portfolios, that will no doubt end up published or scheduled for publication by the end of this decade. For those not chosen for the award, please know that I read carefully, and I truly wish I could have doubled or tripled the number of awards. While a total of fourteen people were listed as winners, alternates, finalists, or deserving of honorable mention, there were at least a half-dozen others whose writing I found memorable. I wished, in fact, that I could have them as students in a workshop and watch their work grow even more compelling and intriguing.

The Loft has released the names of the writers selected by the panel for the “emerging writers” grants in 2017, and I will let its announcement speak for itself.

https://loft.amm.clockwork.net/_asset/4440d4/Winners-of-the-2017-Emerging-Writers-Grant.pdf

“Success is succession”: The Poetics of a Luthier

Friday, July 28, 2017

“Success is succession”: The Poetics of a Luthier
Bill Collings (August 9, 1948 – July 14, 2017

“Why did the sound of some guitars haunt me while others didn’t?” the luthier Bill Collings remembered asking himself as a young man.

One could ask the same question about poems, and inquire why more poets don’t take the tonal and thematic propensities of their writing more seriously. In poetry, the question that haunts is whether the poem not merely deserves but demands translation. This does not require that the poem be perfect. Imperfection will be inherent in the original, as it was in every guitar that was turned out by Bill Collings’s company, and then put to equally imperfect use by some of the best-known masters of songwriting, including Lyle Lovett, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon and Keith Richards.

The impact of acknowledging imperfection’s role in the process turns out to be one of the prime motivations for building guitars. “Can you pick the perfect piece of wood? …. Can you make it the perfect thickness?” Collings asks, knowing all too well what the response is. “No, but you can get really close. …. Success is succession, over and over and over, and it comes from failure. Failure, failure, failure — knowing that if you stop, you’re done.”

Bill Collings, Luthier

Bao Phi’s “THOUSAND STAR HOTEL”

Friday, July 21, 2017

In addition to Michael C. Ford’s publication reading on Sunday, which was announced on this blog earlier this week, I would like to mention the following pair of readings by a poet visiting from Minnesota, Bao Phi, who will be reading from his second book of poetry, THOUSAND STAR HOTEL from Coffee House Press.

http://coffeehousepress.org/shop/thousand-star-hotel/
http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2017/07/20/537580283/the-poet-bao-phi-on-creating-a-guidebook-for-young-asian-americans

BEYOND BAROQUE – 681 Venice Blvd., Venice, CA 90291 (310) 822-3006
22 July Saturday 6:00 PM
BAO PHI AND SCOTT KURASHIGE: A READING AND DISCUSSION
Bao Phi will read from his second book of poetry, Thousand Star Hotel and Scott Kurashige will read from his book The Fifty-Year Rebellion: How the Political Crisis Began in Detroit. FREE.

The Great Company — 1917 Bay St, Fl 2nd, Los Angeles, California 90021
23 July Sunday, 7:30 PM Doors, Show at 8 pm
Bao Phi: Thousand Star Hotel Book Release LA
Hosted by BEAU SIA
Bao Phi will be reading from his newly released book of poetry, Thousand Star Hotel, as part of his national book tour. Books for sale and author signing after. FREE and Open to the Public
NOTE: The entrance of The Great Company (where the reading will be held), is actually in an alley off of Wilson St. between Violet & Bay.

As for a notation on how I spent the day, I want to thank Amelie Frank, Janice Lee, Lynne Thompson, and Jessica Ceballos for their willingness to talk at length about the challenges of a life devoted to one’s own writing while at the same time helping other writers sustain their commitment to imaginative cultural work. Here are some links to their work.

https://www.tldrmagazine.com/single-post/2017/07/05/The-Wolf-Janice-Lee=
Janice Lee is the author of several books, including Damnation (Penny-Ante Editions, 2013), Reconsolidation (Penny-Ante Editions, 2015), and The Sky Isn’t Blue (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2016). After living for over 30 years in California, she will be moving to Portland, Oregon this summer to teach at Portland State University.

www.tldrmagazine.com
True Living; Documented Relentlessly – edited by Russell Jaffe.

JESSICA CEBALLOS:
http://www.jessicaceballos.com/about.html

AMELIE FRANK:
http://www.home.earthlink.net/~pero/ameliefrank.html

LYNNE THOMPSON:
Three Poems (from Cultural Weekly):
Hammer & Pick
Lost Spirits
White Flight: Los Angeles, 1961
https://www.culturalweekly.com/lynne-thompson-three-poems/

Bill Mohr – San Diego Reader: Three Poems
https://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2017/jul/19/poetry-imperial-beach-remains-remote-intolerable/

And, last but not least, listen to a poem by Gerry Locklin being read on The Writer’s Almanac:

The Writer’s Almanac for July 21, 2017

“How would you feel if your father smoked pot?” (circa 1970)

July 15, 2017

“How would you feel if your father smoked pot?” (circa 1970)
(or, “Don’t Bogart That Joint, Dad. Pass It Over to Mom.”)

Buttondown Collar PS - 2

This advertisement appeared almost a half-century ago in a student newspaper. Under the guise of stimulating thinking, its lead question asks “how would feel….” The blending of the initial rhetorical emphasis (“how would you feel…”) and the purported value of “thinking” is quite intentional. This appeal to an emotional outcome of a supposedly rational consideration of drug laws is a standard tactic of those who wish to repress the Dionysian exploration of consciousness in any form whatsoever.

One also might reflect upon the stereotyped image of the older generation: did the advertisers expect young people to imagine their fathers being so up-tight as to keep their collars buttoned down, even as they are halfway through their joints?

It is still difficult for me to believe that the cultivation of marijuana will become legal in large swaths of the United States. I would caution those who might take this shift to be a permanent alteration in the consciousness of the American electorate to remember that this country is on the verge of making abortion, once again, a felony. The individual’s right to control her body has been under relentless attack for several decades, and we see the consequences. The shift in drug regulation could also turn out to be a temporary alleviation of repressive state control, unless we are more vigilant than we were about reproductive rights. Let us remember that many people have gone to prison for the possession of marijuana in the past, and if Jess Sessions and his friends have their way, such will be the law of the land again.

In the meantime, I choose not to light up. Or to light up when you least expect it.

I would also call for a Democratic member of Congress to introduce an amendment to the current Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare that would make a doctor’s prescription for marijuana a mandatory part of any health insurance policy sold in the United States. Just so we can do a head count to remind ourselves of how temporary this respite might be.

I am curious if anyone can guess the name of the sponsor of the ad. Trust me that there’s more than a touch of irony involved. Feel free to send me your guesses at William.BillMohr@gmail.com.

High Bid/Low Bid: Donald Trump, Jr.’s Implausible Naivete

Thursday, July 13, 2017 (updated on Friday, July 14, 2017; updated again, Sunday, July 16, 2017)

“I” and “Them”: Donald Trump, Jr.’s Roll-Call of Retail Politics in the Glowering Tower

In his interview on Fox News with Sean Hannity, Donald Trump, Jr. claimed that his meeting with a person acting on behalf of the Russian government was nothing more than an exploratory encounter. “I wanted to hear them out and play it out.”

The pronouns in this assertion are crucial: “I” and “them.” The former is deceptive, while the latter turns out to be accurate. Let us note that Sean Hannity did not correct Mr. Trump, Jr.’s use of the singular pronoun in the subject of that assertion. At least two other American citizens, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, were known to have been at the meeting in addition to Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer, and Rinat Akhmetshin, who has been identified as a Russian lobbyist whose background might include training as an intelligence officer. Mr. Hannity should have corrected Mr. DT, Jr. immediately: “You mean, ‘We wanted to hear them out and play it out,’ don’t you?”

The most important question for Donald Trump, Jr. is “What exactly were the three of you planning on giving them in return for the information about Hillary Clinton that was purportedly going to be dangled in front of you? ‘Play(ing) it out,’ after all, means only one thing in this context: payment of some kind for services rendered. So what was your high bid going to be, beyond which you were not willing to cough up? What was the low bid you hoped they would accept?”

Surely, Mr. Donald Trump, Jr., you don’t expect me to believe that Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and you showed up at this meeting without ever discussing or considering what would be asked for in return? Paul Manafort is a man who knows about getting paid for services rendered, and Jared Kushner is hardly a man who believes in selfless devotion to non-profit NGOs. Each of you perfectly understands that in politics, in which “money is the mother milk,” nothing on a scale of international importance is going to handed over in service to the ideals of the public good.

Surely, Mr. DT, Jr., you were not expecting to be given this information for free? “Opposition Research” is expensive, and the more valuable and damaging it is, the more expensive it will be. So what was your budget, and how is it you arrived at that budget? How could you not have calculated the bottom line in advance of the meeting? Surely you understood that the amount of money and effort already expended by the providers of this information would be a sum that would need exponential repayment in order to compensate them for the risks they took in engaging in dubious practices themselves, for as you well know — all espionage ultimately involves blackmail and bribes. Or did you honestly believe that this information had been turned up by someone in Russia who merely typed the words “dirt on Hillary Clinton” into her computer’s browser, and presto! It all popped up without having a pay a single ruble to a hacker.

Your statements make it sound as if you showed up just to find out what information was available, and if so, then and only then would you inquire about the price. Once again, I find that incredibly implausible. If a piece of real estate you are very interested in becomes available, something you explicitly say “you love,” you know down to the penny what it might be worth in the long run, and you have a fairly solid idea of how you would assemble and package the funds that would pay for it. “Opposition research” on Clinton was prime political real estate, and as always it’s location, location, location. In this case, the location is Moscow, and going into this meeting, you knew perfectly well who the escrow company was.

Or did you think you would play the role of naïve amateurs? Were you planning to say, “Oh, did you want something in return for this information?” If so, what you expecting them to ask for? Please don’t tell me, under oath, that you weren’t expecting them to ask for anything in return.

With high stakes negotiations foremost in your anticipation of a positive outcome, how can you characterize your participation in this meeting as anything other than scandalous? To get to the bottom of your apprenticeship in espionage, how much money was available in a slush fund drawer at the Trump Tower to serve as a down payment on this information? Or was it already in an attaché case next to one of you? It’s hard not to imagine well experienced entrepreneurs showing up for a potential game-changing appointment not prepared to do business. It’s always possible, of course, but since your good friend and colleague Jared Kushner failed to list this meeting on his list of contacts with foreign nationals when he applied for his security clearance, you’ll forgive me for suspecting behavior that you would not wanted recorded and broadcast, unedited, on a reality TV show.

And now for the “them” part of DT, Jr.’s statement: “I wanted to hear them out…” If Mr. Hannity had noticed the plural, he would have expressed curiosity as to why Mr. Trump did not say, “I wanted to hear her out.” If he had done so, perhaps his stature as a journalist might improve slightly, for Mr. Trump’s response that someone else representing the interests of Vladamir Putin was in the room in addition to Ms. Veselnitskaya would have been a notable scoop. In point of fact, another person accompanied her, and Mr. Rinat Akhmetshin was not present simply to be a quality control monitor of the refreshments that were served. Was Mr. Akhmetshin on the phone, too, to the same extent that Paul Manafort was alleged to be? If so, his phone as well as Mr. Manafort’s, should have their activities at the time of this meeting made a matter of public record.

These are questions that I would like one of the Senators from California to ask Mr. Donald Trump, Jr. when he shows up to testify in Congress about the meeting of Manafort, Kushner and himself with Natalia Veselnitskaya and the person assisting her in these negotiations.

Finally, I find to my amazement that Charles Krauthammer and I agree on something, and I would urge all readers to read what a profoundly conservative voice has to say about this matter:
“What Donald Jr. — and Kushner and Manafort — did may not be criminal. But it is not merely stupid. It is also deeply wrong, a fundamental violation of any code of civic honor. I leave it to the lawyers to adjudicate the legalities of unconsummated collusion. But you don’t need a lawyer to see that the Trump defense — collusion as a desperate Democratic fiction designed to explain away a lost election — is now officially dead.” — Charles Krauthammer

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/bungled-collusion-is-still-collusion/2017/07/13/68c7f72a-67f3-11e7-8eb5-cbccc2e7bfbf_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-e%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.31143767e1e9

FOOTNOTE: In my fourth paragraph, I wrote: “Paul Manafort is a man who knows about getting paid for services rendered…” For more details about the employment history of Donald Trump’s former campaign manager and how he was compensated for his lobbying efforts on behalf of the former President of Ukraine, Viktor F. Yanukovych, and his Party of Regions, see the following article:

It has been alleged that Mr. Yanukovych absconded with at least one billion dollars during his political career, before he was forced out of office. One possible indication of the presence of an “off-the-books” political economy is that the Party of Regions reported less money being spent for its operations than Mr. Manafort reported receiving as income. There is no proof whatsoever at this point Mr. Manafort was aware of this discrepancy or that he knowingly took money that might in some way be tainted. Mr. Manafort, however, is manifestly alert to the correlation of work done and compensation paid upon demand.

Grand Jury Indictment Time for the Trumpsville Express

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Next Stop for the Trumpsville Express: Grand Jury

Mr. Trump’s supporters no doubt believe that those who object to his agenda are simply “sore losers.” To lose an election is indeed no fun, for the consequences are real. One might very well, for instance, also lose one’s health insurance. I most certainly expect my spouse’s premium to increase significantly by 2018.

Let us remember, though, that Clinton won the popular vote. She lost the electoral college, but that outcome merely reaffirms the racist, misogynistic legacy of the so-called Founding Fathers. The election polls were not completely inaccurate: they predicted that a much larger number of people wanted Clinton to be President. The margin of Trump’s defeat in the accumulated total of enfranchised citizens was almost 3,000,000 votes.

Trump knew from the start of his candidacy that Hillary Clinton was going to be more successful in winning the popular vote. Trump also knew that the effects of the popular vote can be manipulated, since it is diluted by the tilted playing field of the electoral college. Unlike George W. Bush, however, Trump did not have a friend in Florida who might help him squeak out a victory on the state level and thereby secure the White House.

But he did have a “friend” in Russia. Maybe not a Facebook friend, but a friend nevertheless who understood the peculiar allocation of political power in the United States even better than Hillary Clinton. Vladimir Putin was quite cognizant that Clinton would win the popular vote, but he also calculated that all he needed to do was to help Trump tilt just enough states to win the Electoral College, and his puppet would be in the Oval Office.

Contrary to repeated public denials of any collusion with Russia, the e-mail exchange involving Donald Trump, Jr. and his extended circle of contacts in Russia reveal an individual intent on making use of the intelligence gathering services of a foreign power run by people who authorize the murder of their political opponents.

Mr. Donald Trump, the winner of the Electoral College vote, does not seem to understand that a vast number of middle-class taxpayers in the United States do not trust Vladimir Putin, and that anyone who demonstrates an eagerness to engage in “quid pro quo” arrangements with him is ethically suspect. The Magnitsky Act must remain in effect until Mr. Putin and all of his associates are brought to account for their actions in the World Court.

It is time for a prosecuting attorney to begin to make plans for a presentation to a grand jury and for indictments to be handed down. Given how anyone mentioned in these e-mails is likely to be called as a witness, those attorneys who are “ambulance chasers” cannot help but hear the sirens. Sad!

I doubt those of us who oppose Trump’s regime will be able to remove him from office, either by impeachment or by shaming him into resignation. There is no reason, however, why his son should be exempt from the maximum term in prison, should he be found guilty of breaking the law. While members of Congress probably yearn for a moment in the spotlight, such cross-examination should not be used to stall the momentum of a judicial proceeding.

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/desktop/latimes/default.aspx?pubid=50435180-e58e-48b5-8e0c-236bf740270e

Chatterton’s Bookstore: The Legendary Forerunner to Skylight Books

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

I pulled a copy of Leland Hickman’s Great Slave Lake Suite off a shelf of a corner bookcase the other day and found a bookmark from Chatteron’s Bookstore poking up out of it. Chatterton’s was the most important bookstore on the “east” side of town back in the glory days of the various poetry scenes in Los Angeles in the 1970s. it was founded — perhaps I should say inspired — by Papa Bach Bookstore in as much as the strategy for the Chatterton’s specific location was modeled directly after Papa Bach’s. Both bookstores are gone now, but the movie theaters that were in close walking distance from each bookstore are still in operation. The NuArt movie theater (just off the 405 on Santa Monica Blvd.) in West LA, and the Laemelle movie theater on Vermont, still screen interesting films, as was the case back in the early 1970s, when a clerk at Papa Bach realized that he could start a similar store on the other side of town and probably have equal, if not greater success. Indeed, William Koki Iwamoto did start such a store. Like Papa Bach, it featured live readings by poets. I remember giving Lee Hickman a ride on the back of my motorcycle on evening to Chatterton’s to give a reading there in the mid-1970s.

It’s hard to say which store had a more comprehensive poetry section. Chatterton’s, however, had a space at the back of the store that was set aside just for readings, so it was a better venue for poetry. Chatterton’s also had chairs to sit in, whereas Papa Bach was mainly a stand and listen affair with only a handful of chairs. There was a brief period when a backroom of the adjacent building was rented for readings at Papa Bach, and I remember Joseph Hansen giving a very fine reading there. On the whole, though, poets enjoyed reading at Chatteron’s more.

It was a long haul from Ocean Park to the north end of Vermont Avenue, however, so I rarely got to those readings. I did, however, make many day-time trips there to deliver books, and Koki always paid me upfront for the books. There was no such thing as an invoice paid in 30 days. Koki knew that I most likely still owed money to the printer, so he paid cash for everything I hauled to his store in a bag that perched on my motorcycle gas tank.

I have long suspected that it was Koki’s recommendation that convinced Ted Reidel at Papa Bach to name me as the first poetry editor of Bachy magazine. We had spent a fair amount of time at the book counter talking about poetry in the weeks leading up to that appointment, and Koki had shown me a few of his poems. I admired his poetry, but he was very reluctant to publish. As far as I know, he never allowed any of them to circulate beyond a few close friends. I have five of them in an envelope that will most certainly go into my archive at some special collections. If anyone wants to honor a person who was an authentic hero in the LA poetry renaissance, then let them find a way to publish these poems in a beautiful chapbook that would honor the memory of William Koki Iwamoto.

Chatterton's Bookmark - 1974

Here are some links to articles about Chatterton’s. I would note only one correction. Lionel Rolfe is an astute historian, but just as I recorded errors in Holdouts, his article does contain one mistake. Koki was never an employee of John Harris. By the time that John Harris owned Papa Bach, Koki had long moved on from the store and started Chatterton’s. One must remember that John Harris did not even begin working as one of the editors of Bachy until the early fall of 1973, when I suggested to Ted that he replace me as the poetry editor. It was around that time that Ted and Eva began to think of opening up a branch of Papa Bach in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and John began to see the store as his chance to start a second career. In early 1974, Chatterton’s was in full swing, so there is no chance that John served as a mentor to Koki while he was employed at Papa Bach.

http://www.neontommy.com/news/2012/10/last-bookshops-los-angeles

http://www.neontommy.com/news/2012/10/last-bookshops-los-angeles

http://articles.latimes.com/1994-05-15/books/bk-57774_1_los-angeles

https://www.abebooks.com/Chattertons-Presents-Benefit-Poetry-Reading-Manroot/10353653628/bd#&gid=1&pid=1

An Affirmative Fourth of July, 2017

July 4, 2017

July 4, 2016

Donald Trump is in a state of severe psychological distress. He seems to be occupying a hall of mirrors in which Baudrillard’s theory of the simulacrum conflates with Freud’s musings about the return of the repressed. The most recent Delirium Tremens installment involves the dissemination of a video from an old wrestling show in which he lampoons himself as a Don Quixote vanquishing “fake news.” He may have taken a public oath of office administered by a Supreme Court Justice that grants him residency in the White House, but that speech act did nothing to change his personality, which is that of a narcissistic bully.

A year ago, Linda and I went to Rod Bradley’s house and enjoyed a lovely evening with his friends and family. As dusk began to summon distant glimmers of fireworks at the perimeters of Los Angeles County, we took in the spectacle with little expectation that a malign transmogrification was about to launch itself into public power over social policy. Despite this grim turn in our national self-governance, I choose to celebrate this holiday as an affirmation of the virtues required to stand up to bullies and to punish them for their bad behavior.

Even as we admit how discouraging this travesty of an administration truly is, let us remember how persistent the resistance has been. As we take in this evening’s panoply of lingering bursts of color, let this ritual reinforce the dexterity of our citizenship; let our pledge of allegiance be to a nation that still embraces those who live and work with us out of no other choice of tolerable refuge. Let the despair that drives them here be a reminder of the effusive hope we must sustain amongst ourselves to preserve the viability of this experiment in democracy.

Atomized Fireworks

As the soundtrack anthem for today, here’s a link to my favorite for this occasion:

Hey Baby, It’s the 4th of July (Dave Alvin & X)

For those who wonder about the technology of fireworks, here is a link from one of my favorite websites:

How fireworks get their colors